Dissertation Sur Les Prototypes De L'Architecture, Indienne, Moresque, Et Gothique A Dissertation On The Prototypes Of Architecture, Hindoo, Moorish, And Gothic.
RA Collection: Book
The two plates are signed as 'Drawn on the Spot & Painted' by Hodges and as engraved by Browne [i.e. John Browne ARA] or Morris [i.e. Thomas Morris].
Each carries the publisher's imprint, 'Published May 1st. 1786 by W. Hodges, Queen Street, May Fair, London'. That showing Shere Shah's tomb carries also the imprint, 'Printed by Richards.'
The work is dedicated by William Hodges to Warren Hastings.
The letter-press text is printed in French and English in parallel throughout - the French at the left, the English at the right.
The two large plates are captioned in English, and show 'A View of the Gate of the Tomb of the Emperor Akbar, at Secundrii' and 'A View of the Tomb of the Emperor Shere Shah at Sasseram in Bahar'. The size of the plates (folded in the Academy's copy) and their technique are referred to by Hodges in his main text (p.2): 'The present publication is chiefly, and in particular, intended for larger views ... In my Aqua-Tinta publication they would have appeared on too small a scale, and without that force and precision which the engraving tool of eminent masters only can give'.
In this short dissertation Hodges asserts the value of forms of architecture other than the European forms derived from the ancient Greeks. 'I have not read Father Lodola's famous disputation on the absurdity of the misplaced and unprincipled imitation of Greek architecture; nor am I in the least prejudiced against its very great beauties and perfections ... but must I admire it in an exclusive manner?' He praises various 'primitive' dwellings - hollow trees ('into which even Kings of Ithaca and Great Britain have retired'), huts ('which we have seen in the South-Sea Islands'), wigwams and granite caverns ('the undeniable prototype of the lofty, semicircular dome, and of the arched vault, of which the hut of the Grecians could not suggest the idea'), and suggests that stone architecture brought to perfection in Egyptian, Hindoo, Moorish, and Gothic styles, is essentially 'one and the same, the spontaneous produce of genius in different countries'.
After his visit to India (1779-1783) Hodges became involved with the Royal Academy - an exhibitor in 1785, Associate in 1786 and full Member in 1787 - and it is interesting to find that in 1786 in his thirteenth Discourse the President of the Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds, also suggests that Indian antiquities may be an inspiration to European architects.
In reduced format (and slightly revised text) Hodges republished this Dissertation as part of Chapter IV of his Travels In India, During The Years 1780, 1781, 1782, & 1783 (London, 1793), p.63-77.
Name as Subject
Architecture - India - History
Art history - Essays - Great Britain - 18th century