Eye candy du jour: the Pantheon

By skepticlawyer

As Legal Eagle, DEM and some of our readers are aware, I’m currently on holiday in Italy and trying to avoid doing the British thing (that is, turning into a lobster at the first sight of genuine, honest-to-goodness sunshine). Apart from anything else, travelling tends to mean flaky internet connections and non-bloggy preoccupations, so my presence around these parts is likely to be sporadic. That said, today I’m having a quiet day on account of ‘museum feet’, so thought I’d post this photo, which my partner took on a little widgy camera phone.

Digital technology has the capacity to make us all look like we work for National Geographic, at least some of the time…


  1. Posted June 8, 2011 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    It *is* eye candy. I wonder what the paint scheme would have been – and whether that would still appeal to us or the Franco “Foot-is-cray” Cozzo style fans. (We could always use black and white film or gimp/photoshop it).

    Hmmm. Can you imagine any modern RFI/RFT for a civic building including as a requirement “ideally still eye candy a couple of millenia down the track”? Hell…. lucky if it would still be standing.

    (OK, so the Sydney Opera House might be interesting on the OUTside, but the Pantheon’s INside provides eye-candy. The only other inside I candy I’ve known is the stained-glass ceiling in the NGV – best seen by lying on the floor… and yes, having looked like dork-and-daughter and done that – well worth it. But stained glass is cheating – not really eye-candy from structural geometry.)

    Any other inside-eye-candy anyone can nominate?

  2. kvd
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Architecture inside and out – Ely Cathedral. Inside,- Sistene Chapel is overwhelming. But I’d be happy to be a gardener at Ely.

  3. Patrick
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Have you been to the US DB? Numerous buildings there, notably the Library of Congress…in fact, speaking of beautiful interiors and libraries….

  4. Bryan
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Spent a day at Ely. Daughter doing a post grad thingie at Cambridge and I had not heard of Ely Cathedral and would have bypassed except for her recommendation. Gardens are magnificient but the stained glass overwhelmes. Tea house by the grounds provides an excellent viewing point

  5. Posted June 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Any time people rabbit on about medieval “stagnation”, I point them at the cathedrals. Dynamism frozen in stone; amazing architectural and engineering achievements.

    I love stained glass. There was debate between Abbot Suger and St Bernard of Clairvaux over the use of such ornamentation. (Actually, the statement “there was an argument between St Bernard and X over Y” is true for quite a lot of X’s and Y’s: St Bernard was an argumentative soul.)

    Abbot Suger was in favour of public splendour to entice the masses to God, St Bernard much more a supporter of sanctified holy places that had to be protected from the profaning intrusion.

    [email protected] Yes. The late Robert Haupt made the observation was that the good thing about concrete is that concrete rots, so the hideous constructions made from it will literally not last. (He was, of course, talking of Soviet architecture, so a particularly intense form of modernist brutalism.)

    Le Corbusier’s idiotic and monstrous dictum that a house “is a machine for living in” expresses everything that is wrong with modernism in one pithy aphorism of pseudo-profound nonsense.

  6. Posted June 9, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    I love the Library of Congress, and must admit to shamelessly abusing the exchange arrangement they have with the Bodleian in order to get into the reading room.

    Just on concrete: that elaborately coffered ceiling in the Pantheon is (and always was) unfaced concrete. The marbles you can see are also original; although converted into a church, it was only partly defaced.

    It would be worth modern architects reading the Roman view of how (and when) to use concrete: never unfaced as an exterior, always in addition to other materials, most useful when spanning large spaces. Vitruvius Pollio pointed out that it never dries, is prone to leak and eventually crumbles away.

    Sometimes it really is worth listening to the people who invented a given building material when it comes to using it properly. All of which goes to prove Prince Charles’s point for him, I suppose.

  7. Posted June 10, 2011 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Yes. Architecture is something where there really was great experience to draw upon. The modernist delusion that new is always better threw away that knowledge, understanding and experience.

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