Wednesday 24 February 2010

43 Belgrave Square SW1

Belgrave Square, built between 1826 and 1837, represents the exact point at which the elegant and exacting architecture of the Adam brothers, Nash and Soane started to decline into Victorian showiness.
The architect George Basevi, Soane's pupil, created a superb composition of balanced terraces and mansions at the corners. But where Nash had allowed nothing to indicate that the palatial terraces of Regent's Park are actually individual houses, Basevi gives each house a porch which distracts the eye from the big picture. And Nash placed his terraces on private driveways, giving them a seclusion and perspective that Basevi's lack because they sit right on the street.
But the most telling indication that standards are slipping is the sculpture. Compared with Regent's Park, these ladies are coarse and heavy, with hands like bunches of bananas. The arms of the putti on the balustrade look like salamis. Of course, they may have been repaired or restored, but even so.

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