The new relativity of values in the cultural context, the identification of mediaeval buildings as part of national heritage in northern countries, and emerging Romanticism were at the roots of the restoration movement that started in the late eighteenth century, and further evolved with historicism and eclecticism especially in the second half of the nineteenth century. While an initial aim was to protect the 'national monuments of history, science and art' (during the French Revolution), the policies later developed toward the restoration of the lost stylistic integrity. The relevant justifications varied from the religious-moral motives of the Ecclesiologists in England to the national-romantic values of the Germans, and the rational-scientific approach of the French. The absolute 'idea' of beauty in Classicism was now associated with the concept of style, i.e., human conception but still an external refer
ence to the object itself, an ideal scheme to be taken as a reference for 'stylistic restoration'.
Restoration of the unity of style was defined in a systematic manner by Mérimée and Viollet-le-Duc in the mid-nineteenth century. The movement was strengthened by the pragmatic and positivistic attitude of architects who emphasized the need to make use of historic buildings - rather than just preserving them as documents, and by the political ambitions of decision-makers for whom restoration became a question of national prestige. It evolved from the 'unification to purification' of style in Central European historicism, to 'restauro storied in Italy, and to 'period restoration' in USA (Colonial Williamsburg). With the increase of knowledge in history and the augmentation of tourism as an important 'beneficiary', stylistic restoration has continued throughout the twentieth century, influencing practically all regions of the world and continuing as a dominant feature in practice.
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