In attempting to create an appropriate architecture for an industrialized world, nineteenth-century architects argued the merits of particular materials and styles and debated principles of ornamentation and polychromatics. Although opposed in many aspects of theory and built form, their works share one aspect: a new interest in the use of inscriptions as emblematic ornamentation. The article proposes Owen Jones's publication of the Plans, Sections, Elevations and Details of the Alhambra (1836-1845) as one source for this attention to inscriptions and investigates the significance of the use of text within the decorative schemes produced by the British architects Owen Jones (1809-1874) and A. W. N. Pugin (1812-1852). The article advances the position that although Jones and Pugin had different motives for using inscriptions, both display a comprehension of Islamic ornamentation as understood and explained by Jones. New information on the relationship between Jones and Pugin is introduced and their mutual agreement and involvement in many concerns important to nineteenth-century architecture and the decorative arts are stressed. In addition, the essay explores the topic of architectural inscriptions theoretically and from a sociocultural perspective, emphasizing the importance of epigraphs within studies of the built environment, ornamentation, and visual culture, as a rich resource for understanding the mentality of a particular period and as a significant expression of the intentions informing aesthetic schemes developed by individual patrons and designers such as Jones and Pugin. Inscriptions are classified and defined in the article as informative, aesthetic, or emblematic, and the ideas and terms introduced in the essay are compared with the findings and theoretical concepts proposed in the work of the noted Islamicist Oleg Grabar.

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