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  • Drawing
    Wornum, Ralph Nicholson, born 1812 - died 1877
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1848 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wornum, Ralph Nicholson, born 1812 - died 1877 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bodycolour and gilding on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case AA, shelf 1

Object Type
This visual aid for learning has two holes, encircled by metal, at the top for suspension from a piece of equipment used by Ralph Nicholson Wornum during his lectures. It is one of a series of diagrams used for this purpose. Wornum published the gist of his lectures in which he refers to diagrams just as a lecturer today might point to a visual aid.

Subjects Depicted
The ornament in this diagram is taken from Owen Jones's publication, 'Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of The Alhambra (1842-1845). He travelled to Turkey and Egypt, whilst still training to be an architect, and became convinced of the value and vitality of non-European decoration, specifically the strong clear colour and polychrome (multi-colour) decoration on both the interiors and exteriors of buildings.

Historical Associations
Wornum refers to the cost of decorating mosques and the Alhambra in spain with the type of decoration illustrated in this diagram. He uses the example of the reproduction of the Alhambra in the Crystal Palace as a place to see this type of decoration. Built for the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham, in south east London, in 1852. It was here that architecture displays were added to its exhibits.

'the Alhambra that was as expensive to paint and gild, as it was to build it. You will see that in the Crystal Palace where a great deal of it has been reproduced.'

Physical description

Diagram for educational purposes

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1848 (made)


Wornum, Ralph Nicholson, born 1812 - died 1877 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Bodycolour and gilding on paper


Height: 96.4 cm, Width: 65.6 cm

Object history note

Painted in London by Ralph Nicholson Wornum (born in Thornton, North Durham, 1812, died in London, 1877)

One of a number of diagrams used as a visual aid to lectures on ornamental art delivered by the artist (see 313, 1788, 1886 to 1888, 1893, 1942, 2016, 2040, 2056, 2076A, 2076D). The subjects represented include Islamic decoration, stained glass, Egyptian Temple painting, a standing nautilus cup, architectural subjects, etc. Indian ink and watercolour.

The artist was appointed Lecturer on Art to the Government Schoold of Design in 1848 and Keeper of the National Gallery in 1854
The above mentioned diagrams are examples of those used by Wornum to illustrate his lectures given at Somerset House and Marlborough House between 1848 and 1854. The gist of his lectures is recorded in two books in the NAL:Report of Twelve Lectures on the history of Ornamental Art delivered by R N Wornum to the students of the Department of Art, marlborough House, 1855, and Analysis of Ornament. The Characteristics of Styles, an introduction to the history of Ornamental Art, 1856.

Originally museum numbers 1765 to 2076 were diagrams by Wornum but many have been disposed.

Descriptive line

Visual aid for lecturing. Enlargement from Grammar of Ornament

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Ralph Wornum was Lecturer on Art at the Government School of Design in London between 1848 and 1854. He used this sheet as one of eleven visual aids in a series of lectures he delivered at Somerset House and Marlborough House between 1848 and 1854. It illustrates an example of Islamic ornament taken from Owen Jones's influential book, 'Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of The Alhambra' published 1842-1845. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Used between 1848 and 1854


Bodycolour; Gold paint


Painting; Gilding


Education & Learning; Tools & Equipment; Drawings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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