1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Elements of Architecture (cont.): Ornament; Colour (Color)

(Part 3)

Elements of Architecture (cont.): Ornament; Colour (Color)

Next to general beauty or grandeur of form in building comes architectural ornament. Ornament, of course, may be used to excess, and, as a general rule, it should be confined to the decoration of a constructive part of a fabric; but, on the other hand, a total absence of paucity of ornaments betokens an unpleasing poverty. Ornaments maybe divided into two classes -- mouldings and sculptured representation of natural and fanciful objects. Mouldings no doubt, originated first, in simply taking of the edge of a square post, and the sinking the chamfer in hollows of various forms; and thence were developed by the system of mouldings we now find all styles and periods. Each of these has its own system; and so well the characteristic understood, that from an examination of them a skilful architect will not only tell the period in which building has been erected, but will even estimate of its size, as professors of physiology will construct animal from the examination of single bone. Moulding requires to be carefully studied, for nothing offends an educated eye like confusion of molding, such as Roman forms in Greek work, or Early English in that of Tudor period. The same remark applies to sculptured ornaments. They should be neither too numerous nor too few, and, above all, they should be consistent. The carved ox skulls, for instance, which are appropriate in the temple of Vesta or of Fortune, would be very incongruous on a Christian church.

Colour must be regarded as a subsidiary element in architecture, and although it seems almost indispensable and has always been extensively employed in interiors, it is doubtful how far external coloring is desirable. Some contented that only local colouring, the colour of material should be admitted; but there seems no reason why any color should not be used, provided it be employed with direction and kept subordinate to the form of outline. This subject is too much importance to dismiss summarily here, and will be treated in a supplementary noticed at the end of the article.

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