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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/48

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Part I.

ornamental or ornamented design, which belongs especially to the architect, there is still a third element which requires the special endowment of an artist for its exercise. No architectural object can be considered as complete, or as having attained the highest excellence till it is endowed with a voice through the aid of phonetic sculpture and painting.

In a few words therefore, a perfect building may be defined as one that combines:—

1st, as Technic principles:
Convenience for arrangement in plan,
Proper distribution of materials in construction.
2d, as Æsthetic principles of design:
Ornamental arrangement combined with
Ornamental construction, and
3d for Phonetic adjuncts:
Sculpture, or
Painting, employed as voices to tell the story of the building,
and explain the purposes for which it was designed, or those
to which it is dedicated.

Besides these, however, which are the principal theoretic characteristics of architecture, there are several minor technical principles which it may be convenient to enumerate before proceeding farther. It may also be well to give such examples as shall make what has just been indicated theoretically, clearer than can be done by the mere enunciation of abstract principles.


The first and most obvious element of architectural grandeur is size—a large edifice being always more imposing than a small one; and when the art displayed in two buildings is equal, their effect is almost in the direct ratio of their dimensions. In other words, if one temple or church is twice or three times as large as another, it is twice or three times as grand or as effective. The Temple of Theseus differs very little except in dimensions, from the Parthenon, and, except in that respect, hardly differed at all from the Temple of Jupiter at Elis; but because of its smaller size it must rank lower than the greater examples. In our own country many of our smaller abbeys or parish churches display as great beauty of design or detail as our noblest cathedrals, but, from their dimensions alone they are insignificant in comparison, and the traveller passes them by, while he stands awe-struck before the portals or under the vault of the larger edifices.

The pyramids of Egypt, the topes of the Buddhists, the mounds of the Etruscans, depend almost wholly for their effect on their dimensions. The Romans understood to perfection the value of this element