Arrowsmith, Henry William / The house decorator and painter's guide; containing a series of designs for decorating apartments, suited to the various styles of architecture
[Interior decoration, continued], pp. 25-27
26 degree superseded by the more enriched and gorgeous method of painting mosaics, or in encaustic colours, the forms which had been so beautifully represented by the chisel could not be altogether forgotten; but, the fancy being less restrained by the difficulty of manual execution, more flowing, luxuriant, and various ornaments were introduced, and the stiffness of sculpture was immediately lost, to the great relief of the uneducated eye; for that, which is most classical is not always the most pleasing to the public. An almost unlimited number of objects are introduced in the Arabesque; but the scroll in all its varied and undulating forms is the chief and most characteristic ornament. Thus we may see it in its simple leafy elegance of curvature; or, more complex, with the outline of some vegetable production, entwining itself With numerous evolutions, until it loses its character, and shoots forth into the varied forms of animated existence. These scrolls are frequently made to terminate in the body of some fabulous figure, or even in exquisite representations of the human form. The whole kingdom of animate and inanimate being is called up by the artist to grace his design, and to these existing creatures, fancy adds a new creation, by blending the forms which are presented to her view. Those of the ancients who were engaged in designing in the Arabesque, must have been men of great talent as artists, close observers of nature, and possessing all the learning of the age. This must be allowed, whether the reader's opinion coincide with the general taste of the day, or whether, taking up the arguments of Vitruvius, he be more disposed to blame than praise. The Roman decorator was a man of no ordinary education, for he was an architect, and was well versed in the history and religious fables of his country, as from them his designs were chiefly taken. But he also possessed great and improved talents as a painter, for it was his duty to represent and group animal and vegetable forms with landscapes and the objects of still life.
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