Monday, October 1, 2007

The acanthus

The acanthus is a plant that is indigineous to middle Europe, and its design has been used throughout the ages for ornamentation on architecture and furniture. So great was the ancient Greek love for the acanthus that it was the principal ornamentation in the ancient capital of Corinth, and features prominently in Corinthian columns.

Some say that the acanthus represents long life. It has certainly captured the imagination of decorative artists throughout the ages, giving it a prominent place in architectural and decorative history.

Acanthus leaves feature prominently on the capital portion of Corinthian columns (do you see the small birds nest in this picture?)

William Morris wallpaper, featuring acanthus leaf pattern, 1875

Acanthus leaf carving in antique Hepplewhite side chair

Acanthus leaves feature prominently in these ancient columns, Temple of Zeus, Athens.

Acanthus leaves in an antique sideboard

Acanthus leaves featured in a wrought iron railing, Owens-Thomas house Savannah.

Acanthus leaves featured in intricate crown molding

Acanthus leaves on faience piece, attributed to Delftware, 1695-1715

Acanthus leaves on a Wedgewood jasperware piece

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  1. this is a great info piece for me! I have been to your blog a few times and I like the way you do a lovely post on co-relating things or things we havenot thought about!

  2. Designflute - thank you for stopping by and posting!

  3. The acanthus is actually one of my favorite design elements. What a nice collection of photos.

  4. what a lovely post. It's amazing how important this plant (hence this design) has been throughout history in terms of its design influence. You've done a terrific job of showcasing this!

  5. I grew one of these in my yard one time. The landscaper told me it would be beautiful and it was. I love the history lesson! Beautiful wallpaper from the 1800's/....so timeless!

    smiles, kari and kijsa

  6. This was so cool! Very informative! And beautiful pictures too, to illustrate!

    Excellent post!


  7. I love all the educational postings on your site! I've seen acanthus on so many architectural and design elements over the years but never knew the backstory. Thank you!

  8. Amber, funny you should say that. I never really knew what it was either. After writing the post this morning, I have noticed the acanthus motif and several pieces of Swedish furniture in a magazine article!

  9. Great post! LOVE your blog -- Love all the elements you put together (esp. the decorative arts)

  10. So informative...great post! I just love coming to your site and learning various influences in design.


  11. Interesting. Maybe I never really thought about it but I always assumed the acanthus was one of those motifs takend from a mythical plant, like the fleur-de-lis. I always learn something on your site!

  12. Beautiful post! Lots of acanthus leaves, here and there, in our home.


  13. I've always been obsessed with all thing ancient and the acanthus detail has always been a favorite. I think this is the first time I have actually seen the real plant. Super interesting. Thanks

  14. i have never seen a rel acanthus plant...thanks for sharing...beautiful pictures...blessings, rebecca

  15. Thanks for the comments, everyone! I have been seeing acanthus designs in so many places since researching this post!

  16. Beautiful post. You have found some really wonderful images to illustrate!

  17. I agree, great post, you have a knack for putting together great imgages with a great historical overview. I'd never really given them much thought until now!

  18. genius! this is a gorgeous and informative post and i'm loving your style!



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