The grammar of ornament
|The grammar of ornament|
This collection will be seriously to increase this dangerous tendency, and that many will be content to borrow from the past those forms of beauty which have not already been used up ad nauseam.
It has been my desire to arrest this tendency and to awaken a higher ambition. If the student will but endeavour to search out the thoughts which have been expressed in so many different languages, he may assuredly hope to find an ever-gushing fountain in place of a half-filled stagnant reservoir. In the following chapters, I have endeavoured to establish these main facts.
First. That whenever any style of ornament commands universal admiration, it will always be found to be in accordance with the laws which regulate the distribution of form in nature. Secondly. That however varied the manifestations in accordance with these laws, the leading ideas on which they are based are very few. Thirdly.
That the modifications and developments which have taken place from one style to another have been caused by a sudden throwing off of some fixed trammel, which set thought free for a time, till the new idea, like the old, became again fixed, to give birth in its turn to fresh inventions. Lastly. I have endeavoured to show, in the twentieth chapter, that the future progress of Ornamental Art may be best secured by engrafting on the experience of the past the knowledge we may obtain by a return to Nature for fresh inspiration. To attempt to build up theories of art, or to form a style, independently of the past, would be an act of supreme folly.
It would be at once to reject the experiences and accumulated knowledge of thousands of years. On the contrary, we should regard as our inheritance all the successful labours of the past, not blindly following them, but employing them simply as guides to find the true path. In taking leave of the subject, and finally surrendering it to the judgment of the public, I am fully aware that the collection is very far from being complete; there are many gaps which each artist, however, may readily fill up for himself. My chief aim, to place side by side types of such styles as might best serve as landmarks and aids to the student in his onward path, has, I trust, been fulfilled. It remains for me to offer my acknowledgement to all those friends who have kindly assisted me in the undertaking. to the Subscribers, but even to complete it before the appointed time.
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