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Print - Elementary Outlines of Ornament
  • Elementary Outlines of Ornament
    Dyce, William RA, born 1806 - died 1864
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Elementary Outlines of Ornament

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (published)

  • Date:

    1842-1843 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dyce, William RA, born 1806 - died 1864 (artist)
    Chapman & Hall (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lithograph, ink on paper, mounted on card

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125c, case WS

Object Type
This print is a teaching aid and was therefore mounted on card and bound along its edges for easy handling and preservation of the object.

Ownership & Use
This is from a set of teaching diagrams which were known as 'Elementary Outlines of Ornament' or more familiarly 'Dyce's Outlines'. Dyce also published them in The Drawing Book of the Government School of Design in 1842-1843. In his introduction to the latter, he described the basic steps for the early training of students in drawing. Step 1 was to copy 'combinations of right lines and regular curves'; Step 2 was to copy these geometrical diagrams of Greek ornament, such as the acanthus leaf shown here; Steps 3 and 4 were to study their ornamental shapes in two or three dimensions, working from drawings and casts.

The 'outlines' were first used in the School of Design and formed the basis of the elementary drawing lessons promoted by the science and art department in British schools. Although some criticised them for being uninspiring for students, they remained influential until the 1870s.

Place of Origin

London (published)


1842-1843 (made)


Dyce, William RA, born 1806 - died 1864 (artist)
Chapman & Hall (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Lithograph, ink on paper, mounted on card

Marks and inscriptions

Lettered with plate numbers 'XXI' and 'XXII'


Height: 31 cm, Width: 37.2 cm

Object history note

From 'Elementary Outlines of Ornament'By William Dyce RA (born in Aberdeen, 1806, died in London, 1864); published by Chapman & Hall, Strand, London

Descriptive line

Mounted teaching Diagram from Dyce's Drawing Book; plates 21 (recto) and 22 (verso), From 'Elementary Outlines of Ornament' By William Dyce RA, published by Chapman & Hall, London, 1842-1843

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This diagram was published by William Dyce, a well-known painter and Superintendent of the Government School of Design at South Kensington, London. It is part of the set for the instruction of 'Geometrical Design', designed as exercises for students to draw free-hand to understand the basic geometrical principles, and apply them to the construction of geometrical patterns. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

From 'Elementary Outlines of Ornament'By William Dyce RA.

Subjects depicted

Geometric patterns; Scrolls (motifs)


Printed pages & sheets; Designs; Scotland


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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