Braun, Emil
Explanatory Text and Additional Plates to Lewis Gruners̕ Specimens of Ornamental Art — London, 1850

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PLATES 1 to 29.



As it is rare to find the extremities and details of antique figures well preserved, so among the ruins of ancient buildings
we seldom meet with any in which that important detail, the door, is remaining. This feature is, however, as expressive
as the mouth or eyes of a statue. Classical edifices being deficient in windows, the whole vitality is, as it were, concentrated
on this feature of the building. Even the palaces of Bramante have lost a great deal of their original character by the
destruction of the doors, which seem not to have satisfied the architects, at a later epoch of deteriorated taste. At Rome
not one of the palaces erected by this immortal genius has retained this feature. Portals of so discordant and heavy a
design have been added to them, that the eye is painfully affected, and the whole effect of the buildings has suffered
greatly from the discrepancy.

The present Plate lays before the eyes of the pupil a synopsis of the three classical orders of architecture, as far as
their character expresses itself in the construction of the doors. Such a parallel is indeed wanting to the greater part
of elementary works on architecture.

A. The Door of the Pantheon at Rome shows not only the splendour and refinement of the most beautiful among
the ancient systems of architecture, viz. the Corinthian Order, but exhibits, also, one of the most perfect specimens of an
antique portal ; even the frame and trellis-work over the entrance being preserved.

B. The Door of the Minerva Polias at Athens, places before us the graceful beauty of the Ionic style in its finest
development. We can scarcely understand all the wonderful refinements of the Ionic Order without thoroughly studying
the graceful details which this part of the system presents to us.

C. The Door of the Temple of Hercules at Cora, furnishes a good and instructive specimen of the more simple and
grave style of the Doric Order, which admits the accessory graces of curved lines, only with great reserve, and maintains
a solemn and antique character.



The boundless variety of forms which is presented to us by the immense quantity of Greek Vases discovered in Italy,
and particularly in Etruria, almost bewilders us by its endless profusion. As long as the eye is not acquainted with the
principle of the construction of these manifold curves, not only the amateur but even the artist, who looks at them in
a practical point of view, is unable to derive full enjoyment from them. The eye soon becomes wearied by passing along
the fine lines of these infinitely multiplied curves, as long as we are ignorant of the laws in conformity with which
they are arranged.

The present synopsis of vases, which were measured and carefully copied from the originals in the British Museum,
shows with mathematical precision that every curve is the segment of some real circle, the centre of which may easily
be found by the help of the diameters indicated by the red lines. Thus we learn that all the curves which circumscribe
the outlines of ancient vases are not ellipses, but true circles, and that the combination of them is, therefore, even where we
meet with the most strange connections of inverted lines, always strictly mathematical—a fact of the highest importance,
both in a theoretical and practical point of view.

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