Guide for drawing the acanthus -PDF book by James Page

 Guide for drawing the acanthus and every description of ornamental foliage

Guide for drawing the acanthus

From Introduction
The word sculpture, derived from the Latin word, to carve, is applicable to all work cut out in a solid material in imitation of natural objects. Thus carvings in wood, ivory, stone, marble, metal, and those works formed in a softer material, not requiring carvings, such as wax and clay, all come under the general denomination of sculpture. But sculpture, as we are about to consider it, is to be distinguished by the term statues, from all carved work belonging to ornamental art, and from those beautiful incised gems and cameos which form the class of glyptics, a word derived from the Greek.

It must be borne in mind, however, that the sculptor does not generally carve his work directly out of the marble; he first makes his statue or bas-relief in clay, or sometimes in wax. It is scarcely necessary to say that the most primitive sculptor naturally took clay for his work, as the potter did for his "wheel." This method enabled him to " sketch in the clay," and to perfect his work in this obedient material. Michelangelo and such great masters could dispense with this, and when they chose could carve at once the statue from the block. 

The ancient Egyptian sculptors, and after them the Assyrians, carved their gigantic figures from the living rock. The rock-cut temples of India show similar work. Carving is, however, of secondary consideration — with the exception of the special work of great masters just referred to — and it is the modelling in the clay which is the primary work. The sculpture is therefore properly styled " plastic art,"  to fashion or mould. The " model," as it is termed technically.

In the process of "pointing," the model and the block of marble are each fixed, on a base called a scale-stone, to which a standard vertical rod can be attached at corresponding centres, having at its upper end a sliding needle so adapted by a moveable joint as to be set at any angle, and fastened by a screw when so set. 

The master sculptor having marked the governing points with a pencil on the model, the instrument is applied to these and the measure taken. The standard is then transferred to the block-base, the " pointer," guided by this measure, cuts away the marble, taking care to leave it rather larger than the model so that the general proportions are kept, and the more important work is then left for the master hand. 

The process of pointing, which was probably employed in some shape by the ancient sculptors, though not so accurately as in modern times, is of course not applicable to metal statues. The practice of compass pointing, still employed in Italy, was probably derived from the ancients; but it is obviously liable to error. The nature of the material in which a sculptor carves necessarily influences the character of his work; the harder the stone the more difficult to give it the pliant forms of life. 

The most ancient and the grandest in size of all works of sculpture are in those kinds of hard stone, such as basalt, granite, and porphyry, -which cannot be worked sufficiently by the chisel, as they would either break the edge of the tool if the steel were too hard or turn it if too soft. It is very remarkable that the most ancient and perfect Egyptian statues (Fig. 2) should have been formed out of these very hard stones; and as the ancient Egyptians were not acquainted with steel, they must have been dependent on bronze of various degrees of hardness for their cutting tools.


History and Rules for Drawing the Acanthus Mollis, Perpendicularly
Rules and Practice for Drawing Curvilinear Foliage, as adapted to Running Scrolls and Corinthian Chapters
On Starting Points
On Grecian and Roman Ornament
On the Designing of Trophies
On Swords and Other Arms
On Egyptian Temples, Hieroglyphics, Sacred Animals and Columns, suitable for Egyptian Decorations
On French Ornament, with a variety of Rules for composing the same
On Frets and Guillochis
On Arabesque
On Elizabethian
On Gothic Details, as regards Curvilinear Portions and Periods
On Geometry
On Mouldings

  • Author: James Page
  • Publication Date: :1886
  • Company:  London, B. Quaritch

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