By Barry Magrill
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Additional resources for A Commerce of Taste: Church Architecture in Canada, 1867-1914
Fig. 9 Specimen pages of Sens Cathedral (left), view of towers at Senlis and Covantres (below). 30 • a commerce of taste New York publishers such as Standford and Sword, as well as William T. Comstock, innovated a new format in the pattern book that blended the presentation of medieval specimens with neo-Gothic designs emerging from the drawing tables of contemporary architects. The tactic legitimized new designs by marketing them in close association with the visual history of medieval churches.
The spatial property of the “commerce of taste” was a major component channelling two-dimensional visual imagery into the built form, in a close and conflicted relationship. Transposing designs on paper into the built form was previously the privileged domain of the architect and builder. 7 It was a dangerous game. The architect had to be careful to avoid offending his clientele, who ranged from church-building committees to bishops representing divinity on Earth. On the other hand, the pattern books, as commercial items, had no such social restrictions.
Whether by conscious design, or more likely by the operations of a capitalist market, architects intent on nationalizing the Gothic Revival in Canada issued book after book in order to infuse their preferred idiom with freshness. All of this was actually problematized by the fact that architectural grammar had a way of crossing national boundaries. Pattern books tried to – but could not completely – control the dissemination and use of architectural vocabulary. The regional model of book distribution resonated with the way religion and settlement spread across the Dominion.
A Commerce of Taste: Church Architecture in Canada, 1867-1914 by Barry Magrill