Monday, April 16, 2018

Ralph Adams Cram And Bertram Goodhue

I did quite a bit of research over the weekend on Ralph Adams Cram and his colleague Bertram Goodhue. The two worked in various architectural partnerships between 1892 and 1913; Goodhue, after leaving the Cram partnership, did his best work in the following decade. Both were major exponents of Gothic Revival. Looking at their work, I've done more thinking about Anglo-Medievalism, Anglo-Catholicism, and their relation to Anglicanorum coetibus.

I've mentioned St Thomas Episcopal Church Manhattan already. This, opened in 1913, was their last collaboration and is described in Wikipedia as "the most integrated and strongest example of their work together". Here's a photo of the Fifth Avenue facade:

Apparently the overall design came from Cram, while the decoration and figures came from Goodhue and another collaborator, Lee Lawrie. There are numerous photos of the statues and other decorations at the parish website here. The statuary includes representations of major saints and other figures in the Old and New Testaments. Their range is difficult to imagine outside a Catholic context, and in fact, the interpretation of Biblical history the statuary implies would go to the issue that the Catholic Church is fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

According to Wikipedia,

The style of worship at Saint Thomas Church has varied greatly over the history of the parish. Beginning with the rectorship of John Andrew in 1972, however, it has followed the Anglo-Catholic or High Church tradition within the Episcopal Church that developed out of the Oxford Movement. This was further developed under the rectorship of Andrew Mead. Sunday services include Low Mass, High Mass, and Evensong, and Solemn Mass on Christmas, Easter and major feast days. Special liturgies and processions are held for Advent, Epiphany, Candlemas and Holy Week. The Litany is sung in procession in Advent and Lent. The choir of men and boys sing most Sundays in term time and, if there are no visiting choirs during the school vacation, the gentlemen of the choir sing the services.
The problem I have is that the Gothic Revival movement is a deliberate revival, in effect an affectation. If it's adopted outside a Catholic context, it seems to me that it's a stylistic feature that doesn't necessarily reflect what's actually going on in the building -- an extreme example would be the Hearst San Simeon mansion, which uses the outward design of a church to enclose what is in effect a series of residential apartments.

Goodhue did design at least one Catholic church building, St Vincent Ferrer (1918), also in New York:

The use of statuary is very similar.

Goodhue eventually departed from Gothic Revival to establish Spanish Colonial Revival as an important California theme, but his 1924 Los Angeles Central Library, completed after his death, was clearly inspired by the 1922 discovery of King Tut's tomb.

Unlike Cram, who worked in Gothic Revival throughout his life, Goodhue seems to have regarded it as a style to use, rather than a central principle. This may contribute to my sense that the statues -- whether at St Thomas, St Vincent, or the LA Public Library -- aren't quite serious. There's an eye-rolling, campy quality to them.

This goes to the almost routine observation that same-sex attraction has always been a feature of Anglo-Catholicism. From my resarch, it appears that Cram and Goodhue were part of an important group of Boston esthetes at the turn of the 20th century, and their relationship may not have been solely professional. This in turn takes me back to Fr Longenecker's observation that Anglicanism is something that "looks like" Roman Catholicism.