Stephen Riou’s book “The Grecian orders of architecture: delineated and explained from the antiquities of Athens: also the parallels of the orders of Palladio, Scamozzi and Vignola to which are added remarks concerning public and private edifices with designs” not only contains many pages of informative text but also several illustrations. Instead of just being placed alongside the texts the illustrations are listed in their very own chapter containing 44 pages at the end of the book, which remarks their importance. Since the whole book is structured according to the different orders which are represented and discussed, each order is being illustrated and its architectural remarks are directly compared with the ones of the other orders. Therefore, the illustrations in the last chapter discuss the differences and similarities of the orders in a similar way as the rest of the book and consequently perform a continuation and emphasis of the topics discussed and the book itself.
The illustrations in the last chapter point out the differences and similarities, the evolution and the focus of the different architectural styles, the different orders. They are generally meant to give the reader a closer reference and better understanding of the versatility of architecture, what they achieve by illustrating the beforehand discussed. Hence, they are not accompanied by texts or even notes throughout the whole chapter, which further implies the authors intention to animate the reader to apply what has previously learned to the illustrations and to sink into the drawings without referring on further explanation or instruction for understanding. Furthermore, the illustrations exhibit many direct comparisons to ensure an easier understanding of the individualities of each order. Although the drawings concentrate mostly on the visual manners, they still cover a wide spectrum of the important aspects of architectural features such as the pillar and columns, the diverse ornamentations or the construction of different arcades.
It’s impressive how accurate and with how great care those illustrations were drawn, where you have to keep in mind that in the year the book was written (1768) one didn’t have the means that we can rely on today. Behind those drawings stands a lot of love and compassion for the art of architecture and the mere craft itself. What stands out while reading the book is that the illustrations don’t only have their very own chapter but also have a lot of space to take in, many pages that are awarded to them. The author gladly accepted some blank pages in order to ensure that lines of the previous drawing which are slightly pressing through the paper wouldn’t hinder the following. In addition, the sketches are provided with dimensions and auxiliary lines, which make the formats and the structures of the individual elements more intelligible for the reader. It is obvious that it’s of great importance to the author to convey the architecture in all its beauty and accuracy to the reader.