Rustication - Encyclopedia

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RUSTICATION (i.e. the making "rustic" or countrified, from Lat. rus, country; thus the term "rusticate" is used for taking a country holiday, or in academic circles to be "rusticated" is to be sent away from a university for punishment), in architecture, the technical term (French equivalent bossage) given to masonry in which the centre part of the face of the stone is either left rough as it came from the quarry, or is worked in various ways to give variety to the surface. The earliest example exists in the platform at Pasargadae in Persia (560 B.C.), erected by Cyrus, where the edge round the four sides of the stone forms a draft, two or three inches wide, worked with a chisel, the centre part being left rough. Similar work exists at Arak-el-Emir in Palestine (151(151 B.C.). The finest examples are those of the walls of the temple at Jerusalem, and at Hebron, where the stones are of immense size and the rustication projects sometimes over a foot. The Crusaders' castles in Palestine are all boldly rusticated, but the projecting portions have been worked over with a chisel in diagonal lines, and this enables them to be distinguished from the earlier masonry. In the five-sided tower at Nuremberg and the Burg-Capelle at Rothenburg, the rustication has a decorative value, so that in later work it was employed for the quoin-stones of towers. The masonry of the Palazzo Vecchio, and of the Pitti, Strozzi and Riccardi palaces, all in Florence, and of other palaces in Siena and Volterra, is rusticated. Rustication was employed in terraces and grottos in Italy, where on account of its extravagances it gave rise to the term "grotesque." In the later Renaissance the edges of the stone were bevelled off, with a sunk joint in addition; and the treatment was known as vermiculated, if in imitation of earth burrowed by worms; marine, if with small shell holes; stalactitic, if carved in imitation of lime deposits, &c. In Italy the projecting portions were sometimes worked into facets. Rustication was introduced into England by Inigo Jones, who, in old Somerset House, York Stairs Watergate, the gateway of the Botanical Garden at Oxford, and elsewhere, used it only in alternate courses, his example being followed by other architects of .the Renaissance. The term is now applied to the ashlar blocks of masonry which alternate with the circular drums of columns in many public buildings.

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