Eight months are officially over. Eight months, containing five different tasks in which I was supposed to make friends with an old book. A book that I have never heard of before. And these times of getting to know my book went by faster than I thought.
“Gothic Architecture Decorated” is the name of the old book I was randomly assigned to. At first, I thought it is a book with textual descriptions about gothic architecture. In fact, I was prepared for a long reading session about the history of gothic architecture. Lucky me, it turned out being an illustrative book with designs and orders of gothic architecture with their proper ornaments and rules for drawing them. So the entire book only consists of hand drawings with very little extra text, that better underline the paintings. Besides the gothic aspect of the book, it contains a large collection of temples, banqueting, alcoves, rustic garden seats, rout houses, hermitages and so on. A taste entirely new – according to the author Paul Decker.
My first approach to the book was at the ETH library. I had to pre-order it in the reading room, because it is a rare copy not accessible for public use at all times. Seeing the book for the first time surprised me. I didn’t expect it to be this ancient and in such a big format (an octavo). Although, the beautiful cover didn’t let down my expectations of the inside. As I imagined it (having seen the pdf format of the book) the layout was designed carefully and each illustration was drawn precisely. Every illustration, which represents the important part of the book, is followed by a blank page to protect the prints. Another aspect that is to mention, the illustrated drawings give an inside on how the buildings look, not on how they are built, with no additional technical elements as construction details or measurements. However, the further I got in the book, the more detailed the drawings became. As it only has a total of sixty pages (and half of them blank) I was quite fast reading through the pages. The fact, that there was no heavy load of old text passages, I could really focus on the beautiful hand drawings of the author and architect Paul Decker. To be honest, I have taken my sketch book and I started to redraw them on my own, where I still keep them up to today. And I’ll keep them preserved as a souvenir in the future as well. A souvenir from my good old friend, Gothic Architecture Decorated.
I must admit that when I look back, it is sad to let you go as my old companion throughout the whole semester. By having to do the tasks, which tightened our friendship, you added variety to my daily university routine. And you have surprised me over and over again. Well, it is literally an old book friendship now – I guess it is time to say goodbye.