Friday, July 31, 2009

Edward Welby Pugin

Edward Welby Pugin was the eldest son of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. He followed his father into the profession of architecture and was indispensable within his Father's business, which he took over the running of at the tender age of eighteen, when his Father died in 1852.

Much of Edward's work, like his Father's, was ecclesiastical in nature and it is said that he completed over one hundred church building works throughout Britain, including three cathedrals, by the time of his death in 1875.

Although not nearly as well known as his father, Edward was the more successful, and whereas his Father worked in the early Victorian Gothic Revival style, by the time that his son was at the height of his creativity, the Gothic Revival had become more expansive and lavish, with less emphasis on being true to the Medieval roots of the style, placing instead more emphasis on the outward appearance of the decorative and ornamental qualities the style made possible.

Edward spent an exhausting and long drawn out litigation process trying to convince the nation that his Father was the true architect of the Palace of Westminster, rather than that of Charles Barry. It did little good as it had always been assumed, and still is, that Barry was the architect of the outside of the building while Pugin was the internal decorator. Edward undoubtedly felt that his Father had been marginalised by both Barry and the nation into the persona of an interior decorator rather than the more status driven one of architect, but in the long term the interior of Westminster has stood the test of time and probably made Pugin more accessible and popular than Barry has ever been.

Edward Pugin, like his Father before him, burnt himself out through overwork and stress and died at the early age of forty, the same age as his Father. Taken as a whole, Edward's career could be seen as a natural progression or even extension of that of his Father's. Both men were similar in temperament and ideals, both were devout Catholics and dedicated to the promotion of good ecclesiastical architectural design. Over a period of forty years Father and Son both extended and expanded the scope of ecclesiastical architecture across the British Isles.

For much more detailed information on the architectural achievements of both Father and Son a trip to the Pugin Society is well worth while.

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