Probably no theorist ever ascribed to decoration a more important role in architecture than Gottfried Semper discerned in the buildings of antiquity. He regarded both the ornaments and the color, especially the color, as dressing in meaning the stark scaffold of the structure. They are, then, the aspects of design that transform a mere building into monumental architecture, relating it to reality and making it the bearer of civilization (see Mallgrave 1996, 290-302). In effect, Semper would have been in agreement with Ruskin concerning the role and importance of ornament. Yet his treatise, Der Stil, was not posited to advance prescriptions or principles of design for practitioners, even though his analysis of the architecture of the distant past made clear that decoration was always of the essence.

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