A Reason for Everything
An analysis of the commodification and development of the Ruin as a subject-object in Britain Culture
The Spirit of the Enlightenment championed the voice of reason across the whole of Europe, forcing society to evolve into what we now call the start of modern day living. The driving force behind the Movement was brought about through the contributions of several philosophers, artists, poets, explorers, politicians and noble Lords. It was these ‘revolutionaries’ who became promulgators of a new and open debate, reevaluating every topic imaginable, directly or indirectly. Apart from the newly emerging debates on Pleasure and Taste, other superintending forces in the eighteenth century British Culture context were the recently founded academies, a plethora of Societies and the county’s micro and macro-economic factors. Ruins also found themselves as the subject of such debates; and just as the classical ruins in Neoclassical art catered for the initiated spectator with all their high-minded messages; so too should the reader of this subject become familiar with major developments and emerging sensibilities towards Ruins, particularly between 1700-1760 in order to better contextualise subsequent attitudes. 
In 1700, already 164 years had passed since Britain witnessed the Dissolution of Monasteries, yet incredibly little had been produced in terms of authoritative references that would assess ruins structurally and aesthetically, catalogue them and open them up for debate. It was quite the contrary for classical ruins in Rome which were particularly appreciated by the British.  In the eighteenth century, all British artists and architects of notable repute followed in the tradition of the Grand Tour, where they would put to practice all of their previously learned skills, supplemented with newly acquired ones from along the Tour. One such architect Grand Tourist who is frequently credited with sowing the seeds of the Picturesque in Britain, is Sir John Vanbrugh. 
In 1709, Vanbrugh assisted Henry Wise in building Blenheim palace. It was through one of his letters to Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, that we know of his suggestion to preserve the remains of the medieval manor of Woodstock and stylistically incorporate it into Blenheim’s extensive grounds. Not only does he ascertain Locke’s theory of association by stating the importance of the Ruin due to its control over the thoughts of the visitor; but also draws upon contemporary Gardening theory by directing attention to its potential in assisting in the design of the place by adding variety-a sought after feature of natural landscapes. 
Apart from adopting a ‘romantick’ approach (as opposed to an academic and rational one) he stated: ‘it would make one of the most agreeable objects that the best of Landscape painters can invent’.  Through this statement one can safely assume he is referring to foreign landscape artists such as Claude, the proto-romantic and pastoral landscape which often featured ruined architectural elements made canonical in the previous century yet remained highly fashionable in the time of his writing.  It also shows Vanbrugh’s educated appreciation towards the ruin, a trait he would have acquired or amplified through the influence of the Grand Tour; this sort of ideology shows for a possible early attempt to appropriate the vehicle of thee Ruin from a foreign setting and slowly nationalising the fascination around it into his native environment. Sadly his suggestion was turned down and the Duchess of Marlborough who reacted fashionably by telling a friend: ‘this paper has something ridiculous in it to preserve the house’. 
Simultaneously, contribution to ‘ruin appreciation’ in Britain came from various Societies developing in London.  The Society of Antiquaries outlasted most of the other related societies and still plays an important role today through its members’ academic contributions. At its inception, members were limited to ‘eminent persons’ (nobles and gentlemen) in ‘order to improve and cultivate the History and Antiquities of Great Britain, wherein many most excellent Monuments are still to be found, which for want of due care, go more and more to decay and ruin’.   One of the earliest needs recognised by the society was to ‘disseminate antiquarian research’ via high quality images instead of extensive texts.  
A great deal of the Society’s early energy went into its publication ‘Vestuta Monumenta’, which had no print publication programme and failed to adopt a systematic approach in its findings. It incorporated diverse aspects of the graphic arts such as ‘plans, views, detailed depictions of individual objects, facsimiles and more evocative ‘picturesque’ or ‘romantic’ images…’  Fig.1.4, made by one of the Society’s prominent members, William Stukeley, illustrates an example of the ‘picturesque’ manner mentioned here. Ironically, it was some 40 years later that William Gilpin would dismiss the Society’s first engraver George Vertue.  He accused his work as being too ‘dry, disagreeable, without force or freedom’ and went on to saying that the Antiquary prefers truth over the elegance of design and produces nothing of taste but mere ‘dead scholarship’.  Conversely, one of the Society’s draughtsman, John Carter, insisted upon the removal of ‘the affective tropes of the picturesque composition’ from all publications to once again return to a ‘neutral style’ of recording and preserving. 
The countless contributions by the Society place it at an indispensable position for the study of Antiquity and ruins in Britain. Unlike Vanbrugh, their approach to ruins is in the rational manner which involves elements of archaeo-inquiry and preservation. This scientific approach (along with improved technological advancements in printing) brought about subtle insights into the marks of ageing on stone which were to become further amplified and romanticised in the subsequent Movements.  Also, John Carter’s comment raises queries as to why the society was producing such images in the first place. Could it be that the Society was trying to meet the needs of a changing market by making its work fashionable? Through its Charter, the Society positions its values clearly as part of the Neoclassical Movement in Britain stating its aim was not only to inform the minds of Men but to also ‘incite them to Noble and Virtuous actions and such as may hereafter render them Famous and Worthy examples to late Posterity’. 
In The Architecture of Ruins, Frank Salmon states that the Neoclassical period in Britain can be extended to as early as 1714, by incorporating the Neo-Palladian interests in architecture; and pushes the 1805 end-date up to 1830 after which it gives way to the Romantic and Oriental Movements.   Architect, interior and furniture designer, Robert Adam is said to be the personification of the Neoclassical era. Some of his many projects include Kenwood House, Osterley Park, Kedleston Hall and Syon House. However, it is his earlier years that are of particular interest to this work; when his taste in ‘drawing was for landscape with an architectural bent’.  In his early Scottish years, his pen and watercolour works consisted of landscape compositions in the manner of Gaspard Dughet and often included ruined castles, monasteries and imaginary locations. 
At the late age of 26 (1754), he embarked on his Grand Tour where he met Charles-Louis Clérisseau who was to become his full-time cicerone. His other tutors included the well matched Giambattista Piranesi whose primary focus was architectural drawing and Jean-Baptiste Lallemand who oversaw his progresses on landscape compositions, ‘vedute con rovine’ and watercolour views.  It so coincided that at this point in time (mid-century) Piranesi is seen to have been instrumental in constructing continental ‘aesthetic preferences’ and it is his ‘proto-romantic’ depictions of ancient Rome’ that are credited ‘with fuelling the fashion for the Ruin’ in the mid-eighteenth and nineteenth century.  Could the master’s love for depicting ruins-real or imaginary-have infected the star student? Or was it fuelled further by the young Adam’s zeal? Whilst Lallemand kept advising Adam to ‘put off his ideas of the grand and imaginary’ and to tame his ‘burgeoning compositional powers’; Piranesi on the other hand supported his plan to make a ‘complete survey’ of Hadrian’s Villa and the Roman Baths as part of an even further ambitious scheme-the undertaking of a complete revision of Antoine Desgodetz’s Les Edifices Antiques de Rome (Paris 1682)! 
Since his early years, Adam’s work shows a strong inclination to portray ruins, both native and foreign. We know he was ‘enchanted by the German Gothic’ in Augsburg and used the neo-gothik style in some of his later 1770’s architectural projects such as Culzean and Alnwick Castle.  On one occasion, when sketching Virgil’s tomb at Mergellina, Adam noted that: ‘it is now quite ruinous and is only beautiful from its antiquity’ and that it ‘induced me to make several sketches of it’.  The setting of the experience and the manner in which Adam describes this scenario suggest romantic sensibilities through his speaking about the pleasures emerging from the ruin’s timelessness and its subtle powers (‘it induced me’). These traits empower the intangible aspects of the ruin unlike the method applied by the scientific mindframe in which deductions are only elicited through the archaeo-inquiry, scientific analysis of the ruins. A case for the romantic enjoyment of ruins can be seen at sites such as Vigil’s tomb, an iconic checkpoint for travelling ‘cognoscenti’ knowledgable of Augustan poetry who might have been tempted to read some of his writings onsite, allowing for associations to take place of imagined idyllic order and better days. Albeit often branded as rational, moral and liberal, it is worth remembering that the Neoclassical Movement is fundamentally tied to romantic and idealised notions of beauty. Upon returning home, Adam championed all that he had come to experience in Italy before turning to the Gothik style later in his career. Keeping in mind Adam’s early affinity and disposition for ruins, augmented with his influential and ceaseless dissemination of all designs classical he helped embed the vocabulary of the ruin across multidisciplinary aspects of British culture, ensuring its slow adaptation and local nationalisation.
Increasingly, it seems that the ruin in art is a prime example of cultural exchange and appropriation between Italy and England. Another example which supports this theory of cultural exchange can be clearly seen in the development of Garden theory and design. The grandest Baroque gardens, those at Versailles, were the pride of the French King, Louis XIV. They signified his power over nature through the application of complex engineering works in order to create a pleasing environ in the most theatrical of ways. The British nobility whilst forced to adopt several elements of the fashionable French style, began their move away from this by adopting features of the Dutch garden with whom they shared several landscape, horticultural and meteorological similarities. Contrasting features to the highly manicured elements of the garden were those representing deformities in nature such as caves/grottoes and shell-work niches which provided didactic amusements to the garden wanderer. Somewhere between the grotesque folly and the antique garden statuary of mythological gods came the fabricated quintessential Neoclassical temple or archaic Roman-inspired garden ruins. 
One of the most ambitious and eclectic British Garden designers/theorists in the early eighteenth century was Batty Langley.  In the preface of his New Principles of Gardening… (1728) he assured the recently crowned King George II that all the styles mentioned therein were ‘new, but embellish’d with many of the most noble Antiquities now extant in other Countries’.   Upon reading through the contents of his book, one might be tempted to believe that in a mad rush for publishing all he knew about gardens, he quickly incorporated fashionable illustrations featuring ‘ruins after the old Roman manner’ (Fig.1.6) which he only briefly mentioned, possibly to attract even further patronage.   
He suggests ruins should only be used to ‘terminate walks’ as it is appropriate to do so with ‘disagreeable Objects’ (Fig.1.7). Even stranger, he goes on to suggesting that Ruins in the garden can ‘either be painted upon canvas, or actually built in that manner with Brick, and cover’d with Plastering in Imitation Stone…’  Not surprisingly, he recommends them being built over the painted sort ‘not only as the most durable, but least expensive if the painting is performed by a skillful hand and much more to the real Purport intended’.  Apart from his rather undecipherable comment on having painted ruins on canvas outside in the garden (torrents of rain come to mind) he offers a brief insight to the manufacture of ruins for the pleasure of the proprietor, showing a totally oblivious regard for notions of authenticity. By the 1760s, this issue was already becoming a debate to contend with as seen witnessed by John Aislabie upon building his architectural garden folly at Fountains Abbey. Here he recognised the issue of trying to harmonise the true antique (Cistercian abbey) with his modern garden design and neoclassical temple folly. He attempted to combine the two holistically by neatly shaving the lawns around the crumbling walls of the Cistercian ruin and even tried to preserve some of it. 
Two years later Lord Kames (aka Henry Home), published Elements of Criticism (1762), noted as the most comprehensive philosophical work of its kind, in amongst which he criticised all gardens that included ‘everything trivial or whimsical’, dismissing gardens such as Versailles as childish and ‘ought to be avoided’ at all costs.   This would soon become the leading fashion with the introduction of the Picturesque in Britain. The gardens and formal parks whose manicured hedges and parterres were merely ‘an extension of the architect’s design beyond the actual building…were (now) condemned absurd and artificial.’  Retrospectively, one can clearly see a direct correlation between the changing attitudes towards garden design and landscaping theory as equally reflecting those of its counterpart-Nature. Later in the second half of the century, this would be further exploited thanks to the Picturesque Movement who aimed to ‘reflect the beauties of nature’ and aspired to emulate the fine scenery that would ‘charm the painter’s eye’ whilst progressively reducing ‘the traces of human existence’ within the garden. 
No work concerning Aesthetics in the eighteenth and nineteenth century can be complete without considering Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Beautiful and Sublime (1757). Burke’s work supported John Locke’s theory concerning the senses as primary elements in contributing to human understanding and feelings; they also effectively lessoned the power of institutions, such as the Academies thanks to their promotion and support if the individual’s capacity for personal taste.  In this work, Burke’s propounds his theory that the beautiful and sublime should be regarded as distinct states; and he does this by analysing the sensory, imaginative and judgmental processes in relation to artistic appreciation.
Although Burke’s treatise does not tackle the aesthetics of ruins first hand-apart from an analysis of Stonehenge-his interpretation of what constitutes as beautiful and sublime can be applied to them nonetheless. In the case of Stonehenge, he states as admirable not for its disposition or ornament but for the ‘huge masses of stone, set on end… (which) turn the mind on the immense force necessary for such a work. Nay, the rudeness of the work increases this cause of grandeur, as it excludes the idea of art.’  Although not factoring in the element of timelessness as Robert Adam did earlier, Burke still appreciates the ruin in a romantic way by letting the overall impression of the ruin cause sublimity within him.
Throughout the rest of his work, Burke analyses features of beauty as manifestations of smoothness, fitness, grace and proportion which are associated with the Classical style of architecture through its exemplary order; whilst characteristics of the Sublime were infinity, power, pain and obscurity, later becoming designated features of the Romantic style of art-examined in the third essay. An example of how his findings could be applied to the arts can be seen through his understanding of colour and its implications; whereby he states:
the cloudy sky is more grand than the blue…night more sublime than day…in historical painting, a gay or gaudy drapery can never have a happy effect…when the highest degree of sublime is intended, the materials…ought never to be white, nor green, nor yellow…. 
Even though these conclusions might appear to be rather obvious and understood through a survey of pre-Burkean art, he nonetheless provided a language for understanding the connection between aesthetics and the senses for both subsequent artists and observers alike. An application of his analysis on ‘Greatness of Dimension’-a factor of Sublimity-can be seen besides the contemporaneous work of Robert Adam, Capriccio of a vast building, 1757 (Fig.1.8).
Here, according to Burke’s work, Adam causes Sublimity (intentionally or not) through his exploration of vastness across the dimensions of depth, height and length, creating an absurd sense of scale and perspective. It is through such attempts that Burke introduces and attributes certain responses to the beautiful and sublime in Art by deconstructing it and infusing it with new understandings. However, despite his efforts at trying to separate both states, Adam’s Capriccio of a vast building shows otherwise; that the boundaries between the Beautiful and Sublime are not always as clear and possible. Here Classical architecture, famed for its order, symmetry and proportion has been distorted and turned into something beyond an earthly comprehension of scale (atleast before skyscrapers and the Romantic’s appreciation for mountain scenery). Although Burke’s philosophies were not without their critics, his understandings could not only support art theory but would become integral to the development of the subsequent Romantic Movement, whose characteristics would become synonymous to those pointed out as sublime by Burke.
Horace Walpole too explored the debate of the imaginative, judgmental and sensory processes made by the observer of Art; but did so through Architecture. Originally intending to build himself a classical ‘villa’ in 1748, Walpole announced two years later the plans of building a little Gothic castle instead.  According to Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer this was not unusual of the fashion at the time; however Walpole’s understanding of architecture differed to the rest in that it did not merely reduce architecture solely to its aesthetic but ‘introduced a more pervasive and inventive’ approach.  Albeit having an armoury, battlement and cloister, Strawberry Hill was neither archaic, a monastery or preparing for war. In spite of its irregular lightness and Gothic solemnity, it possessed no stylistic or philosophical congruency with the Gothic. Instead, Walpole used such features to draw upon particular associations in order to create what he termed ‘gloomth’, the atmospheric combination of auras given off by both old and new things, something ‘he worked hard and well to achieve’. 
By 1763, Strawberry Hill had become a touristic attraction.  In his letters, Walpole’s approach toward Strawberry Hill is a light hearted one, were he refers to it as his entertainment, a whimsical folly; a ’puppet-show’ in which the architecture was a stage set for a performance in the observers imagination; one which required particular, fashionable sensibility for its appreciation. 
Whilst the associations of ‘liberty, privilege, modernity, pleasure, playing the fool and self expression’ were the characteristics of Horace Walpole’s ambitions in the mid-century, the exact same could be said for the general populace in the latter part of the century.  Walpole’s experimental nature sparked further appreciation for the Gothic, especially as a liberator from the stuffy, continental styles of architecture and become a symbol of pride that would replace many classical ruins in Italianate landscape paintings and as a new setting in British literature. His desire to explore associations and work upon them to create atmosphere and mood would become something the Romantic Movement embodied across all its subjects, including its choice of ruins as a subject.
Although a strong case has been made for the appropriation and commodification of the foreign Ruin in a Classical form and introduced into British Culture thanks to the fashionable Neoclassical Movement and its Grand Tourists all the sources mentioned above remain subjective. Ideally in-depth factual analysis would be gathered to corroborate such arguments; some ideas would include (but not be limited to) tracing the sales and republication frequency of tourist guide books-featuring British Ruins and their trails, plotting the auction houses’ rate of sale of ruin-included landscape paintings or grand tour ruin souvenir paintings over 1700-1770; the same approach could be applied to manufacturing companies such as Wedgwood.
Furthermore, a schism in the Neoclassical approach towards the Ruin can be seen to exist. On one hand, the Neoclassical has an intrinsic association to the Romantic, through its idealised Arcadian landscapes, platonic ideas on beauty and Augustan poetry associations which it applies to the Ruin as seen in CATS 1, 2 and 3. Yet also developing through the Rational school of thought is the new quest for archaeo-inquiry which aims to remove all notions of the Romantic. The former gives value to the ruin in that it bestows upon the ruin a virtuous, didactic, aesthetic and romantic significance; whilst the latter focused upon the didactic and aesthetic values to deduct scientific reasonings which could be considered as threatening to the Ruin’s Romantic integrity.
 reason as the primary source of authority and legitimacy, and came to advance ideals such as liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state
 such as the new wealth distribution patterns that in turn caused a myriad of unforeseeable developments, amongst which was that of an accessible art market
 these dates have been selected and reduced to these parameters only for the sake of this work and does not aim to discredit previous works by people such as John Aubrey and his spectacular work ‘Monumenta Britannica’ written 1663 and 1693
 Dissolution of Monasteries: the disbanding of Catholic monasteries, priories and convents in England, Wales and Ireland by the order of Henry VIII between 1536 and 1541
 Sir John Vanburgh (1664-1726) dramatist, architect, important for landscape garden, Blenheim, Castle Howard, Stowe
 Theory of Association: see glossary
 as cited in Dixon, Hunt and Peter, Willis, eds, The Genius of the Place: The English Landscape Garden, 1620-1820 (London, 2000) p.120-121
 at this time the style was virtually non existent for various reasons being cannons, no patronage – this would all change in the second half of the century
 as cited in Dixon, Hunt and Peter, Willis, eds, The Genius of the Place: The English Landscape Garden, 1620-1820 (London, 2000) p.119
 ‘by 1750 about a 1000 societies were in London’-Susan, Pearce, ed., Visions of Antiquity: The Society of Antiquaries of London 1707–2007 (London, 2007) p.49
 It could be said that parallels could be drawn with other eminent members of other societies, such as the earlier John Aubrey, who whilst credited for being the first British archaeologist and compiled the earliest extensive compendium of British ruins formed part of The Royal Society. As time progressed, the roles of the two societies become more focused into what they are known for today.
 Susan, Pearce, ed., Visions of Antiquity: The Society of Antiquaries of London 1707–2007 (London, 2007) p.47
 Ibid., p.58–60.
 Ibid., p.63
 Ibid., p.103
 Rev.William Gilpin (1724 -1804) English artist, Anglican cleric and author, best known as one of the originators of the Picturesque Movement in Britain
 Ibid., p.109
 Dana, Arnold, and Stephen Bending, eds, Tracing Architecture: The Aesthetics of Antiquarianism (London, 2003) p.7
 could capture the original monument in all its temporal vulnerability-an aesthetic practice which made time visible-Dana, Arnold, and Stephen Bending, eds, Tracing Architecture: The Aesthetics of Antiquarianism (London, 2003) p.3
 Susan, Pearce, ed., Visions of Antiquity: The Society of Antiquaries of London 1707–2007 (London, 2007) p.66
 Frank, Salmon, Building on Ruins: The Rediscovery of Rome and English Architecture (Hampshire, 2000) p.??
 V&A dates: 1715 to 1760- based on the designs of the 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). Palladio was inspired by the buildings of ancient Rome. In turn, British designers drew on Palladio’s work to create a Classical British style- introduced by william kent through Chiswick house
 A. A. Tait, The Adam Brothers in Rome: Drawings from the Grand Tour (London, 2008) p.26
 Ibid., p.28
 A. A. Tait, The Adam Brothers in Rome: Drawings from the Grand Tour (London, 2008) p.64
 Ibid., p.64
 A. A. Tait, The Adam Brothers in Rome: Drawings from the Grand Tour (London, 2008) p.64
 Ibid., p102
 Ibid., p.46
 for an example of an original Palladian temple see Kent’s The Temple of Virtue or Gibbs Temple of Friendship at Stowe. Other Neo-Palladian designs that were modernised into the Neoclassical style can also be seen such as the Western Lake Pavillion and the Doric Arch.
 Batty Langley (1696-1751)
 Full title: ‘New Principles of Gardening: Or, The Laying out and Planting Parterres, Groves, Wildernesses, labyrinths, Avenues, Parks &c’ (1728)
 Batty, Langley, New Principles of Gardening: Or, The Laying out and Planting Parterres, Groves, Wildernesses, labyrinths, Avenues, Parks &c (London, 1728) p.1
 (including not-so-new information such as popular plant species and their required temperatures that had been around in Britain for decades)
 Batty, Langley, New Principles of Gardening: Or, The Laying out and Planting Parterres, Groves, Wildernesses, labyrinths, Avenues, Parks &c (London, 1728) p.15
 ‘a true ruin has ceased to be wholly the work of man.’ – David,Watkin, ‘Soane and the Picturesque: The Philosophy of Association’ in The Picturesque in late Georgian England, ed. Dana Arnold (London, 1994) p.49
 Ibid., ‘hailed as the major effort of philosophical criticism in eighteenth century Britain’
 Henry Home, Kames, Elements of Criticism (Edinburgh, 1807), p.444
 E.H. Gombrich, The Story of Art (London, 1995) p.460
 Lucien, Steil, ed., The Architectural Capriccio: Memory, Fantasy and Invention (Surrey, 2014) p.79
 Edmund, Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful (London, 1757) p.118
 Ibid., p.122
 McEvoy, Emma, Gothic Tourism (New York, 2016) p.15
 Ibid., p.18
 Ibid., p.21
 Ibid., p.19
 Ibid., p.15
 Ibid., p18
 McEvoy, Emma, Gothic Tourism (New York, 2016) p.23
|Figure||Description & Reference|
|Fig.1.2.||George Blandford, Marquis of, The Old Manor House of Woodstock, c. 18th century, watercolour and chalk on paper, 26 x 34.4 cm, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (Bridgeman Images). http://artemisialtd.com/a-reason-for-everything-part-1#figures|
|Fig.1.3.||Claude Lorrain, Paysage pastoral, 1644, oil on canvas, 98 x137 cm, Musée de Grenoble, Lille (no accession no.) (image sourced from the public domain)|