Acanthus

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Acanthus

Classical ornament in the form of a stylized leaf decoration based on the scalloped leaves of the acanthus plant. It was frequently found on furniture as carved decoration or cast bronze ornament, particularly from the French, Louis XVI period. The acanthus leaf decoration is also found on mahogany furniture from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods.

The acanthus leaf was the most prolific foliage to flourish as a decorative motif on architecture, furniture and works of art of all kinds. Derived from the Mediterranean acanthus spinosus, in the hands of artists it can also resemble thistle, poppy or parsley leaves. It is the basis of the Corinthian and Composite Orders, and easily turned into a scroll. Even Gothic and Romanesque architects and craftsmen employed it, and from the Renaissace to the mid 1800´s it was consistently in favour. Eventually, however, one critic was complaining of “the inevitable acanthus leaf as if in the whole range of vegetable life this was the only kind of foliage worth imitating”, and another that “it requires so little thought”.