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Books  >   Arts and Photography : Graphic Design : Design : Decorative : 

The Grammar of Ornament

Jones, Owen
Pankow, David
McLean, Ruari (Narrator)


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Description: From Library Journal
This disc reproduces the printed The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones (London, 1856), with supplementary color plates from the 1868 edition. The original printed work was considered a masterpiece of 19th-century color printing, with thousands of examples of ornamental motifs and designs (many from ancient monuments and buildings) from the ancient world through the Renaissance, including both Eastern and Western design motifs. The complete work is represented here, viewable (as with other Octavo discs) in a variety of resolutions, searchable, printable, and supplemented with a critical introduction. This disc continues Octavo's pattern of creating digital reproductions of rare books that are themselves works of art. However, paper reprints of the original are available at a reasonable cost, so it is hard to understand why this title was selected for Octavo's otherwise rare books on disc series. This is the first Octavo disc with which this reviewer experienced performance problems. Response time was consistently slow even on a robust machine, owing (presumably) to the graphics-heavy nature of this title. The Bottom Line: The Grammar of Ornament is for libraries developing electronic text collections as well as art and design libraries; not an essential purchase.AEd Tallent, Research Instruction, Harvard Coll. Lib.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Description:
The Grammar of Ornament is by any standards a remarkable book. When it was first published in 1856, it was the first time that so many illustrations of ornament, of many periods and from many countries, had ever been shown in color in one work. It was the concept of Owen Jones (1808-74), a young Welsh architect, who at the age of twenty-three went on his grand tour to visit Turkey, Egypt, Sicily, and Spain. In Granada he became fascinated by the Alhambra Palace, in which at that time visitors could actually choose their own suites of room and take up residence. Jones made detailed drawings of the Palace, and in August 1834, he returned to England carrying not only his drawings, but also an enormous number of casts: "To ensure perfect accuracy, an impression of every ornament throughout the palace was taken, either in plaster or with unsized paper, the low relief of the ornaments of the Alhambra rendering them peculiarly susceptible of this process."

Jones' aim was not to produce general artistic views, but to provide scientific accuracy in making an exact and detailed record of ornaments and colored decorations consisting largely of flat bright colors in geometric patterns. He could not find any printer in London able to meet his requirements; with the help of lithographic printers Day and Haghe he set up his own lithographic press and trained his own workmen at his own expense, having to sell part of the Welsh estate left him by his father to pay the costs of printing. Jones' first book, Plans, Details, and Sections of the Alhambra, was the first of many projects leading toward his magnum opus, The Grammar of Ornament.

Commentary by Ruari McLean.

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