Yesterday, I walked across campus to pick up this book from ILL.

Let’s try an experiment, shall we?

The following is a photograph of Blenheim Palace, built for the Duke of Marlborough after he won, oh, some battle or other. Possibly an important one. This much, many of my readers will already know. What you perhaps did not know is that Nicholas Hawksmoor was the assistant to Sir John Vanbrugh, the dramatist-cum-architect who is credited with the design. And then I’ll post a picture of it:

Blenheim Palace

Now I’ll type up some meaningless text, not at all to the point, as the set-up for the next photograph, which is an image of the West Towers of Westminster Abbey, another apparently important building of some sort. Hawksmoor also designed it.

West Towers

Hawksmoor was famous for church design, and in the next photograph I’ll switch up a bit and post an image of St. George’s Church at night. The darkness makes for a dramatic touch, no?

St. George's Church at night

As I’m sure you’ve already noticed, the text I’ve written is irrelevant to the pleasure of the looking at these pictures. And that’s precisely what I noticed about Vaughan Hart’s text as I walked back across the quad with it. Oh, sure, I requested the book because I’m a specialist. And I am genuinely interested in learning more about eighteenth-century architecture, with an eye on how it might illumine the literature of the time. Not long ago, I read about an anecdote about an art historian who, on a walking tour of Oxford, went into minute detail in his appreciation of the architectural achievements of All Soul’s College, another Hawksmoor building:

All Soul's

The story left me curious about those minute details. So I did a bit of research and found that Hart’s book is a respected modern study. His text is well-researched, full of insight into Hawksmoor’s theories and sources, and quite thorough, but let’s be honest–this book is Playboy for the eighteenth-century academic, and I’m not reading it for the articles. It’s all about the pictures.

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