Also in this section…?
- The Oratory, St James's Cemetery
- The architecture of the Oratory
- The architect, John Foster Jnr
- The Greek Revival
- 'Agnes Elizabeth Jones', Pietro Tenerani
- 'Mrs Emily Robinson', John Gibson
- 'Henry Park'
- 'John Foster' memorial tablet
- 'John Gore', William Spence
- 'John Rhodes', Sir Francis Chantrey
- 'John Thomson', Sir William Chantrey
- 'Henry Faithwaite Leigh, George Leigh and Catherine Pulford', William Spence
- 'The Nicholson Family'
- 'Rev Ralph Nicholson and his wife Catherine'
- 'Rt Rev Thomas Penswick', Peter Turnerelli
- 'William Earle', John Gibson
- 'William Ewart', Joseph Gott
- 'William and George Hetherington', George Lewis of Cheltenham
- 'William Hammerton', John Gibson
- 'Dr William Stevenson', John Alexander Patterson MacBride
- 'William White'
The Greek Revival
The Oratory and several of the monuments it contains are products of the artistic movement known as the Greek revival. For most of the 18th century English architecture drew its inspiration from the buildings of Renaissance Italy and ancient Rome, but from about the 1750s features borrowed from other styles - Chinese, Indian and especially medieval Gothic - became popular for their ornamental qualities and romantic associations.
A few adventurous architects chose to follow the example of ancient Greek buildings, which unlike their richly decorated Roman counterparts were typically severe, solemn, and massive. As with the revival of the Gothic style, this new interest in Greek architecture began as a search for novelty but became a scholarly movement based on a rigorous study and firm principles.
Until 1788 the architecture of ancient Greece had been largely unknown to the rest of Europe, but following the publication of the first volume of ‘The Antiquities of Athens’ by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett in that year, an increasing number of illustrated books dispelled this ignorance. The books fuelled a growing interest, and many architects travelled to Greece to study the ruins of its civilisation for themselves.
Greek art and architecture were reflected in the design of countless houses, churches and commercial and public buildings throughout Britain, as well as in sculpture, furniture and ceramics. Their influence was felt particularly strongly in Liverpool where the Greek Revival coincided with a period of great building activity in the booming port.
Writing in 1858 from his Liverpool viewpoint, the local architect and historian James Picton (1805-89) described the extraordinary impact of the Revival: ‘Greek architecture was adopted in all possible and some almost impossible situations. Shop fronts, porticos of dwelling houses, banks, gin palaces - everything was to be modelled from the Parthenon...’.