Monday, 9 February 2009


' I have here in my hand one of the simplest possible examples of the union of the graphic and constructive powers, - one of my breakfast plates . Since all the finely architectural arts, we said, began in the shaping of the cup and the platter, we will begin, ourselves, with the platter.
Why has it been made round? For two structural reasons: first that the greatest holding surface may be gathered into the smallest space: and secondly, that in being pushed past other things on the table' it may come into least contact with them.
Next, why has it a rim? For two other structural reasons: first, that it is convenient to put salt or mustard upon: but secondly and chiefly, that the plate may be easily laid hold of. The rim is the simplest form of continuous handle.
Farther, to keep it from soiling the cloth, it will be wise to put this ridge beneath, round the bottom: for as the rim is the simplest form of continuous handle, so this is the simplest form of continuous leg. And we get the section given beneath the figure for the essential one of a rightly made platter.
Thus far our art has been strictly utilitarian, having respect to conditions of collision, of carriage and of support. But now, on the surface of our piece of pottery, here are various bands and spots of colour which are presumably set there to make it pleasanter to the eye. Six of the spots, seen closely, you discover are intended to represent flowers. These then have a distinctly graphic purpose as the other properties of the plate have an architectural one, and the first critical question we have to ask about them is, whether they are like roses or not. '

John Ruskin, Aratra Pentelici, Lecture 1 1872

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