It would be presumption on our part to point out the best way of applying terra-cotta to the decoration of public buildings and private houses; this must be left to the talent of the architects and engineers, and talent is not to be advised. It will be interesting, however, to recall the excellent remarks of M. Paul Sedille, the eminent architect, who, by his pen, by his words, and, better still, by his original work, has done so much to extend the use in France of terra-cotta for architecture.
1". . . The use of decorative pottery requires close care. Very accurate and well-made machinery is required, for decorated clays are usually combined with other materials of definite and small dimensions, such as building-bricks, and this multiplies apparatus indefinitely. We must also calculate the contraction of the pieces sufficiently exactly, taking into consideration the clays used, to arrange for the necessary space to be left in the building. . . .
1 Extract from a letter addressed by M. Sedille to M. Loebnitz, reporter to the jury of Class 20 (Pottery) at the Exhibition of 1889, and published in the latter's report.
" ... If reliable ceramists could guarantee us to-day perfect pieces, that would not be enough. We must also know how to use them, mingle them skilfully with other materials, and, above all, combine in one harmonious gamut the powerful colourings of enamels. There lies the difficulty of this modern assemblage of many colours, which should, by entrancing his eyes, convince the most obstiriate of its beauties. I have many times tried to say all that I felt on this question,1 and how enamels should be used. I do not propose to revert to this here, I merely urge that the poor use sometimes made of enamels should not discourage us from benefiting by the' infinite resources and marvellous results which may be expected from them".
It would be difficult to speak more pertinently.
For the sake of clearness, terra-cottas will be divided into three classes, according to their special applications.
1. Terra-cottas intended especially for buildings, including -
(a) Those employed on the exterior: balustrades, lintels, pilasters, capitals, friezes, cornices, frontons, pinnacles, and inlayings, such as medallions, metopes, panels, polished stones, rosework, etc. etc.
(b) Those used in the interior: ceiling and chimneypiece-rosework, etc.
2. Terra - cottas which have less direct connection with architecture, such as garden borders, vases, statues, etc.
These are composed either of a certain number of simple parts connected together, or of a small number of large ones, reduced sometimes to one single one. The first case is represented by the balustrades A B C D E (Figs. 626 to 630), which are formed, the balustrade A (Fig. 626) by the element b (Fig. 632), the balustrades B and C (Figs. 627 and 628) by the element c (Fig. 633), arranged in two different ways; the balustrade E (Fig. 630) by the element d (Fig. 634), and finally the balustrade D (Fig. 629) by the two elements d and / combined (Figs. 634, 636). The hand-rail of these balustrades is formed of hollow bricks with two holes of special shape (Fig. 631).
1 See the pamphlets of M. Sedille on the use of terra-cotta in architecture (Bibliography).
Balustrades are sometimes made up with the classical baluster, the shape and dimensions of which are easily changeable (Figs. 653, 654, 658, 659).
Figs. 626 to 636. Various Balustrades (Perrusson).
The second type of balustrade is quite different in appearance from the first; it is applied to various styles, and can be much diversified according to the inspiration and taste of the artist. Sometimes these balustrades are made of a single piece forming pedestal and support (Figs. 648, 65 2), sometimes they are formed of ornaments or panels with stone support and pedestal (Figs. 676, 678, 681).
The balustrades of the buildings of the Exhibition of 1889, executed by Lcebnitz (Fig. 687), were fixed to the masonry of the wall against which they rested, the whole being thus rendered very solid.
Figs. 644, 645, and 646 represent the details of the fronton of the Pavilion of the City of Paris at the Exhibition of 1878, afterwards rebuilt on the Champs Elysees, and demolished in 1897.
Doors and windows may receive most varied terra-cotta ornamentation, such as lintels in the form of friezes, decorated pieces forming key-stones (Fig. 682), frames surrounding the whole opening (Figs. 665, 669), or simply knobs more or less richly sculptured (Fig. 680). Besides which, windows often receive ornamented panels forming sills, etc.
The use of terra-cotta in these pieces offers great opportunities for copying antique patterns (Figs. 649, 651), and also for original work.