2. Saracenic Art. - Developed from the Byzantine by the Moors and the Saracens. It differs from it, however, in one important respect. While the Byzantine makes use of numerous conventionalized plant and animal forms, the Saracens and Moors were forbidden by their religion, the Mohammedan, to copy in any manner the form of any living thing, animal or vegetable. They were thus limited entirely to geometric forms, which, however, often fall insensibly into flower and leaf forms. Interlacing bands and curves of intricate pattern, and exhibiting the peculiar Moorish curve, are very characteristic of Saracenic ornament. Inscriptions were frequently interwoven in this tracery.
The coloring was gorgeous, consisting principally of blue, red, and gold.
The principal arches used were the pointed and the horseshoe arch. The Alhambra Palace in Spain is the most famous example of Saracenic ornament and architecture.
3. Gothic Art. - Gothic art grew out of the Byzantine, all the symbolic elements being retained. It is divided into many different varieties.
In the earliest the round arch was used, but the later and more perfect styles having employed the pointed arch almost exclusively, the latter became characteristic of Gothic art generally. It is a style of architecture and ornament usually applied to churches, and well adapted to moist and cold climates on account of the sloping roof. Clustered columns, the spire or belfry, the arched roof, and the division of the interior into nave, transept, and choir, are leading features. Natural as well as conventional treatment of plants is another important characteristic.
The Gothic style flourished principally in England, France, and parts of Germany. Nearly all the principal cathedrals and churches in these countries, and many in our own, are built after this style. The most beautiful example in this country is St. Patrick's Cathedral, in New York. The finest specimen in the world is probably the Cathedral of Cologne, which was commenced in the 14th century, but was not completed until many years later.
In the 15th century a remarkable revival occurred in literature and the fine arts, showing a decided tendency to return to the old classic ideas of the Greeks and Romans. After an almost complete neglect, which lasted for centuries, artists and men of letters turned their attention to the long neglected relics of pagan civilization as worthy of study for their intrinsic beauty alone. Symbolism was relegated to a minor position, and beauty was once more cultivated for its own sake. This epoch is termed the Renaissance - which literally means a rebirth or revival.
1. Renaissance Style. - The term Renaissance is also applied to one of the early styles which came into vogue at this time. It flourished principally in southern Europe. It is not a pure style, but marks a transition period from the old popular Gothic and Saracenic forms to the revivified classic. It naturally exhibits a queer mixture of conflicting elements - classic and mediaeval thrown together without much regard to propriety or fitness. It still showed traces of symbolism.
2. The Cinquecento Style. - The Renaissance reached its most perfect development in the Cinquecento or the 15th century style. It followed the Quatrocento or 14th century style. Entirely untrammeled by symbolism, and with the whole field of classic and mediaeval ornament to glean from, its aim was to develop a perfect style of ornament. The best examples of this period are founded on the soundest principles of ornamental art. Nothing that could be turned into an element of beauty was neglected. Animals, real and fictitious, flowers, leaves, fruit, the human form, etc., were conventionalized and made to contribute their part to enhance the beauty of the whole. Some of the principal characteristics of the Cinquecento style are the delicate arabesque scroll work, the profusion and beauty of the curves, its admirable variations of standard classic ornaments, such as the anthemion and scroll. The coloring, also, was one of its most pleasing features. This style flourished principally in Italy and France. Farnese Palace and the tombs of the Medicis are noted examples.
3. The Louis Quatorze. - This style succeeded the Cinquecento, but was far inferior to it. It arose in Italy, and while preserving generally the materials of the style that preceded it, it added as characteristic features the scroll and the shell. Its principal object was to create brilliant and startling effects in light and shade. Color was, in consequence, decidedly secondary, gilding being used everywhere. The Palace of Versailles, near Paris, is a gorgeous example of this style. Everything in it is glittering and sparkling. Mirrors are everywhere placed to intensify this effect. This style was followed by the Louis Quinze, inferior to it in every respect, and in which symmetry, at least in detail, seems to be carefully avoided. It still further degenerated into the Rococo, the most extravagant and exaggerated of all the historic styles, and which prevailed in the latter part of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century.
The present century cannot boast of any great characteristic style in either architecture or ornament. Whether it is only in a course of development, and what will be the results, time only can show. All styles are now in vogue, hence the importance of accurate knowledge on the subject. To be able to judge of and appreciate the best, and to profit by the labors of those gone before us, at the same time imparting individuality and character to our own design, should be the aim and object of the study of decoration, and it should enter into any scheme of general education and culture. - Journal of Education.Authorities consulted in preparing this paper: "Analysis of Ornament," Wornum; "Truth, Beauty, and Power," Dresser; "Lectures on Art." F.W. Moody; "Hopes and Fears for Art," Wm. Morris; "Ornamental Art," Hulme; "Manuals of Art Education," Prang."Rudiments of Architecture and Building," through courtesy of H.C. Baird.