Keywords: classicism, details, precision
A treatise on civil architecture is a book by Sir William Chambers consistent of 96 pages in which he covers the ‘decorative part’ of architecture, in particular the use of the classical orders. In the “Treatise” Chambers set out “to collect into one volume what is now dispersed in a great many, and to select, from mountains of promiscuous Materials, a Series of Sound Precepts and good Designs”.
In this book, William Chambers describes the different styles of decorations used in the different architectural orders, and how they developed throughout history, specifically throughout the classical period. Some of these orders include the greek orders (doric, ionic, and corinthian), the Tuscan order, and the composite order. For each one of these orders, Chambers analyses in depth all aspects of the decorative elements of different buildings, such as their properties, their application, how they are made, and from wich materials, and describes them in a detailed text accompanied by precise drawings. Some of these decorative elements include the details on capitals, pedestals, balustrades, gates, and windows among others.
“The Treatise on civil architecture” consists for the most part of long texts filled with details in wich the author covers the historical aspect of the different decoration styles and how they developed. Chambers also compares the different styles and talks about how they influenced each other.The book also contains some drawings in which Chambers precisely depicts these decorative elements with accurate measurements and labelling. Even though there are very few pictures throughout the book they hold a lot of information and are just as important as the text.
The aim of this book is to accurately describe architectural decorations from classical buildings as detailed and as comprehensively as possible and to transfer this knowledge to the reader trough precise images and detailed texts.