ā /X V'
Fig. 140 ā A Niche, Chateau de Villers Cotterets.
Kl(i. 143 ā Priest's Chair, Hayenx Cathedral.
-ā ā¢:' ^>^(^^- ^^<^-.f
Fig. 141 ā Low Ueliel (Jruaiueut, .Maison Fontaine Henri, near Caen.
[Facing page 65.
Ornament with a Human and Animal Basis. ā Classic
AND Renaissance School.
In dealing with ornament which is based upon human or animal
forms, one is confronted at the outset with the difficulty of discriminating
between true sculpture and mere carved enrichment. There is a great
deal of the representation of human and animal forms as applied
to buildings which is correctly described as sculpture. There is a great
deal more which cannot be dignified by this term. The only thing
to do, in connection with the present notes on ornament, is to include
the consideration of both sculpture and figure carving when used
in a decorative manner as applied to a building, and only to exclude
such sculpture as is absolutely independent.^ There are certain
sculptors, even at the present day, who contend that the greatest
buildings in the world were designed expressly for the exhibition of
sculptured subjects. Architects, on the contrary, generally contend
that sculpture, when used in connection with a building, forms part
of its integral mass ; that it is an essential portion of its decoration,
and must be subservient to it ; suited to its position, but not controlling
it. This seems to be the more reasonable view to take, though at the
same time it is impossible not to recognize that certain buildings,
particularly of the great Renaissance period, which were designed
by men who were primarily sculptors, were made to a certain extent
subservient to the sculptural art. But correctly speaking sculpture
can only be considered as an accessory and not as a primary, and if
so considered, it reasonably comes within the purview of this volume,
and must be dealt with simultaneously with mere carvings of human
and animal forms and of grotesques founded thereon^
If we go back to the Egyptian and Assyrian periods, we find,
66 THE EVOLUTION OF ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT
particularly in the Egyptian, that there was both independent sculpture
and that which was attached or appHed to buildings, and that the
latter was sculptural in the highest sense, while at the same time it
was decorative. Perhaps the distinction between sculpture and
carving, as generally understood, can be most clearly seen in Egyptian
work, where such human figures as the Colossi, at the entrance to the
Temple at Abou Simbel, shown in Fig. 125, are wholly sculptural,
while the well-known incised figures upon the outer walls of many
of the other temples are types of figure decoration which are most
truly architectural ornament, though on a very much larger scale
than anything we have been considering hitherto. Like all Egyptian
work, these figures are stereotyped in proportion and form, and vary
but little from century to century in their general idea ; with their
remarkable smoothness of surface, the small amount of detail intro-
duced, the general massiveness of the whole conception, and the
supreme and sublime indifference displayed upon the countenances,
having eyes looking straight out and utterly regardless of the puny
human beings who pass by. As will be noticed in Fig. 125,
the great sculptural figures decorate the entrance to this wonderful
rock-cut temple at Abou Simbel in a more effective manner than could
have been achieved by any other means of ornamentation, wholly
in conformity with its huge scale and the great rock masses around.
In Assyrian work there is a similar distinction between the sculp-
tured bulls with their human heads, like that shown in Fig. 126, and
the wall slabs in low relief, which are little more than carving, such
as that which appears on the upper part of the same illustration and
as already indicated in Fig. 5. There is, however, a great difference
between Egyptian and Assyrian work of this class. The Assyrian
human head is really human ; it has every appearance of having been
a portrait, with the hooked nose, the sensitive nostril, the keen eye
and the puckered brow. There is nothing here that is stereotyped,
while in place of the highly-polished surface of Egyptian sculpture
there is an excessive elaboration of detail consistent with the use
of soft alabaster in place of hard granite as the material in which
Fig. 144 ā Capital on the Doorway to C'oimcil Chamber, Hotel de Ville. Audenarde.
\Facing page 66 >
H~fe^5^,,*^ - i'x. >-' :ā .17,1 ā ā v:Jl
- ' ^ā U ** 'ā *.
Fig. 145 ā Mural Tablet outside tlie Old Catlicdial, Hanover.
[Facing page 67.
THE EVOLUTION OF ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT 67
the sculptors did their work. The wall slabs, instead of being incised
as in the Egyptian work, have the figures raised upon a slightly recessed
background, the pictures ā for they are really such ā being executed
in the very lowest relief, while the animals, the horses, the lions, the
stags and the wild asses, all of which are found amidst a profusion of
human figures, are shown with a perfect understanding of their
modelling. The representations are in many cases as perfect as any that
can now be produced, although perspective was an art not understood ;
everything is alive, and often the figures are displayed in motion,
with just the right amount of restraint. When the figures are at rest
they are always dignified, like those already illustrated in Fig. 5,
It was in Greece where both architecture and sculpture culminated
as the great Classic arts. It was there where they were developed
best in conjunction with one another, neither supreme, but absolutely
harmonious ; the sculpture used to enrich the buildings and the
buildings designed at the same time to display the sculpture to its
best advantage. Sometimes the sculpture was framed, as in a tym-
panum or metope ; sometimes it occurred in a continuous range
upon a frieze or round the base of a column, though this last is rare ;
in aU cases it was designed so as to fit its position perfectly. Take, for
example, one of the lower drums of the sculptured columns on the
Temple of Diana at Ephesus, shown in Fig. 127, this being the last
great temple of that name, the one spoken of by Saint Paul. There
are also similar fragments of a similar drum of a similar column belonging
to the earlier temple which stood upon the same site, and these like
this fragment, are now in the Ephesus room of the British Museum.
Both in the earlier and in the later temple the sculpture is in good
relief ; but the lines, as they should be, are of a vertical tendency,
there being nothing in the least degree clashing with the general
suggestion that a column is a vertical support, while the relief is sufficient
for the figures to stand out beyond its actual substance, and to give
no impression of their carrying weight themselves. In the very few
instances where figures are used for weight carrying, as are the Cary-
tides of the Erechtheium, well-known to everybody, and of which
68 THE EVOLUTION OF ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT
one is illustrated in the frontispiece, it is remarkable that the weight
to be borne is obviously slight, and that the figures stand up under it
in precisely the pose of women who are accustomed to carry water
pots upon their heads. They, too, are weight carriers, sustaining loads
which they can support with comparative ease, but accustomed to
poise themselves for the purpose.
Where sculpture (or carving) is used upon a frieze as a continuous
band, the design is almost always of a continuous character, leading
on from figure to figure, the stiffly upright being rarely found ; though
it occurs in certain parts of the cella frieze of the Parthenon, where it
was intended to give the impression of rest or pause in the motion
or onward movement of the procession which is represented there.
The same suggestion of continuous motion is found in the frieze of the
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, of which a small portion is shown in Fig.
128, as it has been pieced together in the British Museum. The
subject is a combat in which female warriors are taking part ; but
for the present purpose this is a mere matter of detail, it being more
essential to indicate that the general flow of the design is such as to
harmonize with the architectural surroundings ā the strongly marked
horizontal lines of the architrave below and the cornice above. The
position in which this frieze occurs can be better seen in the pencil
sketch (Fig. 129) of the section of the entablature. It indicates that
this band of sculpture must have been in deep shadow beneath the
overhanging cornice, and this and its great height above the ground
must have rendered it difficult to recognise its detail, the perfection
of its execution being to a great extent wasted. The sculpture was
only employed as an architectural ornament to give texture to a
surface and a harmonious flow of line.
In all these things it is not the human form alone which is repre-
sented, particularly in the low reliefs, where animals are freely intro-
duced, as in the frieze just mentioned. Fig. 129, however, indicates
another use for representations of animal forms. A series of lion's
heads may be noticed along the cymatium moulding of the cornice,
acting as waterspouts to the gutter behind. These have a perfectly
THE EVOLUTION OF ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT 69
traceable origin, as may be seen in Fig. 130, which shows one of the
famous Lycian tombs now in the British Museum. The roof of this,
which is of pointed form, is in imitation of the roof of a low hut which
was covered with lions' skins, and the heads, of course, protude.
There is a great deal to be said about this little so-called tomb or
monument, which is obviously in imitation of timber construction.
Some of the timber ends suggest the dentil ornament, about which
more may be said later on, and it has side bearers, as if it had been
intended that it should be carried upon men's shoulders. It is held
by many that the Ark of the Covenant was of this character, and
there is at any rate a suggestion of the pointed arch in the roof form.
Whether this roof represents an upturned boat having a deep keel,
or an ordinary hut roughly covered with bent boughs, is an entirely
open question. For the moment, however, these matters are beside
the mark, interest converging upon the heads of the lions. This tomb,
it may be noticed, has been brought from Asia, and is probably of earlier
date than any of the recognized Greek buildings ; while the lions'
head spouts, as on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, are found almost
invariably on Greek work of the Ionic order, which seems also to have
had an Assyrian origin. A detail of a fragment of another such head,
from the temple of Diana at Ephesus, is shown in Fig. 131.
The Greeks rarely used animal or human forms in other than
a purely decorative way ā that is, in close alliance with the construction
ā so that the capital shown in Fig. 132 must be looked upon as
entirely exceptional. According to the inscription which its pedestal
bears, as it now stands in the Ephesus Room at the British Museum,
it is a Greek variation of an Oriental design belonging to the fourth
or third century B. C. It was found at Salamis in Cyprus in 1890,
and presented by the Cyprus Exploration Fund. It is in the form
of two winged bulls, with a fantastic car\^atid in relief upon its principal
or external face, which is that showTi in the illustration, the hands
being upraised to give the appearance of support to the abacus, and the
dress terminating in acanthus foliage.
From an antiquarian point of view the interest in this capital
70 THE EVOLUTION OF ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT
centres in the use of the bulls' heads, which are quite commonly em-
ployed in Roman buildings, sometimes (as shewn in Fig. 133, which
represents a crater or urn now standing in the entrance vestibule of
the British Museum) as lifelike representations wreathed for sacrifice,
but more frequently as isolated masks in a frieze. This urn also indi-
cates that the Greek idea of placing low reliefs on a surface was
retained, but the supports of the actual crater are curious human
Atlantes, or male figures, carrying the urn on their backs. The attitude,
it will be noticed, is a correct one for weight supporting ; the clothing,
such as it is, consists of acanthus leaves, and very much recalls that of
the caryatid on the capital shown in Fig. 132 ; but the figures stand
upon lions' legs and feet, which are entirely out of proportion to them.
Alternating with these figures are human masks or busts, lifelike and
crisp. The Romans were, in fact, much more free in their adoption of
ornament with an animal basis than were the Greeks, but it generally
consisted of one of the types shown here. The human head was,
however, by no means infrequently used also in antefixial ornaments.
There are several examples of these in the British Museum, but the
one selected for illustration in Fig. 134 is Etruscan, and has been
preserved at South Kensington ; or perhaps it would be more correct
to say that what is preserved there is a modem cast in unbaked clay
from the original terra cotta mould found near Orvieto, now in the
Central Etruscan Museum, Florence. It is believed to belong to about the
third century B. C. The head is surrounded by a halo of spiked leaves.
It is somewhat astonishing to find that in the work of the Italian
Renaissance the human and animal motive is used much more decor-
atively than in the Classic, whether Greek or Roman. Hitherto we
have been able to trace a close connection between Renaissance and
Classic ; now the connection is mch less apparent ā the work becomes
less that of the sculptor and more that of the carver. The spirit of
this new style of work is well indicated by Fig. 135. This shows a
small portion of the scroll enrichment of an important monument in
the Church of S. Maria del Popolo, Rome, and it is typical of a large
amount of similar carved ornament to be found throughout a great part
J -1 5
" > -,
' , "Ā»
1 ) > , > ' >
Fig. 116 ā Face Corbel on House in the Doin Platz,
- ^ .; / I
Fig. 147 ā Bronze Knocker and Plate, House in
Rath-hans Strasse, Hilderheim.
If ā¢ā -
Fig. 119 ā Capital in the Crypt, Canterl)urv Cathe-
dral (sketched by Mr. R. G. Lovell, A.R.I.B.A.).
Fig. lis ā Coat of Arms iu the Courtyard, Heidelberg
[Facing page 70.
Fig. 151 ā South Door, Barfreston Church, Kent.
Fia. 150 ā Buttress Teniiiiial, ^^t. I'UiciiiR', Beauvais.
Fig. 152 ā Cir<)los(HR' J,:i1h'1 Slop, I'.arfroston t'huroli,
IFaciiKj iJUi/e 71.
THE EVOLUTION OF ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT 71
of Italy, and, with certain local variations to be presently pointed out,
in France also. The foliage of the scroll work conforms to the types
already mentioned in a previous chapter of this series. The human
face is introduced as the central or most prominent incident, but
masks are frequently found as terminals, while dolphins spring out
from'Tthe foliage as if they were flowers, and other imaginary beasts
occur where leaves and flowers would more naturally grow. All these
are mere incidents in the scroll work pattern ; they are not the con-
trolling features of the enrichment ; there is no sculptural representation
of a scene or portrait, but they are in harmony with the foliage design.
Other examples are shewn in Figs. 136 and 137, both sketched in the
Victoria and Albert Museum, one representing the end of a stone
stair and the other a bracket. In one case a head and in the other a
grotesque animal is the most prominent feature in the design, yet the
treatment is essentially decorative and scroll-like, and foliage is freely
introduced in conjunction with the representation of imaginary life
forms. The fancy has been allowed free play, much more so than
was ever permitted to it during the true Classic ages.
The representation of the complete human figure was not, however,
entirely abandoned in the architectural embellishments of the Italian
Renaissance. A good example of its use is shown in Fig. 138, which
is from a photograph of the bronze entrance gates of the loggia to
the Campanile at Venice, which was destroyed when that building fell
a few years ago. It will be noticed that there were winged figures
in the spandrils over the arch, that the keystones were carved to
represent human heads, that there was statuary in the niches, and,
moreover, that the design of the gates consisted of a medley of human
forms surrounded by fragments of armour and weapons, while the lion
of St. Mark, with the open book (indicating that Venice was at
peace when the gates were made), appears as a supporter on either side.
The gates were amongst the most famous pieces of bronze work in the
world, and their destruction is most seriously to be deplored. They
were excellent examples of a somewhat unsatisfactory system of
introducing the human figure into design, and they showed how, in
72 THE EVOLUTION OF ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT
the hands of a great artist, an indifferent system of ornamentation
may be rendered beautiful, particularly when combined with excellence
of workmanship. The usual confusion to be found in the work of
this particular time and style was not unduly apparent.
The doorway from Genoa, shown in Fig. 139, is illustrative of
a much more satisfactory method of dealing with the sculptured figure.
Statuary is here employed as ornament most satisfactorily ; the
upstanding Virgin, interpenetrating the pediment and with a crown
held above her head by winged angels, being in perfect harmony with
the general scheme of the doorway, while the little figures which support
the pediment serve admirably as acroteria. There are other tiny
figures carved upon the greatly enriched columns, while winged masks
are to be found here and there amongst the foliage enrichment. Prom-
inent in this illustration is the great shell in the tympanum. Another
example of this has already been illustrated in Fig. 68, and it is of quite
frequent occurrence both in Italian and French Renaissance work.
Perhaps it may be called the most common of all the forms of Renais-
sance ornament which have an animal basis, and it would be certainly
difficult to imagine anything more suitable to the position which it is
designed to occupy.
Considering how immediately France owes its Renaissance decor-
ation to the influence of Italians, it is not astonishing to find that the
ornament which is based upon animal forms is very similar in the two
countries. Fig. 140, for example ā and it is only one of a large number
of similar examples which might be cited ā shows a small portion of
the decoration of the Chateau de Villers Cotterets, built in the time
of Frangois I., that is, about the year 1520. In many respects it
suggests the doorway at Genoa, both in the figures above the tympanum
and in the shell which fills the niche ; but the grotesque animal which
occupies rather more than the whole of the tympanum space is the
well-known vampire which occurs on all great buildings erected for the
use of Francois I., and must, therefore, be considered as an armorial
signification more than a piece of pure decoration, though it is decor-
atively introduced. The scroll from the Maison Fontaine Henri,
1 ->j >Ā» >> ', 5-Ā»l'
j l WW' l ' .V * f ' . ' , ā ' , 'ā ā ;* ā / ā i - -; y/.;t ii n^> wi . . i ^i Liw w " < J i Ā», i
'ā !i;i:- '
Fig. 154 ā .SpaiKhf! in North Transept, AVestminster
Fig. 153- ā Capital of Doorway, Kilpeck Church,
Herefordshire (from a cast at tlie Crystal Palace).
..? ā¢^:ā _y
Fig. 157 ā Carving in West Doorway Notre Daiue
Fig. 156 ā Buttress Terminal, Amiens Cathedral.
Facing iJage 72.
i^.' ā " ".^
Fig. 155 ā A Capital in the Chapter lloiiso, iJncoln Cathedral.
Sketched by IMr. R. G. Lovell, A.K.l.U.A.
Facing pcne 73.
THE EVOLUTION OF ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT 73
which appears in Fig. 141, is of much the same date, and is just as clearly
of ItaHan origin, being closely allied to the more beautiful one shown
in Fig. 135. The animals in France are not always quite so naturally
connected with the foliage as they are in Italy, though they could
hardly be of more grotesque forms. Variations are, of course, innum-
erable, for once the fancy is allowed any extent of license, such as is
indicated here, it is possible to proceed to any extravagance.
Natural treatment of the human form and face is found more
frequently in some of the later work of France, and also of Belgium.
The small example shown in Fig. 142 is Belgian ; it is a large scale
representation of a small corbel upon one of the series of confessional
boxes, of another of v/hich an illustration is given in Fig. 62, in the
Church of St. Loup, Namur ; but there is a considerable amount of
similar work to be found in carved wood all over these two countries,
always perfect in modelling. There is also a considerable amount in
England identified with the name of the great carver ā Grinling
Gibbons ā whose school flourished during the later years of the seven-
teenth and the early part of the eighteenth century. A later example
of the use of the human head in French Renaissance carving is shown
in Fig. 143, for, though the Priest's Chair at Bayeux is, properly
speaking, a piece of furniture and not architecture, the treatment is
such as is frequently found in architectural fittings. Some of the
figures here are supplied with large wings and have animals' feet,
while foliage grows out in a natural manner from behind other figures.
Natural representations of the lower animals are more rare, but
they occur occasionally, as in the Belgian example shown in Fig. 144,
where there are calves' heads upon the small capitals. The example
is an exceedingly early one, the date being 1531 A. D., the doorway
to the council chamber at Audenarde being the earliest piece of Renais-
sance carving in Belgium. It is contemporaneous, or practically so,
with the work at Villers Cotterets and Maison Fontaine Henri, shown
in Figs. 140 and 141.
It was left to France to originate another type of sculptured
ornament for the enrichment of a building, carved panels being intro-
74 THE EVOLUTION OF ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT
duced either in stone or timber, having scenes illustrated upon them
pictorially. Something of the same sort had already been done in
Gothic times, generally representing Scriptural subjects. In con-
nection with a Renaissance building, the result was generally a medley
of figures, not always easily decipherable. The Germans adopted
this pictorial system of carving enrichments even more than the
French, and carried it to great excess. The example shown in Fig.
145 of a mural tablet outside the old Cathedral at Hanover, is quite
insignificant compared with the large carvings of the same type to be
seen in several churches at Nuremburg and in the more southern parts
of the country. The only portion of this which is truly architectural
ornament is the male figure acting as a column and carrying an exag-
gerated Corinthian capital. A certain amount of the same sort of
thing is also to be found in England ; the two most pronounced examples
occur on the bases of Wren's Monument to the Great Fire, and the
statue of King Charles I. in Trafalgar Square. Sculptured representa-
tions of crowds of folk may be very well in their proper places, but they
ought to occur in isolated panels and not to be used for architectural
adornment. It is the confusion of the two elements which renders
the mural tablet shown in Fig. 145 so entirely unsatisfactory. That
the Germans did, in their Renaissance work, use the human form
reasonably and in suitable positions at times, is shown by the small