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TRACTlCE OF ARCHITECTURE. Book III,


symmetrical ; so, v/licn relations are strictly established between certain parts, making one
the measure of another, a disregard of the symmetry thus induced cannot fail of destroying
beauty. But here again we have to say, that for want of attention to tlie similarity of the
parts, or neglect of the established relations on which the whole is founded, they have lost
their symmetry, and have thus become unfit for their purpose
;
so tliat thus again we return
to fitness as the main foundation of beauty.
'J511, Colour abstractedly considered has little to do with architectural beauty, which ii
founded, as is scidpture, on fine form. We are here speaking generally, and are not inclined
to assert tliat the colour of a building in a landscape is unimportant to the general eflect of
that landscape, or that the colours used on tiie walls of the interior of a building are
unessential considerations ; but we do not hesitate to say that tliey are of minor consequence
in relation to our art. We believe it would be difficult to paint (we mean not in the
sense of tlie artist) the interior of the ban(iueting room at Whitehall, were it restored to
its original destination, and divested of the ruinous accessories which from its original
i>ur-
pose have turned it from a ban([ueting room into a chapel, we l>elieve, we say, that it would
be difficult to paint it so as to destroy its internal beauty. But as we intend to be short
under this head, we shall (juote a brochure touching on this subject published by us in 1837.
2512. One of the beauties tending to give effect to the edifices of Greece has been on
the testimony of almost all travellers, the colour of the materials whereof they are com-
posed. Dr. Clarke observes that a warm ochreous tint is diiiiised over all the buildings of
the Acropolis, which he says is peculiar to the ruins of Athens.
"
Perliaps," says the
author.
"
to this warm colour, so remarkably characterising the remains of ancient luiildings
at Athens, Plutarch alluded"
(/
Vita Pericles) "in that beautiful passage cited by
Chandler, where lie affirmed tluit the structures
of
Pericles possessed a peculiar ami un-
piralleled excellence
of
churacter ; a certain freshness bloomed upon them and preserved their
faces
uninjured, as
if
tltei/ possessed a never-fading spirit, and had a soul insensible to at/e." It
is singular tliat recent discoveries have incontestably proved that this species of beauty at
all events did not originally exist in them, inasmucli as it is now clearly ascertained tliat it
was tlie practice of the Greeks to paint the whole of the inside and outside of their temples
in party colours. It had been some time known that they were in the habit of painting
and picking out the ornaments on particular parts of their buildings
; but M. Scliaubert,
the architect of the King of Greece, found on examination that this fell far short of tlie ex-
tent to which this species of painting was carried, and M. Semper, another German arclii-
tect, has fidly corroiiorated the fact in his examination of the Temple of Tlieseus. Tlie
l)ractice v/as doulitless imported into Greece from Egypt, and was not to be easily alian-
doned, seeing the difficulty of falling away from the habits of a people whence it seems
certain the arts of Greece more immediately came. It is by no means uncommon for a
person to be fully alive to all the beauties of form, without at the same time having a
due feeling or perception of the beauty resulting from harmony in colouring. It is
therefore not to be assumed that the Greeks, though given to a practice which we would
now discourage, possessed not that taste in otlier respects which has wortiiily received
the admiration of posterity. The practice of painting the inside and outside of buildings
has received the name of polychromatic architecture, and we shall here leave it to the
consideration of the student as a curious and interesting circumstance, but certainly witli-
out a belief that it could add a charm to the stupendous simplicity and beauty of such
a building as the Parthenon.
251:5. After all that we have said of fitness, it will be expected that in decoration it shall
form a principal ingredient. By the term decoration we understand the combination of
objects and ornaments that the necessity of variety introduces under various forms, to
embellish, to enricii, and to explain the subjects whereon they are employed. Tlie art of
decoration, so as to add to the beauty of an object, is, in other words, that of carrying out
the emotions already produced by the general form and parts of the object itself. By its
means the several relations of the whole and the parts to each other are increased by new
combinations ; new images are presented to the mind whose effect is varietv, one great
source of pleasure. From these observations two general rules may be deduced in respect
of decoration. First, that it must actually be or seem to be necessary. Second, tliat
such objects must be employed in it as have relation to the end of the general object of
the design. We are not to suppose that all parts of a work are susceptible of ornament.
Taste must be our guide in ascertaining where decoration is wanted, as well as the quantity
requisite. The absence of it altogether is in many cases a mode of decoration. As in
language its ricliness and the luxuriance of images do not suit all subjects, and simjilicity
in such cases is the best dress, so in the arts of design many subjects would be rather
impoverished than enriched by decoration. We must therefore take into consideration the
character of the building to be decorated, and then only apply such ornament as is neces-
sary and suitable to that character. AVe may judge of its necessity if the absence of it
tauses a dissatisfaction from the void space left ; of its suitableness, by its developing the
character. History has recorded the contempt with which that decorator was treated who