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Sunday, 21 October 2012

THE ACANTHUS LEAF | ACANTHUS ORNAMENT | CARVING A AKANTHOS LEAF



antique roman acanthus leaf

Patrick Damiaens
Ornamental Woodcarver

The Acanthus Leaf   
Acanthus leaf carved in wood















Of all the ornamental designs which have been borrowed from nature, the Akanthos is the most popular. This is an ornament which lends itself for endless many applications.


Acanthus Mollis

Since its introduction by the Greeks, it recurs again and again in every Western style. A symbolical significance has never attached to the Acanthus, its frequent and varied application is due to the ornamental possibilities  and beautiful serration of its leaves.

This plant grows wild in the South of Europe , there are many varieties , Akanthos Mollis, Akanthos Spinosus,…. The conception and treatment of the margin and shape of the leaf, is the principal characteristic of the different period styles.

A Baroque Acanthus Leaf

The acanthus leaf is also called acanthusmotif , it is applied extensively within the Corinthian order of ancient Greek architecture, mostly on columns and friezes

The Greek foliage has pointed leaf-edges, in the Roman style, the tips of the leaves become rounder, broader, to some extent wiyh more vigorous curves.

The Byzantine and Romanesque styles, again return to stiffer, less delicate forms.

Drawing, Construction of a Acanthus leaf


The Gothic style, which used the foreign  acanthus in addition to a number of native plants, adopted in the early period, round, bulbous forms. Later Gothic, on the contrary, preferred bizarre, long-extended, thistle like folige. In both cases the general conception  is more or less naturalistic, but the details are usually idealised beyond recognition.

Acanthus Leaf

The Renaissance which revived Antique ornament, developed the Acanthus, and particularly the Tendril, to the highest degree of perfection. The Renaissance  is the following  period styles a great source of inspiration.
But the following style periods have still their own specific look, character and detail, which only a specialist in or expert in the ornamentation can be distinguished.   

Liege style ornaments, Acanthus leafs

an acanthus leaf used in the furniture design

The style of the period acanthus is sometimes only by very small details and changes in the shape of the ornament  detected

Even in the 16th to 19th century, the appearance of the acanthus is not only different in the western stylistic periods (Baroque, Rococo, Louis styles, Neo-Styles ...) but even from one country to country. (France, Germany, Netherlands, England ...


Here are some examples of acanthus leaves Applications for the interior (Wall-panelling)

Wall-Panelling , Louis XVI Style ornaments , Petit Trianon in Versailles

Le Grand Trianon in Versailles

Wall-Panelling in The Palace of Versailles

Drawings: I have studied (1985-1989) for Ornamental Woodcarver, 4 years at the famous 'Section Sculpture Don Bosco " in Liège ,Belgium  . These are a few drawings and designs of that school.

Pictures Patrick Damiaens

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