The Grammar of Ornament

The Grammar of Ornament – Owen Jones

Eric Gjerde has uploaded scans of a set of pages from the exquisite ‘The Grammar of Ornament’ by Owen Jones which was originally published in 1853. There’s a great range of designs here featuring decorative motifs from the Byzantine, Chinese, Indian, Persian and Moorish cultures among others, often employing tessellated patterns. The nature of these patterns, with their properties of repetition, iterative transformation, as well as subtle natural colour palette, should make them of interest to artists and designers of all kinds

Not surprisingly Jones Owen was a product of Victorian prosperity; educated at Charterhouse and then the Royal Academy.

‘His observations of decorative art on his extensive travels in Europe and the Near East were employed to improve the poor quality of Western design. His goal was to change the Victorian habit of mixing elements from a wide variety of sources and applying this mix indiscriminately to buildings, graphic design, and products.’

The Grammar of Ornament includes Owen’s personal manifesto of the ‘General Principles’, offering guidance to the designers of the future – particularly in strategies regarding colour.

2 Responses to “The Grammar of Ornament”

  1. Eric Gjerde writes:

    Owen Jones is quite the interesting character, and his book was a design staple until the 1940’s.

    I should point out I found all the images from the University of Wisconsin Decorative Arts Digital Collection. Since it is a public domain printing of this book, we are free to use these images however we wish. This is an important right that is slowly being removed from copyright law worldwide.

    My opinions aside, I’m indebted to UWDC for scanning these- they did a wonderful job!

    Bourgoin’s work in the 1800’s is also well worth exploring- I plan on posting quite a few plates from his works as well after I winnow down the selection a bit.

    -Eric Gjerde

  2. Miikka Liukkonen writes:

    Hi! nice blog, I found complete The Grammar of Ornament In here:

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