Classical Ornament – C. Thierry (Dover Books 2016)


I love Dover Books and have loads of them. A visit to the Dover Bookshop on Earlham Street in Covent Garden was always a treat when I was at college and then working in London. It featured a design donated by Eduardo Paolozzi, a long time fan of the shop and the shop was a draw for artists and designers featuring everything from Japanese border patterns to Victorian medical illustrations. There were books on photography, architecture, graphic design, fashion and at the back a terrific children’s section including Paper Doll Cut Out Books (Why I have one of Joan Crawford is anyone’s guess – you can apparently get them for David Bowie and Adele now as well!)

The shop was a treasure trove of books, an image library specialising in largely royalty free illustrations and used by all sorts of designers from Paul Smith to Vivienne Westwood. Unfortunately with the area around Earlham Street moving from niche specialist shops to larger chains and free images being easily sourced online, after twenty seven years the shop had to close. Thankfully, Dover Books (an American company) are still available and as marvellous as ever. This book “Classical Ornament” by C.Thierry was originally compiled in the 1860s. It presents more than 70 illustrations of classical ornament, consisting of architectural elements from structures such as the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Vatican Museum and other buildings. The book is aimed at a pretty niche market, students of architecture and the decorative arts, graphic artists, designers and historians. With only 70 or so precisely detailed renderings on 74 pages it is hardly exhaustive on the subject but is excellent and the images are of course, royalty free.


If classical ornament is your thing then Heck’s Pictorial Archive of Art and Architecture is worth looking out for, with over 2,200 illustrations it’s a veritable treasure trove and also printed by Dover Books.

Empire Style Design and Ornament, (again published by Dover Books) is a collection of designs for architectural ornaments manufactured by Joseph Beunat in 1813 and contains everything that pertains to the decoration of rooms, such as panels, overdoors, mirror friezes, wall friezes, pilasters, door posts etc, it’s another winner in my mind as is Decor Architectural (Les Editions du Carrousel).

This edition of Classical Ornament is published by Dover Books in 2016.  Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for letting me view this review copy.

2 thoughts on “Classical Ornament – C. Thierry (Dover Books 2016)

  1. I love these pictures. Am going to look up Dover Books now, I’m not actually allowed to buy any more books but no-one can stop me looking. Good review Karl.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s