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

MediƦval ornament,   pp. 99-105 ff.

Page 105

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.

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