brasses, ornamental. Brass, a copper-zinc alloy produced since imperial Roman times, is closely associated in art with bronze, a copper-tin alloy (see bronze sculpture). Brass was generally fashioned into utilitarian objects such as bowls, pots, and jugs. In the Middle East, China, and Japan, brass was beaten and hollow-cast, and in India an excellent decorated brass known as Benares ware is still produced. In Europe, the Meuse valley became the center of ornamental work in copper and its alloys during the 11th cent. Although production spread to most of Western Europe, the work was known well into the 16th cent. as dinanderie, after Dinant, a Belgian town long the leader in this work. Early dinanderie included ecclesiastical objects such as fonts, tabernacles, and lecterns, and domestic articles such as the distinctive aquamanile, a vessel, often in the form of an animal, used for pouring water. The brass chandeliers of Norway, Sweden, and Holland were widely exported. In the 17th and 18th cent. small objects for domestic use, such as candlesticks, utensils, and hearth equipment were produced. Ormolu, a gilded or varnished brass or bronze, was often used in the fashioning of these objects and later for covering the wooden parts of furniture. Machine production killed the brass and bronze art industries in the late 19th cent.
ironwork, ornamental. The shaping of wrought iron, used almost exclusively until the 16th cent., is primarily an art of the blacksmith, who must work with the metal while it is at the desired stage of heat and flexibility. Methods and tools used in modern hand-wrought work are similar to the early ones. However, much modern work is accomplished by mechanical means, with the pneumatic hammer and the acetylene or electric torch. A variety of stock pieces are currently available that the early smith had to fashion laboriously from crude ingots. Iron was used ornamentally in classical times. Because of rusting and the decay of the material, little survives of very early work. Door hinges, generally C- or S-shaped, still exist from the 12th cent. In the 13th cent. vine scrollwork on hinges and grilles replaced the earlier patterns. In succeeding periods, wrought-iron designs assumed the forms of other architectural decoration: Gothic tracery, plant forms, classical motifs, rococo broken curves, and delicate neoclassical work. In Spain the iron grille attained a high development (see rejería). In France in the mid-17th cent. a vogue developed for iron balconies, stair railings, and monumental fences and gateways, rich with scrollings and bold foliations. This style was transplanted to England c.1700 by Jean Tijou. In American work of the 18th cent. simplicity and restrained ornamentation prevailed. Cast iron was rarely used prior to the 16th cent., when it came into demand for andirons and firebacks. For architectural embellishment and for garden furniture it became common in the early 19th cent. It was used extensively for fences and railings in the S United States. Since cast iron is cheaper and more rigid than wrought iron and is less affected by corrosion than any other cheap commercial iron, it has been widely used during the last three centuries. Modern sculptors who have worked in iron include Julio González, Picasso, and David Smith.

See G. K. Geerlings, Wrought Iron in Architecture (new ed. 1957); F. Kühn, Wrought Iron (2d ed. 1969); T. Menten, Art Nouveau Decorative Ironwork (1981).

Ornamental may refer to:

  • Christmas ornaments used to festoon a Christmas tree
  • Ornamental grass, a type of grass grown as a decoration
  • Ornamental iron, mild steel that has been formed into decorative shapes, similar to wrought iron work
  • Ornamental plant, a plant that is grown for its ornamental qualities
  • Ornamental stone, a decorative stone integrated into a building feature, like a marble staircase
  • Ornament (architecture), a decorative detail used to embellish parts of a building or interior furnishing
  • Ornament (band), the name used by David Pask-Hughes for his electronic music-oriented solo efforts
  • Ornament (music), musical flourishes that are not necessary to the overall melodic (or harmonic) line


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