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Jones, Owen, 1809-1874. / The grammar of ornament : illustrated by examples from various styles of ornament

Egyptian ornament,   pp. 19-25 ff.

Page 25

shadow, yet found no difficulty in poetically conveying to the mind the identity
of the object they
desired to represent. They used colour as they did form, conventionally.
Compare the representation
of the lotus (No. 3, Plate IV.) with the natural flower (No. 1); how charmingly
are the characteristics
of the natural flower reproduced in the representations !  See how the outer
leaves are distinguished
by a darker green, and the inner protected leaves by a lighter green; whilst
the purple and yellow
tones of the inner flower are represented by red leaves floating in a field
of yellow, which most
completely recalls the yellow glow of the original. We have here Art added
to Nature, and derive
an additional pleasure in the perception of the mental effort which has produced
The colours used by the Egyptians were principally red, blue, and yellow,
with black and white
to define and give distinctiveness to the various colours; with green used
generally, though not
universally, as a local colour, such as the green  leaves of the lotus. 
 These were, however,
indifferently coloured green or blue; blue in the more ancient times, and
green during the Ptolemaic
period; at which time, also, were added both purple and brown, but with diminished
effect.  The red
also, which is found on the tombs or mummy-cases of the Greek or Roman period,
is lower in tone
than that of the ancient times; and it appears to be a universal rule that,
in all archaic periods of
art, the primary colours, blue, red, and yellow, are the prevailing colours,
and these used most
harmoniously and successfully.  Whilst in  periods when art is practised
traditionally, and not
instinctively, there is a tendency to employ the secondary colours and hues,
and shades of every
variety, though rarely with equal success.  We shall have many opportunities
of pointing this out
in subsequent chapters.

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