DESIGN FOR INTERIOR STAIRCASE OF LEEDS TOWN, Cuthbert Brodrick

DESIGN FOR INTERIOR STAIRCASE OF LEEDS TOWN, Cuthbert Brodrick

c. 1822 to c. 1905 United Kingdom

Offered by Charles Plante Fine Arts

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The Yorkshireman Cuthbert Brodrick (1822-1905) was a pupil of Lockwood and had completed his grand tour. He won the competition for Leeds Town Hall in 1852, it is which he developed through a number of schemes. Opened in 1858, one of the grandest neo-classical buildings in England and was conceived as a summation of the mercantile pride of this northern city, a great columnar facade set on a massive stepped plinth housing courts, and containing concert rooms and council chambers, like Elmes' and Cockerell's St George's Hall, Liverpool. However, no staircase was built in this form. Brodrick, who presented many of his schemes in accomplished watercolours, works up his concept into a highly finished presentation perspective. A two- storey room with a lower Doric and upper Ionic order has a pair of staircases doubled back to reach a bridge across which stroll figures dressed oddly like continental lawyers or even Christ's Hospital schoolboys. Lavish materials such as different marbles and stones, polychrome wall and vault decorations, all seen in elaborate perspectives. The ceiling has deep coves and coffered panels with vaults to the bridge. It evokes High Renaissance Venice, but with a neo-baroque flair and grandeur. Brodrick exhibited 'Leeds Town Hall etc' at the Royal Academy in 1854, and this would have been a companion watercolour. Seventy-one drawings by him are in the RIBA drawings collection. As an unexecuted element of a design, this may well have stayed in the architect's possession.

Brodrick submitted to many of the mid-Victorian competitions for public buildings such as the Government Offices, London (1857), the National Gallery London (1866) and Manchester Town Hall (1867). but his uncompromising adherence to the classical style gave him little chance of success in the era of the 'Battle of the Styles'. Following the RIBA Heinz Gallery exhibition (1999), his reputation is now very high. Brodrick also built the Royal Institution, Hull (1847) and Hull Town Hall (1861) (both demolished) and the surviving Grand Hotel, Scarborough (1862-67).
Bill Minns
Derek Linstrum, West Yorkshire Architects and Architecture, 1978, pp339-45; 372-73
Derek Linstrum, Towers and Colonnades: The Architecture of Cuthbert Brodrick (RIBA Heinz Gallery, Exhibition Catalogue), London, 1999
Dimensions
Height 343.00 mm (13.50 inches)
Width 280.00 mm (11.02 inches)
Medium
Watercolour
Charles Plante Fine Arts

Charles Plante Fine Arts
50 Gloucester Street
London
SW1V 4EH

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