Historical Newburgh >> Andrew Jackson Downing
1834
Andrew Jackson Downing
"Andrew Jackson Downing was a protagonist for public parks and had he not drowned at the age of 36 it is likely that Downing, rather than Olmsted, would have received the commission to design Central Park in New York," from gardenvisit.com. Downing: "If we pass an ill proportioned building, where the walls and the roofs are built only to defend the inmates against cold and heat; the windows intended for nothing but to admit the light and exclude air; the chimneys constructed only to carry off the smoke,; the impression which that house makes upon us at a glance, is that of mere utility."
If, on the other hand, the building is well proportioned, if there is a pleasing symmetry in its outwoard form, and (should it be large) should it display variety, utility, harmony and unity we feel that it possesses much absolute beauty - the beauty of a fine form.
It was Andrew Jackson Downing who persuaded Frederick Law Olmsted's future partner, Calvert Vaux, to move from England to America.
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If, in addition to this, we observe that it has various marked features, indicating intelligent and cultivated life in its inhabitants; if it plainly shows by its various aprtments that it is intended not only for the physical wants of man, but for his moral, social, and intellectual exisstence; if hospitality smiles in ample parlors; if hoome virtues dwell in cosy, fire-side family-rooms; if the love of the beautiful is seen in picture or statue galleries; intellectuality in well-stocked libraries; we feel, at a a glance, that here we have reached the highest beautfy of which Domestic Architecture is capable -- that of individual expression."
So said one of Newburgh's most prominent sons, Andrew Jackson Downing, the man often cited as being one of the most influential designers of not only architecture and landscape design, but a cultural influencer who helped defined what an emerging leisure class ought to aspire to. The quote comes from his highly influential publication, The Architecture of Country Houses. Downing worked out in this book and other publications (including his influential The Horticulturist Magazine 1846-52) architectural truths, or principles, as governing axioms by which to design, envision, and live. He believed not only in utility but in the necessity of beauty. From the first chapter of his book: Downing worked out in this book and other publications (including his influential The Horticulturist Magazine 1846-52) architectural truths, or principles, as governing axioms by which to design, envision, and live. He believed not only in utility but in the necessity of beauty. From the first chapter of his book:
The influence of Downing on the American Landscape was tremendous, both literally (he was credited by two giants whom he mentored: Andrew Jackson Davis and Calvert Vaux, who cited him as having directly influenced their work on Central Park) and figuratively, as his reach extended into the future of architecture and lifestyle even touching upon Frank Lloyd Wright.
"Downing’s principles anticipated several elements of Craftsman houses, and even the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, as noted by architectural historian Vincent J. Scully, Jr in his wiki article discussing Gothic Revival and Downing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholson-Rand_House
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE8jgesLKl8
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