A not-so-recent read of a magnificently illustrated vade mecum on the topic of architecture inspires this entry. Matthew Rice’s primer on the subject was a monumental eye-opener for me to the wealth of technical jargon afforded buildings around the world and I feel I should share a brief digest and perhaps a little of the content.
The first chapter is titled “Grammar” and as this suggests Mr Rice takes us through the basic elements and unspoken rules beginning with the five Roman orders of Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite, each of which consist of a particular column (complete with specific capital and foot) and entablature (comprising of a cornice, frieze and architrave). He then goes on to complicate things further by adding three rogue Greek variations on the Doric, Ionian and Corinthian and progressing to the naming of parts; rolling off the labels of smaller constituents such as the apophyge, torus, fillet and scotia. Details of proportion and intercolumniation are identified ranging from pycnostyle to areostyle and terse words are given on pilasters, voussoirs, tympana, volutes and vitruvian scrolls. Here, one may imagine a horrifically dull publication amounting only to a lexicon of useless descriptors, but I haven’t yet reached the best part; the illustrations. They are so much more than mere visual aids - Matthew Rice is a true artist. This archiophile’s bible must contain thousands of original paintings all presented in a beautifully chronological order. Which brings us to chapter two.
This 152-page instalment entitled “Vocabulary” chaperones us through the Medieval, Late Medieval, Tudor, Elizabethan, Jacobean, Georgian, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian and Modern trends in architecture with more of the same intricately labelled prints cataloguing the tendencies and variations of every architectural facet under the sun. Following sections include examples, source of materials through the ages, lists of famous architects and the ruling monarchs of each era. As much as I would love to spill the entire contents of this superb miscellany all over the surface public domain, I fear I shan’t do it any justice and you should just go out to your nearest bookshop and buy a copy.
Edit: Having just read the “Thanks” page at the very back of the book (something one never normally does due to the fact the very aura of the page is overly-intimate in nature and has no meaning to anyone except the author or those contributors concerned), I am pleased to reveal that Matthew is married to Emma Bridgewater (y’know! The spotty designer for John Lewis!?) Just thought you should know... Nobody else will.
Thanks to: my parents, all past english teachers, the Apple corporation, Matthew Rice and the Bloomsbury Publishing group without whom this web-log would never have been written.
This is where I post tunes I've transcribed and bits & pieces I find interesting. A few old articles have been transferred from my old blog, The Daily Orator.