The Revival of Classicism

We spent the day immured in the crypt of the chapel at the Royal Naval College, listening to different types of classical revivalism: the messianic belief of Sandy Stoddart who has kept the flame of Thorvaldsen alive in Glasgow; Craig Hamilton who has designed a neoclassical chapel in Culham talking of his admiration for Lutyens; Pablo Bronstein who has a Rex Whistler-ish pleasure in the fantasies of neoclassical decoration; and Oliver Wainwright talking about the dictator neoclassicism of Pyongyang. Wainwright implied that all forms of neoclassicism bear the taint of fascism, maybe forgetting that, at least up until the second world war, the majority of American democratic institutions, including libraries and museums, were still designed as beaux arts monuments and, indeed, David Chipperfield’s forthcoming concert hall in Edinburgh is nearly pure Ledoux.

It was a relief to be able to escape upstairs into the pure eighteenth-century neoclassicism of Athenian Stuart’s Greenwich Chapel:-






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