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The craftsman
Volume XXXI, Number 3 (December 1916)

Freehof, M. E.
Old architectural details which inspire modern architectural beauty,   pp. 259-266 PDF (3.0 MB)


Page 265


  MODERN ARCHITECTURAL BEAUTY
gaze, but do not use golden ploughshares, nor bind
ledgers in enamel. Do not thrash with sculptured
flails: nor put bas-reliefs on millstones. What I it will
be asked, are we in the habit of doing so? Even always
and everywhere. The most familiar position of
Greek mouldings is in these days on shop fronts.
l V(J. V; aJ1%J "lu  a  eana aO,.JClll  a Sit1 nol all e II nor   lllu
in all the streets of all our cities which has not upon it ornaments which
were invented to adorn temples and beautify kings' palaces. . . .
   "It is well, therefore, that the young architect should be taught
to
think of imitative ornament as of the extreme of grace in language;
not to be regarded at first, not to be obtained at the cost of purpose,
meaning, force or conciseness, yet, indeed a perfection-the least of
all perfections, and yet the crowning one of all-one which by itself,
and regarded in itself, is an architectural coxcombry, but is yet the
sign of the most highly trained mind and power when it is associated
with others. It is a safe manner, as I think, to dpsign all things at
first in severe abstraction, and to be prepared, if need were, to carry
them out in that form; then to mark the parts where high finish would
be admissible, to complete these always with stern reference to their
general effect, and then connect them by a graduated scale of abstrac-
tion with the rest. And there is one safeguard against danger in this
process on which I would finally insist. Never imitate anything but
natural forms, and those the noblest, in the completed parts. The
degradation of the cinque cento manner of decoration was not owing
to its naturalism, to its faithfulness of imitation, but to its imitation
of
ugly, i. e. unnatural things. So long as it restrained itself to sculpture
of animals and flowers, it remained noble ...
    "But, at all events, one thing we have in our power-the doint
 without machine ornament and cast-iron work. All the stamped
 metals, and artificial stones, and imitation woods and bronzes, over the
 invention of which we hear daily exultation-all the short, and cheap,
 and easy ways of doing that whose difficulty is its honor-are just so
 many new obstacles in our already encumbered road. They will not
 make one of us happier or wiser-they will extend neither the pride of
 judgment nor the privilege of enjoyment. They will only make us
 shallower in our understandings, colder in our hearts, and feebler in
 our wits. And most justly. For we are not sent into this world to do
 anything into which we cannot put our hearts. We have certain
 work to do for our bread, and that is to be done strenuously; other
 work to do for our delight, and that is to be done heartily: neither
 is to be done by halves and shifts, but with a will; and what is not
 worth this effort is not to be done at all. Perhaps all that we have
 to do is meant for nothing more than an exercise of the heart and of
From Paris
comes a sugges-
tion for graceful
proportion of
columns.
265


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