1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lutyens, Sir Edwin Landseer

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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica
Lutyens, Sir Edwin Landseer
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LUTYENS, SIR EDWIN LANDSEER (1869- ), English architect, was born in London March 29 1869. For one who was to occupy such a commanding figure in the whole world of modern English architecture, Sir Edwin Lutyens' art owes singularly little to a training and education of the usual description. After a couple of years at the South Kensington schools he was at first placed in the office of an architect in the country, with whom he remained for the briefest possible time, passing afterwards a year with Mr. (later Sir) Ernest George. His first commission came to him at the age of 19, and, from this and his other early experiences, he has himself remarked that the best training for an architect is the building of houses. His earliest important work (1890) followed shortly after this — Crooksbury — to which some eight years later he made very characteristic additions, which interestingly show his development and his enlargement of the principles of Norman Shaw and Philip Webb — particularly the latter — as well as his growing grasp of abstract design. Amongst other strong influences on his thought and work should be counted his early association with Miss Jekyll, the gifted designer and contriver of gardens treated as an integral feature of the homestead, and playing a part of the greatest importance in its design and treatment. At “Hestercombe,” a not very interesting house from another hand, Lutyens carried out his largest essay in garden-work, suggesting the finer manner of such work as was done under William III. and Anne, rather than the less elaborate and smaller methods of the Elizabethan period. His many houses in Surrey — such as “Orchards” — show him as carrying still further his development in the direction of individuality in his design, tempered by a reticence that has always kept his work far removed from attempts at “originality” — a quality based upon the impossible. A fine house at Sonning — “Deanery Gardens” — is a later important essay in half-timbered design, and the value he has always placed on a varied use of materials, as giving different qualities of texture to a building, found expression in “Daneshill,” one of his earliest uses of the small bricks he affects so much. “Marshcourt,” again, with its interesting play of contrasting chalk and flint, shows Lutyens, designing a house that would be Tudor in style and treatment if it were not essentially modern and his own. Much of his domestic work has been in the direction of the restoration of, and adding to, old houses. The largest example of his powers in this direction is the treatment of Lindisfarne Castle, Holy I., where he carried out, during upwards of nine years (1903-12), a very complete and yet conservative restoration. Sir E. Lutyens' civic work shows equally with his domestic design a personal quality, in such buildings as that for the Country Life offices in London, and for the British Sections at the Exhibitions in Paris (1900) and in Rome (1911). The Garden Suburb at Hampstead has important examples of his treatment of small houses, as in the large Central Square, and of his method of dealing with church design. His two churches in the centre of the square, planned for use by supporters of differing schools of religious thought, are neither of them on the conventional lines of ecclesiastical design, but show in each case a characteristic simplicity and culture.

It was, however, as principal architect of the New Delhi (see Delhi) that the culmination of Sir E. Lutyens' professional career was reached. In 1912 a committee, on which Sir Edwin served, and which included Mr. H. Baker and Mr. Lanchester, visited Delhi with a view to advising the Indian Government as to the practical considerations involved in the scheme for the new capital. The plan adopted was elaborated in detail and in what may be described as “the Grand Manner” by Lutyens and H. Baker. Another conspicuous success of a more popular character was his design for the Cenotaph in Whitehall. The nation's memorial to those who died in the World War, of which Sir E. Lutyens had provided a temporary model for the Peace celebration in 1919, was in 1920 perpetuated in stone as a lasting monument. Its striking simplicity, dignity and proportion lift it above the level of the host of memorials that followed the war.

Sir Edwin was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1913 and a full Academician in 1920. The Royal Institute of British Architects awarded him its gold medal in 1921. He was knighted in 1918. In 1897 he had married Lady Emily Lytton, daughter of the first Earl of Lytton.