Tag Archives: Chinese ornament

Pomegranates – Day 17 of 30 in 30

Chinese postcard. 4 x 6 watercolor, pen on 140 lb. cold press paper. © 2014 Sheila Delgado

Chinese postcard. 4 x 6 watercolor, pen on 140 lb. cold press paper. © 2014 Sheila Delgado

I can not take credit for how pleasing this is. There is no credit given to the artist in The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones. In fact in his first book, he has almost nothing good to say about Chinese ornamentation at all. Regarding their design abilities he said, “they do not appear to have gone beyond that point which is reached by every people in an early stage of civilization; their art such as it is, is fixed… they are totally unimaginative, and all their works are accordingly wanting in the highest grace of art,”


The book was first published in London in 1856 and was huge success. Owen was a product of his time, and his opinion was shared by many. This attitude can be attributed to a lack of knowledge and exposure, as travel to the Far East was still quite hazardous and limited.


Jones later published a volume entirely dedicated to Chinese ornament (1867), The Grammar of Chinese Ornament. I guess there was grace and imagination to be found after all.

the textile blogI am thrilled to tell you, that much of the book is available for viewing online. I have followed John Hopper’s The Textile Blog  for at least a couple of years. But I only just discovered the articles on this subject. You really need to visit this blog if it is new to you. Each article is loaded with information. A look at the Article Index, well let me just say It is a dangerous thing. If you are a creative, you will find yourself pulled in by a force stronger than the lure of Tom Selleck in beach shorts, handing you a box of chocolates!

Owen Jones and Chinese Ornament
Owen Jones Reappraisal of Chinese Decoration
Owen Jones and Egyptian Revival