1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Sculptured Ornaments in Greek Architecture

(Part 53)

Sculptured Ornaments in Greek Architecture

The few examples which exist of sculptured ornament on straight surfaces exhibit varieties of nearly the same combination as those last mentioned -- the honeysuckle, with the lotus, and sometimes a variety of itself, on scrolls, either throwing out tendrils, or plain. This is found on the necking of the Ionic columns of the Athenian Acropolis, and on those of their antae, continuing along under the congeries of mouldings, as previously described. The varieties of foliage used in the enrichments of Greek architecture are few, and will be found generally exemplified in the Corinthian capital of the choragic monument of Lysicrates, and in the rich acroteral pedestal or stem of the same edifice, than which we possess no more elaborate specimen of foliated enrichment of the Greek school.

There exist many specimens of architectural ornament on vases and fragments, in marble and terra-cotta, in which human figures, both male and female, are composed, with a greater variety of foliage than is generally found in Greek architectural works; and many of the beautiful marble and bronze utensils discovered in Herculaneum and Pompeii have enrichments obviously of Greek origin, from which, as well as from the specimens of ornament on positive architectural monuments, we may judge of their productions generally, as well as acquire or imbibe something of the fine taste which originated them.

It will be remarked at once that Greek ornamentation is quite conventional, and that the plain scroll forms its main feature. The leaf-work is clasped round it, and helps to fill up the surface, and pleasingly vary the outline, but the scroll is prominent throughout. Then there is a peculiarity in the mode of carving the ornamentation. The scroll is not rounded off, as in the Roman, like the branch of a tree, but stands squarely and sharply out from the surface, so as to throw a well-defined sharp shadow. So with the foliage, whose leaves also, in place of having the rounded section used by the Romans, are cut sharply either with a square or triangular section, giving again a strong contrast of light and shade.

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