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Title: The Brochure Series of Architectural Illustration, Volume 01, No. 05, May 1895 - Two Florentine Pavements
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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VOL. I. MAY, 1895. No. 5.


The church of San Miniato al Monte, just outside the walls southeast of
Florence, and the Baptistery, or church of San Giovanni Battista, in
Florence, are among the finest examples of the Tuscan Romanesque style,
and both probably date from about the same time--the early part of the
twelfth century--although the date of San Miniato has until recently
been referred several centuries further back.

These two churches have many points of similarity, although entirely
different in plan. San Miniato was referred to in the article upon the
Byzantine-Romanesque doorways of Southern Italy in our February number,
and Fergusson's classification of Byzantine-Romanesque was, for the time
being, adopted for lack of better authority. Later writers have,
however, generally agreed that there is little or no Byzantine influence
in these two churches; that the delicate and refined treatment of
classic forms here found is not the result of Byzantine or Greek
influence, but is due entirely to the natural refinement of the Tuscan
race. The same characteristic was again shown later in the treatment of
Gothic detail, and is evident in the Renaissance work of this locality.

The dimensions of San Miniato were given in the February number referred
to above. The interior of this church is generally considered one of the
most beautiful interiors of Italy on account of its effective basilican
plan with a crypt opening from the nave, its beautiful and rich detail,
and its fine mosaics and decorations. The pavement is not the least of
its attractions.

The Baptistery will be remembered for its famous bronze doors, the work
of Ghiberti, which have given occasion for so much discussion, favorable
and unfavorable. It is octagonal in plan, and 108 feet in diameter
externally. It was erected originally for the cathedral of the city, but
in the eleventh and twelfth centuries was so thoroughly remodeled that
no recognizable features of the old building remain.

The pavements, in point of design, appear quite independent of the other
ornamental work in the two buildings we are considering.

The motives of ornament are those commonly found in the stuffs,
especially silks, of Sicily and the East, and their use here could
easily be accounted for through connection with Sicily. It is known that
the Hotel de Tiraz at Palermo, the great royal manufactory of stuffs,
artistic metal work, mosaics, etc., established in the sixth century,
and which continued until the sixteenth, supplied not only much of the
finest textile products for all of Europe in that time, but also
furnished workmen who carried with them the designs and methods of
Sicilian textile manufacture to other countries. Such manufactories were
established in several Italian cities, among them Lucca.

The relationship seems clear, as the forms are perfectly similar. The
beasts and birds set in balancing pairs facing each other and repeated
in an all-over pattern, as in a woven fabric, strongly suggest the
Sicilian silks. Eug. Muentz in his work, "La Tapisserie," speaks of this
evident relationship. The internal evidence of the design itself would
be quite sufficient if we had no other means of tracing it.

These two pavements are practically unique, as far as we are able to
learn. They are marble inlay, the pattern having been cut out in a slab
of white marble and pieces of black marble carefully fitted in to form
the figure. This is not true mosaic, and differs essentially in design
from the mosaic work of the same period which was derived from the Roman
mosaics made up of small pieces of marble or other material. Most of the
floor mosaics in Italy have suffered from wear and tear, and have in
many cases been very poorly restored; but these two pavements appear to
be in nearly their original condition.

The design does not have the merit of belonging distinctively to the
material in all cases, and might just as well be applied to wood
parquetry as stone. In fact, it might be even more effective in this
material if the colors were judiciously chosen.

[Illustration: XXXIII. Portion of the Pavement in the Baptistery,
Florence, Italy.]

[Illustration: XXXIV. Portion of the Pavement in the Baptistery,
Florence, Italy.]

[Illustration: XXXV. Portion of the Pavement in the Baptistery,
Florence, Italy.]

[Illustration: XXXVI. Portion of the Pavement in the Baptistery,
Florence, Italy.]

[Illustration: XXXVII. Portion of the Pavement in the Baptistery,
Florence, Italy.]



One exception should be made to the remarks above in relation to true
mosaic. The lower left-hand portion of plate XXXVI is without doubt made
up of small pieces put together after the manner of the old Roman
mosaics, and it is possible that the portion shown in the upper
left-hand corner of the same plate is made in the same way. There are
several parts of the floor laid in this manner, but they are distinctly
secondary in interest to the inlaid portions.

The pavement is divided irregularly by squares and rectangles, the
portion especially rich in ornament being that between the door and the
altar. The rectangular patterns are irregularly cut into by special
pavements, placed before several of the monumental tombs in the walls.

[Illustration: XXXVIII. Portion of the Pavement in the Church of San
Miniato al Monte, Florence, Italy.]

[Illustration: XXXIX. Portion of the Pavement in the Church of San
Miniato al Monte, Florence, Italy.]

[Illustration: XL. Portion of the Pavement in the Church of San Miniato
al Monte, Florence, Italy.]



In the first of these plates there is a suggestion of the mosaic
treatment commonly seen in the pavements of Rome, Venice, and Siena.
The sort of guilloche of interlacing circles was very generally used.

Plate XL on the other hand is as plainly reminiscent of textile designs
as it well might be; and in plate XXXIII from the Baptistery the same
characteristic can be seen.

Wood Floors.

The addition which a fine hardwood floor makes to the attractiveness of
a room is appreciated by some architects, but good floors are not by any
means as common as they should be. The expense of hard wood is not so
much more than that of a cheap floor as to stand in the way of its use
when the final result is considered.

It is generally admitted that a floor entirely covered with a carpet is
in many ways undesirable, especially from a sanitary point of view;
while a hardwood floor, wholly or partly covered with rugs, has every
advantage. Furthermore, the fashion, which has a great deal to do with
what shall be used, aside from any question of intrinsic merit, has set
strongly in this direction, and in many cases old floors are replaced
with new ones of hard wood for the sole purpose of giving a chance for
the use of rugs in place of carpets. This is one, even if it be a rare
instance of the agreement of fashion and good taste. In working over an
old floor a plain or ornamental border can usually be laid at no great
expense by using the thin wood carpet, manufactured by all the best
makers of parquetry, and the centre can be laid with a pattern or with
narrow strips such as the "roll goods" which are manufactured by S. C.
Johnson of Racine, which are made up of strips usually one and
three-eighths inches wide and five sixteenths of an inch thick, glued to
a backing of canvas.

Patterns of all descriptions made from all the best foreign and domestic
woods can be obtained, as the designs of the best manufacturers include
an almost unlimited choice, and there is no end to the combinations
which can be made from the stock patterns. As an instance of this, the
catalogue of J. W. Boughton of Philadelphia contains a remarkably fine
selection of borders which can be combined and adapted to almost any
requirement, while the designs for the field or centre of the floor are
fully as varied and usable. These designs are made in such shape that
they can be easily adapted to any shape of room and fitted to all sorts
of irregular niches and jogs at slight extra expense.

Owing to the economy of manufacturing floors made from pieces which can
be put together on a system of squares, hexagons, or octagons, most of
the patterns in common use are made up of these units, or of triangles
or rectangles combining to form these figures. Curved forms cannot be
used to good advantage in this way as it is difficult and expensive to
cut or join them properly. Nevertheless, all the principal manufacturers
will execute to order any design desired.

When placed in a new house floors of 7/8 inch or 1-1/4 inch are usually
to be preferred, and are made in sections of convenient size for
shipment at the factory, and finished after they are in place.

Most of the makers nail thin parquetry work through from the surface and
fill the nail holes with putty, although in some cases blind nailing is

Western manufacturers have in the last few years been making rapid
progress in this industry. While J. W. Boughton, who is one of the
oldest and best known makers of ornamental flooring, is still doing a
large and increasing business, Western houses are catering to and
obtaining a great deal of the best trade. The Interior Hardwood Company
of Indianapolis, under the business management of its vice-president,
Mr. Charles Hinman Comstock, has doubled its capacity in the last year
and shows commendable energy in pushing its business. S. C. Johnson of
Racine, Wis., is also in the front rank in first-class trade. The
Wood-Mosaic Company of Rochester should also be considered as one of the
leading and reliable houses. Its collection of designs is full and
varied and its work of the best.

Architects will find the catalogues of these firms most valuable
reference books.

The finishing of a good floor requires care and attention as well as
special knowledge. Oil, varnish, shellac, and wax are the finishes
ordinarily used, but wax is usually the most satisfactory.

The floor should be carefully and thoroughly smoothed, so that no waves
or plane-marks will be seen, and then filled if the wood is at all
porous or open grained. This is done with preparations manufactured by
any of the firms mentioned above, or with fillers specially made for the
purpose such as those sold by Harrison Brothers & Company of
Philadelphia, or the Chicago Wood Finishing Company of Chicago. The wood
filler made by the latter firm is especially adapted for this purpose
and will give excellent results. The finish is then applied in one or
more coats as required, oil and shellac finishes usually requiring more
than one application and an intermediate rubbing down with fine
sandpaper. Shellac and ordinary varnish are usually unsatisfactory from
their tendency to wear unevenly. The Chicago Varnish Company of Chicago
supplies a varnish under the name of "Supremis," which has proved by
years of use under trying conditions, such as those of asylums,
hospitals, and public buildings, to be of exceptional merit. It is
elastic, tough, and gives a fine waxy surface which can be rubbed and
will preserve its finish. It has the additional merit of being easily
applied. It dries quickly and is remarkably durable. Wax should be
carefully applied and then polished to the required finish with a
weighted brush.

Of wax finishes one very largely used is that made by the Butcher Polish
Company of Boston. It has all the best qualities of other wax finishes
and has stood the test of time and experience.

There are numerous variations in the products referred to above suited
for different purposes. The Wood-Mosaic Company makes end-wood mosaic
7/8 inch thick made of small blocks joined by means of a lead tongue;
wood carpet similar to that of S. C. Johnson; and thick and thin
parquetry. S. C. Johnson also makes a flooring of 1/4 inch face glued to
a backing of pine to make 7/8 inch, 1 inch, or 1-1/4 inch stock which is
found to stand the changes of temperature in American houses remarkably
well. The thicker floors of 7/8 inch and upwards are frequently made
with tongued and grooved joints and blind nailed.

These patterns when properly chosen are just as appropriate for stairs,
walls, or even ceilings, as for floors, and are frequently used for
these places.

Modern Mosaic Floors.

The use of mosaic floors, especially for corridors and entrances of
public and business buildings and in some positions of private
residences, is rapidly increasing, and every specimen of work gives this
art impetus. The laying of a mosaic floor is not so simple a matter as
it appears to many architects, and the fact that anyone cannot do it is
proven by the bad work one constantly runs across. It is, therefore,
advisable that work of this sort be entrusted to a concern that can be
found after the job has been finished and paid for, and that has a
reputation to maintain and a willingness to make good any imperfection
that a few months' wear will bring to light. As this number of THE
BROCHURE SERIES will often be referred to where ornamental floors are
being designed, we take pleasure not particularly in recommending a
house for executing such floors, but rather in calling attention to some
of the work executed, inspection of which will be the strongest
endorsement possible. We refer to the Murdock Parlor Grate Company of
Boston, a house known by name at least to every architect and builder of
New England.

Organized over forty years ago, and with prospects of active existence
for as many or more years to come, their contracts contain the element
of responsibility that is the best guarantee an architect can have that
his client's interests are in good hands.

The mosaic and terrazzo flooring department of the Murdock Parlor Grate
Company already has a list of over fifty public buildings in which
important work has been done. The terrazzo floors so much admired in the
new Public Library, covering a surface of 60,000 square feet, the mosaic
floor of the Members' corridor in the Massachusetts State House, and
especially the entrance to the Members' vestibule, a part of this floor,
and the lobbies to the Bowdoin Square and Keith's Theatres, Boston, also
mosaic, are examples easily inspected by Boston architects.

Other public buildings in New England in which this company have done
admirable mosaic work are the new McLean Asylum buildings, the Arlington
(Mass.) Public Library, the Exchange Club, Boston, and a number of bank

Throughout the Back Bay district there are numberless vestibule and
hall floors in fine residences, many of which are gems in color and

We have mentioned only a few examples, but almost every New England
architect can, by writing to the Murdock Parlor Grate Company, be
referred to examples of their work in his neighborhood, and we think he
will find their estimates as low as it is safe to accept, and their
responsibility is beyond all question.


_A Handbook of Architectural Styles_: Translated from the German of A.
Rosengarten by W. Collett-Sandars. New edition, 639 illustrations. New
York: C. Scribner's Sons. 1895. For sale by Bates & Guild, Boston.

A review of the contents of this work is scarcely necessary, as it is
already recognized as a standard by all who are at all familiar with
architectural literature. As compared with other books upon the history
of architecture, the point of view from which the subject has been
looked at furnishes the main distinction. This cannot be better stated
than in the words of the editor of the present edition, Professor T.
Roger Smith. He says: "It is essentially that of an academic and
classical professor, and one brought up not only in familiarity with the
best examples of ancient art, but with the habit of mind which recurs to
classic and especially to Greek originals, both as a standard of taste
and as models for treatment of modern works. This feeling, which held
sway in England in the day of Chambers, of Soane, and of Cockerell, has
now almost died out from our practice and our literature. The works of
the contemporary English and French writers on architecture, which are
now widely known and read, proceed avowedly and unmistakably on a
different basis. Such writings as those of Street or Scott,
Viollet-le-Duc, and Ruskin breathe a totally different inspiration;
while even the valuable series of architectural writings which we owe to
the pen of Mr. Fergusson are too cosmopolitan in range and too impartial
in tone for such a peculiarity as is here traceable to be visible in

The illustrations show some of the wear and tear of former editions, but
are still of great value.

The Brochure Series

of Architectural Illustration.




Subscription Rates per year 50 cents, in advance Special Club Rates for
five subscriptions $2.00

Entered at the Boston Post Office as Second-class Matter.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has been called to our attention that some of our subscribers object
to duplicating, or at least object to paying for duplicating plates or
photographs which they already have in some other form. This is of
course perfectly natural and was a point which we had fully in mind in
formulating the plan of THE BROCHURE SERIES. And this was one of the
main considerations which influenced us in making the subscription price
so low. At the price of fifty cents a year, if only a dozen out of the
hundred plates are worth buying to a subscriber his year's subscription
is justified and is a good investment.

Of necessity it will be found that we shall occasionally include
subjects which some of our subscribers already have, but the importance
of this duplication is liable to be exaggerated in the minds of those
who might notice it when the number of other desirable plates is not
kept in view. It should be remembered that the classification, which we
are following, and the complete reference index which will be published
at the end of each year, and the advantage of a compact and uniform
collection which a set of the BROCHURES will give, render it much more
usable than a collection of miscellaneous plates or photographs can
possibly be. While it is not to be expected that we can choose subjects
which are entirely new to all of our thousands of subscribers, it will
be our aim to select those which will appeal to the greatest number, and
when familiar subjects are given the best obtainable photographs will be
used, and those which are least likely to be already found in American

It is now too late for those who have not already subscribed to obtain a
complete set of THE BROCHURE SERIES as our supply of the first three
numbers is exhausted, and no attempt will be made in future to carry in
stock any back numbers. Only enough copies of each issue will be printed
to supply immediate demands. On this account those who wish for the
current numbers must subscribe at once in order to make sure of them.
Less than one hundred copies of the April number are now in stock and
these are fast disappearing. Subscriptions in future will only be taken
to date from the next succeeding issue.

We wish especially to call attention to the arrangement by which clubs
of five subscriptions may be made up for $2, or 40 cents for each
subscription. A very little inquiry among one's friends will bring to
light four who are ready to combine at this price.

       *       *       *       *       *

The large circulation of THE BROCHURE SERIES among the younger members
of the profession furnishes an excellent opportunity for the interchange
of ideas with men who are all working with the same end in view--the
advancement of the profession of architecture. There may be a wide
difference in their aims, influenced by personal considerations, the
various differences of training and environment; but all are looking
forward to increased opportunities and a wider field of usefulness. The
experience of many young men will be found of value in shaping the
course of those who have not yet won their spurs. It is the purpose of
THE BROCHURE SERIES to furnish information as far as possible on
everything relating to the profession which will help to make the course
of such men an easy one. The articles upon the sketch clubs,
scholarships, and other educational work, have all been intended to
serve this purpose, and the cooperation of all who are working to this
end is earnestly solicited. Our pages will always be open for the
discussion of subjects of vital interest to young architects, and we
shall hope to see the opportunity largely taken advantage of.

American School of Architecture, Rome.

A recent circular issued by the committee of the American School of
Architecture at Rome contains a general description of the organization
of the school and its work. On the twelfth of last June, at a meeting
held in New York, it was decided to found such a school, and a committee
of control was selected including the chiefs of the schools of
architecture at the different American colleges where such exist. We
give below some quotations from this circular which will be found of

The school is founded for the benefit of advanced students only, and is
designed to further the more disciplinary work of other institutions by
opening to young men, already well trained by them in drawing and
design, certain special lines of study, which at present can be pursued
only under great disadvantages. Beginners, accordingly, will not be
received. Such work is not suitable to their condition, and it would be
a mistake to encourage them to devote their time to it. But to the
holders of traveling scholarships, to those who have acquitted
themselves with distinction in the competitions for these scholarships,
and to members of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of at least three years'
standing, it offers opportunities for the completion of their
professional training which students thus equipped will, it is believed,
find of inestimable value. Other well-accredited students may be
admitted to certain hospitalities of the school, at the discretion of
the secretary.

Hitherto the holders of traveling scholarships have followed very
largely their own judgment as to their travel and study, and have
produced, as required, a certain number of carefully measured drawings,
which have borne testimony to the diligence of their authors, their
facility with pen, pencil, and brush, and the evident seriousness of
their intentions; but the work has necessarily shown no common purpose
and little consistent prosecution along carefully chosen lines. This
being their common experience, the past holders of traveling
scholarships are general in their approval of the effort to direct
foreign travel and study hereafter to more definite and specific

The school is one of observation and research rather than of design,
aiming to form a correct taste and to impress upon the mind, by daily
contact with great examples, those principles which are essential to the
enduring quality in architecture, be the style what it may. To this end
the founders of the school believe it to be of the utmost importance for
an architect, before he begins his professional career, to study
thoroughly and on the spot the monuments of ancient architecture and
such works of the Italian Renaissance as are worthy of being considered
their successors. The monuments best suited to this purpose are those of
Greece and Italy, and the headquarters of the school are established at
Rome rather than at Athens, because of the greater amount of material
there at hand of use to the modern student not only in the art of
architecture itself, but in that of mural painting and in the decorative
arts, including architectural sculpture.

The school was formally opened under the charge of Mr. Austin W. Lord,
as secretary, on the first of November last, in temporary quarters in
the upper story of the Palazzo Torlonia, on the southwest corner of the
Via dei Condotti and the Via Bocca di Leone, between the Corso and the
Piazza di Spagna; but a permanent home has now been secured in the
building known as the Casino dell'Aurora, occupying a part of the
grounds formerly belonging to the Villa Ludovisi. This building is
situated upon an isolated plot of ground, raised fifteen or twenty feet
above the surrounding streets, and comprising about eighty thousand
square feet, which is the size of the enclosed space in Gramercy Park in
the city of New York. It is on the Pincian Hill, not far from the French
Academy in the Villa Medici. The building contains about thirty rooms;
some of these are decorated with well-known frescoes, among which is the
Aurora of Guercino. The grounds, which were laid out by Lenôtre, are
well covered with trees and shrubs, and afford ample space for the
erection of additional one story buildings, should such be required at
any time for workrooms or studios.


Mr. A. L. Nicholson, formerly with Davis & Von Storch, architects,
Scranton, Pa., has accepted a position with De Lemos & Cordes, Fulton
Building, Fulton and Nassau Streets, New York.

Mr. Dwight H. Perkins, of the firm of Perkins & Selby, Marshall Field
Building, Chicago, opened a new office on May 1 at 1107 Steinway Hall
Building, Chicago.

Mr. Myron H. Hunt, recently returned from an extended trip abroad, has
gone into the office of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge in Chicago.

Mr. F. N. Reed, who has distinguished himself in the Rotch Scholarship
competition, having been given second place each time in the last three
years, is now with Cabot, Everett & Mead of Boston.

Brochure Series Competition No. 1.


Program: The Henry F. Miller Piano Company of Boston, with the idea of
turning the attention of designers to the problem of artistic piano
cases, has placed in the hands of publishers of THE BROCHURE SERIES $50,
to be awarded for sketches of piano cases. Three prizes of $25, $15, and
$10 will be given for the three best designs submitted, the judges to be
the officers, of the company, assisted by an architect who shall be
appointed by the publishers.

It is not the idea of the Henry F. Miller Piano Company to secure
designs for actual use, as their work in special case design is almost
entirely to order, carrying out designs for architects and decorators.
Therefore, only sketches are required which may be executed in any
medium the designer may choose, although due regard should be paid to
the reproductive character of the drawing. A perspective sketch, showing
the right end and front of the case, is required to be made on paper,
not exceeding 8x12 in. in size.

The diagram above gives the necessary dimensions. In designing the end
the only thing to be borne in mind is the construction of the case, the
front telescoping into the back or frame, as shown by the plan of the
end. The quarter round finish of the back is not necessary, the
treatment of the end being optional so long as dimensions and
construction are regarded.

The arm or end of the keyboard (_c_), the foot (_a_), the "truss" (_b_),
which supports the keyboard, are all left entirely to the designer, the
only dimensions to be regarded being the height of keyboard from the
floor (2 ft. 1 in.), the top of the keys (4-1/2 in. higher), and the
space (4 ft.) occupied by the keys. The arm projects 1 ft. 1 in. beyond
the front.

Drawings must be sent carriage paid so as to reach the editor of THE
BROCHURE SERIES on or before July 15, 1895.

The prize designs will become the property of the Henry F. Miller Piano
Company. The other designs will be returned to their authors. It is to
be understood, however, that any or all designs may be exhibited or
published, and that they may be retained a reasonable time after
judgment for these purposes.

The details and management of the competition are left entirely to the
publishers of THE BROCHURE SERIES, and it is hoped that this, the first
of a number of competitions they will endeavor to arrange, will bring
out the work of the best designers. If there is any portion of this
program not clearly understood, the publishers will explain more in
detail upon request.

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