Jones, Owen, 1809-1874. / The grammar of ornament : illustrated by examples from various styles of ornament
Mediæval ornament, pp. 99-105 ff.
MEDLEVAL ORNAMENT. ornament enclosing gold panels, on which are painted groups of flowers slightly conventionalised. In 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, we find conventional ornament intermingled with natural flowers arranged in a fragmentary way. All continuity of design being abandoned, we arrive through this to No. 11, when a natural flower and a conventional ornament appear on the same stem, to Nos. 12, 13, where the painter has full sway, and represents flowers and insects casting their shadow on the page. When the art of illumination had arrived at this stage it could go no farther,-all ideality had fled-and it ends in the desire to copy an insect so faithfully that it should appear to be alighting on the page. Nos. 1, 2, are specimens of a peculiar style of Italian MSS., which was a revival in the fifteenth century of the system of ornament so prevalent in the twelfth. It led to the style No. 3, where the interlaced pattern became highly coloured on the gold ground. This style also died out in the same way, the interlacings, from being purely geometrical forms, became imitations of natural branches, and, of course, when it arrived thus far there could be no further progress. The character of the ornament on stained glass appears to follow much more closely that of the illuminated MSS. than it does the sculptured ornament of the monuments of the same period, and, like the ornament of the illuminated MSS., it appears to us to be always in advance of structural ornament. For instance,-the stained glass of the twelfth century possesses the same breadth ot effect, and is constructed in the same way, as the sculptured ornament of the thirteenth, whilst the stained glass of the thirteenth century is, according to our view, already in a state of decline. The same change has taken place which we have already observed on comparing No. 13 with No. 12, Plate LXXI. The constant repetition of the same forms has gradually led to an over-elaboration of detail, from which the general effect considerably suffers. The ornaments are out of scale with the general masses. Now as it is one of the most beautiful features of the Early English style, that the ornament is in such perfect relation in point of scale and effect to the members which it decorates, this seems a very curious fact, if fact it is. On Plates LXIX. and LXIX*. all the ornaments from Nos. 12 to 28 are of the twelfth century. Nos. 3 and 7 are of the thirteenth. Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, are of the fourteenth, and we think a mere glance at the general effect of the plates will establish what we have here advanced. In the stained glass of the twelfth century we shall always find all the principles which we have shown to belong to a true style of art. We need only call attention here to the very ingenious way in which the straight, the inclined, and the curved, are balanced and contrasted in all the diapers. In Nos. 2 and 4 we have an example of a very common principle, which is thoroughly Eastern in character, viz. a continuous ground pattern forms a tint interlacing with a more general surface pattern. In Nos. 1, 5, 6, 8, of the fourteenth century we see the commencement of the direct natural style, which ended in the total neglect of the true principles of stained glass, when both ornaments and figures through which life was to be transmitted, in the attempt to render them over-true, had their own shades and shadows. EE 105