12 JANUARY 1839, Page 18



THE glories of the Alhambra, that splendid monument of the archi- tectural science and magnificent taste of the Moorish conquerors of Spain, are now for the first time brought before the public eye, in the superb work of Mr. OWEN JONES, entitled Plans, Elevations, and Sec- tions of the Alhambra, with the elaborate Details; which is nearly com- pleted, seven of the ten parts having already appeared. Diemen's elaborate work, known only to the learned few, is deficient in one of the most essential features of the place—colour; the rich hues and gilding being of equal importance with the forms of the decorations. LEWIS'S picturesque sketches of the Alhambra, in its present ruined condition, convey a more lively idea of the character and aspect of the building generally ; but the want of colour, and of architectural preci- sion in the delineation of the gorgeous ornaments, renders it imperfect and unsatisfactory both in a pictorial and a scientific point of view. Mr. Jos not only lays down the plan of the edifice, showing the principle of its construction, the syMmetry of its several parts, and the harmony and beauty of the whole, but he delineates all its sumptuous enrich- ments as seen both in the mass and in detail, imitating the glowing colours mid blazonry of the original with minute accuracy. We see the fairy structure, with its noble simplicity of outline, its elegant pro- portions, and prodigality of embellishment--combining the extreme of lightness in the supports with massive grandeur of the superstructure, and the utmost elaboration of detail, with a broad, general effect—rising before us more like a vision of enchantment than the habitation of man; the coup-d'tril rivalling the most lavish displays of Oriental magnificence and the purest forms of the Greek models. Let the reader bear in mind the requisites of a summer palace for the Arab sovereign of the kingdom of Granada, in following this attempt to describe the general character of the Alhambra. The plan of the building is a series of spacious courts, having fountains in the centre, whose marble basins are connected one with another by channels of water ; these courts are surrounded on four sides by buildings of white stucco, having open arcades, with variously-formed arches, supported on slender pillars of marble, gilded ; the arches and spandrils being covered with a profusion of coloured and gilded decorations in relief, contrasting with the dazzling whiteness of the walls, the bright blue sky above, and the cool green of the orange-trees and shrubs below. These arcades form passages of communication between the state apartments, consisting of lofty saloons of vast magnitude, with ante- chambers of smaller dimensions, decorated in a similar style to the arcades, but with an accumulation of ornament, displaying an exhaust- less ingenuity of device that beggars description. The pavement and walls of these apartments, to the height of a few feet, are lined with a mosaic of glazed tiles, in simple but varied patterns of cold colours and pale hues, interspersed with black and white, and a slight and faint in- termixture of warmer tones, producing a sense of coolness : above, the eye is feasted with the most glowing hues, red and gold predominating, but relieved by deep blue, disposed in an infinite variety of intricate patterns in relief; and still further enriched by clusters of pendants carved in hollows, like a section of honeycomb, forming the roof; which is either domed or pyramidal in shape. Devices of geometric character, consisting of flat bands interwoven angularly, in an endless complication of figures, and compartments shaped like the forms of the "Chinese puzzle," enclosing scrolls of foliage—exquisite combina- tions of graceful curves "in ninny a winding bout of linked beauty long drawn out "—are surrounded by borders composed of Arabic in- scriptions on an embroidered ground. The eye would be teazed with the intricacies of pattern, "finding no end, in wandering mazes lost,"

and wearied with the glare of positive colours and gold, (which seem to have given the idea for Harelquin's glittering suit of motley,) but for the perfect harmony and massiveness of the effect, which subdues the excess of splendour and produces a sense of repose. Such overwhelming richness of adornment must either be tawdry and vulgar, or in the highest degree beautiful—there is no medium. The solid walls of the exterior, pierced with only a few small windows, with an occasional portal of lofty proportions crowned 'with the horse-shoe arch, scarcely give a hint of the magnificence within. We have seen some casts of the ornamental details coloured and gilded after the originals, which are of stucco. The shadows of the sunken outlines intersecting the mass of deep hues, produce an effect somewhat similar to the black lines of junction in stained glass win- dows in tempering the glare of colour; the plentiful intermixture of gold, too, and the predominance of red, tend to combine the scattered hues. Indeed, this style of decoration is analogous to the colouring of the Venetian school.

Mr. JONES, besides having taken the measurements and casts, made finished drawings of the building in 1834, assisted by his collaborateur, Mr. JULES GOURY, (since dead ;) and has himself also, with the aid of draughtsmen and printers, produced this costly work, in chroma-litho- graphy. Its completion has only been delayed by his having recently made another visit to Spain, in consequence of the unexpected caps. bilities he discovered in this new and beautiful art for imitating the ex- traordinary effects of the decorations. Indeed, there exists no other means of multiplying impressions of drawings composed of such elabo- rate and intricate combinations of colour ; for to tint each separately by hand, in the old way, would almost amount to the labour and expense of making so many drawings : in producing some plates, as many, as fourteen stones are printed from to complete a single impression. The view of the Court of the Lions," separately published, is a good specimen of the effect of the plates, besides being a curious and beautiful example of Moorish architecture, and the art of chrome- lithography—at least as far as the combination of flat colours extends ; for the union of graduated tints required in imitating paintings, yet re- mains to be brought to perfection.

The architectural form, as shown in the colourless elevations and sections, are engraved on copper, with finished neatness and delicacy.