AW Pugin biography
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
Augustus Welby Pugin has been called the foremost British architect of the 19th century. Pugin was born on March 1, 1812, in Bloomsbury, London. His father Auguste, was a member of the French aristocracy who had thought it prudent to flee France during the Revolution.
From his father, Augustus learned a profound love of medieval Gothic architecture. The elder Pugin often took his son on tours abroad, during which time he studied architectural style and design. Although Pugin was enrolled at Christ's Hospital School in London, it is doubtful whether he ever received a formal education.
The elder Pugin worked as an artist and draughtsman, eventually becoming the chief draughtsman for prominent architect John Nash. Augustus helped his father create a series of wonderfully detailed and exact drawings providing details of medieval Gothic architecture and decoration. These drawings, in such volumes as Specimens of Gothic Architecture (1821-3), and Examples of Gothic Architecture (1828-31), helped a generation of architects emulate Gothic style, and helped spawn the movement in architecture and design that we now call Victorian Gothic.
So influential were the Pugin drawings (and so well-connected his patrons), that at the tender age of 19 he was employed to design furniture for Windsor Castle. Soon he started his own business, carving architectural decoration in Gothic style.
At the same time, Pugin married Anne Garnet. However, she died in childbirth in 1832, leaving Pugin with a daughter. Just a year later Pugin married again, this time to Louisa Burton, with whom he had another five children. Louisa died in 1844 and Pugin married for a third time, to Jane Knill, with whom he had two more children.
In the meantime Pugin converted to Roman Catholicism, a conversion which left him filled with a fervent desire to express his faith through architecture. He came to regard the period of 1280-1340 (the "Second Pointed Period" as it was called in the Victorian age), as the apex of human history, when people expressed their faith through the creative arts.
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