New College of the Humanities

The Art And Architecture Of Freemasonry

by J.S. Curl

David Stevenson | Published in
  • The Art And Architecture Of Freemasonry
    J.S. Curl – Batsford, 1991 - 272 pp. - £45

This work should play an important role in the campaign waged by a few historians to rescue masonic history from the cranks and sensation-seekers who so often dominate perceptions of the subject. It strongly reinforces the argument that cultural and intellectual life in the eighteenth century cannot be properly understood without accepting the centrality of freemasonry. Yet in the English-speaking world historians tend to turn their backs disdainfully on a movement which they regard as, at best, bizarre and embarrassing.

Professor Curl's concerns is primarily architecture, but obviously masonic symbolism is so often based on architectural elements that lodge furnishing, engravings of membership certificates, depictions of ceremonies and stage sets for The Magic Flute all receive some consideration. The result is a work packed with fascinating detail, illustrated with many striking (or, in the case of some megalomaniac designs for buildings, astounding) images. The emphasis of the book is on the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and it indicates in graphic terms how widespread the obsession with freemasonry became among intellectuals.

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