I propose in this article, by contrasting good and bad examples, to put before readers a few of the simplest elements of decoration. You can hardly fail to note the differences, and when once the eye has acquired the habit of discriminating there is no reason why there should not follow a growth in perception which will result in delightful and augmenting artistic enjoyment. No attempt is to be made to develop a system, nor, of course, to cover the whole ground of the subject. The object is simply to start perceptions in the right direction.
Almost all the ideas and the illustrations of this article are taken from a little work by Henri Mayeux, called La Composition Décorative. Henri Mayeux is Professor of Decorative Art in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His work is one of the series of the Bibliothèque de l’Enseignement des Beaux-Arts, a series which Fig. 1. should be among the very first works to be found in the library of every student of art.
The very first of Mayeux's illustrations (Fig. 1) introduces the style of the teaching of the volume and of this article. Let me translate his accompanying description: "Here are two recipients of the same height, made of the same material, and with about equal care. Each has two handles and is decorated by the same number of fillets. The one marked A is the work of an ordinary potter, without artistic instinct or education. The other, B, is a Greek vase of fine and delicate taste. No one can fail to appreciate the superiority of B to A. The purity of its profile, the graceful manner in which the handles are attached, the calculated division of the fillets, establish at once a considerable difference of artistic value between the two objects." If Mayeux were addressing beginners he might add that one reason why all jugs and vases are round is that the shape is the easiest to make. The potter's wheel must have been one of the very earliest inventions of semi-civilized races. Besides, as a drop of water is globular, it seems appropriate that liquids should be contained in round receptacles. A square jug would not only seem inappropriate, but it would be ugly and perhaps difficult to handle. Notice in B how much better