Past Events

Why Edwardian Baroque Architecture Matters: Empire, Identity, and Geo-political Rivalry

Research Seminar – Alex Bremner

  • 28 February 2024
  • 5:00 – 7:00 pm
  • A Paul Mellon Centre Research Seminar by Alex Bremner, Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA).
  • Paul Mellon Centre and Online

In this talk Alex Bremner will discuss some of the salient cultural, political and technological themes from his recent book Building Greater Britain. He will consider in particular those determinants that underpinned and helped shape Edwardian baroque architecture’s response to late Victorian crises concerning global world order and Britain’s place within it. In this the Edwardian baroque will be employed as a lens through which wider concerns over the harnessing of technology, imperial anxiety and British identity and masculinity will be examined in explaining efforts at “building” a more resilient sense of imperial nationhood across the British world. The fundamental questions explored will be: Why should we study an architectural genre such as the so-called Edwardian baroque? What is it, and how did it emerge? What were its defining features/characteristics? And are there any lessons that a close study of it might reveal to us? In a world that is once again riven by great power rivalry and the politics of identity, an artistic movement such as the Edwardian baroque offers intriguing, if somewhat disturbing, echoes from the past.

Image credit: After Samuel Begg, The Good News in the City, Scene outside the Mansion House on the Announcement of the Relief of Ladysmith. Illustration for The Illustrated London News, 10 March 1900. Image courtesy of Look and Learn.

About the speaker

  • Alex Bremner is Professor of Architectural History at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on the history and theory of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British architecture, with a special interest in British imperial and colonial architecture. His books include Imperial Gothic: Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire, c.1840–1870 (2013), Architecture and the British Empire (2016, 2020), and Building Greater Britain: Architecture, Imperialism, and the Edwardian Baroque Revival, c.1885–1920 (2022). He is currently completing a new history of Victorian architecture for Oxford University Press, for which he has received a Paul Mellon Centre senior fellowship.