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TSE  June 2001

TSE June 2001

Subject:

Ionian white--for Pat

From:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 14 Jun 2001 11:41:13 EDT

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I don't know if this ever reached the list, so I'm resenidng it. Pat    


In a message dated 6/10/01 9:32:24 AM Eastern Daylight Time, [log in to unmask] 
writes:


> In the line from TWL that includes "Ionian white and gold," the adjective
> Ionian is not glossed in OED, 2nd ed., so TSE's usage is not clear. (I
> don't have Southam in hand; it may be there.) The usual phrase is "Ionian
> blue," but TSE may have been thinking of the dazzling white of the houses
> and beaches of the Ionian isles. Does Ionian occur in the literature about
> Wren's church?
> 
> 

Jim, 

A common use of the word "Ionian" is in naming the three Greek architectural 
orders, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. What's usually taught to beginning art 
history students is how to recognize the columns, and I assume TSE would have 
been taught this in the intro class in ancient art that he took at Harvard. 
Doric columns are squat and cigar shaped and have a plain capital or top (as 
on the Parthenon).  Ionic columns are more slender and have a volute (scroll) 
at the top. The Erechteoin has Ionic columns. Corinthian columns are the most 
slender of all, and the capital has acanthus flowers. If your wife has a copy 
of Janson, Gardner, or any other intro art history text, there's probably a 
picture of the various columns. Or maybe on the Internet (attention, Rick!).

All of the columns, and Greek temples generally, would have been made of 
Pentelic marble, the white marble that the Greeks quarried on mount 
Pentelicon. In photos of the Parthenon, that's the mountain one sees in the 
distance. So I take "Ionian white" to mean the color of white marble, or of 
the white marble used by the Greeks for Ionian (and all) columns. Greek 
temples, incidentally, have no mortar between the stones, which stay in place 
just of their own weight. Plus I think there might be metal rods or (more 
likely) pegs inside the columns, which had to be made in sections. Marble 
weighs about 160 pounds per cubic foot, so it's easier to make tall columns 
in sections and stack the sections.

As you've probably noticed, Greek architecture was imitated a lot in later 
periods, right down to the courthouses in so many American towns that are 
meant to resemble Greek temples, columns and all. These aren't necessarily 
white or made of marble.  

The gold Eliot mentions doesn't strike me as Greek. Remains of paint are on 
some Greek temples and sculpture, and there's a dispute about how they looked 
originally. Whether they were entirely painted or just highlighted with paint 
in some places. But I've never heard gold mentioned as one of the paint 
colors, and the use of gold paint and gold leaf is actually more typical of 
the middle ages and later.

So my question now is whether Wren used white (or white marble) Ionic 
columns, perhaps touched up with gold, in the church of Magnus Martyr.  
Pictures needed, and I'd look first at the interior. The phrase you mention, 
"Ionian blue," sounds like a reference to the sea, or even the Aegean sea if 
"Ionian" is being used here as a synonym for "Greek." It's possible a person 
wouldn't think of Ionic columns unless they knew at least the rudiments of 
art history. But tse was exposed to at least the rudiments, from that Harvard 
class in the history of ancient art.  The person teaching it wasn't an art 
historian, but a teacher of Greek. So it might be fair to assume he's put at 
least as much stress on Greek art and architecture as on the work of the 
Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans, or whomever else was included in the class.

If I've disgraced myself by getting any of the above not quite right, Gunnar 
(who's an architect) will correct me.

Starting Monday, I'll be away from my computer for a few days, so may be slow 
in responding if there's a thread on this. You've raised a very interesting 
question, though, and I feel a little embarrased that I didn't pay much 
attention to the design of the interior when I visited the church many years 
ago. 

best,

pat sloane



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<HTML><FONT FACE=arial,helvetica><FONT  SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0">I don't know if this ever reached the list, so I'm resenidng it. Pat    
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0">
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>In a message dated 6/10/01 9:32:24 AM Eastern Daylight Time, [log in to unmask] 
<BR>writes:
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></B>
<BR><BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE style="BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px">In the line from TWL that includes "Ionian white and gold," the adjective
<BR>Ionian is not glossed in OED, 2nd ed., so TSE's usage is not clear. (I
<BR>don't have Southam in hand; it may be there.) The usual phrase is "Ionian
<BR>blue," but TSE may have been thinking of the dazzling white of the houses
<BR>and beaches of the Ionian isles. Does Ionian occur in the literature about
<BR>Wren's church?
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></BLOCKQUOTE>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>
<BR>Jim, 
<BR>
<BR>A common use of the word "Ionian" is in naming the three Greek architectural 
<BR>orders, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. What's usually taught to beginning art 
<BR>history students is how to recognize the columns, and I assume TSE would have 
<BR>been taught this in the intro class in ancient art that he took at Harvard. 
<BR>Doric columns are squat and cigar shaped and have a plain capital or top (as 
<BR>on the Parthenon). &nbsp;Ionic columns are more slender and have a volute (scroll) 
<BR>at the top. The Erechteoin has Ionic columns. Corinthian columns are the most 
<BR>slender of all, and the capital has acanthus flowers. If your wife has a copy 
<BR>of Janson, Gardner, or any other intro art history text, there's probably a 
<BR>picture of the various columns. Or maybe on the Internet (attention, Rick!).
<BR>
<BR>All of the columns, and Greek temples generally, would have been made of 
<BR>Pentelic marble, the white marble that the Greeks quarried on mount 
<BR>Pentelicon. In photos of the Parthenon, that's the mountain one sees in the 
<BR>distance. So I take "Ionian white" to mean the color of white marble, or of 
<BR>the white marble used by the Greeks for Ionian (and all) columns. Greek 
<BR>temples, incidentally, have no mortar between the stones, which stay in place 
<BR>just of their own weight. Plus I think there might be metal rods or (more 
<BR>likely) pegs inside the columns, which had to be made in sections. Marble 
<BR>weighs about 160 pounds per cubic foot, so it's easier to make tall columns 
<BR>in sections and stack the sections.
<BR>
<BR>As you've probably noticed, Greek architecture was imitated a lot in later 
<BR>periods, right down to the courthouses in so many American towns that are 
<BR>meant to resemble Greek temples, columns and all. These aren't necessarily 
<BR>white or made of marble. &nbsp;
<BR>
<BR>The gold Eliot mentions doesn't strike me as Greek. Remains of paint are on 
<BR>some Greek temples and sculpture, and there's a dispute about how they looked 
<BR>originally. Whether they were entirely painted or just highlighted with paint 
<BR>in some places. But I've never heard gold mentioned as one of the paint 
<BR>colors, and the use of gold paint and gold leaf is actually more typical of 
<BR>the middle ages and later.
<BR>
<BR>So my question now is whether Wren used white (or white marble) Ionic 
<BR>columns, perhaps touched up with gold, in the church of Magnus Martyr. &nbsp;
<BR>Pictures needed, and I'd look first at the interior. The phrase you mention, 
<BR>"Ionian blue," sounds like a reference to the sea, or even the Aegean sea if 
<BR>"Ionian" is being used here as a synonym for "Greek." It's possible a person 
<BR>wouldn't think of Ionic columns unless they knew at least the rudiments of 
<BR>art history. But tse was exposed to at least the rudiments, from that Harvard 
<BR>class in the history of ancient art. &nbsp;The person teaching it wasn't an art 
<BR>historian, but a teacher of Greek. So it might be fair to assume he's put at 
<BR>least as much stress on Greek art and architecture as on the work of the 
<BR>Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans, or whomever else was included in the class.
<BR>
<BR>If I've disgraced myself by getting any of the above not quite right, Gunnar 
<BR>(who's an architect) will correct me.
<BR>
<BR>Starting Monday, I'll be away from my computer for a few days, so may be slow 
<BR>in responding if there's a thread on this. You've raised a very interesting 
<BR>question, though, and I feel a little embarrased that I didn't pay much 
<BR>attention to the design of the interior when I visited the church many years 
<BR>ago. 
<BR>
<BR>best,
<BR>
<BR>pat sloane
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"></B></FONT></HTML>

--part1_9b.167bba40.285a3519_boundary--

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