Stratton, Arthur James

Full Name: 
Stratton, Arthur James
Date Born: 
1872
Date Died: 
1955
Place Born: 
London, England, UK
Place Died: 
Pulborough, Sussex, England, UK
Home Country: 
UK
Overview: 

Architectural historian; one of the first in the English-speaking world to treat Baroque architecture as an epoch worthy of study. Stratton trained as an architect under Leonard A. S. Stokes (1858-1925). In 1895 he joined the Liverpool University College's School of Architecture as a lecturer in the practice ("Demonstrator"). Architectural history, not practice, was his passion, however, and he won a silver medal from the Architecture Association the following year for his essay, "The Life and Work of Wren." He published this as a small book, replete with personal sketches he made. Stratton returned to London to teach at King's College School of Architecture under Ravenscroft Elsey Smith (1859-1930). The school was absorbed into the Bartlett School and he with it, now under the direction of A. E. Richardson (1880-1964). There he lectured on all areas of architectural history, his interest being in Tudor and Renaissance periods. Stratton assumed co-authorship with Thomas Garner for a folio study of Tudor architecture. Garner died in 1906 and Stratton was largely responsible for the text. His fame as an architectural historian in England was such that his English Interior book attracted 1500 subscribers (pre-publication orders). In 1927 he edited and published the 5th edition of the popular The Architecture of the Renaissance in Italy by William J. Anderson, significantly adding a chapter on Baroque architecture, making it one of the first surveys to treat this maligned period. In this, he joined Fiske Kimball and George Harold Edgell whose 1918 History of Architecture conceded the same point. He retired in 1930 and moved to Pulborough in Sussex where he designed personal buildings and domestic architecture. Stratton helped overturn the previous generation of architectural historians' notion that Baroque architecture was the height of bad taste (Jones). Anderson's disgust for the period was such that his survey had omitted the period all together. Stratton wrote, "the architecture of the seventeen-century in Italy can no longer be dismissed as wholly decadent, and there is much to be learnt from that of the eighteenth century, which saw many a versatile Baroque at the height of his powers." (5th ed, p. 238).

Selected Bibliography: 
5th ed. and Anderson, William J. The Architecture of the Renaissance in Italy: a General View for the Use of Students and Others. New York: C. Scribner's Sons/London: B. T. Batsford, ltd., 1927; and Garner, Thomas. The Domestic Architecture of England during the Tudor Period. 2 vols published in 3 parts. London: B.T. Batsford, 1908-11
Sources: 
mentioned, Wohl, Helmut. "Robert Chester Smith and the History of Art in the United States." in, Sala, Dalton, and Tamen, Pedro, et al. Robert C. Smith, 1912-1975: A investigação na História de Arte/ Research in History of Art. Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2000, p. 24; mentioned, Watkin, David. The Rise of Architectural History. London: The Architectural Press, 1983, p. 103; [obituaries:] Jones, Ronald P. Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects 62 (August 1955): 430; Builder 188 (May 6, 1955): 761.