Leaf Ornament on Greek Vases
The ornaments on Plate XVI. have been selected to show the various forms of conventional leafage to be found on ancient Greek vases. They are all very far removed from any natural type, and are rather constructed on the general principles which reign in all plants, than attempts to represent any particular one. The ornament No. 2 is the nearest approach to the honeysuckle, that is, the leaves have the peculiar turn upwards of that flower, but it can hardly be called an attempt to represent it.
Several of the ornaments on Plate XVII. are much nearer to Nature: the laurel, the ivy, and vine will be readily distinguished.
Plates XVIII., XIX., XX., and XXI., present further varieties from borders, necks, and lips of vases in the British Museum and the Louvre. Being produced by one or two colors, they all depend for their effect on pure form: they have mostly this peculiarity, that the groups of leaves or flowers all spring from a curved stem, with a volute at either end, and all the lines grow out of this parent stem in tangential curves. The individual leaves all radiate from the centre of the group of leaves, each leaf diminishing in exquisite proportion as it approaches the springing of the group.
When we consider that each leaf was done with a single stroke of the brush, and that from the differences which appear we may be sure no mechanical aids were employed, we must be astonished at the high state of the Arts which must have existed for artists to be found in such numbers able to execute with unerring truth what it is almost beyond the skill of modern times even to copy with the same happy result.
Ornaments from Mexican Pottery in the British Museum.