2 SEPTEMBER 1843, Page 19


of the Commissioners of Fine Arts : in itself it is merely a formal announcement of the steps that they have already taken to procure evidences of the skill of British artists in the several branches of pie. tonal, sculptural, and other decorations, to enable them to make a selection of those most fit to be employed ; but the appendix cm- prises, among other documents—one of considerable importance—the architect's statement of his views respecting the completion of the New Palace at Westminster.

Mr. BARRY'S suggestions relate to the finishing and decoration of the interior, the Completion and extension of the exterior, and the local improvements necessary to give full effect to the building. Our space will not allow us to give them at length ; but an abstract will suffice to convey a general idea of the architect's intentions. How far these will be carried into effect remains to be determined: the Commissioners

consider that it does not come within their province to give an opinion upon the desirableness of the projected improvements in the neighbourhood ; and they refrain from expressing any with reference to the proposed additions to the structure itself. The scheme of inte- rior decoration has been so far sanctioned, that the invitations to artists to send in specimens of their ability implies an intention to adopt its general features ; though no specific recommendation can be made until the details are settled.

First, as regards the interior. The architect suggests that the walls of

the several halls, galleries, and corridors, as well as the various public apartments, should be lined with oak panelling to the height of eight or ten feet ; and that the space above should be adorned with paintings of subjects from English history on a grand scale, in a medium free from gloss, so that they may be seen from any point of view : the paintings to fill compartments formed by the a .ehheetural arrangements of the interior, to be surrounded with ornamental borders in colours, and separated from each other by statues of eminent men, standing on appropriate pedestals in shallow niches surmounted with rich canopies; all other portions of the walls to be covered with suitable architectonic decorations or diapered enrichments in colour, occasionally heightened with gold, and blended with armorial bearings, badges, and other heraldic insignia properly emblazoned : the screens, pillars, corbels, niches, windows-dressings, &c., being ornamented in a corresponding style. The vaults of the groined roofs to be similarly decorated, with the addition of designs interwoven with the diapered ground ; and the flat ceilings to be formed into compartments by moulded ribs, enriched with carved-work, the inter-spaces being relieved by positive colour and gilding. The door-jambs and fire-places to be of British marbles, polished, and occasionally relieved by colour and gilding. The floors of the halls, galleries, and corridors, to be formed of encaustic tiles, enriched with heraldic and other devices in colours, laid in margins and compartments, in combination with British marbles ; and these marbles to be used for the steps of the staircases. The windows to be doubly glazed, for the purpose of tempering the light and preventing the direct rays of the sun from interfering with the effect of the internal decorations : the outer glazing to be of ground glass in large plates; the inner of ornamental designs in metal filled with stained glass, bearing arms and other heraldic insignia, but so arranged as that the ground—which is recommended to be of a yellowish tint and covered with a running foliage or diaper, occasionally relieved by legends in black letter—should predominate, to obviate either a cold or garish effect. The double glazing will also be serviceable in carrying out the proposed system of warming and ventilating, which does not require that the windows should be made to open. Such is the general scheme of the proposed decorations: ills in ace cordance with the finest and most perfect examples of Gothic archi- tecture; and the effect, assuming a proper harmony of colours and skilful execution of the decorartions, would be magnificent in the ex- treme—in splendour and richness it would vie with any building in the world.

Westminster Hall, which will form an integral part of the new building, is to have a central avenue thirty feet wide, formed by a double range of twenty statues of British statesmen, on pedestals placed correspondingly with the ribs of the roof: its walls will be adorned with twenty-eight paintings of warlike achievements, 16 feet in length by 10 in height, divided by twenty -six statues in niches of naval and military commanders. To give due effect to these decorations the windows in the roof will be enlarged ; by which means, its matchless construction and decorative carpentry will be drown to advantage. Mr. BARRY suggests that the old Hall should be made the depository of

trophies-of victories: but the time is gone by for such poor ostentation as a display of tattered flags. The parade of such questionable evi- dences of valour was always in bad taste, and is now at variance with the spirit of the age: it might serve to mortify the pride of nations with whom we are at peace, but would certainly not exalt the dignity of this country. The pictorial representation of victories is a mode of commemorating valorous exploits as little offensive as possible; and in erecting statues of great commanders, we only do honour to soldierly talent.

St. Stephen's Hall, which is erected on the site of the old chapel, for- merly the House of Commons, will be 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 50 feet high, and have a stone-groined ceiling: the walls to be adorned with ten paintings commemorative of great domestic events in British history, separated by statues of men eminent in the civil service of the country : there will also be thirty niches for statues in the upper part of this hall.

The Central Hall is an octagon of 60 feet diameter and 50 feet high, with a stone-groined ceiling. Each side being opened by lofty arches of doors or windows, there will be no spaces for pictures; but niches in the walls and screens will afford appropriate pedestals for statues of Sovereigns in chronological order up to the period of the Heptarchy ; Queen Victoria standing in the centre on a rich marble pedestal. In front of the eight clustered pillars in the angles, sedent statues of the great lawgivers of antiquity might he placed with good effect. The Victoria Gallery, 130 feet long, 45 feet wide, and 50 feet high, with a flat ceiling, will admit of both paintings and sculpture : the

paintings, sixteen in number, 12 feet long and 10 feet high; and the statues in gilt bronze. The subjects suggested for the paintings are royal pageants, this being a place for processions to pass through ; and the statues proposed are those of royal personages. The House of Lords, 93 feet long, 45 feet wide, and 50 feet high, will have a flat ceiling in panels : the fittings and windows do not leave

space sufficient for paintings, but niches will be introduced for statues of eminent personages ; the architectural details will be enriched with gold and colours, and the fittings with oak carvings. The throne will be superb ; the back lined with cloth of gold, with the royal arms embroidered in colours.

The House of Commons, 83 feet long, 46 feet wide, and 50 feet high, with a flat ceiling in panels, will be finished in a style similar to that of the other chamber, but less highly decorated: the extent of ac- commodation required precludes both painting and sculpture. The Queen's Robing-Room, the Ante-Room, or Guard Chamber, and the Conference Hall, will be available for paintings of appropriate sub- jects ; and the principal Corridors, which will be 12 feet wide, may be

decorated with portraits and other paintings : the corridors on the three floors furnish an available space of wall for this purpose 3,900 feet in length by seven in height. There are nine rooms appropriated to Libraries, six of them 50 feet long and 28 feet wide ; four to refresh- ments, each 18 feet wide, of which one is 60 feet, one 34, and two 28 feet long; twenty to robing and other purposes, for Bishops, Peers, and

State Officers, averaging in size about 24 feet by 18; and thirty-five or Committees. The Committee-Rooms are distributed in three floors : eight on the principal floor, of which five are 37 feet long by 28

feet wide; nineteen on the one-pair floor, of which two are 42 feet long by 33 wide, one 54 by 28, four 36 by 28, ten 34 by 28, and two 34 by 22; those on the two-pair floor averaging 28 by 20 feet. The whole of these rooms are 20 feet high, (except the eight upper rooms); and will have flat ceilings formed into panels by moulded ribs, and relieved by carvings ; oak floors, bordered and inlaid; and they will be adorned with portraits and other paintings, in addition to the colour and gilding of the architectural details. The State Rooms of the Speaker's Resi- dence also admit of the introduction of paintings on the walls; and the Quadrangles of the building are sufficiently spacious for equestrian statues to be placed in the centre with effect.

Here is an ample field for the employment of our painters, sculptors, and decorators, for years to come; and if they prove equal to the occa-

sion, the Palace of the Legislature will be a noble monument of British art in the nineteenth century, and as proud a trophy of the wealth and genius of the nation as any country can boast. In reference to the completion of the exterior, Mr. BARRY suggests an addition to the building, which would greatly enhance its symmetry and splendour. "It has ever been considered by me," he says, "a great defect in my design that it does not comprise a front of sufficient length towards the Abbey: particularly as the building will perhaps be better and more generally seen on that side than upon any other. This was impossible, owing to the broken outline of the site with which I had to deal." He therefore proposes to extend this front so as to enclose New Palace Yard, and make an imposing principal entrance at the angle of Bridge Street and St. Margaret Street : this addition would afford accommodation for new Law Courts, or for Government offices. A quadrangle, with Westminster Hall on one side, the clock-tower at another, and an entrance-gate at a third, the fourth being enclosed by an open screen showing the East front of the building to passengers over the bridge, would be a magnificent feature. Of the various local improvements suggested by Mr. BARRY, the alteration of Westminster Bridge he regards as the greatest, and of the most pressing importance. Apart from any considerations affecting the new building, the old bridge is ugly and inconvenient ; its road-way is steep and narrow, and stands in need of reform as much as even Blackfriars did. It is proposed to rebuild the superstructure on the old foundations, which are now in course of reparation; depressing the level of the road-way as low as possible, widening it by a projecting parapet, and making the arches pointed to accord with the architecture of the new palace. Pointed arches have these advantages also—they not only facilitate the lowering of the road-way, but give an equally wide water-way at all states of the tide, by allowing the springing of the arches to be raised above high-water-mark; thus preventing danger to craft and injury to the bridge. "At present, the spandrils of the arches offer an impediment to the water-way at high-water nearly equal to 1-20th of its sectional area, occasioning rapid currents with a con- siderable falL" Mr. BARRY estimates the cost of this reedification of the superstructure of the bridge at 120,0004 independently of Messrs. iyALHEB. and BURGESS'S estimate for the repairs of the foundation and piers, and the widening of the road-way. He has submitted a design for the new superstructure, which we have not seen ; but Professor HOSKINS has put forth a chaste and simple design for the remodelling of Westminster Bridge on a similar plan : it presents a light and ele- gant appearance, and would be a very striking improvement in a pictu- resque point of view. The other local improvements suggested by Mr. BARRY relate to the enlargement of the contiguous spaces and the improvement of the ap- proaches. The demolition of the houses in Abingdon Street and Old Palace Yard, would form an area for the convenience of state proces- sions and carriages in waiting, and a spacious landing-place from the river; displaying the Victoria Tower and the South and West fronts of the building to the best advantage. The Chapterhouse of West- minster Abbey would thus be opened to view, and a fine view of the Abbey obtained, in conjunction with the new edifice. A considerable extent of frontage would be available for buildings, corresponding in style with the Abbey and Palace. The removal of the houses between Parliament Street and King Street would make a noble street, opening the Abbey to view from Whitehall: the North side of King Street would then be an eligible site for houses of a better class, or for public offices. Milbank Street and Tothill Street, if widened and improved, would form convenient and effective approaches. St. Margaret's Church, which has always been an eyesore, should not be suffered to remain : Mr. BARRY suggests, as an alternative, its architectural im- provement; but this would only embellish an obstruction, whose un- sightliness affords the best chance of its removal.

The embankment of the river on both sides from Vauxhall to Lon- don Bridge, as suggested by Messrs. WALKER and BURGESS the en- gineers, is considered by Mr. BARRY an object next in importance to the rebuilding of Westminster Bridge. He, however, confines his ob- servations to that portion of the proposed plan which most affects his building; and suggests the formation of a public road on arches along the Lambeth shore from the terminus of the railroads at London Bridge to that of the South-western Railway : the levels to correspond with those of the bridges it would intersect, and thus interfere as little as possible with the wharfs; over which it would form archways available for warehouses. A sufficient depth of road might be obtained in many

parts to allow of a frontage for houses of a superior class; which, if designed in masses with reference to architectural effect, would be a great ornament to the river, and from their open and commanding situ- ation would be desirable residences.

An embankment of the Thames to some extent is already determined upon, it appears; but the precise nature and direction of the plan has not transpired. In a matter of so much importance both to the naviga- tion of the river and the improvement of the Metropolis, some com- prehensive and well-considered plan should be first determined upon, and its execution might then be gradual : bit-by-bit improvements would mar the utility and beauty of the whole, and tend to retard rather than advance the accomplishment of an object which has been so long considered expedient if not essential.

Mr. BARRY'S suggestions are of a grand and sweeping character ; but they are all decided and practical improvements, desirable on the score of public health and convenience, or the general appearance of the Metropolis, as well as with reference to his new edifice, and not altogether unproductive in a pecuniary point of view.

The valuable papers on Fresco and other mural paintings will form the subject of a separate notice.