Thoughts on Style, 1886-1909

Hendrik Petrus Berlage: Thoughts on Style, 1886-1909

Introduction by Iain Boyd Whyte

Translation by Iain Boyd Whyte and Wim de Wit


348 pages

PDF file size: 54.3 MB


Looking back to the period around 1910, Mies van der Rohe once commented that there was but a single architect then working on the European architectural scene, “Berlage was a lone giant.”

In parallel activities as both an architect and an architectural philosopher, H. P. Berlage created a series of buildings that witnessed the gestation and birth of architectural Modernism and a body of writings that probed in depth the problems and possibilities of this new style. But whereas his Stock Exchange in Amsterdam, with its rational mastery of materials and space, has long been celebrated for its seminal influence on the architecture of the new century, Berlage’s passionate writings on architecture, which exerted an equal influence on his contemporaries, have often been neglected.

In his wide-ranging critical introduction, Iain Boyd Whyte convincingly demonstrates that one corpus of work cannot be understood without taking into account the other: Berlage’s writings inform his architecture to the same extent that his buildings reflect his probing aesthetic deliberations. Berlage’s principal texts are here brought together in English translation for the first time. Collectively, they present to the English-language reader a new and vital chapter in the history of European Modernism.

The Texts & Documents series offers to the student of art, architecture, and aesthetics neglected, forgotten, or unavailable writings in English translation.

Edited according to modern standards of scholarship and framed by critical introductions and commentaries, these volumes gradually mine the past centuries for studies that retain their significance in our understanding of art and of the issues surrounding its production, reception, and interpretation.

Eminent scholars assist in the selection and publication of volumes in the Texts & Documents series. Each volume acquaints readers with the broader cultural conditions at the genesis of the text and equips them with the needed apparatus for its study. Over time the series will greatly expand our horizon and deepen our understanding of critical thinking on art.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Translators’ Note
  • Introduction
  • Architecture’s Place in Modern Aesthetics (1886)
  • Architecture and Impressionism (1894)
  • Thoughts on Style in Architecture (1905)
  • On the Likely Development of Architecture (1905)
  • The Foundations and Development of Architecture (1908)
  • Some Reflections on Classical Architecture (1908)
  • Art and Society (1909)
  • Bibliographies
  • Index

About the Authors

Iain Boyd Whyte is the director of the Centre for Architectural History and Theory at the University of Edinburgh.

Wim de Wit has held curatorial posts in Holland; at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York; and at the Chicago Historical Society. He is Head of Special Collections at the Getty Research Institute.