Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Grammar of Ornament

The Welsh architect Owen Jones (1809-1874) went on the Grand Tour through Spain, Turkey, Egypt and Sicily as a twenty-two-year-old. He became fascinated with architectural ornamentation, and recorded the patterns and colors he saw during his travels. When he returned to England, Jones sought a printer who could accurately reproduce his sketches; finding none, he established his own printing shop and became one of the most revered chromolithographers of his day. His books, The Grammar of Ornament (1856) and Details and Ornaments from the Alhambra (1835-1845), frequently formed part of a late nineteenth-century architect's working library. The American architect Harvey Ellis (1852-1904) relied heavily on Jones-ian ornamentation for his decoration of the Mabel Tainter Memorial (1889), a Richardsonian Romanesque building located in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

For those interested in knowing more about Owen Jones, see Kathryn Ferry's article, "Printing the Alhambra: Owen Jones and Chromolithography," Architectural History 46 (2003): 175-188. Architectural History is available through JSTOR and in the TSA Library Periodicals Section (NA190.A72).

Tulane University's Special Collections Division, located in 200 Jones Hall, retains a first edition copy of The Grammar of Ornament.

[Pictured above: Owen Jones, ""Persian Ornament" page from The Grammar of Ornament. London: Bernard Quartich, 1910. Donated to the Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries, by John Geiser III].

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