Monday, 8 December 2014

Victorian Gothic at Exeter

A neat exhibition at the RAMM museum in Exeter, which is really about the Victorian Gothick, and in keeping with the museum itself, opened in 1861 and named in memory of the lamented Prince Consort who died in December of that year.  Here he is at the top of the entrance stairs, in what feels a rather cramped site in the city centre, brilliantly repainted in bright pink.

And, from the Royal Collection, Landseer’s oil of Albert & Victoria in costume as Edward III and Philippa of Hainault in 1842. They had a lot to answer for - I don't assume Pugin's ideas would have prevailed without such royal endorsement - though the architects – especially the ‘Great Goths’ – Scott, Butterfield, Bodley, Street, Pearson etc – made a more lasting impression with their buildings.  Churches of course were to be expected, given the Anglican fervour for a return to pre-Reformation faith without papal authority  - but  Parliament ??  as heir to ancient Greek democracy? or St Pancras station hotel??  Those[still] don't make a lot of sense except as Victorian ostentatious, elaborate, boastful expense.

The RAMM exhibition includes many unfamiliar pieces, such as an intricate metal 'throne' designed by Viollet-le-duc from Tyntesfield, which looks ridiculously uncomfortable; and some less fanciful, solidly powerful church furnishings carved by Harry Hems.  

Finally, The Summoning of of the Knights, one  of the great Holy Grail tapestries produce by Morris & Co to  Burne-Jones' designs, which remains astonishing in its impact.

This whole topic set me thinking about the appropriate font for a blog about Victorian Gothick.  
In the Microsoft font repertoire are a number declaring themselves ‘Gothic’
such as Malgun Gothic
Franklin Gothic Book  which frankly doesn’t look at all Gothic either
Century Gothic, ditto
Copperplate gothic light  WHICH ONLY DOES UPPER CASE
MS Gothic
Showcard gothic  like copperplate only upper case
For all these the Gothic suffix seems mistaken and inexplicable.

There are a few quasi-Victorian typefaces, but I think the most appropriate
and most Puginesque

is Old English Text, even though or perhaps because it is so difficult to read, just as on Victorian memorial brasses.    However, for that reason i didn't choose it ...


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