Volume XXXI, Number 3 (December 1916)
Freehof, M. E.
Old architectural details which inspire modern architectural beauty, pp. 259-266 PDF (3.0 MB)
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