The journal of design and manufactures
[Original papers:] Iron-work and the principles of its treatment., pp. 74-78
78 Original Papers: I-on-work and its Principles of Treatment. may be in reserve, when England shall have systematised a scale of form and proportion--a vocabulary of its own, in which to speak to the world the language of its power, and its freedom of thought and feeling, we may trust ourselves to dream, but we dare not predict. Whatever the result may be, it is impossible to disregard the fact, that the building for the Exhibition of 1851 is likely to accelerate the "consummation so devoutly to be wished," and that the novelty of its forms and details will be likely to exercise a powerful influence upon national taste. In the design of the thousand-and-one miscellaneous objects which may be included in the term "fancy castings," the English have made considerable progress of late years ; and we trust, that as the practice of ornamental model- ling becomes more universal among her workmen, she may soon rival the delicate foliage and handling of ornament which have rendered the French casters so celebrated. In the railing we engrave (from Mr. Hope's new house in Piccadilly) the English manufacturer has an opportunity, without going far from home, of realising to himself the peculiar excellencies to which we allude. In it he will also recognise, if we mistake not, a superiority rather of hand than of head, a fertility of fancy rather than a refined perception of combination of line or purity of form,-an illustration of the practice of scribbling in the ornament without the revision necessary to bring the lines and proportions into proper harmony. The somewhat bungling stilting of the capital will suffce to illus- trate our meaning. It is, however, a specimen the beauties of which are far more conspicuous than the faults, and it would be well if there were many such in London to criticise. To the exertions made by the Coalbrookdale Company to elevate the cha- racter of the design of fancy castings too much praise cannot be given. The efforts they have made to elevate iron into a material for expressing the loftiest order of fine art, and the spirit with which they have enlisted the highest procurable aculpturesque ability redound to their credit. In such trifles as the elegant little flower-stand we engrave they shew a remarkable aptitude for the ornamental; and although occasionally we have found it necessary to reprobate the florid style of some few of their productions, still, on the whole, we have greatly admired the novelty and variety of their designs, and the invariable excellence of their work. It is a gratifying thought that the Coalbrookdale Company are by no means alone in their exertions; by the Carron Company, and very many other founders, large sums of money are annually expended in endeavouring to enlist the best available talent. No reflecting person can give a thought to the subject without perceiving that English formative art is changing in its conditions almost from hour to hour,-that there is a spirit of impulse abroad striving to effect reform without revolution in the science of design as in politics, and that an evil instead of a "good time is coming" for those who may choose too long stare super antiquas vias. What may be the ultimatum reached by iron, and how far its treatment may achieve approximate perfection in our time, is a pro- blem none can solve. Schools of design may certainly do something,---com- mercial spirit and energy much more,-cultivation on the part of the public the most: how these may have been acting lately the Exhibition of 1851 must show; we can only now, in anticipation of that great event, and in concluding our necessarily scanty notice of this really great subject, express a hope that men of genius will throw off their apathy, will condescend to give their best attention to that which, sooner or later, must become an all- important branch of the profession of design, and so elevate their treatment of this material, that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren may not look back upon us, their progenitors, as unworthy sons of this most essentially ferrea wsas.
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