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Title: Principles of Decorative Design - Fourth Edition
Author: Dresser, Christopher
Language: English
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[Illustration: Decorative Design]

PRINCIPLES OF Decorative Design.



Author of "The Art of Decorative Design," "Unity in Variety," etc.


Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.:
London, Paris & New York.


My object in writing this work has been that of aiding in the
art-education of those who seek a knowledge of ornament as applied to
our industrial manufactures.

I have not attempted the production of a pretty book, but have aimed
at giving what knowledge I possess upon the subjects treated of, in a
simple and intelligible manner. I have attempted simply to instruct.

The substance of the present work was first published as a series of
lessons in the _Technical Educator_. These lessons are now collected
into a work, and have been carefully revised; a few new illustrations
have been inserted, and a final chapter added.

As the substance of this work was written as a series of lessons for
the _Technical Educator_, I need not say that the book is addressed to
working men, for the whole of the lessons in that publication have
been prepared especially for those noble fellows who, through want of
early opportunity, have been without the advantages of education, but
who have the praiseworthy courage to educate themselves in later life,
when the value of knowledge has become apparent to them.

That the lessons as given in the _Technical Educator_ have not been
written wholly in vain I already know, for shortly before I had
completed this revision of them, I had the opportunity of visiting a
provincial town hall which I had heard was being decorated, and was
pleasingly surprised to see decoration of considerable merit, and
evidences that much of what I saw had resulted from a consideration of
my articles in the _Technical Educator_. The artist engaged upon the
work, although having suffered the disadvantage of apprenticeship to a
butcher, has established himself as a decorator while still a young
man; and from the manifestation of ability which he has already given,
I hope for a brighter future for one who, as a working man, must have
studied hard. If these lessons as now collected into a work should
lead to the development of the art-germs which doubtless lie dormant
in other working men, the object which I have sought to attain in
writing and collecting these together will have been accomplished.




        "     II. TRUTH, BEAUTY, POWER, ETC.



          "     II. DECORATIONS OF WALLS



          "     II. GLASS VESSELS
          "    III. METAL-WORK







There are many handicrafts in which a knowledge of the true principles
of ornamentation is almost essential to success, and there are few in
which a knowledge of decorative laws cannot be utilised. The man who
can form a bowl or a vase well is an artist, and so is the man who can
make a beautiful chair or table. These are truths; but the converse of
these facts is also true; for if a man be not an artist he cannot form
an elegant bowl, nor make a beautiful chair.

At the very outset we must recognise the fact that the beautiful has a
commercial or money value. We may even say that art can lend to an
object a value greater than that of the material of which it consists,
even when the object be formed of precious matter, as of rare marbles,
scarce woods, or silver or gold.

This being the case, it follows that the workman who can endow his
productions with those qualities or beauties which give value to his
works, must be more useful to his employer than the man who produces
objects devoid of such beauty, and his time must be of higher value
than that of his less skilful companion. If a man, who has been born
and brought up as a "son of toil," has that laudable ambition which
causes him to seek to rise above his fellows by fairly becoming their
superior, I would say to him that I know of no means of his so readily
doing so, as by his acquainting himself with the laws of beauty, and
studying till he learns to perceive the difference between the
beautiful and the ugly, the graceful and the deformed, the refined and
the coarse. To perceive delicate beauties is not by any means an easy
task to those who have not devoted themselves to the consideration of
the beautiful for a long period of time, and of this be assured, that
what now appears to you to be beautiful, you may shortly regard as
less so, and what now fails to attract you, may ultimately become
charming to your eye. In your study of the beautiful, do not be led
away by the false judgment of ignorant persons who may suppose
themselves possessed of good taste. It is common to assume that women
have better taste than men, and some women seem to consider themselves
the possessors of even authoritative taste from which there can be no
appeal. They may be right, only we must be pardoned for not accepting
such authority, for should there be any over-estimation of the
accuracy of this good taste, serious loss of progress in art-judgment
might result.

It may be taken as an invariable truth that knowledge, and knowledge
alone, can enable us to form an accurate judgment respecting the
beauty or want of beauty of an object, and he who has the greater
knowledge of art can judge best of the ornamental qualities of an
object. He who would judge rightly of art-works must have knowledge.
Let him who would judge of beauty apply himself, then, to earnest
study, for thereby he shall have wisdom, and by his wise reasonings he
will be led to perceive beauty, and thus have opened to him a new
source of pleasure.

Art-knowledge is of value to the individual and to the country at
large. To the individual it is riches and wealth, and to the nation it
saves impoverishment. Take, for example, clay as a natural material:
in the hands of one man this material becomes flower-pots, worth
eighteen-pence a "cast" (a number varying from sixty to twelve
according to size); in the hands of another it becomes a tazza, or a
vase, worth five pounds, or perhaps fifty. It is the art which gives
the value, and not the material. To the nation it saves

A wise policy induces a country to draw to itself all the wealth that
it can, without parting with more of its natural material than is
absolutely necessary. If for every pound of clay that a nation parts
with, it can draw to itself that amount of gold which we value at five
pounds sterling, it is obviously better thus to part with but little
material and yet secure wealth, than it is to part with the material
at a low rate either in its native condition, or worked into coarse
vessels, thereby rendering a great impoverishment of the native
resources of the country necessary in order to its wealth.

Men of the lowest degree of intelligence can dig clay, iron, or
copper, or quarry stone; but these materials, if bearing the impress
of mind, are ennobled and rendered valuable, and the more strongly the
material is marked with this ennobling impress the more valuable it

I must qualify my last statement, for there are possible cases in
which the impress of mind may degrade rather than exalt, and take from
rather than enhance, the value of a material. To ennoble, the mind
must be noble; if debased, it can only debase. Let the mind be refined
and pure, and the more fully it impresses itself upon a material, the
more lovely does the material become, for thereby it has received the
impress of refinement and purity; but if the mind be debased and
impure, the more does the matter to which its nature is transmitted
become degraded. Let me have a simple mass of clay as a candle-holder
rather than the earthen candlestick which only presents such a form as
is the natural outgoing of a degraded mind.

There is another reason why the material of which beautiful objects
are formed should be of little intrinsic value besides that arising
out of a consideration of the exhaustion of the country, and this
will lead us to see that it is desirable in all cases to form
beautiful objects as far as possible of an inexpensive material. Clay,
wood, iron, stone, are materials which may be fashioned into beautiful
forms, but beware of silver, and of gold, and of precious stones. The
most fragile material often endures for a long period of time, while
the almost incorrosible silver and gold rarely escape the ruthless
hand of the destroyer. "Beautiful though gold and silver are, and
worthy, even though they were the commonest of things, to be fashioned
into the most exquisite devices, their money value makes them a
perilous material for works of art. How many of the choicest relics of
antiquity are lost to us, because they tempted the thief to steal
them, and then to hide his theft by melting them! How many unique
designs in gold and silver have the vicissitudes of war reduced in
fierce haste into money-changers' nuggets! Where are Benvenuto
Cellini's vases, Lorenzo Ghiberti's cups, or the silver lamps of
Ghirlandajo? Gone almost as completely as Aaron's golden pot of manna,
of which, for another reason than that which kept St. Paul silent, 'we
cannot now speak particularly.' Nor is it only because this is a world
'where thieves break through and steal' that the fine gold becomes dim
and the silver perishes. This, too, is a world where 'love is strong
as death;' and what has not love--love of family, love of brother,
love of child, love of lover--prompted man and woman to do with the
costliest things, when they could be exchanged as mere bullion for the
lives of those who were beloved?"[1] Workmen! it is fortunate for us
that the best vehicles for art are the least costly materials.

[1] From a lecture by the late Professor George Wilson, of Edinburgh.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having made these general remarks, I may explain to my readers what I
am about to attempt in the little work which I have now commenced. My
primary aim will be to bring about refinement of mind in all who may
accompany me through my studies, so that they may individually be
enabled to judge correctly of the nature of any decorated object, and
enjoy its beauties--should it present any--and detect its faults, if
such be present. This refinement I shall attempt to bring about by
presenting to the mind considerations which it must digest and
assimilate, so that its new formations, if I may thus speak, may be of
knowledge. We shall carefully consider certain general principles,
which are either common to all fine arts or govern the production or
arrangement of ornamental forms: then we shall notice the laws which
regulate the combination of colours, and the application of colours to
objects; after which we shall review our various art-manufactures, and
consider art as associated with the manufacturing industries. We shall
thus be led to consider furniture, earthenware, table and window
glass, wall decorations, carpets, floor cloths, window-hangings, dress
fabrics, works in silver and gold, hardware, and whatever is a
combination of art and manufacture. I shall address myself, then, to
the carpenter, the cabinet-maker, potter, glass-blower, paper-stainer,
weaver and dyer, silversmith, blacksmith, gas-finisher, designer, and
all who are in any way engaged in the production of art-objects.

But before we commence our regular work, let me say that without
laborious study no satisfactory progress can be made. Labour is the
means whereby we raise ourselves above our fellows; labour is the
means by which we arrive at affluence. Think not that there is a royal
road to success--the road is through toil. Deceive not yourself with
the idea that you were born a genius--that you were born an artist. If
you are endowed with a love for art, remember that it is by labour
alone that you can get such knowledge as will enable you to present
your art-ideas in a manner acceptable to refined and educated people.
Be content, then, to labour. In the case of an individual, success
appears to me to depend upon the time which he devotes to the study of
that which he desires to master. One man works six hours a day;
another works eighteen. One has three days in one; and what is the
natural result? Simply this--that the one who works the eighteen hours
progresses with three times the rapidity of the one who only works six
hours. It is true that individuals differ in mental capacity, but my
experience has led me to believe that those who work the hardest
almost invariably succeed the best.

While I write, I have in my mind's eye one or two on whom Nature
appeared to have lavishly bestowed art-gifts; yet these have made but
little progress in life. I see, as it were, before me others who were
less gifted by Nature, but who industriously persevered in their
studies, and were content to labour for success; and these have
achieved positions which the natural genius has failed even to
approach. Workmen! I am a worker, and a believer in the efficacy of

       *       *       *       *       *

We will commence our systematic course by observing that good
ornament--good decorations of any character, have qualities which
appeal to the educated, but are silent to the ignorant, and that these
qualities make utterance of interesting facts; but before we can
rightly understand what I may term the hidden utterance of ornament,
we must inquire into the general revelation which the ornament of any
particular people, or of any historic age, makes to us, and also the
utterances of individual forms.

As an illustration of my meaning, let us take the ornament produced by
the Egyptians. In order to see this it may be necessary that we visit
a museum--say the British Museum--where we search out the mummy-cases;
but as most provincial museums boast one or more mummy-cases, we are
almost certain to find in the leading country towns illustrations that
will serve our present purpose. On a mummy-case you may find a
singular ornament, which is a conventional drawing of the Egyptian
lotus, or blue water-lily[2] (see Figs. 1, 2, 3), and in all
probability you will find this ornamental device repeated over and
over again on the one mummy-case. Notice this peculiarity of the
drawing of the lotus--a peculiarity common to Egyptian ornaments--that
there is a severity, a rigidity of line, a sort of sternness about it.
This rigidity or severity of drawing is a great peculiarity or
characteristic of Egyptian drawing. But mark! with this severity there
is always coupled an amount of dignity, and in some cases this dignity
is very apparent. Length of line, firmness of drawing, severity of
form, and subtlety of curve are the great characteristics of Egyptian

[2] This can be seen growing in the water-tanks in the Kew Gardens
conservatories, and in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

What does all this express? It expresses the character of the people
who created the ornaments. The ornaments of the ancient Egyptians were
all ordered by the priesthood, amongst whom the learning of this
people was stored. The priests were the dictators to the people not
only of religion, but of the forms which their ornaments were to
assume. Mark, then, the expression of the severity of character and
dignified bearing of the priesthood: in the very drawing of a simple
flower we have presented to us the character of the men who brought
about its production. But this is only what we are in the constant
habit of witnessing. A man of knowledge writes with power and force;
while the man of wavering opinions writes timidly and with feebleness.
The force of the one character (which character has been made forcible
by knowledge) and the weakness of the other is manifested by his
written words. So it is with ornaments: power or feebleness of
character is manifest by the forms produced.

The Egyptians were a severe people; they were hard task-masters. When
a great work had to be performed, a number of slaves were selected for
the work, and a portion of food allotted to each, which was to last
till the work was completed; and if the work was not finished when the
food was consumed, the slaves perished. We do not wonder at the
severity of Egyptian drawing. But the Egyptians were a noble
people--noble in knowledge of the arts, noble in the erection of vast
and massive buildings, noble in the greatness of their power. Hence we
have nobility of drawing--power and dignity mingled with severity in
every ornamental form which they produced.

We have thus noticed the general utterance or expression of Egyptian
drawing; but what specific communication does this particular lotus
make? Most of the ornaments of the Egyptians--whether the adornments
of sarcophagi, of water-vessels, or mere charms to be worn pendent
from the neck--were symbols of some truth or dogma inculcated by the
priests. Hence Egyptian ornament is said to be symbolic.

The fertility of the Nile valley was chiefly due to the river annually
overflowing its banks. In spreading over the land, the water carried
with it a quantity of rich alluvial earth, which gave fecundity to the
country on which it was deposited. When the water which had overspread
the surrounding land had nearly subsided, the corn which was to
produce the harvest was set by being cast upon the retiring water,
through which it sank into the rich alluvial earth. The water being
now well-nigh within the river-banks, the first flower that sprang up
was the lotus. This flower was to the Egyptians the harbinger of
coming plenty, for it symbolised the springing forth of the wheat. It
was the first flower of spring, or their primrose (first rose). The
priesthood, perceiving the interest with which this flower was viewed,
and the watchfulness manifested for its appearance, taught that in it
abode a god, and that it must be worshipped. The acknowledgment of
this flower as a fit and primary object of worship caused it to be
delineated on the mummy-cases, and sarcophagi, and on all sacred

We shall have frequent occasion, while considering decorative art, to
notice symbolic forms; but we must not forget the fact that all good
ornaments make utterance. Let us in all cases, when beholding them,
give ear to their teachings!

Egyptian ornament is so full of forms which have interesting
significance that I cannot forbear giving one other illustration; and
of this I am sure, that not only does a knowledge of the intention of
each form employed in a decorative scheme cause the beholder to
receive a special amount of pleasure when viewing it, but also that
without such knowledge no one can rightly judge of the nature of any
ornamental work.

There is a device in Egyptian ornament which the most casual observer
cannot have failed to notice; it is what is termed the "winged globe,"
and consists of a small ball or globe, immediately at the sides of
which are two asps, and from which extend two wings, each wing being
in length about five to eight times that of the diameter of the ball
(Fig. 4). The drawing of this device is very grand. The force with
which the wings are delineated well represents the powerful character
of the protection which the kingdom of Egypt afforded, and which was
symbolised by the extended and overshadowing pinions.

[Illustration: Fig. 4.]

I know of few instances where forms of an ornamental character have
been combined in a manner either more quaint or more interesting than
in the example before us. The composition presents a charm that few
ornaments do, and is worthy of careful consideration. But this
ornament derives a very special and unusual interest when we consider
its purpose, the blow which was once aimed at it, and the shock which
its producers must have received, upon finding it powerless to act as
they had taught, if not believed, it would.

The priesthood instructed the people that this was the symbol of
protection, and that it so effectually appealed to the preserving
spirits that no evil could enter where it was portrayed. With the view
of giving a secure protection to the inmates of Egyptian dwellings,
this device, or symbol of protection, was ordered to be placed on the
lintel (the post over the door) of every building of the Egyptians,
whether residence or temple.

It was to nullify this symbol, and to show the vain character of the
Egyptian gods, that Moses was commanded to have the blood of the lamb
slain at the passover placed upon the lintel, in the very position of
this winged globe. It was also enjoined as a further duty that the
blood be sprinkled on the door-post; but this was merely a new duty,
tending further to show that even in position, as well as in nature,
this winged globe was powerless to secure protection. This device,
then, is of special interest, both as a symbolic ornament and as
throwing light on Scripture history.

Besides the two ornamental forms mentioned--_i.e._, the lotus and the
winged globe--we might notice many others also of great interest, but
our space will not enable us to do so; further information may,
however, be got from the South Kensington Museum library,[3] where
several interesting works on Egyptian ornament may be seen;--from the
"Grammar of Ornament" by Mr. Owen Jones,--the works on Egypt by Sir
Gardiner Wilkinson; and, especially,--by a visit to the Egyptian Court
of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, and by a careful perusal of the
hand-book to that court.[4] Much might also be said respecting
Egyptian architecture, but on this we can say little here; yet, as the
columns of the temples are of a very ornamental character, we may
notice that in most cases they were formed of a bundle of papyrus[5]
stems bound together by thongs or straps--the heads of the plant
forming the capital of the column, and the stems the shaft (Fig. 5).
In some cases the lotus was substituted for the papyrus; and in other
instances the palm-leaf was used in a similar way; these modifications
can be seen in the Egyptian Court at Sydenham with great advantage,
and many varieties of form resulting from the use of the one plant, as
of the papyrus, may also there be observed.

[3] Any person can have admission to the South Kensington Museum Art
library and its Educational library, for a week, by payment of

[4] A hand-book to each of the historic courts erected in the Sydenham
Palace was prepared at the time the courts were built. These are still
to be got in the Literary department, in the north-east gallery of the
building. They are all worthy of careful study.

[5] The papyrus was the plant from which Egyptian paper was made. It
was also the bulrush of the Scriptures, in which the infant Moses was

[Illustration: Fig. 5.]

We have here an opportunity of noticing how the mode of building,
however simple or primitive in character, first employed by a nation
may become embodied in its ultimate architecture; for, undoubtedly,
the rude houses first erected in Egypt were formed largely of bundles
of the papyrus, which were gathered from the river-side--for wood was
rare in Egypt--and, ultimately, when buildings were formed of stone,
an attempt was made at imitating in the new material the form which
the old reeds presented. But mark, the imitation was no gross copy of
the original work, but a well-considered and perfectly idealised work,
substituting for the bundle of reeds a work having the true
architectural qualities of a noble-looking and useful column. We must
now pass from the ornament of the Egyptians to that of the Greeks, and
here we meet with decorative forms having a different object and
different aim from those already considered.

Egyptian ornament was symbolical in character. Its individual forms
had specific meanings--the purport of each shape being taught by the
priests--but we find no such thing as symbolism in Greek decoration.
The Greeks were a refined people, who sought not to express their
power by their art-works so much as their refinement. Before the
mental eye they always had a perfect ideal, and their most earnest
efforts were made at the realisation of the perfections of the mental
conception of absolute refinement. In one respect the Greeks resembled
the Egyptians, for they rarely created new forms. When once a form
became sacred to the Egyptians, it could not be altered; but with the
Greeks, while bound by no such law, the love of old forms was great;
yet the Greeks did not seek simply to reproduce what they had before
created, but laboured hard to improve and refine what they had before
done; and even through succeeding centuries they worked at the
refinement of simple forms and ornamental compositions, which have
become characteristic of them as a people.

The general expression of Greek art is that of refinement, and the
manner in which the delicately cultivated taste of some of the Greeks
is expressed by their ornaments is astonishing. One decorative device,
which we term the Greek Anthemion, may be regarded as their principal
ornament--(the original ornamental composition by one of my pupils,
Fig. 6, consists primarily of three anthemions)--and the variety of
refined forms in which it appears is most interesting.

But it must not be thought that the Greek ornaments and architectural
forms present nothing but refinement made manifest in form, for this
is not the case. Great as is the refinement of some of these forms, we
yet notice that they speak of more than the perfected taste of their
producers, for they reveal to us this fact--that their creators had
great knowledge of natural forces and the laws by which natural forces
are governed. This becomes apparent in a marked degree when we inquire
into the manner in which they arranged the proportion of the various
parts of their works to the whole, and especially by a consideration
of the subtle nature of the curves which they employed both in
architectural members and in decorative forms; but into this we must
not now inquire. Yet, by way of throwing some faint light upon the
manner in which knowledge is embodied in Greek forms, I may refer to
the Doric column, such as was employed in the Parthenon at Athens[6]
(Fig. 7). The idea presented by this column is that of energetic
upward growth which has come in contact with some superposed mass, the
weight of which presses upon the column from above, while the energy
of the upward growth causes the column to appear fully equal to the
task of supporting the superincumbent structure. Mark this--that by
pressure from above, or weight, the shaft of the column is distended,
or bent out, about one-third of the distance from its base to its
apex (just where this distension would occur, were the column formed
of a slightly plastic material), and yet this distension of the shaft
is not such as to give any idea of weakness, for the column appears to
rise with the energy of such vigorous life as to be more than able to
bear the weight which it has to sustain.

[6] A capital, and portion of the shaft, of one of these columns are
to be seen in the British Museum Sculpture room, and a cast of the
same at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham. This Doric column is employed in
the Greek Court of the Crystal Palace.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.]

[Illustration: Fig. 7.]

Mark also the singularly delicate curve of the capital of the column,
which appears as a slightly plastic cushion intervening between the
shaft and the superincumbent mass which it has to support. The
delicacy and refinement of form presented by this capital is perhaps
greater than that of any other with which we are acquainted.

The same principle of life and energy coming in contact with
resistance or pressure from above is constantly met with in the
enrichments of Greek cornices and mouldings; but having called
attention to the fact, I must leave the student to observe, and think
upon, these interesting subjects for himself. Let me, however, say
that there are few classic buildings in England which will aid the
learner in his researches; there is but little poetry in our
architectural buildings, and but little refinement in the forms of the
parts, especially in our classic buildings; and, added to this, Greek
art without Greek colouring is dead, being almost as the marble statue
to the living form. For the purposes of my readers, the Greek Court at
the Crystal Palace will be the best example for study.

I might now review Roman ornament, and show that in the hour of pride
the materials of which the Roman works were formed were considered,
rather than the shapes which they assumed; and how we thus get little
worthy of praise from the all-conquering Romans--how the sunny climate
and religious superstitions of the East called forth the gorgeous and
beautiful developments of art which have existed, or still exist, with
the Persians, Indians, Turks, Moors, Chinese, and Japanese; but I have
not space to do so; yet all the forms of ornament which these people
have created are worthy of the most careful and exhaustive
consideration, as they present art-qualities of the highest kind. I
know of no ornament more intricately beautiful and mingled than the
Persian--no geometrical strapwork, or systems of interlacing lines, so
rich as those of the Moors (the Alhambraic)--no fabrics so gorgeous as
those of India--none so quaintly harmonious as those of China; and
Japan can supply the world with the most beautiful domestic articles
that we can anywhere procure.

We must pass on, however, to what we may term Christian art, or that
development of ornament which had its rise with the Christian
religion, and has associated itself in a special manner with

Neither the Egyptians nor early Greeks appear to have used the arch
structurally in their buildings; the Romans, however, had the round
arch as a primary structural element. This round arch was also used by
the Byzantines, and amongst their ornaments we find those combinations
of circles, or parts of circles, which so constantly recur in later
times in Gothic architecture and Gothic ornament. Norman buildings,
again, show us the round arch, and present us with such intersected
arcs as would naturally suggest the pointed arch of later times, with
which came the full development of Gothic or Christian architecture
and ornamentation. There was a very fine and marvellously clever
development of decorative art, enthusiastically worked at by the
Christian monks of the seventh and eighth centuries, called Celtic, of
which we have many beautiful examples in Professor Westwood's great
work on early illuminated manuscripts; but what is generally
understood by Christian or Gothic art had its finest development about
the thirteenth century.

Gothic ornament, like the Egyptian, is essentially symbolic. Its forms
have in many instances specific significance. Thus the common
equilateral triangle is in some cases used to symbolise the Holy
Trinity; so are the two entwined triangles. But there are many other
symbols employed in Gothic ornament which set forth the mystery of the
Unity of the Trinity. Thus in Fig. 8 we have three interlaced circles,
which beautifully express the eternal Unity of the Holy Trinity, for
the circle alone symbolises eternity, being without beginning and
without end, and the three parts point to the Three Persons of the
Godhead. A very curious and clever symbol of the Trinity is portrayed
in Fig. 9, where three faces are so combined as to form an ornamental

[Illustration: Fig. 8.]

[Illustration: Fig. 9.]

[Illustration: Fig. 10.]

Baptism under the immediate sanction of the Divine Trinity was
represented by three fishes placed together in the manner of a
triangle (Fig. 10); but so numerous were Christian symbols after the
ninth century, that to enumerate them merely would occupy much space.
Every trefoil symbolised the Holy Trinity, every quatrefoil the four
evangelists, every cross the Crucifixion, or the martyrdom of some
saint. And into Gothic ornamentation the chalice, the crown of thorns,
the dice, the sop, the hammer and nails, the flagellum, and other
symbols of our Lord's passion have entered. But, besides these, we
have more purely architectural forms making gentle utterance: the
church spire points heavenwards, and the long lines of the clustered
columns of the cathedral direct the thoughts upwards to heaven and to

Gothic ornament, having passed from its purity towards undue
elaboration, began to lose its hold on the people for whom it was
created, and the form of religion with which it had long been
associated had become old, when the great overthrow of old traditions
and usages occurred, commonly called the Reformation. With the
reformation of religion came a revival of classic learning, and a
general diffusion of knowledge, and thus the immediate necessity for
art-symbols was passing away, it being especially to an unlettered
people that an extended system of symbolism appeals. With this revival
of classic learning came the investigation of classic remains--the
exploration of Greek and Roman ruins; and while this was going on, a
dislike to whatever had been associated with the old form of religion
had sprung up, which dislike turned to hate as the struggle advanced,
till the feeling against Gothic architecture and ornament became so
strong that anything was preferred to it. Now arose Renaissance
architecture and ornament (revival work), which was based on the Roman
remains, but was yet remoulded, or formed anew; so that the ornament
of the Renaissance is not Roman ornament, but a new decorative scheme,
of the same genus as that of the Roman. Here, however, all my
sympathies end. I confess that all Renaissance ornament, whether
developed under the soft sky of Italy (Italian ornament), in more
northerly France (French Renaissance), or on our own soil
(Elizabethan, or English Renaissance), fails to awaken any feeling of
sympathy in my breast; and that it, on the contrary, chills and repels
me. I enjoy the power and vigour of Egyptian ornament, the refinement
of the Greek, the gorgeousness of the Alhambraic, the richness of the
Persian and Indian, the quaintness of the Chinese and Japanese, the
simple honesty and boldness of the Gothic; but with the coarse
Assyrian, the haughty Roman, and the cold Renaissance, I have no
kindred feeling--no sympathy. They strike notes which have no chords
in my nature: hence from them I instinctively fly. I must be pardoned
for this my feeling by those who differ from me in judgment, but my
continued studies of these styles only separate me further from them
in feeling.

It will be said that in my writings I mingle together ornament and
architecture, and that my sphere is ornament, and not building. I
cannot separate the two. The material at command, the religion of the
people, and the climate have, to a great extent, determined the
character of the architecture of all ages and nations; but they have,
to the same extent, determined the nature of the ornamentation of the
edifices raised. Ornament always has arisen out of architecture, or
been a mere reflex of the art-principles of the building decorated. We
cannot rightly consider ornament without architecture; but I will
promise to take no further notice of architecture than is absolutely
necessary to the proper understanding of our subject.


In my previous remarks I have attempted to set forth some of the first
principles of ornament, and to call attention to the purport or
intention of certain of the leading historic styles, and the manner in
which they make utterance to us of the faith or sentiments of their

[Illustration: Fig. 11.]

But there are other utterances of ornament, and other general
expressions which decorative forms convey to the mind. Thus sharp,
angular, or spiny forms are more or less exciting (Fig. 11); while
bold and broad forms are soothing, or tend to give repose.

Sharp or angular forms, where combined in ornament, act upon the
senses much as racy and pointed sayings do. Thus "cut" or angular
glass, spinose metal-work, as the pointed foliage of some wrought-iron
gates, and other works in which there is a prevalence of angles and
points, so act upon the mind as to stimulate it, and thus produce an
effect opposite to repose; while "breadth" of form and "largeness" of
treatment induce tranquillity and meditation.

Nothing can be more important to the ornamentist than the scientific
study of art. The metaphysical inquiry into cause and effect, as
relating to decorative ideas, is very important--indeed,
all-important--to the true decorator. He must constantly ask himself
what effect such and such forms have upon the mind--which effects are
soothing, which cheerful, which melancholy, which rich, which
ethereal, which gorgeous, which solid, which graceful, which lovable,
and so on; and in order to do this he must separate the various
elements of ornamental composition, and consider these apart, so as to
be sure that he is not mistaken as to what affects the mind in any
particular manner, and he must then combine these elements in various
proportions, and consider the effects of the various combinations on
his own mind and that of others, and thus he will discover what will
enable him to so act on the senses as to induce effects such as he may
desire to produce.

Are we to decorate a dining-room, let the decoration give the sense of
richness; a drawing-room, let it give cheerfulness; a library, let it
give worth; a bed-room, repose; but glitter must never occur in large
quantities, for that which excites can only be sparingly indulged
in--if too freely employed, it gives the sense of vulgarity.

In this chapter I have to speak primarily of _Truth_, _Beauty_, and
_Power_. Long since I was so fully impressed with the idea that true
art-principles are so perfectly manifested by these three words, that
I embodied them in an ornamental device which I painted on my study
door, so that all who entered might learn the principles which I
sought to manifest in my works.

There can be morality or immorality in art, the utterance of truth or
of falsehood; and by his art the ornamentist may exalt or debase a

_Truth._--How noble, how beautiful; how righteous to utter it; and how
debasing is falsehood; yet we see falsehood preferred to truth--that
which debases to that which exalts, in art as well as morals; and I
fear that there is almost as much that is false, degrading, and untrue
in my beautiful art as there is of the noble, righteous, and exalting,
although art should only be practised by ennobling hands. It is this
grovelling art, this so-called ornamentation, which tends to debase
rather than exalt, to degrade rather than make noble, to foster a lie
rather than utter truth, which brings about the abasement of our
calling, and causes our art to fail in many instances in laying hold
of, and clinging to, the affections of the noble and the great.
Ornamentation is in the highest sense of the word a Fine Art; there is
no art more noble, none more exalted. It can cheer the sorrowing; it
can soothe the troubled; it can enhance the joys of those who make
merry; it can inculcate the doctrine of truth; it can refine, elevate,
purify, and point onward and upward to heaven and to God. It is a fine
art, for it embodies and expresses the feelings of the soul of
man--that inward spirit which was breathed by the Creator into the
lifeless clay as the image of his life--however noble, pure, or holy.

This being the case, those who ignore decoration cast aside a source
of refinement, and deprive themselves of what may induce their
elevation in virtue and morals. Such a neglect on the part of those
who can afford luxuries would be highly censurable, were it not that
the professors of the art are for the most part false pretenders,
knowing not what they practise, and men ignorant of the power which
they hold in their hands. The true artist is a rare creature; he is
often unknown, frequently misunderstood, or not understood at all, and
is not unfrequently lost to a people that prefer shallowness to deep
meaning, falsehood to truth, and glitter to repose.

We now see the utter folly of appealing simply to what is called
"taste" in matters of art, and the uselessness of yielding to the
caprice (falsely called taste) of the uneducated in such matters,
especially as this so-called taste is often of the most vulgar and
debased order. We also see the absurdity of persons who employ a true
artist interfering with his judgment and ideas. The true artist is a
noble teacher; shall he be told, then, what morals he shall
inculcate, and what lofty truths he shall embody in his works, or omit
from them? Do we tell the preacher what he shall say, and ask him to
withhold whatever is refining and elevating? We do not, and in art we
must leave the professors free to teach, and hold them responsible for
their teachings.

If I thought that I had now convinced my reader that decorative art
does not consist merely in the placing together of forms, however
beautiful they may be individually or collectively; nor in rendering
objects simply what is called pretty; but that it is a power for good
or evil; that it is what will elevate or debase--that which cannot be
neutral in its tendency--I would advance to consider its principles;
but I cannot teach, nor can I be understood, unless the reader _feels_
that he who practises art wields a vast power, for the rightful use of
which he must be held responsible.

All graining of wood is false, inasmuch as it attempts to deceive; the
effort being made at causing one material to look like another which
it is not. All "marbling" is false also: a floor-cloth made in
imitation of carpet or matting is false; a Brussels carpet that
imitates a Turkey carpet is false; so is a jug that imitates
wicker-work, a printed fabric that imitates one which is woven, a
gas-lamp that imitates an oil-lamp. These are all untruths in
expression, and are, besides, vulgar absurdities which are the more
lamentable, as the imitation is always less beautiful than the thing
imitated; and as each material has the power of expressing beauty
truthfully, thus the want of truth brings its own punishment. A deal
door is beautiful, but it will not keep clean; let it then be
varnished. It is now preserved, and its own characteristic features
are enhanced by the varnish, so that its individuality is emphasised,
and no untruth told. A floor-cloth can present a pattern with true and
beautiful curves--how absurd, then, to try and imitate the dotty
effect of a carpet; and the Brussels carpet can express truer curves
than the Turkey carpet, then why imitate the latter in the finer
material? But perhaps the most senseless of all these absurdities is
the making an earthen jug in imitation of wicker-work when if so
formed it would be useless as a water-vessel. I can imagine a fool in
his simplicity priding himself on such a bright thought as the
production of a vessel of this kind, but I cannot imagine any rightly
constituted mind producing or commending such an idea. Let the
expression of our art ever be truthful.

_Beauty._--I will say little on this head, for decorative forms must
be beautiful. Shapes which are not beautiful are rarely decorative. I
will not now attempt to express what character forms should have in
order that they be considered beautiful, but will content myself by
saying that they must be truthful in expression, and graceful,
delicate, and refined in contour, manifesting no coarseness,
vulgarity, or obtrusiveness. My views of the beautiful must be
gathered from the series of chapters which will follow, but this I may
here say, that the beautiful manifests no want, no shortcoming. A
composition that is beautiful must have no parts which could be taken
from it and yet leave the remainder equally good or better. The
perfectly beautiful is that which admits of no improvement. The
beautiful is lovable, and, as that which is lovable, takes hold of the
affections and clings to them, binding itself firmer and firmer to
them as time rolls on. If an object is really beautiful we do not tire
of it; fashion does not induce us to change it; the merely new does
not displace it. It becomes as an old friend, more loved as its good
qualities are better understood.

_Power._--We now come to consider an art-element or principle of great
importance, for if absent from any composition, feebleness or weakness
is the result, the manifestation of which is not pleasant. With what
power do the plants burst from the earth in spring! With what power do
the buds develop into branches! The powerful orator is a man to be
admired, the powerful thinker a man we esteem. Even the simple power,
or brute force, of animals we involuntarily approve--the powerful
tiger and the powerful horse call forth our commendation, for power is
antagonistic to weakness. Power also manifests earnestness; power
means energy; power implies a conqueror. Our compositions, then, must
be powerful.

But besides all this, we, the professors of decorative art, must
manifest power in our works, for we are teachers sent forth to
instruct, and ennoble, and elevate our fellow-creatures. We shall not
be believed if we do not utter our truths with power; let truth, then,
be uttered with power, and in the form of beauty.[7]

[7] I have given in this chapter an original sketch (Fig. 12), in
which I have sought to embody chiefly the one idea of power, energy,
force, or vigour; and in order to do this, I have employed such lines
as we see in the bursting buds of spring, when the energy of growth is
at its maximum, and especially such as are to be seen in the spring
growth of a luxuriant tropical vegetation; I have also availed myself
of those forms to be seen in certain bones of birds which are
associated with the organs of flight, and which give us an impression
of great strength, as well as those observable in the powerful
propelling fins of certain species of fish.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are other principles governing the production and application of
ornament which we must now notice, the first of which is _utility_,
for the first aim of the designer of any article must be to render the
object which he produces useful. I may go further, and say that an
article must be made not only useful, but as perfectly suited to the
purpose for which it is intended as it can be. It matters not how
beautiful the object is intended to be, it must first be formed as
though it were a mere work of utility, and after it has been carefully
created with this end in view it may then be rendered as beautiful as
you please.

There are special reasons why our works should be useful as well as
beautiful, for if an object, however beautiful it may be in shape,
however richly covered with beautiful ornaments, or however
harmoniously coloured, be unpleasant to use, it will ultimately be
set aside, and that which is more convenient for use will replace it,
even if the latter be without beauty. As an illustration of this fact,
let us suppose the balustrade railings of a staircase very beautiful,
and yet furnished with such projections as render it almost impossible
that we walk up or down the stairs without tearing the dress, or
injuring the person, and how soon will our admiration of the beautiful
railing disappear, and even be replaced by hate! In like manner let
the handle of a door, or the head of a poker, be so formed as to hurt
the hand, and the simple round knob, or round head, will be preferred
to it, however ornamentally or beautifully formed.

[Illustration: Fig. 12.]

In relation to this subject, Professor George Wilson has said: "The
conviction seems ineradicable from some minds, that a beautiful thing
cannot be a useful thing, and that the more you increase the beauty of
the necessary furniture or the implements of every-day life the more
you lessen their utility. Make the Queen's sceptre as beautiful as you
please, but don't try to beautify a poker, especially in cold weather.
My lady's vinaigrette carve and gild as you will, but leave untouched
my pewter ink-bottle. Put fine furniture, if you choose, into my
drawing-room; but I am a plain man, and like useful things in my
parlour, and so on. Good folks of this sort seem to labour under the
impression that the secret desire of art is to rob them of all
comfort. Its unconfessed but actual aim, they believe, is to realise
the faith of their childhood, when it was understood that a monarch
always wore his crown, held an orb in one hand and a sceptre in the
other, and a literal interpretation was put upon Shakespeare's words,

    'Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.'

Were art to prosper, farewell to fire-proof, shapeless slippers, which
bask like salamanders unharmed in the hottest blaze. An æsthetic pair,
modelled upon Cinderella's foot, and covered with snow-white
embroidery, must take their place, and dispense chilblains and
frost-bite to miserable toes. Farewell to shooting-coats out a little
at the elbows, to patched dressing-gowns, and hair-cloth sofas.
Nothing but full-dress, varnished boots, spider-legged chairs, white
satin chair-covers, alabaster ink-bottles, velvet door-mats, and
scrapers of silver or gold. It is astonishing how many people think
that a thing cannot be comfortable if it is beautiful. . . . If there
be one truth which the Author of all has taught us in his works more
clearly than another, it is the perfect compatibility of the highest
utility with the greatest beauty. I offer you one example. All are
familiar with the beautiful shell of the nautilus. Give the nautilus
itself to a mathematician, and he will show you that one secret of its
gracefulness lies in its following in its volute or whorl a particular
geometrical curve with rigid precision. Pass it from the mathematician
to the natural philosopher, and he will show you how the simple
superposition of a great number of very thin transparent plates, and
the close approximation of a multitude of very fine engraved lines,
are the cause of its exquisite pearly lustre. Pass it from the natural
philosopher to the engineer, and he will show you that this fairy
shell is a most perfect practical machine, at once a sailing vessel
and a diving-bell, in which its living possessor had, centuries before
Archimedes, applied to utilitarian ends the law of specific gravity,
and centuries before Halley had dived in his bell to the bottom of the
sea. Pass it from the engineer to the anatomist, and he will show you
how, without marring its beauty, it is occupied during its lifetime
with a most orderly system of rowing and sailing tackle, chambers for
food, pumps to keep blood circulating, ventilating apparatus, and
hands to control all, so that it is a model ship with a model mariner
on board. Pass it lastly from the anatomist to the chemist, and he
will show you that every part of the shell and the creature is
compounded of elements, the relative weights of which follow in each
individual nautilus the same numerically identical ratio.

"Such is the nautilus, a thing so graceful, that when we look at it we
are content to say with Keats--

    'A thing of beauty is a joy for ever;'

and yet a thing so thoroughly utilitarian, and fulfilling with the
utmost perfection the purely practical aim of its construction, that
our shipbuilders would be only too thankful if, though sacrificing all
beauty, they could make their vessels fulfil their business ends half
so well."

Viewing our subject in another light, and with special reference to
architecture, we notice that unless a building is fitted for the
purpose intended, or, in other words, answers utilitarian ends, it
cannot be esteemed as it otherwise might be, even though it be of
great æsthetic beauty. In respect to this subject, Mr. Owen Jones has
said: "The nave and aisles of a Gothic church become absurd when
filled with pews for Protestant worship, where all are required to see
and hear. The columns of the nave which impede sight and sound, the
aisles for processions which no longer exist, rood screens, and deep
chancels for the concealment of mysteries, now no longer such, are all
so many useless reproductions which must be thrown aside." Further,
"As architecture, so all works of the decorative arts, _should possess
fitness_, proportion, harmony; the result of all which is repose." Sir
M. Digby Wyatt has said: "Infinite variety and unerring fitness govern
all forms in Nature." Vitruvius, that "The perfection of all works
depends on their fitness to answer the end proposed, and on principles
resulting from a consideration of Nature itself." Sir Charles L.
Eastlake, that "In every case in Nature where fitness or utility can
be traced, the characteristic quality, or _relative_ beauty, is found
to be identical with that of fitness." A. W. Pugin (the father): "How
many objects of ordinary use are rendered monstrous and ridiculous
simply because the artist, instead of seeking the most convenient
form, and then decorating it, has embodied some extravagance to
conceal the real purpose for which the article has been made." And
with the view of pointing out how fitness for, or adaptation to, the
end proposed is manifested in the structure and disposition upon the
earth of plants, I have written in a little work now out of print:
"The trees which grow highest upon the mountains, and the plants which
grow upon the unsheltered plain, have usually long, narrow, and rigid
leaves, which, owing to their form, are enabled to bear the fury of
the tempest, to which they are exposed, without injury. This is seen
in the ease of the species of fir which grow at great altitudes, where
the leaves are more like needles than leaves such as commonly occur;
and also in the species of heath which grow upon exposed moors: in
both cases the plants are, owing to the form of the leaf, enabled to
defy the blast, while those with broad leaves would be shattered and

"Not only is the form of leaf such as fits these plants to dwell in
such inhospitable regions, but other circumstances also tend to this
result. The stems are in both cases woody and flexible, so that while
they bend to the wind they resist its destroying influence by their
strength and elasticity. In relation to the stem of the papyrus,"
which is a plant constantly met with in Egyptian ornaments, "the late
Sir W. J. Hooker mentions an interesting fact which manifests
adaptation to its position. This plant grows in water, and attaches
itself to the margins of rivers and streams, by sending forth roots
and evolving long underground stems in the alluvium of the sides of
the waters. Owing to its position it is exposed to the influences of
the current, which it has to withstand, and this it does, not only by
having its stems of a triangular form--a shape well adapted for
withstanding pressure--but also by having them so placed in relation
to the direction of the stream, that one angle always meets the
current, and thus separates the waters as does the bow of a modern

I might multiply illustrations of this principle of _fitness_, or
_adaptation to purpose_, as manifested in plants, to an almost
indefinite extent; but when all had been said we should yet have but
the simple truth before us, that the chief end which we should have in
creating any object, is that of rendering it perfectly fitted to
answer the proposed end. If those works which are beautiful were but
invariably useful, as they should be; if those objects which are most
beautiful were also the most convenient--and there is no reason why
they should not be so--how the beautiful would become loved and sought
after! Cost would be of little moment, the price would not be
complained of, if beautiful objects were works of perfect utility.
But, alas! it is far otherwise: that which is useful is often ugly,
and that which is beautiful is often inconvenient to use. This very
fact has given rise to the highly absurd fashion of having a second
poker in a drawing-room set of fire-irons. The one poker is
ornamental, possibly, but it is to be looked at; the other is for use,
and as it is not to be looked at, it is hidden away in some corner, or
close within the fender. I do not wonder at the second poker being
required; for nineteen out of every twenty pokers of an ornamental
(?) character which I have seen during the last few years would hurt
the hand so insufferably if they were used to break a lump of coal
with, that it would be almost impossible to employ them constantly for
such a purpose. But why not abolish the detestable thing altogether?
If the poker is to be retained as an ornament, place it on the table
or chimney-piece of your drawing-room, and not down on the hearth,
where it is at such a distance from the eye that its beauties cannot
be discovered. It is no use saying it would be out of place in such a
position. If to poke the fire with, its place is within the fender; if
it is an ornament, it should be placed where it can be best seen--in a
glass case, if worthy of protection.

I hope that sufficient has now been said upon this all-important
necessity, that, if an object is to be beautiful it should also be
useful, to cause us to consider it as a primary principle of design
that all objects which we create _must_ be useful. To this as a first
law we shall constantly have to refer. When we construct a chair we
shall ask, is it useful? is it strong? is it properly put together?
could it be stronger without using more, or another, material? and
then we should consider whether it is beautiful. When we design a
bottle we shall inquire, is it useful? is it all that a bottle should
be? could it be more useful? and then, is it beautiful? When we create
a gas-branch we shall ask, does it fulfil all requirements, and
perfectly answer the end for which it is intended? and then, is it
beautiful? And in relation to patterns merely we shall also have to
make similar inquiries. Thus, if drawing a carpet design, we shall
inquire, is this form of ornament suitable to a woven fabric? is it
suitable to the particular fabric for which it is intended? is the
particular treatment of the ornament which we have adopted the best
possible when we bear in mind that the carpet has to be walked over,
as it is to act in relation to our furniture as a background does to a
picture, and is to be viewed at some distance from the eye? and then,
is it beautiful? Such inquiries we shall put respecting any object the
formation of which we may suggest: hence, in all our inquiries, I
shall, as I love art, consider utility before beauty, in order that my
art may be fostered and not despised.

There are many subjects yet not named in these pages which we ought to
consider, but I must content myself by merely mentioning them, and you
must be willing to think of them, and consider them with such care as
their importance may demand. Some of them, however, we shall refer to
when considering the various manufactures.

A principle of great importance in respect to design is, that _the
material of which an object is formed should be used in a manner
consistent with its own nature, and in that particular way in which it
can be most easily "worked."_

Another principle of equal importance with that just set forth, is
this: that _when an object is about to be formed, that material (or
those materials) which is (or are) most appropriate to its formation
should be sought and employed_. These two propositions are of very
great importance, and the principles which they set forth should never
be lost sight of by the designer. They involve the first principles of
successful designing, for if ignored the work produced cannot be

_Curves will be found to be beautiful just as they are subtle in
character; those which are most subtle in character being most

The arc is the least beautiful of curves (I do not here speak of a
circle, but of the line, as a line, which bounds the circle); being
struck from one centre its origin is instantly detected, while the
mind requires that a line, the contemplation of which shall be
pleasurable, must be in advance of its knowledge, and call into
activity its powers of inquiry. The elliptic curve, or curve bounding
the ellipse, is more beautiful than the arc, for its origin is not so
strikingly apparent, being formed from two centres. The curve of the
egg is more beautiful still, being formed from three centres.[8] As
the number of centres necessary to the formation of a curve increases,
the difficulty of detecting its origin also becomes greater, and the
variety which the curve presents is also proportionally great; the
variety being obviously greater as the number of the centres from
which it is struck is increased.

[8] The ellipse and egg-shape here spoken of are not those which are
struck by compasses in any way, for the curves of such figures are
merely combined arcs, but such as are struck with string, or a

_Proportion, like the curve, must be of a subtle nature._

A surface must never be divided for the purpose of decoration into
halves. The proportion of 1 to 1 is bad. As proportion increases in
subtlety it also increases in beauty. The proportion of 2 to 1 is
little better; the proportion of 3 to 8, or of 5 to 8, or of 5 to 13,
is, however, good, the last named being the best of those which I have
adduced; for the pleasure derived from the contemplation of proportion
increases with the difficulty of detecting it. This principle is true
in relation to the division of a mass into primary segments, and of
primary segments into secondary forms, as well as in relation to the
grouping together of parts of various sizes; hence it is worthy of
special note.

_A principle of order must prevail in every ornamental composition._

Confusion is the result of accident, while order results from thought
and care. The operation of mind cannot well be set forth in the
absence of this principle; at least, the presence of a principle of
order renders the operation of mind at once manifest.

_The orderly repetition of parts frequently aids in the production of
ornamental effects._

The kaleidoscope affords a wonderful example of what repetition will
do. The mere fragments of glass which we view in this instrument would
altogether fail to please were they not repeated with regularity. Of
themselves repetition and order can do much. (Figs. 13 and 14.)

_Alternation is a principle of primary importance in certain
ornamental compositions._

In the case of a flower (as the buttercup, or chickweed, for example)
the coloured leaves do not fall over the green leaves (the petals do
not fall over the sepals), but between them--they alternate with them.
This principle is not only manifested in plants, but also in many
ornaments produced in the best periods of art (Fig. 15).

[Illustration: Fig. 13.]

[Illustration: Fig. 14.]

[Illustration: Fig. 15.]

[Illustration: Fig. 16.]

_If plants are employed as ornaments they must not be treated
imitatively, but must be conventionally treated, or rendered into
ornaments_ (Fig. 16).

A monkey can imitate, man can create.

These are the chief principles which we shall have to notice, as
involved in the production of ornamental designs.


Some other principles of a less noble character than those which we
have already noticed as entering into ornament yet remain to be
mentioned. Man will be amused as well as instructed; he must be
pleased as well as ennobled by what he sees. I hold it as a first
principle that ornamentation, as a true fine art, can administer to
man in all his varying moods, and under all phases of feeling.
Decoration, if properly understood, would at once be seen to be a high
art in the truest sense of the word, as it can teach, elevate, refine,
induce lofty aspirations, and allay sorrows; but we have now to notice
it as a fine art, administering to man in his various moods, rather
than as the handmaid to religion or morals.

Humour seems to be as much an attribute of our nature as love, and,
like it, varies in intensity with different individuals. There are few
in whom there is not a certain amount of humour, and in some this one
quality predominates over all others. It not unfrequently happens that
men who are great thinkers are also great humorists--great talent and
great humour being often combined in the one individual.

The feeling for humour is ministered to in ornament by the grotesque,
and the grotesque occurs in the works of almost all ages and all
peoples. The ancient Egyptians employed it, so did the Assyrians, the
Greeks, and the Romans; but none of these nations used it to the
extent of the artists of the Celtic, Byzantine, and "Gothic" periods.
Hideous "evil spirits" were portrayed on the outside of almost every
Christian edifice at one time, and much of the Celtic ornament
produced by the early monks consisted of an anastomosis, or network,
of grotesque creatures.

The old Irish crosses were enriched with this kind of
ornamentation,[9] and some of the decorative embellishments of these
works are of extraordinary interest; but those who have access to the
beautiful work of Professor Westwood on Celtic manuscripts will there
see this grotesque form of ornament to perfection. As regards the
Eastern nations, while nearly all have employed the grotesque as an
element of decorative art, the Chinese and Japanese have employed it
most largely, and for it they manifest a most decided partiality. The
drawings of dragons, celestial lions (always spotted), mythical birds,
beasts, fishes, insects, and other supposed inhabitants of the Elysian
plains, which these people produce, are most interesting and

[9] Casts of one or two of these can be seen in the central transept
of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham.

Without in any way going into a history of the grotesque, let us look
at the characteristic forms which it has assumed, and what is
necessary to its successful production. We have said that the
grotesque in ornament is the analogue of humour in literature. This is
the case; but the grotesque may represent the truly horrible or
repellent, and be simply repulsive. This form is so seldom required in
ornamentation that I shall not dwell upon it, and when required it
should always be associated with power; for if the horrible is feeble
it cannot be corrective, but only revolting, like a miserable deformed

I think it may be taken as a principle, that the further the grotesque
is removed from an imitation of a natural object the better it is,
provided that it be energetic and vigorous--lifelike. Nothing is worse
than a feeble joke, unless it be a feeble grotesque. The amusing must
appear to be earnest.

[Illustration: Fig. 17.]

[Illustration: Fig. 18.]

In connection with this subject I give here a series of grotesques,
with the view of illustrating my meaning, and I would fain give more,
but space will not permit me to do so.

The initial letter S, formed of a bird, is a characteristic Celtic
grotesque (Fig. 17). It is quaint and interesting, and is sufficiently
unlike a living creature to avoid giving any sense of pain to the
beholder, while it is yet in a most unnatural position. It is, in
truth, rather an ornament than a copy of a living creature, yet it is
so suggestive as to call forth the thought of a bird. It should be
noticed, in connection with this figure, that the interstices between
certain portions of the creature are filled by a knot. This is
well--the whole thing; being an ornament, and not a naturalistic

Fig. 18 is a Siamese grotesque head, and a fine sample it is of the
curious form of ornament which it represents. Mark, it is in no way a
copy of a human head, but is a true ornament, with its parts so
arranged as to call up the idea of a face, and nothing more. Notice
the volutes forming the chin; the grotesque, yet highly ornamental,
lines forming the mouth and the upper boundary of the forehead, and
the flambeauant ears; the whole thing is worthy of the most careful

[Illustration: Fig. 19.]

Fig. 19 is a Gothic foliated face; but here we have features which are
much too naturalistic. We have, indeed, only a hideous human face with
a marginal excrescence of leafage. This is a type to be avoided; it is
not droll, nor quaint; but is simply unpleasant to look upon.

[Illustration: Fig. 20.]

Fig. 20 is a fish, with the feeling of the grotesques of the Middle
Ages. It is a good type, being truly ornamental, and yet sufficiently

In order that I convey to the reader a fuller idea of my views
respecting the grotesque than I otherwise could, I have sketched one
or two original illustrations--Fig. 21 being suggestive of a face,
Fig. 22 of a skeleton (old bogey), and Fig. 23 of an impossible
animal. They are intentionally far from imitative. If naturalistic
some would awaken a sense of pain, as they are contorted into curious
positions, whereas that which induces no thought of feeling induces no
sense of pain.

[Illustration: Fig. 21.]

[Illustration: Fig. 22.]

Of all grotesques with which I am acquainted, the dragons of the
Chinese and Japanese are those which represent a combination of power,
vigour, energy, and passion most fully. This is to be accounted for by
the fact that these peoples are believers in dragons. When the sun or
moon is eclipsed they believe that the luminous orb has been swallowed
by some fierce monster, which they give form to in the dragon, and
upon the occurrence of such a phenomenon they, with cans and kettles,
make rough music, and thus cause the monster to disgorge the luminary,
the brilliancy of which it would otherwise have for ever extinguished.
I can understand a believer in dragons drawing these monsters with the
power and spirit that the Chinese and Japanese do; but I can scarcely
imagine that a disbeliever could do so--a man's very nature must be
saturated with a belief in their existence and mischievous power, in
order that he embody in his delineation such expression of the
assumed character of this imaginary creature as do the Chinese and

Although I am not now considering the structure of objects, I may say
that the grotesque should frequently be used where we meet with
naturalistic imitations. We not unfrequently see a figure, naturally
imitated, placed as a support to a superincumbent weight--a female
figure as an architectural pillar bearing the weight of the
entablature above, men crouched in the most painful positions
supporting the bowl of some colossal fountain. Naturalistic figures in
such positions are simply revolting, however perfect as works of
sculpture. If weight has to be supported by that which has a
resemblance to a living creature of any kind, the semblance should
only be suggested; and the more unreal and woodeny (if I may make such
a word) the support, if possessing the quaintness and humour of a true
grotesque, the better.

[Illustration: Fig. 23.]

It is not the business of the ornamentist to produce that which shall
induce the feeling of continued pain, unless there is some exceptional
reason for his so doing, and such a reason is of rare occurrence.



Having considered some of the chief principles involved in the
production of decorative design so far as "expression" goes, we come
to notice that constant adjunct of form which has ever played an
important part in all decorative schemes--namely, colour.

Form can exist independently of colour, but it never has had any
important development without the chromatic adjunct. From a
consideration of history, we should be led to conclude that form alone
is incapable of yielding such enrichments as satisfy; for no national
system of decoration has ever existed in the absence of colour. Mere
outline-form may be good, but it is not satisfying; mere light and
shade may be pleasing, but it is not all that we require. With form
our very nature seems to demand colour; and it is only when we get
well-proportioned forms which are graceful, or noble, or vigorous, in
combination with colours harmoniously arranged, that we are satisfied.

Possibly this feeling results from our contact with nature. The
flowers appear in a thousand hues, and the hills are of ever-varying
tints. What a barren world ours would appear, were the ground, the
hills, the trees and the flowers, the sky and the waters all of one
colour! Form we should have, and that in its richest variety; light
and shade we should have, with ever-varying intensity and change; but
colour would be gone. There would be no green to cheer, no blue to
soothe, no red to excite; and, indeed, there would be a deadness,
although the world be full of life, so appalling that we can scarcely
conceive of it, and cannot _feel_ it.

Colour alone seems to have greater charms than form alone. A sunset is
entrancing when the sky glows with radiant hues; the blue is almost
lost in red, the yellow is as a sea of transparent gold, and the whole
presents a variety and blending of tints which charm, and soothe, and
lull to reverie; and yet all form is indistinct and obscure. If so
charming when separate from form, what is colour when properly
combined with beautiful shapes? It is difficult, indeed, for many of
those for whom I write to answer this question, even by a mental
conception, save by reference to nature; for I could scarcely point to
a single building in England which would be in any way a satisfactory
illustration of what may be done by the combination of forms and
colours. There is a beauty in Art which we in England do not even know
of: it does not exist around us, it is little talked of, rarely
thought about, and never seen. A decorator is called in to beautify a
house, and yet not one in fifty of the so-called decorators know even
the first principles of their art, and would not believe were they
told of the power of the art which they employ. They place on the
walls a few sickly tints--so pale that their want of harmony is not
very apparent. The colours of the wall become the colours of the
cornice and of the doors, because they know not how to produce a
harmony of hues; and the result is a house which may be clean, but
which is in every other respect an offence against good taste. I do
not wonder that persons here in England do not care to have their
houses "decorated," nor do I wonder at their not appreciating the
"decorations" when they are done. Colour, lovely colour, of itself
would make our rooms charming.

There are few objects to which colour may not be applied, and many
articles which are now colourless might be coloured with advantage.
Our reasons for applying colour to objects are twofold, and here, in
fact, we see its true use. 1st. Colour lends to objects a new charm--a
charm which they would not possess if without it; and, 2nd, Colour
assists in the separation of objects and parts of objects, and thus
gives assistance to form. These, then, are the two objects of colour.
Mark, first, it is to bestow on objects a charm, such as they could
not have in its absence. In the hands of the man of knowledge it will
do so--it will make an object lovely or lovable, but the mere
application of colour will not do this. Colour may be so applied to
objects as to render them infinitely more ugly than they were without
it. I have seen many a bowl so coloured at our potteries as to be much
less satisfactory when coloured than when white--the colouring having
marred, rather than improved, its general effect. Here, again, it is
knowledge that we want. Knowledge will enable us to transmute base
materials into works of marvellous beauty, worth their weight in gold.
Knowledge, then, is the true philosopher's stone; for, we may almost
say, if possessed by the artist it does enable him to transmute the
baser metals into gold. But a little knowledge will not do this. In
order that we produce true beauty, we require much knowledge, and this
can only be got by constant and diligent labour, as I have before
said; but the end to be gained is worth the plodding toil. Believe me,
there is a pleasure in seeing your works develop as things of beauty,
delighting all who see them--not the illiterate only, but also the
educated thinker--such as words fail to express. Although there is no
royal road to art-power, and although the road is long, and lies
through much toil and many difficulties, yet as you proceed there is
pleasure in feeling that one obstacle after another is cleared from
your path, and at the end there is inexpressible satisfaction. The
second object of colour is that of assisting in the separation of
form. If objects are placed near to one another, and these objects are
all of the same colour, the beholder will have much more difficulty in
seeing the boundaries or terminations of each than he would were they
variously coloured; he would have to come nearer to them in order to
see the limits of each, were all coloured in the same manner, than he
would were they variously coloured; thus colour assists in the
separation of form. This quality which colour has of separating forms
is often lost sight of, and much confusion thereby results. If it is
worth while to produce a decorative form, it is worth while to render
it visible; and yet, how much ornament, and even good ornament, is
lost to the eye through not being rendered manifest by colour! Colour
is the means by which we render form apparent.

Colours, when placed together, can only please and satisfy the
educated when combined harmoniously, or according to the laws of
harmony. What, then, are the laws which govern the arrangement of
colours? and how are they to be applied? We shall endeavour to answer
these questions by making a series of statements in axiomatic form,
and then we shall enlarge upon these propositions.


1. Regarded from an art point of view, there are but three
colours--_i.e._, blue, red, and yellow.

2. Blue, red, and yellow have been termed _primary_ colours; they
cannot be formed by the admixture of any other colours.

3. All colours, other than blue, red, and yellow, result from the
admixture of the primary colours.

4. By the admixture of blue and red, purple is formed; by the
admixture of red and yellow, orange is formed; and by the admixture of
yellow and blue, green is formed.

5. Colours resulting from the admixture of two primary colours are
termed _secondary_: hence purple, orange, and green are secondary

6. By the admixture of two secondary colours a _tertiary_ colour is
formed: thus, purple and orange produce russet (the red tertiary);
orange and green produce citrine (the yellow tertiary); and green and
purple, olive (the blue tertiary); russet, citrine, and olive are the
three tertiary colours.


7. When a light colour is juxtaposed to a dark colour, the light
colour appears lighter than it is, and the dark colour darker.[10]

[10] If a dark grey tint be mixed upon a white slab it will appear
dark in contrast with the white, but if a small portion of this same
grey is applied to black paper it will appear almost white.

8. When colours are juxtaposed, they become influenced as to their
hue. Thus, when red and green are placed side by side, the red appears
redder than it actually is, and the green greener; and when blue and
black are juxtaposed, the blue manifests but little alteration, while
the black assumes an orange tint or becomes "rusty."

9. No one colour can be viewed by the eye without another being
created. Thus, if red is viewed, the eye creates for itself green, and
this green is cast upon whatever is near. If it views green, red is
in like manner created and cast upon adjacent objects; thus, if red
and green are juxtaposed, each creates the other in the eye, and the
red created by the green is cast upon the red, and the green created
by the red is cast upon the green; and the red and the green become
improved by being juxtaposed. The eye also demands the presence of the
three primary colours, either in their purity or in combination and if
these are not present, whatever is deficient will be created in the
eye, and this induced colour will be cast upon whatever is near. Thus,
when we view blue, orange, which is a mixture of red and yellow, is
created in the eye, and this colour is cast upon whatever is near; if
black is in juxtaposition with the blue, this orange is cast upon it,
and gives to it an orange tint, thus causing it to look "rusty."

10. In like manner, if we look upon red, green is formed in the eye,
and is cast upon adjacent colours; or, if we look upon yellow, purple
is formed.


11. Harmony results from an agreeable contrast.

12. Colours which perfectly harmonise improve one another to the

13. In order to perfect harmony, the three colours are necessary,
either in their purity or in combination.

14. Red and green combine to yield a harmony. Red is a primary colour,
and green, which is a secondary colour, consists of blue and
yellow--the other two primary colours. Blue and orange also produce a
harmony, and yellow and purple, for in each ease the three primary
colours are present.

15. It has been found that the primary colours in perfect purity
produce exact harmonies in the proportions of eight parts of blue, 5
of red, and 3 of yellow; that the secondary colours harmonise in the
proportions of 13 of purple, 11 of green, and 8 of orange; and that
the tertiary colours harmonise in the proportions of olive 24, russet
21, and citrine 19.

16. There are, however, subtleties of harmony which it is difficult to

17. The rarest harmonies frequently lie close on the verge of discord.

18. Harmony of colour is, in many respects, analogous to harmony of
musical sounds.


19. Blue is a cold colour, and appears to recede from the eye.

20. Red is a warm colour, and is exciting; it remains stationary as to

21. Yellow is the colour most nearly allied to light; it appears to
advance towards the spectator.

22. At twilight blue appears much lighter than it is, red much darker,
and yellow slightly darker. By ordinary gaslight blue becomes darker,
red brighter, and yellow lighter. By this artificial light a pure
yellow appears lighter than white itself, when viewed in contrast with
certain other colours.

23. By certain combinations colour may make glad or depress, convey
the idea of purity, richness, or poverty, or may affect the mind in
any desired manner, as does music.


24. When a colour is placed on a gold ground, it should be outlined
with a darker shade of its own colour.

25. When a gold ornament falls on a coloured ground, it should be
outlined with black.

26. When an ornament falls on a ground which is in direct harmony with
it, it must be outlined with a lighter tint of its own colour. Thus,
when a red ornament falls on a green ground, the ornament must be
outlined with a lighter red.

27. When the ornament and the ground are in two tints of the same
colour, if the ornament is darker than the ground, it will require
outlining with a still darker tint of the same colour; but if lighter
than the ground no outline will be required.


When commencing my studies both in science and art, I found great
advantage from reducing all facts to a tabular form so far as
possible, and this mode of study I would recommend to others. To me
this method appears to have great advantages, for by it we see at a
glance what otherwise is difficult to understand; if carefully done,
it becomes an analysis of work; and by preparing these tabular
arrangements of facts the subject becomes impressed on the mind, and
the relation of one fact to another, or of one part of a scheme to
another, is seen.

The following analytical tables will illustrate many of the facts
stated in our propositions. The figures which follow the colours
represent the proportions in which they harmonise:--

    _Primary Colours._    _Secondary Colours._    _Tertiary Colours._
     Blue           8      Purple          13      Olive          24
     Red            5      Green           11      Russet         21
     Yellow         3      Orange           8      Citrine        19

    _Primary Colours._  _Secondary Colours._    _Tertiary Colours._
     Red        5 }
                  }   Orange       8 }
     Yellow     3 }                  }
                                     }   Citrine, or Yellow Tertiary  19
     Blue       8 }                  }
                  }   Green       11 }
     Yellow     3 }

     Blue       8 }
                  }   Purple      13 }
     Red        5 }                  }
                                     }   Russet, or Red Tertiary      21
     Red        5 }                  }
                  }   Orange       8 }
     Yellow     3 }

     Blue       8 }
                  }   Green       11 }
     Yellow     3 }                  }
                                     }   Olive, or Blue Tertiary      24
     Blue       8 }                  }
                  }   Purple      13 }
     Red        5 }

This latter table shows at a glance how each of the secondary and
tertiary colours is formed, and the proportions in which they
harmonise. It also shows why the three tertiary colours are called
respectively the yellow tertiary, the red tertiary, and the blue
tertiary, for into each tertiary two equivalents[11] of one primary
enter, and one equivalent of each of the other primaries. Thus, in
citrine we find two equivalents of yellow, and one each of red and
blue; hence it is the yellow tertiary. In russet we find two
equivalents of red, and one each of blue and of yellow; and in olive
two of blue, and one each of red and yellow. Hence they are
respectively the red and blue tertiaries.

[11] An equivalent of blue is 8, of red 5, of yellow 3.

[Illustration: Fig. 24.]

[Illustration: Fig. 25.]

Figs 24 and 25 are diagrams of harmony. I have connected in the
centre, by three similar lines, the colours which form a harmony;
thus, blue, red, and yellow harmonise when placed together. Purple,
green, and orange also harmonise (I have connected them by dotted
lines in the first of the two diagrams). But when two colours are to
produce a harmony, the one will be a primary colour, and the other a
secondary formed of the other two primary colours (for the presence of
the three primary colours is necessary to a harmony), or the one will
be a secondary, and the other a tertiary colour formed of the two
remaining secondary colours. Such harmonies I have placed opposite to
each other; thus blue, a primary, harmonises with orange, a secondary;
yellow with purple; and red with green; and the secondary colour is
placed between the two primary colours of which it is formed; thus,
orange is formed of red and yellow, between which it stands; green, of
blue and yellow; and purple, of blue and red. In the second of the two
diagrams we see that purple, green, and orange produce a harmony, so
do olive, russet, and citrine. We also see that purple and citrine
harmonise, and green and russet, and orange and olive.

Continuing this diagrammatic form of illustration, we may set forth
the quantities in which the various colours harmonise: thus:--

    _Blue._        _Red._        _Yellow._
    O O O O       O O O O         O O O
    O O O O       O

    _Blue._                      _Orange._
    O O O O    harmonises with    O O O O
    O O O O                       O O O O

    _Red._                       _Green._
    O O O O    harmonises with    O O O O
    O                             O O O O
                                  O O O

    _Yellow._                    _Purple._
    O O O      harmonises with    O O O O
                                  O O O O
                                  O O O O

    _Purple._                    _Citrine._
    O O O O    harmonises with    O O O O
    O O O O                       O O O O
    O O O O                       O O O O
    O                             O O O O
                                  O O O

    _Green._                     _Russet._
    O O O O    harmonises with    O O O O
    O O O O                       O O O O
    O O O                         O O O O
                                  O O O O
                                  O O O O

    _Orange._                    _Olive._
    O O O O    harmonises with    O O O O
    O O O O                       O O O O
                                  O O O O
                                  O O O O
                                  O O O O
                                  O O O O

To those who are about to practise ornamentation, it is very important
that they have in the mind's eye a tolerably accurate idea of the
relative quantities of the various colours necessary to harmony, even
where the colours are considered as existing in a state of absolute
purity. We have rarely, however, to use the brightest blues, reds, and
yellows which pigments furnish, and even these are but poor
representatives of the potent colours of light as seen in the rainbow,
and with the agency of the prism; nevertheless, a knowledge of the
quantities in which these pure colours harmonise is very desirable.
The proportions in which we have stated that colours perfectly
harmonise, and in which the primary colours combine to form the
secondaries, and the secondaries the tertiaries, are given in respect
to the colours of light, and not of pigments or paints, which, as we
have just said, are more or less base representatives of the pure
colours of light. Yet certain pigments may, for our purpose, be
regarded as representing pure colours. Thus, the purest real
ultramarine we will regard as blue (cobalt is rather green, that is,
it has a little yellow in it, and the French and German ultramarines
are generally rather purple, or have a little red in them, yet the
best of these latter is a tolerably pure colour), the purest French
carmine as red (common carmine is frequently rather crimson, that is,
has blue in it; vermilion is much too yellow), and lemon-chrome as
yellow (the chrome selected must be without any green shade, and
without any orange shade, however slight); and these pigments will be
found to represent the colours of the prism as nearly as any that can
be found. I would recommend the learner to get a small quantity of
these colours in their powder form, substituting the best pale German
ultramarine for real ultramarine, as the latter is of high price,[12]
and to fill the various circles of our diagrams, which represent the
primary colours, with these pigments, mixing them with a little
dissolved gum arabic and water--just ufficient to prevent the colours
from rubbing off the paper. The secondary colours will be fairly
represented by pale-green lake, often called drop-green, by
orange-chrome--that of about the colour of a ripe, rather
deep-coloured, orange-rind--and the purple by the admixture of pale
German ultramarine and crimson-lake, in about equal proportions, with
a little white to bring it to the same depth as the green. I cannot
name any pigments which would well represent the tertiary colours.
Citrine is about the colour of candied _lemon_-peel; olive about the
colour of candied citron-peel, and russet is often seen on the skin of
certain apples called "russet apples," in the form of a slight
roughness; but this russet is in many cases not quite sufficiently red
to represent the colour bearing the same name. Iron rust is rather too
yellow. This colour should bear the same relation to red that the
candied lemon-peel does to yellow.

[12] Real ultramarine is sold at £8 per ounce. The best imitation, or
German ultramarine, is procurable at any oil-shop at about 3s. to 4s.
per pound. The best carmine should be procurable at 6s. per ounce, but
artists' colourmen often charge £1 1s., owing to the small demand for
this pigment. The best chrome yellow (chrome yellow is kept in many
shades) is about 1s. 6d. per pound.

If the student will try carefully to realise these colours, and will
fill up the circles in our diagrams with them, he will thereby be much
assisted in his studies; but it will be still better if he prepare
fresh diagrams on a larger scale, and use squares instead of circles.
I should recommend, and that I do strongly, that the student work out
all the diagrams which I have suggested on a tolerably large scale,
using the colours where I have used words. I should also advise him to
do an ornament, say in red on a gold ground, and outline this red
ornament with a deeper red; to do a gold ornament on a coloured
ground, and outline it with black; and indeed to carefully work out an
ornamental illustration of our propositions, Nos. 24, 25, 26, and 27,
and to keep these before him till he is so impressed by them as to
_feel_ the principle which they set forth. This should be done on a
large scale in all our designing-rooms and art-workshops.

As we shall have to refer to colours by naming pigments, and as I am
constantly asked what pigments I employ, I shall enumerate the paints
in my colour-box; but I shall place a dagger against those which I
have in my private box, and which I do not supply in my offices; but
these I seldom use. Of yellows I have [14]king's yellow (not a permanent
colour), [14]very pale chrome, lemon-chrome (about the colour of a ripe
lemon), middle-chrome (half-way between the lemon and orange-chrome),
orange-chrome (about the colour of the rind of a ripe orange),
[14]yellow-lake, [14]Indian yellow. Of reds--vermilion, carmine,
crimson-lake. Of blues--[14]cobalt, German ultramarine, both deep and
pale, Antwerp blue, indigo. Of greens--emerald, green-lake, pale and
deep. Of browns--raw Turkey umber, vandyke, Venetian red,
purple-brown, brown-lake. Besides these I have what is called
celestial blue, which is a very pure and intense turquoise, vegetable
black, flake white, and gold bronze.[13]

[13] Some of these colours are not of a permanent character and could
not be used in work intended to be lasting. I use them for patterns
for our manufactures, where when the drawing is once copied in a
fabric it is destroyed. Some of the brightest colours are
unfortunately the most fleeting.

There are certain facts connected with the mixing of colours which
must never be lost sight of; thus, while the colours of light
co-mingle without any deterioration, or loss of brilliancy, pigments
or paints will not do so, but by admixture tend to destroy one
another. This takes place only to a small extent when but two primary
colours are combined; but if any of the third primary enters into the
composition of a tint, a decided deterioration, or loss of intensity,

For this reason we employ many pigments, so as to avoid as far as
possible the mixing of colours. But there is another reason why the
great admixture of colours is undesirable. Colours are chemical
agents, and in some cases the various pigments act chemically on one
another. Of all colours yellows suffer most by admixture with other
colours: but this is accounted for by their delicacy and purity. For
this reason I use a greater variety of yellow pigments than of red or

[14] Of all mediums in which colours can be mixed, paraffine is the
safest; it is without chemical affinities, and is therefore well
calculated to preserve pigments in their original condition.

Were it possible to procure three pigments devoid of chemical
affinities, and each of the same physical constitution, as of equal
degrees of transparency or opacity, one truly representing the blue of
light, another the red, and another the yellow, we should need no
others, for of these we could form all other colours; but as no
pigments come even near to the fulfilment of these conditions, we have
to employ roundabout and clumsy methods of arriving at desired

There is one statement which I have made that, perhaps, needs a little
elucidation, although the careful student may have seen the reason of
my assertion. I said that purple harmonised with citrine, green with
russet, and orange with olive. I might have expressed it (and many
would have done so) thus:--The complement of citrine is purple, the
complement of russet is green, and the complement of olive is orange.
A colour which is complementary to any other is that which, with it,
completes the presence of the three primary colours: thus green is the
complement of red, and red of green, for each, together with the
colour to which it is the complement, completes the presence of the
three colours. But in order to a harmony, the complement must be made
up in certain proportions. Let us now refer to our second diagrammatic
table, and we there see that citrine is formed of two equivalents of
yellow and only one equivalent of red and of blue. Now, in order to a
harmony, each primary should be present in two equivalents, as one is
present in this quantity--_i.e._, the yellow. One equivalent of blue
and one of red (both of which are wanting in the citrine) form purple;
hence purple is the complement of citrine, or the colour that with it
produces a harmony. In russet one equivalent of blue and one of yellow
are wanting, and these in combination are green--green, then, is the
complement of russet. And in olive one equivalent of red and one of
yellow are wanting--red and yellow form orange, hence orange is the
complement of olive.

I have spoken of all colours as of full intensity and purity, but we
have to deal also with other conditions. All colours may be darkened
by black, when _shades_ are produced; or reduced by white, when
_tints_ are produced. Besides these alterations in intensity, a
portion of one colour may be added to another. Thus, if a small
portion of blue be mingled with red, the red becomes a crimson or
blue-red; or if a small portion of yellow be added to the red, the
latter becomes a scarlet or yellow-red. In like manner, when yellow is
in excess in a green, we have a yellow-green; or when blue is in
excess, a blue-green; and so with the other colours. Such alterations
produce _hues_ of colour.

We now come to the subtleties of harmony. Thus, if we have a
yellow-red or scarlet--a red with yellow in it--the green that will
harmonise with it will be a blue-green; or if we have a blue-red or
crimson--a red with blue in it--the green that will harmonise with it
will be a yellow-green. This is obvious, for the following
reasons:--Let us suppose a red represented by the equivalent number,
five, with one part of blue added to it, thus causing it to be a
blue-red or crimson. Were the red pure, there should be eleven parts
of green as a complement to the five of red, of which green eight
parts would be blue and three yellow; but the blue-red occurs in six
parts, one of which is blue--there are, then, but seven parts of blue
remaining in the equivalent quantity to combine with the three of
yellow, one being already used; hence the green formed is a
yellow-green, one of the equivalents of blue necessary to the
formation of a true green being already in combination with the red,
and thus absent from the green.

The same reasoning will apply to the scarlet-red and blue-green, and,
indeed, to all similar cases; but to take the case of the crimson-red
and yellow-green, as just given, and carry it a stage further, we
might add two parts (out of the eight) of blue to the red, and make it
more blue, and then form the complementary green of six parts of blue
and three of yellow, and thus make it more yellow. Or we may go
further still, and add to the red six of the eight parts of blue, when
the admixture would appear as a red-purple rather than as a blue-red,
in which case the complementary green--or, rather, green-yellow--would
consist of two parts of blue and three of yellow. These facts are
diagrammatically expressed in the following:--

  Red     O O O O O }                 Yellow  {         O O O Yellow
                    } Crimson harmonises with {
  Blue            O }                  Green  { O O O O O O O Blue


  Red     O O O O O }  Blue            Very   {        O O O Yellow
                    }  harmonises with Yellow {
  Blue          O O }  Crimson         Green  {  O O O O O O Blue


  Red.    O O O O O }  Red             Green  {        O O O Yellow
                    }  harmonises with        {
  Blue. O O O O O O }  Purple    Yellow       {          O O Blue

In all these cases it will be seen that we have eight parts of blue,
five of red, and three of yellow, only the mode of combination varies.
This variation may occur to any extent, provided the totals of each be
always the equivalent proportions.

These remarks will apply equally to hues of colour, shades, and tints,
and to shades and tints of hues.

Care, and a little practice, will enable the learner to arrange
colours into a number of degrees of depth, or shades, as they are
generally called. (We do not here use the term as signifying pure
colours darkened with black.) Ten shades of each colour differing
obviously in degree of depth can readily be arranged by the
experienced, the ten shades being equidistant from each other as
regards depth--that is, shade 3 will be as much darker than shade 2 as
shade 2 is darker than shade 1, and so on throughout the whole. Purple
is a colour intermediate between blue and red. Imagine ten hues
between the purple and the red, and ten more between the purple and
the blue: thus we should have purple, then a slightly red purple, then
a rather redder purple, then a purple still redder, and so on till we
get purple-reds, and finally the pure red; and the same variations of
hue at the blue side also. Imagine, further, the green having ten hues
extending towards the blue, and ten more stretching towards the
yellow; and the orange having ten hues towards the red, and ten
towards the yellow--in all cases I count the colour from which we
start as one of the ten, thus:--

    Blue                     Purple                     Red
    0  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  0

--and we shall have 54 colours and hues of colour. Of each of these 54
colours and hues imagine 10 degrees of depth, and we get 540 colours,
hues, tints, and shades, all differing from one another to an obvious

Mark this fact, that any colour, tint, hue, or shade of such a diagram
has its complement in one other of the colours, tints, hues, or shades
of the diagram, and that only two of this series of 540 are
complementary to each other; thus, if you fix on any one colour of the
540, there is but one colour in the whole that is complementary to it,
and it is complementary to but this one other colour.

The student will do well to try and make a colour-diagram of this
kind, of a simple character, say such as the following, only using
pigments for my numbers; but in doing so he must exercise the utmost
care, in order that he secure some degree of accuracy of tint or
shade, and if he can call to his aid an experienced colourist it will
be of great assistance to him.


This table is highly valuable, as it gives ninety harmonies, if
carefully prepared in colour; and the preparation of such a table is
the very best practice that a student can possibly have.

Let us for a moment consider this table, and suppose that we want to
find the complement to some particular colour, as the third shade of
red. We find the complement of this in the third shade of green
opposite. If we want the complement of the second shade of
orange-yellow, we find it in the second shade of blue-purple opposite,
and so on. Thus we have a means of at once judging of the harmony of

It must ever be borne in mind that pigments mixed in the proportions
given will not yield results such as would occur when the coloured
rays of light are combined; thus three parts, either by weight or
measure, of chrome yellow when combined with eight parts of
ultramarine would not form a colour representing the secondary green,
nor would the result be more satisfactory were other pigments combined
in the proportions given. What we have said in respect to the
proportions in which colours combine to form new colours applies only
to the coloured rays of light.

It must now be noticed that while colours harmonise in the proportions
stated, the areas occupied by the different colours may vary if there
be a corresponding alteration in intensity. Thus eight of blue and
eight of orange form a perfect harmony when both colours are of
prismatic intensity; but we shall still have a perfect harmony if the
orange is diluted to one-half its strength with white, and thus formed
into a tint, provided there be sixteen parts of this orange of half
strength to the eight parts of blue of full strength.

The orange might be further diluted to one-third of its full power,
but then twenty-four parts would be necessary to a perfect harmony
with eight parts of prismatic blue; or to one-fourth of its strength,
when thirty-two parts would be necessary to the harmony.

It is not desirable that I occupy space with diagrams of these
quantities, but the industrious student will prepare them for himself,
and will strive to realise a true half-tint, quarter-tint, etc., which
is not a very easy thing to do. By practice, however, it will readily
be accomplished, and anything achieved is a new power gained.

What I have said respecting the harmony of blue with tints of orange
will apply in all similar cases. Thus red will harmonise with tints of
green, provided the area of the tint be increased as the intensity is
decreased; and so will yellow harmonise with tints of purple under
similar conditions.

But we may reverse the conditions, and lower the primary to a tint
retaining the secondary in its intensity. Thus blue, if reduced to a
half-tint, will harmonise with orange of prismatic intensity in the
proportion of sixteen of blue to eight of orange; or, if reduced to a
quarter-tint, in the proportion o£ thirty-two of blue to eight of
orange. Red, if reduced to a half-tint, will harmonise in the
proportion of ten red to eleven of green; and yellow as a half-tint in
the proportion of six yellow to thirteen of purple.

The same remarks might be made respecting the harmony of shades of
colour with colours of prismatic intensity. Thus, if orange is diluted
to a shade of half intensity with black, it will harmonise with pure
blue in the proportion of sixteen of orange to eight of blue, and so
on, just as in the case of tints; and this principle applies to the
harmony of all hues of colour also.

To go one step further: we scarcely ever deal with pure colours or
their shades or tints, or even come as near them as we can. With great
intensity of colour we seem to require an ethereal character, such as
we have in those of light; but our pigments are coarse and
earthy--they are too real-looking, and are not ethereal--they may be
said to be corporeal rather than spiritual in character. For this
reason we have to avoid the use of our purest pigments in such
quantities as render their poverty of nature manifest, and to use for
large surfaces such tints as, through their subtlety of composition,
interest and please. A tint the composition of which is not apparent
is always preferable to one of more obvious formation. Thus we are led
to use tints which are subtly formed, and such as please by their
newness and bewilder by the intricacy of formation.

To do what I here mean it is not necessary that many pigments be mixed
together in order to the formation of a tint. The effect of which I
speak can frequently be got by two well-chosen pigments. Thus a fine
series of low-toned shades can be produced by mixing together
middle-chrome and brown-lake in various proportions, and in all of the
shades thus formed the three primary colours will be represented, but
in some yellow will predominate, and in others red; while in many it
will not be easy to discover to what proportionate extent the three
primary colours are present.

Let us suppose that we make a tint by adding white to cobalt blue.
This blue contains a small amount of yellow, and is a slightly green
blue. But to this tint we add a small amount of raw umber with the
view of imparting a greyness[15] or atmospheric character. Raw umber
is a neutral colour, leaning slightly to yellow--that is, it consists
of red, blue, and yellow, with a slight excess of the latter. In order
that an orange harmonise with this grey-blue of a slightly yellow
tone, the orange must be slightly inclined to red, so as to form the
complement of the little green formed by the yellow in the blue. It
may harmonise with the grey-blue as a pure tint if the area of the
diluted and neutralised primary is sufficiently extended, or may
itself be likewise reduced to a tint of the same depth, when both
tints would have the same area.

[15] Cobalt, raw umber, and white make a magnificent grey, both in
oil-colours, in tempera (powder-colours mixed with gum-water), and in
distemper (powder-colours mixed with size).

I might go on multiplying cases of this character to almost any
extent, but these I leave the student to work out for himself, and
pass to notice that while it is desirable to use subtle tints (often
called "broken tints") it is rarely expedient to make up the full
harmony by a large area of a tertiary tone and a single positive
colour. Thus, we might have a shade or a tint of citrine spreading
over a large surface as a ground on which we wished to place a figure.
This figure would harmonise in pure purple were it of a certain size,
and yet if thus coloured it would give a somewhat common-place effect
when finished, for the harmony would be too simple and obvious. It
would be much better to have the nineteen parts of citrine reduced,
say, to half intensity, when the area would be increased to
thirty-eight, with the figure of eight parts of blue and five of red,
than of thirteen parts of purple.

But it would be better still if there were the thirty-eight parts of
reduced citrine, three parts of pure yellow, thirteen of purple, five
of red, and eight of blue, together with white, black, or gold, or all
three (these may be added without altering the conditions, as all act
as neutrals), for here the harmony is of a more subtle character.

If we count up the equivalents of the colours employed in this scheme
of harmony, we shall see that we have, in the citrine--

    Yellow  6 (two equivalents).
    Blue    8 (one equivalent).
    Red     5 (one equivalent).

In the purple--

    Blue    8 (one equivalent).
    Red     5 (one equivalent).

Of the pure colours--

    Yellow  3 (one equivalent).
    Red     5 (one equivalent).
    Blue    8 (one equivalent).

Thus we have three equivalents of each primary, which give a perfect

I must not say more respecting the laws of harmony, for in the space
of a small work it is impossible to do so, but proceed to notice
certain effects or properties of colours, which I have as yet only
alluded to, or have passed altogether unnoticed.

I have said that black, white, and gold are neutral as regards colour.
This is the case, although many would suppose that gold was a yellow.
Gold will act as a yellow, but it is generally employed as a neutral
in decorative work, and it is more of a neutral than a yellow, for
both red and blue exist largely in it. The pictorial artist frames his
picture with gold because it, being a neutral, does not interfere with
the tints of his work. It has the further advantage of being rich and
costly in appearance, and thus of giving an impression of worth where
it exists.

Black, white, and gold, being neutral, may be advantageously employed
to separate colours where separation is necessary or desirable.

Yellow and purple harmonise, but yellow is a light colour and purple
is dark. These colours not only harmonise, but also contrast as to
depth, the one being light and the other dark. The limit of each
colour, wherever these are used in juxtaposition, is therefore

It is not so with red and green, for these harmonise when of the same
depth. This being the case, and red being a glowing colour, if a red
object is placed on a green ground, or a green object on a red ground,
the "figure" and ground will appear to "swim" together, and will
produce a dazzling effect. Colour must assist form, and not confuse
it. It will do this in the instance just named if the figure is
outlined with black, white, or gold, and there will be no loss of
harmony. But experience has shown that this effect can also be averted
by outlining the figure with a lighter tint of its own colour. Thus,
if the figure is red and the ground green, an outline of lighter red
(pink) may be employed. (See Proposition 26, page 34.)

A blue figure on a red ground (as ultramarine on carmine), or a red
figure on a blue ground, will also produce this swimming and
unsatisfactory effect, but this is again obviated by an outline of
black, white, or gold.

Employing the outline thus must not be regarded as a means of merely
rendering what was actually unpleasant endurable, for it does much
more--it affords one of the richest means of effect. A carmine ground
well covered with bold green ornament having a gold outline is, if
well managed, truly gorgeous; and were the figure blue on the red
ground, the lavish use of gold would render the employment of yellow
unnecessary as the yellow formed in the eye and cast upon the gold
would satisfy all requirements.

It is a curious fact that the eye will create any colour of which
there is a deficiency. This it will do, but the colour so created is
of little use to the composition unless white or gold is present; if,
however, there be white or gold in the composition, the colour which
is absent, or is insufficiently represented, will be formed in the eye
and cast upon these neutrals, and the white or the gold, as the case
may be, will assume the tint of the deficient or absent colour. (See
Propositions 8 and 9, page 32.)

While this occurs (and sometimes it occurs to a marked degree, as can
be shown by experiment), it must not be supposed that a composition in
which any element is wanting is as perfect as one which reveals no
want. It is far otherwise; only Nature here comes to our assistance,
and is content to help herself rather than endure our short-comings;
but in the one case we give Nature the labour of completing the
harmony; while in the other, all being prepared, we receive a sense of
satisfaction and repose.

In Proposition 8 we showed that when blue and black are juxtaposed,
the black becomes "rusty," or assumes an orange tint; and in
Proposition 9 we gave the cause of this effect. Let a blue spot be
placed on a black silk necktie, and however black the silk, it will
yet appear rusty. This is a fact; but we sometimes desire to employ
blue on black, and wish the black to look black, and not an
orange-black. How can we do this? Obviously by substituting for the
black a very dark blue, as indigo. The bright blue spot induces orange
(the complement of blue) in the eye. This orange, when cast upon
black, causes the latter to look "rusty;" but if we place in the black
an amount of blue sufficient to neutralise the orange cast upon it,
the effect will be that of a jet-black.

We have now considered those qualities of colour, and those laws of
contrast and harmony, which may be said to be of the grosser sort; but
we have scarcely touched on those considerations which pertain to
special refinement or tenderness of effect. But let me close the part
of my subject of which I have treated, by repeating a statement
already made--a statement, let me say, which first led me to perceive
really harmony of colour--that _those colours, and those particular
hues of colour, which improve each other to the utmost, are those
which perfectly harmonise_. (Consider this statement in connection
with Propositions 8, 9, 10, and 14, pages 32 and 33.)

       *       *       *       *       *

We come now to consider delicacies and refinements in colour effects,
which, although dependent upon the skilful exercise of the laws
enunciated, are yet of a character, the power to produce which only
results from the consideration of the works of the masters of great
art-nations; but of these effects I can say little beyond pointing out
what should be studied.

This principle however I cannot pass without notice--namely, that the
finest colour effects are those of a rich, mingled, bloomy character.

Imagine a luxuriant garden, the beds in which are filled with a
thousand flowers, having all the colours of the rainbow, and imagine
these arranged as closely together as will permit of their growth.
When viewed from a distance the effect is soft and rich, and full and
varied, and is all that is pleasant. This is Nature's colouring. It is
our work humbly to strive at producing like beauty with her.

This leads me to notice that primary colours (and secondary colours,
also, when of great intensity) should be used chiefly in small masses,
together with gold, white, or black.

Visit the Indian Museum at Whitehall,[16] and consider the beautiful
Indian shawls and scarves and table-covers; or, if unable to do so,
look in the windows of our large drapers in the chief towns, and see
the true Indian fabrics,[17] and observe the manner in which small
portions of intense reds, blues, yellows, greens, and a score of
tertiary tints, are combined with white and black and gold to produce
a very miracle of bloom. I know of nothing in the way of colour
combination so rich, so beautiful, so gorgeous, and yet so soft, as
some of these Indian shawls.

[16] This museum is open free to the public.

[17] These will only be seen in very first-class shops.

It is curious that we never find a purely Indian work otherwise than
in good taste as regards colour harmony. Indian works, in this
respect--whether carpets, or shawls, or dress materials, or lacquered
boxes, or enamelled weapons--are almost perfect--perfect in harmony,
perfect in richness, perfect in the softness of their general effect.
How strangely these works contrast with ours, where an harmonious work
in colours is scarcely ever seen.

By the co-mingling (not co-mixing) of colours in the manner just
described, a rich and bloomy effect can be got, having the general
tone of a tertiary colour of any desired hue. Thus, if a wall be
covered with little ornamental flowerets, by colouring all alike, and
letting each contain two parts of yellow and one part of blue and one
of red, as separate and pure colours, the distant hue will be that of
citrine: the same effect will result if the flowers are coloured
variously, while the same proportions of the primaries are preserved
throughout. I can conceive of no decorative effects more subtle, rich,
and lovely than those of which I now speak.

Imagine three rooms, all connected by open archways, and all decorated
with a thousand flower-like ornaments, and these so coloured, in this
mingled manner, that in one room blue predominates, in another red,
and in another yellow; we should then have a beautiful tertiary bloom
in each--a subtle mingling of colour, an exquisite delicacy and
refinement of treatment, a fulness such as always results from a rich
mingling of hues, and an amount of detail which would interest when
closely inspected; besides which, we should have the harmony of the
general effect of the three rooms, the one appearing as olive, another
as citrine, and the other as russet.

This mode of decoration has this advantage, that it not only gives
richness and beauty, but it also gives purity. If pigments are mixed
together they are thereby reduced in intensity, as we have already
seen; but if placed side by side, when viewed from a distance the eye
will mix them, but they will suffer no diminution of brilliancy.

With the view of cultivating the eye, Eastern works cannot be too
carefully studied. The Indian Museum should be the home of all who can
avail themselves of the opportunity of study which it affords; and the
small Indian department of the South Kensington Museum should not be
neglected, small though it is.[18] Chinese works must also be
considered, for they likewise supply most valuable examples of colour
harmony; and although they do not present such a perfect colour bloom
as do the works of India, yet they are never inharmonious, and give
clearness and sharpness, together with great brilliancy, in a manner
not attempted by the Indians.

[18] It may not be generally known, but nearly all our large
manufacturing towns have, in connection with the Chamber of Commerce,
a collection of Indian fabrics, filling several large volumes, which
were prepared, at the expense of Government, under the superintendence
of Dr. Forbes Watson, and which were given to the various towns on the
condition that they be accessible to all persons who are trustworthy.
Although these collections do not embrace the costly decorated
fabrics, yet much can be learned from them, and the combinations of
colour are always harmonious. A much larger collection is now in
course of formation.

The best works of Chinese embroidery are rarely seen in this country;
but these are unsurpassed by the productions of any other people. For
richness, splendour, and purity of colour, together with a delicious
coolness, I know of nothing to equal them.

The works of the Japanese are not to be overlooked, for in certain
branches of art they are inimitable, and as colourists they are almost
perfect. On the commonest of their lacquer trays we generally have a
bit of good colouring, and their coloured pictures are sometimes
marvels of harmony.

As to the styles of colouring adopted by the nations referred to, I
should say that the Indians produce rich, mingled, bloomy, _warm_
effects--that is, effects in which red and yellow prevail; that the
Chinese achieve clearness, repose, and _coolness_--a form of colouring
in which blue and white prevail; and that the Japanese effects are
_warm_, simple, and quiet.

Besides studying the works of India, China, and Japan, study those
also of Turkey and Morocco, and even those of Algeria, for here the
colouring is much better than with us, although not so good as in the
countries first named. No aid to progress must be neglected, and no
help must be despised.[19]

[19] The South Kensington Museum has a very interesting collection of
art-works from China and Japan; but the latter are chiefly lent. It is
a strange thing that the perfect works of the East are so poorly
illustrated in this national collection, while costly, yea, very
costly works of inferior character, illustrative of Renaissance art,
swarm as thickly as flies in August. This can only be accounted for by
the fact that the heads of the institution have a feeling for
pictorial rather than decorative art, and the Renaissance ornament is
that which has most of the pictorial element. To me, the style appears
to owe its very weakness to this fact, for decorative art should be
wholly ideal. Pictorial art is of necessity more or less imitative.

With the view of refining the judgment further in respect to colour,
get a good colour-top,[20] and study its beautiful effects. See also
the "gas tubes" illuminated by electricity, as sold by opticians, and
let the prism yield you daily instruction. Soap-bubbles may also be
blown, and the beautiful colours seen in them carefully noted. These
and any other available means of cultivating the eye should constantly
be resorted to, as by such means only can we become great colourists.

[20] Not the so-called colour or "chameleon" top sold in the
toy-shops, but the more scientific toy procurable of opticians,
together with the perforated discs of Mr. John Graham, M.R.C.S., of
Tunbridge, Kent.

As to works on colour, we have the writings of Field, to whom we are
indebted for valuable discoveries; of Hay, the decorator, and friend
of the late David Roberts, but some of his ideas are wild and Utopian;
of Chevreul, whose work will be most useful to the student; and the
small catechism of colour by Mr. Redgrave, of the South Kensington
Museum, which is excellent. The student will also do well to carefully
study the excellent manual of "Colour" by Professor Church, of
Cirencester College.



Having considered those principles which are of primary importance to
the ornamentist, we may commence our notice of the various
manufactures, and try to discover what particular form of art should
be applied to each, and the special manner in which decorative
principles should be considered as applicable to various materials and
modes of working.

We shall first consider furniture, or cabinet-work, because articles
of furniture occupy a place of greater importance in a room than
carpets, wall-papers, or, perhaps, any other decorative works; and,
also, because we shall learn from a consideration of furniture those
structural principles which will be of value to us in considering the
manner in which all art-objects should be formed if they have solid,
and not simply superficial, dimensions.

In the present chapter, I shall strive to impress the fact that design
and ornamentation may be essentially different things, and that in
considering the formation of works of furniture these should be
regarded as separate and distinct. "Design," says Redgrave, "has
reference to the construction of any work both for use and beauty, and
therefore includes its ornamentation also. Ornament is merely the
decoration of a thing constructed."

The construction of furniture will form the chief theme of this
chapter, for unless such works are properly constructed they cannot
possibly be useful, and if not useful they would fail to answer the
end for which they were contrived.

But before commencing a consideration of the principles involved in
the construction of works of furniture, let me summarise what is
required in such works if they are to assume the character of

1. The general form, or mass form, of all constructed works must be
carefully considered. The aspect of the "sky-blotch" of an
architectural edifice is very important, for as the day wanes the
detail fades and parts become blended, till the members compose but
one whole, which, when seen from the east, appears as a solid mass
drawn in darkness on the glowing sky; this is the sky-blotch. If the
edifice _en masse_ is pleasing, a great point is gained. Indeed, the
general contour should have primary consideration. In like manner, the
general form of all works of furniture should first be cared for, and
every effort should be made at securing to the general mass beauty of

2. After having cared for the general form, the manner in which the
work shall be divided into primary and secondary parts must be
considered with reference to the laws of proportion, as stated in a
former chapter.

3. Detail and enrichment may now be considered; but while these cannot
be too excellent, they must still be subordinate in obtrusiveness to
the general mass, or to the aspect of the work as a whole.

4. The material of which the object is formed must always be worked in
the most natural and appropriate manner.

5. The most convenient or appropriate form for an object should always
be chosen, for unless this has been done, no reasonable hope can be
entertained that the work will be satisfactory; for the consideration
of utility must in all cases precede the consideration of beauty, as
we saw in our first chapter.

Having made these few general remarks, we must consider the structure
of works of furniture. The material of which we form our furniture is
wood. Wood has a "grain," and the strength of any particular piece
largely depends upon the direction of its grain. It may be strong if
its grain runs parallel with its length, or weak if the grain crosses
diagonally, or very weak if the grain crosses transversely. However
strong the wood, it becomes comparatively much weaker if the grain
crosses the piece; and however weak the wood, it becomes yet weaker if
the grain is transverse or diagonal. These considerations lead us to
see that _the grain of the wood must always be parallel with its
length whenever strength is required_.

For our guidance in the formation of works of furniture, I give the
following short table of woods arranged as to their strength:--

_Iron-wood_, from Jamaica--very strong, bearing great lateral

_Box_ of Illawarry, New South Wales--very strong, but not so strong as

_Mountain ash_, New South Wales--about two-thirds the strength of

_Beech_--nearly as strong as mountain ash.

_Mahogany_, from New South Wales--not quite so strong as last.

_Black dog-wood_ of Jamaica--three-fourths as strong as the mahogany
just named.

_Box-wood_, Jamaica--not half as strong as the box of New South Wales.

_Cedar_ of Jamaica--half as strong as the mahogany of New South

[21] For full particulars on this subject see "Catalogue of the
Collection illustrating Construction and Building Material," in the
South Kensington Museum, and the manual of "Technical Drawing for
Cabinetmakers," by E. A. Davidson.

Wood can be got of sufficient length to meet all the requirements of
furniture-making, yet we not unfrequently find the arch structurally
introduced into furniture, while it is absurd to employ it in wooden
construction of any kind. The arch is a most ingenious invention, as
it affords a means of spanning a large space with small portions of
material, as with small stones, and at the same time gives great
strength. It is, therefore, of the utmost utility in constructing
stone buildings; but in works of furniture, where we have no large
spaces to span, and where wood is of the utmost length required, and
is stronger than our requirements demand, the use of the arch becomes
structurally foolish and absurd. The folly of this mode of structure
becomes more apparent when we notice that a wooden arch is always
formed of one or two pieces, and not of very small portions, and when
we further consider that, in order to the formation of an arch, the
wood must be cut across its grain throughout the greater portion of
its length, whereby its strength is materially decreased; while if the
arch were formed of small pieces of stone great strength would be
secured. Nothing can be more absurd than the practice of imitating in
one material a mode of construction which is only legitimate in the
case of another, and of failing to avail ourselves of the particular
mode of utilising a material which secures a maximum of desirable

While I protest against the arch when structurally used in furniture,
I see no objection to it if used only as a source of beauty, and when
so situated as to be free from strain or pressure.

One of the objects which we are frequently called upon to construct is
a chair. The chair is, throughout Europe and America, considered as a
necessity of every house. So largely used are chairs, that one firm at
High Wycombe employs 5,000 hands in making common cane-bottomed chairs
alone; and yet we see but few chairs in the market which are well
constructed. All chairs having curved frames--whether the curve is in
the wood of the back, in the sides of the seat, or in the legs--are
constructed on false principles. They are of necessity weak, and being
weak are not useful. As they are formed by using wood in a manner
which fails to utilise its qualities of strength, these chairs are
offensive and absurd. It is true that, through being surrounded by
such ill-formed objects from our earliest infancy, the eye often fails
to be offended with such works as would offend it were they new to it;
but this does not show that they are the less offensive, nor that they
are not constructively wrong. Besides, whenever wood is cut across the
grain, in order that we get anything approaching the requisite
strength, it has to be much thicker and more bulky than would be
required were the wood cut with the grain; hence such furniture is
unnecessarily heavy and clumsy.

Fig. 26 represents a chair which I have taken the liberty of borrowing
from Mr. Eastlake's work on household art.[22] This chair Mr. Eastlake
gives as an illustration of good taste in the construction of
furniture; but I give it as an illustration of that which is
essentially bad and wrong. The legs are weak, being cross-grained
throughout, and the mode of uniting the upper and lower portions of
the legs (the two semicircles) by a circular boss is defective in the
highest degree. Were I sitting in such a chair, I should be afraid to
lean to the right or the left, for fear of the chair giving way. Give
me a Yorkshire rocking-chair, in preference to one of these, where I
know of my insecurity, much as I hate such.

[22] The title of the work is "Hints on Household Taste." It is well
worth reading, as much may be learned from it. I think Mr. Eastlake
right in many views, yet wrong in others, but I cannot help regarding
him somewhat as an apostle of ugliness, as he appears to me to despise
finish and refinement.

A chair is a stool with a back-rest, and a stool is a board elevated
from the ground or floor by supports, the degree of elevation being
determined by the length of the legs of the person for whom the seat
is made, or by the degree of obliquity which the body and legs are
desired to take when the seat is in use. If the seat is to support the
body when in an erect sitting posture, about seventeen to eighteen
inches will be found a convenient height for the average of persons;
but if the legs of the sitter are to take an oblique forward
direction, then the seat may be lower.

[Illustration: Fig. 26.]

[Illustration: Fig. 27.]

A stool may consist of a thick piece of wood and of three legs
inserted into holes bored in this thick top. If these legs pass to the
upper surface of the seat, and are properly wedged in, a useful yet
clumsy seat results. In order that the top of the stool be thin and
light, it will be necessary that the legs be connected by frames, and
it will be well that they be connected twice, once at the top of each
leg, so that the seat may rest upon this frame, and once at least
two-thirds of the distance from the top. The frame would now stand
alone, and although the seat is formed of thin wood it will not crack,
as it is supported all round on the upper frame.

[Illustration: Fig. 28.]

A chair, I have said, is a stool with a back. There is not one chair
out of fifty that we find with the back so attached to the seat as to
give a maximum of strength. It is usual to make a back leg and one
side of the chair-back out of one piece of wood--that is, to continue
the back legs up above the seat, and cause them to become the sides of
the chair-back. When this is done the wood is almost invariably curved
so that the back legs and the chair-back both incline outwards from
the seat. There is no objection whatever to the sides of the back and
the legs being formed of the one piece, but there is a great objection
to either the supports of the back or the legs being formed of
cross-grained wood, as much of their strength is thereby sacrificed.
Our illustrations (Figs. 27 to 32) will give several modes of
constructing chairs such as I think legitimate; but I will ask the
reader to think for himself upon the construction of a chair, and
especially upon the proper means of giving due support to the back.

I have given, in an axiomatic form, those principles which should
guide us in the construction of works of furniture, and endeavoured to
impress the necessity of using wood in that manner which is most
natural--that is, "working" it with the grain (the manner in which
we can most easily work it), and in that way which shall secure
the greatest amount of strength with the least expenditure of
material. I wish to impress my readers with the importance of these
considerations, for they lie at the very root of the successful
construction of furniture. If the legs of chairs, or their
seat-frames, or the ends or backs of couches, are formed of wood cut
across the grain, they must either be thick and clumsy, or weak; but,
besides this, the rightly constituted mind can only receive pleasure
from the contemplation of works which are wisely formed. Daily
contact, as we have before said, with ill-shaped objects may have
more or less deadened our senses, so that we are not so readily
offended by deformity and error as we might be; yet, happily for us,
directly we seek to separate truth from error, the beautiful from the
deformed, reason assists the judgment, and we learn to feel when we
are in the presence of the beautiful or in contact with the degraded.

My illustrations will show how I think chairs should be constructed.
Fig. 26 is essentially bad, although it has traditional sanction,
hence I pass it over without further comment. Fig. 27 is in the manner
of an Egyptian chair. It serves to show the careful way in which the
Egyptians constructed their works. The curved rails against which the
back would rest are the only parts which are not thoroughly correct
and satisfactory in a wood structure. Were the curved back members
metal, the curvature would be desirable and legitimate. The back of
this chair, if the side members were connected by a straight rail,
would have immense strength (the backs of some of _our_ chairs are of
the very weakest), and if well made it is a seat which would endure
for centuries. Fig. 28 is a chair of my own designing, in which I have
sought to give strength to the back by connecting its upper portion
with a strong cross-rail of the frame.

[Illustration: Fig. 29.]

[Illustration: Fig. 30.]

Fig. 29 is a chair slightly altered from one in Mr. Eastlake's work on
"Household Taste;" as shown in our illustration, it is a correctly
formed work. Fig. 30 is an arm-chair in the Greek style, which I have
designed. Fig. 31 is a Lady's chair in the Gothic style; Fig. 32, a
lady's chair in early Greek. These I have prepared to show different
modes of structure; if the legs are fitted to a frame (the
seat-frame), as in the early Greek chair just alluded to, they should
be very short, as in this instance, or they must be connected by a
frame below the seat, as in Figs. 33 and 34. The best general
structure is that in which the front legs pass to the level of the
upper surface of the seat.

[Illustration: Fig. 31.]

[Illustration: Fig. 32.]

Fig. 33 is a copy of a chair shown by Messrs. Gillow and Co., of
Oxford Street, in the last Paris International Exhibition. In many
respects it is admirably constructed. The skeleton brackets holding
the back to the seat are very desirable adjuncts to light chairs; so
are the brackets connecting the legs with the seat-frame, as these
strengthen the entire chair. The manner in which the upper rail of the
back passes through the side uprights and is "pinned" is good. The
chief, and only important, fault in this chair is the bending of the
back legs, involving their being cut against the grain of the wood.

Fig. 31 is a chair from Mr. Talbert's very excellent work on "Gothic
Furniture." It shows an admirable method of supporting the back. Fig.
35 I have designed as a high-backed lounging chair. With the view of
giving strength to the back, I have extended the seat, and arranged a
support from this extension to the upper back-rail, and this extension
of the seat I have supported by a fifth leg. There is no reason
whatever why a chair should have four legs. If three would be better,
or five, or any other number, let us use what would be best.[23]

[23] In my drawing, the stuffing of the back has been accidentally
shown too much rounded.

I have now given several illustrations of modes of forming chairs. I
might have given many more, but it is not my duty to try and exhaust a
subject. What I have to do is simply point out principles, and call
attention to facts. It is the reader who must think for
himself--first, of the principles and facts which I adduce; secondly,
of the illustrations which I give; thirdly, of other works which he
may meet with; and fourthly, of further means of producing desirable
and satisfactory results than those set forth in my illustrations.

[Illustration: Fig. 33.]

[Illustration: Fig. 34.]

As it cannot be doubted that a well-constructed work, however plain or
simple it may be, gives satisfaction to those who behold it--while a
work of the most elaborate character fails to satisfy if badly
constructed--we shall give a few further illustrations of structure
for other articles of furniture, besides chairs, which have become
necessary to our mode of life.

Fig. 36 is one of my sketches for Greek furniture, designed for a
wealthy client. It was formed of black wood. Here the frame of the
seat is first formed, and the legs are inserted beneath it, and let
into it, while the wood-work of the end of the couch stands upon it,
being inserted into it. This appears to have been the general method
with the Greeks of forming their furniture, yet it is not so correct
structurally as Fig. 37, another of my sketches, where the end and the
leg are formed of one piece of wood. The first formation (that of Fig.
36) would bear any amount of pressure from above, but it is not well
calculated for resisting lateral pressure; while the latter would
resist this lateral pressure, but would not bear quite the same amount
of pressure from above. The latter, however, could bear more weight
than would ever be required of it, and would be the more durable piece
of furniture.

[Illustration: Fig. 35.]

Fig. 38 gives a legitimate formation for a settee; the cutting-out, or
hollowing, of the sides of the legs is not carried to an extreme, but
leaves a sufficiency of strong wood with an upright grain to resist
all the pressure that would be placed on the seat, and the lower and
upper thickened portions of the legs act as the brackets beneath the
seat in Fig. 33. The arch here introduced is not used structurally,
but for the sake of a curved line, and acts simply as a pair of
brackets. This illustration is also from Mr. Talbert's work. Fig. 39
is a table such as we occasionally meet with. I see no objection to
the legs leaning inwards at the top; indeed, we have here a
picturesque and useful table of legitimate formation. Fig. 40 is the
end elevation of a sideboard from Mr. Talbert's work. Mark the
simplicity of the structure. The leading or structural lines are
straight and obvious. Although Mr. Talbert is not always right, yet
his book is well worthy of the most careful consideration and study;
and this I can truly say, that it compares favourably with all other
works on furniture with which I am acquainted.

The general want which we perceive in modern furniture is simplicity
of structure and truthfulness of construction. If persons would but
think out the easiest mode of constructing a work before they commence
to design it, and would be content with this simplicity of structure,
we should have very different furniture from what we have. Think first
of what is wanted, then of the material at command.

I fear that I have very feebly enforced and very inefficiently
illustrated the true principles on which works of furniture should be
constructed; and yet I feel that the structure of such works is of
importance beyond all other considerations. Space is limited, however,
and I must pass on; hence I only hope that I have induced the reader
to think for himself, and if I have done so I shall have fulfilled my
desire, for his progress will then be sure.

[Illustration: Fig. 36.]

[Illustration: Fig. 37.]

Respecting structure I have but a few general remarks further to make,
and all these are fairly embraced in the one expression, "Be
truthful." An obvious and true structure is always pleasant. Let,
then, the "tenon" and the "mortise" pass through the various members,
and let the parts be "pinned" together by obvious wooden pins. Thus,
if the frame of a chair-seat is tenoned into the legs, let the tenon
pass through the leg and be visible on the outer side, and let it be
held in its place by glue and wooden pins--the pins being visible. Yet
they need not protrude beyond the surface; but why hide them? In this
way that old furniture was made which has endured while piece after
piece of modern furniture, made with invisible joints and concealed
nails and screws, has perished. This is a true structural treatment,
and is honest in expression also.

[Illustration: Fig. 38.]

I do not give this as a principle applicable to one class of furniture
only, but to all. When we have "pinned" furniture with an open
structure (see the back of chair, Fig. 33), the mode of putting
together must of necessity be manifest; but in all other cases the
tenons should also go through, and the pins by which they are held in
their place be driven from one surface to the other side right through
the member.

In the commencement of this chapter on furniture, I said that after
the most convenient form has been chosen for an object, and after it
has been arranged that the material of which it is to be formed shall
be worked in the most natural or befitting way, that then the
block-form must be looked to, after which comes the division of the
mass into primary parts, and lastly, the consideration of detail.

[Illustration: Fig. 39.]

As to the block-form, let it be simple, and have the appearance of
appropriateness and consistency. Its character must be regulated, to
an extent, by the nature of the house for which the furniture is
intended, and by the character of the room in which it is to be
placed. All I can say to the student on this part of the subject is
this: Carefully consider good works of furniture whenever opportunity
occurs, and note their general conformation. A fine work will never
have strong architectural qualities--that is, it will not look like
part of a building formed of wood instead of stone. There is but
small danger of committing any great error in the block-form, if it be
kept simple, and to look like a work in wood, provided that the
proportions of height to width and of width and height to thickness
are duly cared for (see page 23).

After the general form has been considered, the mass may be broken
into primary and secondary parts. Thus, if we have to construct a
cabinet, the upper part of which consists of a cupboard, and the lower
portion of drawers, we should have to determine the proportion which
the one part should bear to the other. This is an invariable
rule--that the work must not consist of equal parts; thus, if the
whole cabinet be six feet in height, the cupboards could not be three
feet while the drawers occupied three feet also. The division would
have to be of a subtle character--of a character which could not be
readily detected. Thus the cupboard might be three feet five inches,
and the drawers collectively two feet seven inches. If the drawers are
not all to be of the same depth, then the relation of one drawer, as
regards its size, to that of another must be considered, and of each
to the cupboard above. In like manner the proportion of the panels of
the doors to the styles must be thought out; and until all this has
been done no work should ever be constructed.

[Illustration: Fig. 40.]

Next comes the enrichment of parts. Carving should be sparingly used,
and is best confined to mouldings, or projecting or terminal ends. If
employed in mouldings, those members should be enriched which are more
or less completely guarded from dust and injury by some overhanging
member. If more carving is used, it should certainly be a mere
enrichment of necessary structure--as we see on the legs and other
uprights of Mr. Crace's sideboard, by Pugin (Fig. 41). I am not fond
of carved panels, but should these be employed the carving should
never project beyond the styles surrounding them, and in all cases of
carving no pointed members must protrude so as to injure the person or
destroy the dress of those who use the piece of furniture. If carving
is used sparingly, it gives us the impression that it is valuable;
if it is lavishly employed, it appears to be comparatively worthless.
The aim of art is the production of repose. A large work of furniture
which is carved all over cannot produce the necessary sense of repose,
and is therefore objectionable.

[Illustration: Fig. 41.]

There may be an excess of finish in works of carving connected with
cabinet-work; for if the finish is too delicate there is a lack of
effect in the result. A piece of furniture is not a miniature work,
which is to be investigated in every detail. It is an object of
utility, which is to appear beautiful in a room, and is not to command
undivided attention; it is a work which is to combine with other works
in rendering an apartment beautiful. The South Kensington Museum
purchased in the last Paris International Exhibition, at great cost, a
cabinet from Fourdonois; but it is a very unsatisfactory specimen, as
it is too delicate, too tender, and too fine for a work of utility--it
is an example of what should be avoided rather than of what should be
followed. The delicately carved and beautiful panels of the doors, if
cut in marble and used as mere pieces of sculpture, would have been
worthy of the highest commendation; but works of this kind wrought in
a material that has a "grain," however little the grain may show, are
absurd. Besides, the subjects are of too pictorial a character for
"applied work"--that is, they are treated in too pictorial or
naturalistic a manner. A broad, simple, idealised treatment of the
figure is that which is alone legitimate in cabinet work.

Supports or columns carved into the form of human figures are always

Besides carving, as a means of enrichment, we have inlaying, painting,
and the applying of plaques of stone or earthenware, and of brass or
ormolu enrichments, and we have the inserting of brass into the
material when buhl-work is formed.

Inlaying is a very natural and beautiful means of enriching works of
furniture, for it leaves the flatness of the surface undisturbed. A
great deal may be done in this way by the employment of simple means.
A mere row of circular dots of black wood inlaid in oak will often
give a remarkably good effect; and the dots can be "worked" with the
utmost ease. Three dots form a trefoil, four dots a quatrefoil, six
dots a hexafoil, and so on, and desirable effects can often be
produced by such simple inlays.

Panels of cabinets may be painted, and enriched with ornament or
flatly-treated figure subjects. This is a beautiful mode of decoration
very much neglected. The couch (Fig. 37) I intended for enrichment of
this kind. If this form is employed, care should be exercised in order
that the painted work be in all cases so situated that it cannot be
rubbed. It should fill sunk panels and hollows and never appear on
advancing members.

I am not fond of the application of plaques of stone or earthenware to
works of furniture. Anything that is brittle is not suitable as an
enrichment of wood-work, unless it can be so placed as to be out of

Ormolu ornaments, when applied to cabinets and other works in wood,
are also never satisfactory. They look too separate from the wood of
which the work is formed--too obviously applied; and whatever is
obviously _applied_ to the work, and is not a portion of its general
fabric, whether a mass of flowers even if carved in wood or an ormolu
ornament, is not pleasant.

Buhl-work is often very clever in character and skilfully wrought, but
I do not care for it. It is of too laborious a nature, and thus
intrudes upon us the sense of labour as well as that of skill. As a
means of enrichment, I approve of carving, sparingly used, of inlays,
and of painted ornament in certain cases; and by the just employment
of these means the utmost beauty in cabinet-work can be achieved.
Ebony inlaid with ivory is very beautiful.

In order to illustrate my remarks respecting cabinets, sideboards, and
similar pieces of furniture, I give an engraving of a sideboard
executed by Mr. Crace, from the design of Mr. A. Welby Pugin (the
father), to which I have before alluded (Fig. 41), and a painted
cabinet by Mr. Burgess (Fig. 42), the well-known Gothic architect,
whose architecture must be admired. Both of these works are worthy of
study of a very careful kind.

[Illustration: Fig. 42.]

In the sideboard, notice first the general structure or construction
of the work, then the manner in which it is broken into parts, and
lastly, that it is the structural members which are carved. If this
work has faults, they are these: first, the carving is in
excess--thus, the panels would have been better plain; and, second, in
some parts there is a slight indication of a stone structure, as in
the buttress character of the ends of the sideboard.

To the cabinet much more serious objections may be taken.

1st. A roof is a means whereby the weather is kept out of a dwelling,
and tiles afford a means whereby small pieces of material enable us to
form a perfect covering to our houses of a weather-proof character. It
is very absurd, then, to treat the roof of a cabinet, which is to
stand in a room, as if it were an entire house, or an object which
were to stand in a garden.

2nd. The windows in the roof, which in the case of a house let light
into those rooms which are placed in this part of the building, and
are formed in a particular manner so as the more perfectly to exclude
rain, become simply stupid when placed in the roof of a cabinet.
These, together with the imitation tiled roof, degrade the work to a
mere doll's house in appearance.

3rd. A panelled structure, which is the strongest and best structure,
is ignored; hence strong metal bindings are necessary.

The painting of the work is highly interesting, and had it been more
flatly treated, would then have been truthful, and would yet have lent
the same interest to the cabinet that it now does, even if we consider
the matter from a purely pictorial point of view.

Before we pass from a consideration of furniture and cabinet-work
generally, we must notice a few points to which we have as yet merely
referred, or which we have left altogether unnoticed. Thus we have to
consider upholstery as applied to works of furniture, the materials
employed as coverings for seats, and the nature of picture-frames and
curtain-poles; we must also notice general errors in furniture,
strictly so called.

When examining certain wardrobes and cabinets in the International
Exhibition of 1862, I was forcibly impressed with the structural truth
of one or two of these works. One especially commended itself to me as
a fine structural work of classic character. Just as I was expressing
my admiration, the exhibitor threw open the doors of this well-formed
wardrobe to show me its internal fittings, when, fancy my feelings at
beholding the first door bearing with it, as it opened, the two
pilasters that I conceived to be the supports of the somewhat heavy
cornice above, and the other door bearing away the third support, and
thus leaving the superincumbent mass resting on the thin sides of the
structure only, while they appeared altogether unable to perform the
duty imposed upon them. "Horrible! horrible!" was all I could exclaim.

Some of the most costly works of furniture shown by the French in the
last Paris International Exhibition were not free from this defect;
and this is strange, for to the rightly constituted mind this one
defect is of such a grave character as to neutralise whatever pleasure
might otherwise be derived from contemplating the work. We see a man,
a genius perhaps--a man having qualities that all must admire; but he
has one great vice--one sin which easily besets him. While the man
has excellent and estimable qualities, we yet avoid him, for we see
not the excellences but the vice. It is so with such works of
furniture as those of which we have been speaking, for their defects
are such as impress us more powerfully than their excellences.

Respecting these works of furniture, this should be said: they are
more or less imitative of works of a debased art-period--of a period
in which structural truth was utterly disregarded--yet this is no
reason why we should copy the defects of our ancestors.

Infinitely worse than the works just spoken of, is falsely constructed
Gothic furniture, where the very truthfulness of structure is openly
set before us. Not long since I was staying with a client whose house
is of Gothic style. Being about to furnish drawings for the
decorations of this mansion, I was carefully noting the character of
the architecture and of the furniture, which latter had been designed
and manufactured expressly for the house by a large Yorkshire firm of
cabinet-makers. The structure of the furniture appeared just, the
proportions tolerably good, the wood honest, and the inlays judicious;
but, can it be imagined, the whole was a mere series of frauds and
shams--the cross-grain ends of what should be supports were attached
to the fronts of drawers, pillars came away, and such falsity became
apparent as I never before saw. How any person could possibly produce
such furniture, be he ever so degraded, I cannot think. I have seen
works that are bad, I have seen falsities in art, but I never before
saw such falsity of structure and such uncalled-for deception as these
works presented. The untrue is always offensive; but when a special
effort is made at causing a lie to appear as truth, a double sense of
disappointment is experienced when the untruthfulness is discovered.

In his work on "Household Taste," to which I have before alluded, Mr.
Eastlake objects, and I think very justly, to the character of an
ordinary telescopic dining-table. He says: "Among the dining-room
appointments, the table is an article of furniture which stands
greatly in need of reform. It is generally made of planks of polished
oak or mahogany laid upon an insecure framework of the same material,
and supported by four gouty legs, ornamented by the turner with
mouldings which look like inverted cups and saucers piled upon an
attic baluster. I call the framework insecure, because I am describing
what is commonly called a 'telescope' table, or one which can be
pulled out to twice its usual length, and, by the addition of extra
leaves in its middle, accommodate twice the usual number of diners.
Such a table cannot be soundly made in the same sense that ordinary
furniture is sound; it must depend for its support on some contrivance
which is not consistent with the material of which it is made. Few
people would like to sit on a chair the legs of which slid in and out,
and were fastened at the required height by a pin; there would be a
sense of insecurity in the notion eminently unpleasant. You might put
up with such an invention in camp, or on a sketching expedition, but
to have it and use it under your own roof, instead of a strong and
serviceable chair, would be absurd. Yet this is very much what we do
in the case of the modern dining-room table. When it is extended it
looks weak and untidy at the sides; when it is reduced to its shortest
length the legs appear heavy and ill-proportioned. It is always liable
to get out of order, and from the very nature of its construction must
be an inartistic object. Why should such a table be made at all? A
dining-room is a room to dine in. Whether there are few or many people
seated for that purpose, the table might well be kept of a uniform
length, and if space is an object it is always possible to use in its
stead two small tables, each on four legs. These might be placed end
to end when dinner parties are given, and one of them would suffice
for family use. A table of this kind might be solidly and stoutly
framed, so as to last for ages, and become, as all furniture ought to
become, an heirloom in the family. When a man builds himself a house
on freehold land, he does not intend that it shall only last his
lifetime; he bequeaths it in sound condition to posterity. We ought to
be ashamed of furniture which is continually being replaced; at all
events, we cannot possibly take any interest in such furniture. In
former days, when the principles of good joinery were really
understood, the legs of such a large table as that of the dining-room
would have been made of a very different form from the lumpy,
pear-shaped things of modern use."

In nearly all these remarks I agree with Mr. Eastlake, and especially
in his remark that, owing to the very nature of its construction, a
modern dining-table must be an inartistic object. No work can be
satisfactory in which any portions of the true supporting structure or
frame are drawn apart; and this occurs to a marked degree in this
table, as is shown in Mr. Eastlake's illustration, which we here copy
(Fig. 43).

[Illustration: Fig. 43.]

Falsities of structure, although not so glaring as that of the
telescopic dining-table, are everywhere met with in our shops, and,
curious as it may appear, the great majority of the works offered to
the public are not only false in structure, but are utterly offensive
to good taste in every way, and are formed almost exclusively of wood
cut across the grain, which secures to the article the maximum amount
of weakness. Figs. 44, 45, 46, and 47 are examples of utterly bad

[Illustration: Fig. 44.]

[Illustration: Fig. 45.]

[Illustration: Fig. 46.]

[Illustration: Fig. 47.]

Another falsity in furniture is veneering--a practice which should be
wholly abandoned. Simple honesty is preferable to false show in all
cases; truthfulness in utterance is always to be desired. It was
customary at one time to veneer almost every work of furniture, and
even to place the grain of the veneer in a manner totally at variance
with the true structure of the framework which it covered. This was a
method of making works, which might in their unfinished state be
satisfactory, appear when finished as most unsatisfactory objects.
Since this time much progress has been made in a knowledge of truthful
structure and of truthful expression, yet this method of giving a
false surface by means of veneer is not wholly abandoned as despicable
and false.

A few months back I had occasion to visit a cabinet warehouse in
Lancashire, and the owner called my attention to the fine grain of
some old English oak, and remarked that certain pieces of furniture
were of solid wood. Upon investigation, however, I discovered that
while the furniture in question was made throughout of oak, the bulk
of the structure was of common wainscoting, and the surface was
veneered with English oak. I confess that I would much rather have had
the furniture without its false exterior, and daily my love for fine
grain in wood gets less. I think that this arises from the fact that
strong grain in wood takes from the "unity" of the work into which it
is formed, and tends to break it up into parts, by rendering every
member conspicuous. What is wanted in a work of furniture, before all
other considerations, is a fine general form--a harmony of all
parts--so that no one member usurps a primary place--and this it is
almost impossible to achieve if a wood is employed having a strongly
marked grain.

With us a room is considered as almost unfurnished if the windows are
not hung with some kind of drapery. The original object of this
drapery was that of keeping out a draught of air, which found its way
through the imperfectly fitting windows; and the antitype of our
window-hangings was a simple curtain, formed of a material suitable to
achieve the purpose sought. Such a curtain was legitimate and
desirable, and would contrast strangely with the elaborate festooning
and quadrupled curtains of our present windows. We daily see yards of
valuable material, arranged in massive and absurd folds, shutting out
that light which is necessary to our health and well-being; a pair of
heavy stuff curtains and a pair of lace curtains being hung at each
window, each curtain consisting of a sufficient amount of material to
more than cover the window of itself. An excess of drapery is always
vulgar, while a little drapery usefully and judiciously employed is

Many windows that are well made, and thus keep out all currents of
air, need no curtains. If the window mouldings are of an architectural
character, and are coloured much darker than the wall, so as to become
an obvious frame to the window, and thus do for the window what a
picture-frame does for a picture, no curtains will be required. I have
recently had a wonderfully striking illustration of this. Two
adjoining rooms are alike in their architecture; one is decorated, and
has the window casement of such colours as strongly contrast, while
they are yet harmonious, with the wall. Before the room was
decorated, and the windows were thus treated, a general light colour
prevailed, both on the wood-work and on the walls of the room, and
curtains were hung at the windows in the usual way. With the altered
decorations, the windows became so effective that I at once saw the
undesirability of re-hanging the curtains, and yet not one of all my
friends has observed that there are no curtains to the windows; while
if the curtains are removed from the adjoining room, where the
window-frames are as light as the walls, the first question asked is,
"Where are your curtains?"

[Illustration: Fig. 48.]

[Illustration: Fig. 49.]

Curtains should be hung on a simple and obvious pole (Fig. 48). All
means of hiding this pole are foolish and useless. This pole need not
be very thick, and is better formed of wood than of metal, for then
the rings to which the curtains are attached pass along almost
noiselessly. The ends of the pole may be of metal, but I prefer simple
balls of wood. The pole may be grooved, and any little enrichments may
be introduced into these grooves, providing the carving does not come
to the surface, and thus touch the rings, which by their motion would
injure it. Whatever is used in the way of enrichment should be of
simple character, for the height at which the curtain pole is placed
would render fine work altogether ineffective.

As to upholstery, I would say, never indulge in an excess. A wood
frame should appear in every work of furniture, as in the examples we
have given. Sofas are now made as though they were feather beds; they
are so soft that you sink into them, and become uncomfortably warm by
merely resting upon them, and their gouty forms are relieved only by a
few inches of wood, which appear as legs. Stuffing should be employed
only as a means of rendering a properly constructed seat comfortably
soft. If it goes beyond this it is vulgar and objectionable. Spring
stuffing is not to be altogether commended; a good old-fashioned
hair-stuffed seat is more desirable, as it will endure when springs
have perished. As to the materials with which seats may be covered I
can say little, for they are many. Hair cloth, although very durable,
is altogether inartistic in its effect. Nothing is better than leather
for dining-room chairs; Utrecht velvet, either plain or embossed,
looks well on library chairs; silk and satin damasks, rep, plain
cloth, and many other fabrics are appropriate to drawing-room
furniture. Chintz I am not fond of as a chair covering, and in a
bed-room I would rather have chairs with plain wooden seats than with
cushions covered with this glazed material.

[Illustration: Fig. 50.]

With a mere remark upon picture-frames I will finish this chapter.
Picture-frames are generally elaborately carved mouldings, or are
simple mouldings covered with ornaments, which, whether carved or
formed of putty, are overlaid with gold leaf; they are, indeed, highly
ornamented gilt mouldings. I much prefer a well-formed, yet somewhat
simple, black polished moulding, on the interior of which runs a gold
bead (Fig. 49). A fanciful yet good picture-frame was figured in the
_Building News_ of September 7th, 1866, which we now repeat (Fig.




Having considered furniture, the formation of which requires a
knowledge of construction, or of what we may term structural art, we
pass on to notice principles involved in the decoration of surfaces,
or in "surface decoration," as it is usually called. We commence by
considering how rooms should be decorated; yet, in so doing, we are
met at the very outset with a great difficulty, as the nature of the
decoration of a room should be determined by the character of its
architecture. My difficulty rests here. How am I to tell you what is
the just decoration for a room, when the suitability of the decoration
is often dependent upon even structural and ornamental details; and
when, in all cases, the character of the decoration should be in
harmony with the character of the architecture? Broadly, if a building
is in the Gothic style, all that it contains in the way of decoration,
and of furniture also, should be Gothic. If the building is Greek, the
decorations and furniture should be Greek. If the building is Italian,
all its decorations and furniture should be Italian, and so on.

But there are further requirements. Each term that I have now
employed, as expressive of a style of architecture, is more or less
generic in character, and is therefore too broad for general use. What
is usually termed Gothic architecture, is a group of styles having
common origin and resemblances, known to the architect as the
Semi-Norman or Transition style, which occurred in the twelfth century
under Henry II. (it was at this time that the pointed arch was first
employed). The Early English, which was developed in the end of the
twelfth and early part of the thirteenth century, under Richard I.,
John, and Henry III.; the Decorated, which occurred at the end of the
thirteenth, and early portion of the fourteenth century, under Edward
I., Edward II., and Edward III.; the Perpendicular, which occurred at
the latter part of the fourteenth, and through the greater portion of
the fifteenth century, under Richard II., Henry IV., V., and VI.,
Edward IV. and V., and Richard III.; and, lastly, the Tudor, which
occurred at the end of the fifteenth, and the beginning of the
sixteenth century, under Henry VII. and Henry VIII. All these styles
are popularly spoken of as one, and are expressed by the one
term--Gothic. It is so also, to an extent, with the Greek, Roman, and
Italian styles, for each of these appears in various modifications of
character, but into such details we will not enter: it must suffice
to notice that the character of the decoration must be not only
broadly in the style of the architecture of the building which it is
intended to beautify, but it must be similar in nature to the ornament
produced at precisely the same date as the architecture which has been
employed for the building.

It must not be supposed that I am an advocate of reproducing works, or
even styles of architecture, such as were created in times gone by,
for I am not. The peoples of past ages carefully sought to ascertain
their wants--the wants resulting from climate--the wants resulting
from the nature of their religion--the wants resulting from social
arrangements--the wants imposed by the building material at command.
We, on the contrary, look at a hundred old buildings, and without
considering our wants, as differing from those of our forefathers,
take a bit from one and a bit from another, or we reproduce one almost
as it stands, and thus we bungle on, instead of seeking to raise such
buildings as are in all respects suited to our modern requirements.

Things are, however, much better in this respect than they were. Bold
men are dealing with the Gothic style in its various forms. Scott,
Burgess, Street, and many others are venturing to alter it; and thus,
while it is losing old characteristics, and is acquiring new elements,
it is already assuming a character which has nobility of expression,
truthfulness of structure, and suitability to our special
requirements. In time to come, further changes will doubtless be made;
and thus the style which arose as an imitation of the past will have
become new, through constantly departing from the original type, and
as constantly adopting new elements.

I have said that the decoration of a building should be brought about
by the employment of such ornament as was, in time past, associated
with the particular form of architecture employed in the building to
be decorated, if a precisely similar form of architecture previously
existed. Let not the ornament, however, be a mere servile imitation of
what has gone before, but let the designer study the ornament of
bygone ages till he understands and _feels_ its spirit, and then let
him strive to produce new forms and new combinations in the spirit of
the ornament of the past.

This must also be carefully noted--that the ornament of a particular
period does not consist merely of the forms employed in the
architecture, drawn in colour on the wall, or the ceiling, as the case
may be. The particular form of ornament used in association with some
forms of Gothic architecture was very different in character from what
we might expect from the nature of the architecture itself, and did
not to any extent consist of flatly-treated crockets, gable ends,
trefoils, cinque-foils, etc. The ornament of the past must be studied
in its purity, and not from those wretched attempts at the production
of Gothic decoration which we often see.

In what we may call the typical English house of the present day there
is really no architecture, and if such a building is to be decorated
it is almost legitimate to employ any style of ornamentation. In such
a case I should choose a style which has no very marked
features--which is not strongly Greek, or strongly Gothic, or strongly
Italian; and if there is the necessary ability, I should say try and
produce ornaments having novelty of character, and yet showing your
knowledge of the good qualities of all styles that are past. If this
is attempted, care must be exercised in order to avoid getting a mere
combination of elements from various styles as one ornament. Nothing
can be worse than to see a bit of Greek, a fragment of Egyptian, an
Alhambraic scroll, a Gothic flower, and an Italian husk associated
together as one ornament; unless this were done advisedly and in order
to meet a very special want, such an ornamental composition would be
detestable. What I recommend is the production of new forms; but the
new composition may have the vigour of the best Gothic ornament, the
severity of Egyptian, the intricacy of the Persian, the gorgeousness
of the Alhambra, and so on, only it must not imitate in detail the
various styles of the past.

Now as to the decoration of a room. If one part only can be decorated,
let that one part be the ceiling. Nothing appears to me more strange
than that our ceilings, which can be properly seen, are usually white
in middle-class houses, while the walls, which are always in part
hidden, and even the floor, on which we tread, should have colour and
pattern applied to them; and of this I am certain, that, considered
from a decorative point of view, our ordinary treatment is wrong.

We glory in a clear blue sky overhead, and we speak of the sky as
increasing in beauty as it becomes deeper and deeper in tint. Thus the
depth of the tint of the Italian sky is familiar to us all. Why, then,
make our ceilings white? I often ask this question, and am told that
the whiteness renders the ceiling almost invisible; hence it is
preferred. This idea is very absurd; first, because blue is the most
ethereal and most distant of all colours (see Chap. II., page 33);
and, second, do we not build a house with the view of procuring
shelter? hence why do we seek to realise the feeling that we are
without a covering over our heads? We only like a white ceiling
because we have been accustomed to such from infancy, and because we
have been taught to regard a clean white ceiling as all that is to be
desired. I knew a Yorkshire lady who, upon being asked by her husband
whether she would like the drawing-room ceiling decorated, replied
that she thought not, as she could not then have it re-whitewashed
every year. The idea was clean certainly. Blue, I have said, is
ethereal in character; it is so, and may become exceedingly so if of
medium depth and of a grey hue; hence, if a mere atmospheric effect
was sought, it would be desirable that this colour be used on the
ceiling rather than white. But, as we have just said, invisibility of
the ceiling is absurd, as it is our protection from the weather.
Further, the ceiling may become an object of great beauty, and it can
be seen as a whole. Why then neglect the opportunity of arranging a
beautiful object when there is no reason to the contrary? We like a
beautiful coloured vase, or, if we do not, we can have it whitewashed,
or even dispense with it altogether. We like beautiful walls, or we
would have them whitewashed also; indeed, we like our surroundings
generally beautiful. Why not, then, have beautiful ceilings,
especially as they can be seen complete, while the wall is in part
hidden by furniture and pictures?

[Illustration: Fig. 51.]

I will suppose that we have an ordinary room to deal with. First, take
away the wretched plaster ornament in the centre of the ceiling, for
it is sure to be bad. There is not one such ornament out of a thousand
that can be so treated as to make the ceiling look as well as it would
do without it. Now place all over the ceiling a flat painted or
stencilled pattern, a pattern which repeats equally in all directions
(as Fig. 51), and let this pattern be in blue (of any depth) and
white, or in blue (of any depth) and cream-colour, and it is sure to
look well (the blue being the ground, and the cream-colour or white
the ornament).

Simple patterns in cream-colour on blue ground, but having a black
outline, also look well (Fig. 52); and these might be prepared in
paper, and hung on the ceiling as common paper-hangings, if cheapness
is essential. Gold ornaments on a deep blue ground, with black
outline, also look rich and effective. These are all, however, simple
treatments, for any amount of colour may be used on a ceiling,
provided the colours are employed in very small masses, and perfectly
mingled, so that the effect produced is that of a rich coloured bloom
(see Chap. II., page 46). A ceiling should be beautiful, and should
also be manifest; but if it must be somewhat indistinct, in order that
the caprices of the ignorant be humoured, let the pattern be in
middle-tint or pale blue and white only.

[Illustration: Fig. 52.]

I like to see the ceiling of a room covered all over with a suitable
pattern, but I do not at all object to a large central ornament only,
or to a centre ornament and corners; especially if the cornice is
heavy, so as to give compensating weight to the margin. I have
recently designed and seen carried out one or two centre ornaments for
drawing-rooms, which ornaments were twenty-one feet in diameter. A
centre ornament, if properly treated, may be very large without
looking heavy; it may, indeed, extend at least two-thirds of the way
from the centre to the margin of the ceiling. I do not speak of
plaster ornaments, but of flat decorations.

If the ceiling is flat all ornament placed upon it must not only be
flat also, but must not fictitiously represent relief, for no shaded
ornament can be pleasant when placed as the decoration of a flat
architectural surface.

I have already noticed that the decoration of a room should be in
character with its architecture, but that while this should be so, the
ornament applied by way of enrichment should not be a servile copy of
the decorative forms employed in ages gone by, but should be such as
is new in character, while yet of the spirit of the past.

[Illustration: Fig. 53.]

Many circumstances tend to determine the nature of the decoration
which should be applied to a ceiling: thus, if a ceiling is
structurally divided into square panels, the character of the ornament
is thereby restricted, and should these panels be large it will
probably be desirable that each be fitted with the same ornament;
while if they are small three or four different patterns may be
employed, if arranged in some orderly or methodical manner.

[Illustration: Fig. 54.]

A ceiling may also have the joists or beams visible upon it: in this
case the decoration would have to be of a very special character. The
bottoms of the joists might have a string pattern upon them (a running
pattern), as the "Greek key," or guilloche; whilst the sides might
have either a running pattern, or a pattern with an upward tendency,
as the "Greek honeysuckle;" and the ceiling intervening between the
joists might have a running pattern, or better, a star, or diaper
pattern, or it might have bands running in the opposite direction to
the joists, so as, with them, to form squares, which squares might be
filled with ornament.

[Illustration: Fig. 55.]

If, however, the ceiling is flat, and is not divided into sections
structurally, almost any "setting out" of the surface may be employed,
as Fig. 53; or a large centre ornament, as Figs. 54 and 55; or a
rosette distributed over the entire surface, as Fig. 56. In any case
it is not necessary or even desirable that the ornament be in relief
upon the ceiling. Flatly treated ornaments may be employed with
advantage, and all fictitious appearance of relief, as we have already
said, must be avoided.

There are so many different ways of setting out ceilings, that I
cannot attempt even to make any suggestions. I would simply say,
however, Avoid an architectural setting out, if there are no
structural members; for ornament which is flat may spread in any
manner over a surface without even appearing to need structural
supports. As to the colour of a ceiling if there is to be no ornament
upon it, let it be a cream-colour (formed of white with a little
middle-chrome) rather than white. Cream-colour always looks well upon
a ceiling, and gives the idea of purity. A grey-blue is also a very
desirable colour for a ceiling, such as is formed of pale ultramarine,
white, and a little raw umber, just sufficient to make the blue
slightly grey (or atmospheric). In depth this blue should be about
half-way between the ultramarine and white. Another effect which I
like is produced by the full colour of pure (or almost pure)
ultramarine. In this case the cornice should be carefully coloured,
and pale blue and white should prevail in it, but a little pure red
must be present.

[Illustration: Fig. 56.]

A further and very desirable effect is produced by placing pale
cream-coloured stars irregularly over the pale blue, or even the deep
blue ceiling, or by placing pale blue stars upon the cream-coloured
ceiling. The stars should vary for an ordinary room ceiling (say a
room sixteen feet square by ten feet high) from about three inches
from point to point down to one inch; the larger stars having six
points; others being smaller and with five points; and the small ones
having, some four points, and some three. If such stars are
irregularly (without order) intermixed over the ceiling, and yet are
somewhat equally dispersed, a very pleasing and interesting effect
will thereby be produced. This effect is in much favour with the
Japanese. The stars, however, should be smaller if placed on a deep,
than on a pale, blue ground.

Another good effect is produced by giving the ceiling the colour of
Bath, or Portland, stone, and starring it with a deeper tint of the
same colour. This effect is improved by each star having a very fine
outline of a yet darker tint of the same colour.

I should recommend those interested in the decoration of ceilings to
study carefully the Egyptian, Alhambra, and Greek Courts at the
Crystal Palace, Sydenham, especially the two last named; also to
notice the ceiling in St. James's Great Hall, Piccadilly, London, and
the ceiling of Ushaw College chapel near Durham. The ceilings in the
Oriental Courts, by Mr. Owen Jones, at the South Kensington Museum are
worthy of careful notice; but the Renaissance ceilings in other parts
of the Museum are both wrong in principle and are bad examples of
their style. The structurally formed glass ceiling of the Crystal
Palace Bazaar in Oxford Street, London, and still better, the ceiling
of Mr. Osler's glass warehouse in Oxford Street, are well worthy of

On the Continent we very frequently meet with ceilings on which large
pictures have been painted, as in the Louvre and the Luxembourg in
Paris; and the authorities of the South Kensington Museum are making
efforts to introduce this style into England, but such pictorial
ceilings are in every way wrong.

1st. A ceiling is a flat surface, hence all decoration placed upon it
should be flat also.

2nd. A picture can only be correctly seen from one point, whereas the
decoration of a ceiling should be of such a character that it can be
properly seen from any part of the room.

3rd. Pictures have almost invariably a right and wrong way upwards. A
picture placed on a ceiling is thus wrong way upwards to almost all
the guests in the room.

4th. In order to the proper understanding of a picture, you must see
the whole of its surface at one time; this is very difficult to do
without almost breaking your neck, or being on your back on the floor,
if the picture is on the ceiling; whereas an ornament which consists
of repeated parts may render a ceiling beautiful without requiring
that the whole ceiling be seen at the one glance.

Most of the French pictorial ceilings are so painted that they are
properly seen when the spectator stands with his back close to the
fire. This is very awkward, as the rules of society do not allow us to
stand in this position before company. Pictorial works are altogether
out of place on a ceiling; they ought to be framed and hung right way
upwards upon walls where they can be seen. We have a well-known
painted ceiling at the Greenwich Hospital.

Arabesque ceilings, such as that of the Roman Court at the Crystal
Palace, are also very objectionable.

What can be worse than festoons of leafage, like so many sausages,
painted upon a ceiling, with griffins, small framed pictures,
impossible flowers, and feeble ornament, all with fictitious light and
shade? But not content with such absurdities and incongruities, the
festoons often hang upwards on vaulted or domed ceilings, rather than
downwards. Such ornaments arose when Rome, intoxicated with its
conquests, yielded itself up to luxury and vice rather than to a
consideration of beauty and truth.

Decorations like these were to an extent again revived by the great
painter Raphael; but it must ever be remembered that Raphael, while
one of the greatest of painters, was no ornamentist. It requires all
the energy of a life to become a great painter; and it requires all
the energy of a life to become a great ornamentist; hence it is not
expected that the one man should be great at the two arts.

In all ages when decorative art has flourished, ceilings have been
decorated. The Egyptians decorated their ceilings, so did the Greeks,
the Byzantines, the Moors, and the people of our Middle Ages, and a
light ceiling appears not to have been esteemed as essential, or as in
many cases desirable. It is strange that so few of our houses and
public buildings contain rooms with decorated ceilings; but the want
is already felt, the fashion has set in, and many are at this present
moment being prepared. We must get simple modes of enrichment for
general rooms--modes of treatment which shall be effective, and yet
not expensive--and then we may hope that they will become general.


We must now devote ourselves to the consideration of wall decoration,
or to the manner in which ornament should be applied to walls with the
view of rendering them decorative.

It will appear absurd to say that all ornament that is applied to a
wall should be such as will render the wall more beautiful than it
would be without it; but this statement is needed, for I have seen
many walls ornamented in such a manner, that they would have looked
much better if they had been perfectly plain, and simply washed over
with a tint of colour.

To ornament is to beautify. To decorate is to ornament. But a surface
cannot be beautified unless the forms which are drawn upon it are
graceful, or bold, or vigorous, or true, and unless the colours
applied to it are harmonious. Yet how many walls do we meet with even
in good houses--walls of corridors, walls of staircases, walls of
dining-rooms, walls of libraries, and, indeed, walls of every kind of
room--which are rendered offensive, rather than pleasing, by the
decorations they bear.

A wall may look well without decoration strictly so called, and this
statement leads me to notice the various ways in which walls may be
treated with the view of rendering them beautiful.

A wall may be simply tinted either with "distemper" colour, or oil
colour "flatted." Distemper colour gives the best effect, and is much
the cheapest, but it is not durable, and cannot be washed. Oil colour
when flatted makes a nice wall, whether "stippled" or plain, and is
both durable and washable. An entire wall should never be varnished.

I say that a wall can look well even if not decorated. Let me give one
or two instances; but, perhaps, I had better give treatments for the
entire room, including the ceiling, and not for the wall simply.

[Illustration: Fig. 57.]

[Illustration: Fig. 58.]

[Illustration: Fig. 59.]

A good effect of a very plain and inexpensive character would be
produced by having a black skirting, a cream-colour wall (this colour
to be made of the colour called middle-chrome and white, and to
resemble in depth the best pure cream), a cornice coloured with pale
blue of greyish tint, with deep blue, white, and a slight line of red,
and a ceiling of blue of almost any depth. The ceiling colour to be
pure French ultramarine, or this ultramarine mixed with white and a
touch of raw umber (the cornice blues to be made in the same way). The
red in the cornice to be deep vermilion if very narrow (one-sixteenth
of an inch), or carmine if broad.[24]

[24] In some parts of the country it is customary to wash the cornice
over with quick-lime. If this has been done the lime must be carefully
removed, for lime will turn carmine black.


_Illustrating Cornice, Ceiling & Wall Colouring._]

A room of a slightly more decorative character would be produced by
making the lower three feet of the wall of a different colour (by
forming a dado) from the upper part of the wall: thus, if the other
parts of the room were coloured as in the example just given, the
lower three feet might be red (vermilion toned to a rich Indian red
with ultramarine blue) or chocolate (purple-brown and white, with a
little orange-chrome); this lower portion of the wall being separated
from the upper cream-coloured portion by a line of black an inch
broad, or better by a double line, the upper line being an inch broad,
and the lower line three-eighths of an inch, the lines being separated
from each other by five-eighths of the red or chocolate.

I like the formation of a dado, for it affords an opportunity of
giving apparent stability to the wall by making its lower portion
dark; and furniture is invariably much improved by being seen against
a dark background. The occupants of a room always look better when
viewed in conjunction with a dark background, and ladies' dresses
certainly do. The dark dado gives the desired background without
rendering it necessary that the entire wall be dark. If the furniture
be mahogany, it will be wonderfully improved by being placed against a
chocolate wall.

[Illustration: Fig. 60.]

The dado of a room need not be plain; indeed, it may be enriched to
any extent. It may be plain with a bordering separating it from the
wall, such as Figs. 57, 58, and 59, or the coloured border on Plate I.
(frontispiece); or it may have a simple flower regularly dispersed
over it; or it may be covered with a geometrical repeating pattern, in
either of which cases it would have a border; or it may be enriched
with a specially designed piece of ornament, as Fig. 60. This
particular pattern should not, however, be enlarged to a height of
more than twenty to twenty-four inches; but if of this width, and
above a skirting of twelve or fifteen inches, it would look well.

I have designed two or three narrow dado papers for Messrs. Wylie and
Lockhead, of Glasgow, which are about eighteen inches broad, and are
printed in the direction of the length of the paper, so as to save
unnecessary joins; and Messrs. Jeffrey and Co., of Essex Road,
Islington, are issuing a complete series of my decorations for walls,
dados, and ceilings.

If the dado is enriched with ornament, and the cornice is coloured,
and a pattern spreads all over the ceiling, the walls can well be
plain, but they may be covered with a simple "powdering" as the
patterns in Fig. 6l, if these are in soft colours, or with patterns
such as those set forth in colours on Plate I.; but these, especially
that on the blue ground, would only be used where a very rich effect
is desired.

[Illustration: Fig. 61.]

A good room would be produced by pattern Fig. 52 being on the ceiling
in dark blue and cream-colour, by the cornice being coloured with a
prevalence of dark blue, the walls being cream-colour down to the
dado; the border separating the dado from the wall being black
ornament on a dull orange-colour; and by the dado being chocolate with
a black rosette upon it; the skirting boards being bright black. The
dado may or may not be varnished; the upper part of the wall can only
be "dead" (not varnished--dull). If the room is high a bordering may
run round the upper portion of the wall, about three to four inches
below the cornice; such a border as Fig. 62 may he employed in dull
orange and chocolate.

A citrine wall comes well with a deep blue, or blue and white ceiling,
if blue prevails in the cornice, and this wall may have a dark blue
(ultramarine and black with a little white) dado, or a rich maroon
dado (brown-lake). If the blue dado is employed the skirting should be
indigo, which, when varnished and seen in conjunction with the blue,
will appear as black as jet. (See the coloured examples on Plate II.,
and remarks on colour on pages 45 and 46.)

Walls are usually papered in middle-class houses. I must not object to
this universal custom; but I do say, try to avoid showing the joinings
of the various strips. In all cases where possible cut the paper to
the pattern, and not in straight lines, for straight joinings are very
objectionable. If you use paper for walls, use it artistically, and
not as so much paper. Let a dado be formed of one paper, the dado
bordering (dado rail) of a suitable paper bordering; the upper part of
the wall being covered by another paper of simple and just design, and
of such colour as shall harmonise with the dado. Proceed as an artist,
and not as a mere workman. Think out an ornamental scheme, and then
try to realise the desired effect. Avoid all papers in which huge
bunches of flowers and animals or the human figure are depicted. The
best for all purposes are those of a simple geometrical character, or
in which designs similar to those in Fig. 6l are "powdered" or placed
at regular intervals over a plain ground.

[Illustration: Fig. 62.]

Just as the ceiling ornament must accord in character with the
architecture of the room in which it is placed, so must the wall
decoration be of the same style as the architecture of the room.
Indeed, whatever we have said respecting the harmony of the ceiling
decoration with the architecture of the building, applies equally to
the ornamentation of the wall.

It has been customary to arrange walls into panels when decorating
them, and of this mode of treatment we give one illustration (Fig.
63); yet nothing can be more absurd than such a treatment, unless the
wall is architecturally (structurally) arched. A wall may be so formed
that some parts are thick, so as to give the required strength, while
other portions are thin. In such a case the wall would be formed of
arched recesses and thickened piers alternately. This being the case,
the decoration should be so applied as to emphasise, or render
apparent, this arched structure; but if the wall is of one thickness
throughout, its division into arches is absurd and foolish.

[Illustration: Fig. 63.]

We sometimes see great follies, and even gross untruths, perpetrated
with the view of bringing about the so-called decoration of a room.
Thus it is not unfrequently that we meet with imitation pillars,
recesses, and arches as the so-called ornamentation of a room.

In low music halls we are not surprised by such decorations, for we do
not look for truth or any manifestation of delicacy of feeling in such
places. Falsity and the untrue appear in natural juxtaposition with
the debased and the vulgar. Sham marble pillars, a fictitious and
merely imitative architecture, an assumed and unreal, yet coarse and
vulgar, gorgeousness, are the natural adjuncts of immorality and vice;
but such falsities cannot be tolerated in the abodes of those who
pretend to purity and truth, nor in the buildings which they frequent;
yet even the new Albert Hall has sham marble pillars (I say this to
our shame), and but recently I visited a church near Edgware, in which
there is a display of false decoration such as I never before saw.
Here we find sham pillars, giving a false architecture; sham niches,
containing sham statues; sham clouds, forming an absurd ceiling; and
almost every falsity which a falsely constituted mind could

How strange it is that in a church, where purity and truth are taught,
the whole of the decorations should be a sham! It is said that if you
want to hear a fierce quarrel, and to see true hatred, you must seek
it in religious sects and among theological discussionists. On the
same principle, I suppose, we must prepare ourselves for a display of
the worst art-falsity in the sacred edifice. Perhaps the idea is that
of contrast. As the teetotal lecturer had a drunken man by him as a
frightful example of what was to be avoided, so the decorations of
this church may be intended as a warning, rather than as an example of
what should be followed. Happily such churches as this are rare, and
it can be truly said that ecclesiastical architecture and decoration
has made great strides with us in recent years, and that in very many
instances it is rigidly truthful as well as beautiful.

Before leaving the consideration of wall decorations, I must object to
all imitations, as sham marbles, granites, etc., for no wall can be
satisfactory which is to any extent a display of false grandeur; and
this is curious, that in many cases it costs more to produce an
imitation marble staircase than it would to line the same walls with
the marbles imitated. I have known a case in which the imitation has
cost double what the genuine stone would have cost, and such a case is
not exceptional, for hand-polished work is always expensive. To
imitations of marbles and granites, as I have already said, I strongly
object, and of the genuine stone I am not fond, unless sparingly and
judiciously used. My objections to its free use are these:--1st.
Harmony of colour depends upon great exactness of tint. This exactness
is rarely attainable in the case of two marbles. One stone may,
however, be brought into direct and perfect harmony with a coloured
wall, by the tint of the wall being carefully suited to the marble.
2nd. The true artist thinks less of the costliness of the material of
which he forms his works than of the art-effect produced. Thus the old
Greeks, who were full of art-feeling and refinement, coloured the
buildings which they constructed of white marble, and they certainly
thereby improved them; for colour, if harmoniously employed, lends to
objects a new charm--a charm which they would not without it possess.
I must further say, before leaving our present subject, that all
walls, however decorated, should serve as a background to whatever
stands in front of them. Thus they must retire even behind the
furniture by their unobtrusiveness.

The order of arrangement in furnishing must be this. The living beings
in a room should be most attractive and conspicuous, and the dress of
man should be of such a character as to secure this. Ladies can now
employ any amount of colour in their attire; but poor man, however
noble, cannot by his dress be distinguished from his butler; and,
worst of all, both are dressed in an unbecoming and inartistic manner.
Next come the furniture and draperies--the one or the other having
prominence according to circumstances; then come the wall and floor,
both of which are to serve as backgrounds to all that stands in front
of them. In decorating walls, or in judging of the merit or
suitability of wall decorations, this must always be taken into
consideration, that they are but enriched backgrounds; and it should
also be remembered that the nature of the enrichment applied is
determined, to a great extent, by the character of the architecture of
the building of which the wall forms a part.

We come now to consider wall-papers, which are hangings prepared with
the view of enabling us to decorate our walls at comparatively small
cost. I may confess that I am not very fond of wall-papers under any
circumstances. I prefer a tinted or painted wall. Yet they are largely
used, and will be for a long time to come. I have already said that if
wall-papers are used they should not be joined together with straight
lines, and that we ought to consider them as so much art-material
which should be used artistically.

As to the nature of the pattern which a wall-paper should have, it is
almost impossible to speak, as there are endless varieties; but as a
rule it may be said that those consisting of small, simple, repeated
parts, which are low-toned or neutral in colour, are the best. Most
wall-paper patterns are larger than is desirable. The pattern can
scarcely be too simple, and it should in all cases consist of flat

If the ornament is very good, and the pattern is the work of a true
artist, it may be larger, for then the parts will be balanced and
harmonised in a manner that could not be expected from a less skilful
hand; but even if by the most talented designer, it must ever be
remembered that he has designed it at random, and not as a suitable
decoration for any particular room. The man who selects the pattern
for a particular wall must choose that which is suitable to the
special case.

The effect of a wall-paper is materially affected by many
circumstances. Thus, by the quantity of light admitted to the
room--whether the room is dark or light; by the aspect, whether it
receives the sun's rays direct or does not; by the character of the
light, as whether direct from the sky, or reflected from a green lawn,
or red-brick wall. All these things must be considered, and what looks
well in the pattern-book may look bad on a wall.

[Illustration: Fig. 64.]

[Illustration: Fig. 65.]

[Illustration: Fig. 66.]

[Illustration: Fig. 67.]

As to colour, the best wall-paper patterns are those which consist of
somewhat strong colours in very small masses--masses so small that the
general effect of the paper is rich, low-toned, and neutral, and yet
has a glowing colour-bloom; but these are rarely to be met with.

It was a fashion some time since to make wall-papers in imitation of
woven fabrics, and this fashion has not wholly disappeared yet, absurd
though it be. It arose through the accident of a designer of
wall-paper patterns having been a shawl pattern designer, and having a
number of small shawl patterns on hand, which he disposed of as
wall-paper patterns. A pattern which is suitable for a woven fabric is
rarely suitable to a printed fabric, and especially when the one
pattern is to be seen in folds on a moving object, and the other flat
on a fixed surface. And at all times imitation by one material of
another is untruthful, and it becomes specially absurd when we think
that almost every material is capable of producing some good
art-effect which no other material can. We should always seek to make
each material as distinctive in its art-character as we can, and to
cause each to appear as beautiful as possible in that particular
manner in which it can most naturally be worked.

[Illustration: Fig. 68.]

A word should be said about the particular character which a
wall-paper pattern should have, but the remarks which I am now about
to make will apply equally to all patterns employed as wall
decorations. If we view trees or plants, as we see them against the
sky as a background, they are objects which point upwards and have a
bilateral symmetry--their halves are alike (Figs. 64 and 65)--or are
more or less irregular in form, and when seen in this view we may
regard them as natural wall decorations. Our wall patterns, then, may
point upwards, as in Fig. 61, and be bilateral or otherwise; but it
must be remembered that when the flowers of a primrose protrude from a
bank they are regular radiating, or star, ornaments. I think that it
is legitimate for us to use on a wall star, or regular radiating
ornaments, as well as those having an upward tendency.

[Illustration: Fig. 69.]

I have said that when seen from the side plants are bilateral, or are
more or less irregular. As I have referred to plants as furnishing us
with types of ornament, I should not be doing rightly were I to leave
this statement in its present form; for the tendency of the vital
force of all plants is to produce structures of rigidly symmetrical
character; but insects, which eat buds and leaves, and blights, winds,
and frosts, so act upon plants as to destroy their normal symmetry,
hence we find an apparent want of symmetry in the arrangement of the
parts of plants.

Respecting the colouring of cornices, a few words should be said. 1st.
Bright colours may here be employed. 2nd. As a rule, get red in shadow
or in shade, blue on flat or hollow surfaces, especially those that
recede from the eye, and yellow on rounded advancing members. 3rd. Use
for red either vermilion or carmine; for blue, ultramarine either pure
or with white; for yellow, middle chrome much diluted with white. 4th.
Use red very sparingly, blue abundantly, the pale yellow in medium

Besides primary colours, none others need be used on the cornice. It
is a mistake to use many, or dull, colours, here, but gold may be used
instead of yellow. With the view of explaining the principles which we
have just enunciated by diagrams, we give four illustrations (Figs.
66, 67, 68, 69), which I advise the student to try and colour in
accordance with the principles just set forth.



It is not my intention in this chapter to consider in detail the
various kinds of carpet which are common in our market, nor even to
review the history of their manufacture, interesting as it would be to
do so; for we must confine ourselves more particularly to an
examination of the art-qualities which they present, and to the
particular form of pattern which may be applied to them with

Although we cannot here enter into a consideration of the manufacture
of carpets, I cannot too strongly recommend all who intend preparing
designs for them to consider minutely the powers of the carpet loom;
for the nature of the effect produced will depend to a large extent
upon the knowledge which the designer possesses of the capabilities of
the manufacture for which he designs patterns. In the case of any
manufacture it is highly desirable, if not absolutely essential, that
the designer of the patterns to be wrought should be acquainted with
the process by which his design is to be converted into the particular
material for which the pattern has been prepared; for this knowledge,
even when not absolutely essential, gives an amount of freedom and
power which nothing else can supply.

The carpets most extensively in use are "Brussels;" but there are many
other kinds both of better and inferior qualities. "Kidderminster
carpet" (a carpet not now made by even one Kidderminster manufacturer)
is a common fabric suited to the bedrooms of middle-class houses; but
the art-capabilities of this material are very small, as it can only
have two colours in any line running throughout its length. This
carpet consists of two thicknesses, which are imperfectly united, and
is not durable. "Brussels carpeting," now made chiefly in Great
Britain, is a good carpet for general purposes. Its surface consists
of loops, and it may have five, or, if made of extra quality, six
colours in any line running throughout its length. If with five
colours in the same line the carpet will, in a sense, consist of five
thicknesses of worsted; yet these are united into one fabric. In some
cases a "Brussels carpet" is woven of very close texture, with the
loops cut through; thus we have a "velvet pile" or "Wilton carpet"--a
fabric which is very rich-looking, and durable.

Those called real "Axminster" carpets are, perhaps, the best made.
They are formed by the knotting together of threads by hand,
consequently any number of colours may be used in their formation; but
such are necessarily most costly. A "patent Axminster" carpet is made
by a double process of hand-weaving, by which fine results are
achieved, and any number of colours used. In the first weaving a rough
"cloth" is formed, which is cut into strips called "chenille threads,"
and these are again woven into the carpet. This process is most
ingenious, and the carpets produced by it are very good; but they are

Some few years since a most ingenious process of manufacturing what
are known as "tapestry" carpets was patented--a process resembling in
its nature that of the patent Axminster manufacture, but differing in
this particular, that the "warp" threads are coloured by printing, and
thus the first process of weaving is dispensed with. These carpets
are, like Brussels, made with a looped surface, and also with a pile.
They cannot be said to compare in any way with the patent Axminster
carpets, which are of a pretentious and costly character, nor even
with a good "Brussels;" but they are low in price, and meet a want, as
is proved by their enormous sale.

Besides these varieties of carpet there are a number of kinds of
foreign production, most of which are hand-made, and are very
beautiful. By far the greater number of these have a "pile," although
this is sometimes rough and uneven, yet rarely, if ever, inartistic;
but a few are without pile; still these are not without that
indescribable something which renders them estimable in the eye of an

Having hastily noticed the chief kinds of carpet in use in this
country, and we might say in almost all countries, we come to the
question--what form of pattern, or what character of ornament, should
form the "enrichment" of such a fabric?

When speaking in a previous chapter (see page 92) of wall decorations,
we noticed that a wall-paper pattern, or, indeed, a wall pattern of
any kind, might desirably have an upward direction and a bilateral
symmetry. This can never be the case, however, with a carpet pattern,
which must be equally extended all over the surface, or have a simple
radiating symmetry, as Fig. 56; and this rule will apply whether the
pattern be simple or complicated. It is not wrong, as we have said
before, to have a radiating pattern on a wall, but it is wrong to have
a bilateral pattern on a floor.

The reason of this is obvious. If such an object as we have indicated
is placed on a wall, from whatever point the occupants of the room may
view it, it is yet right way upwards to them; but if such an object
were placed on a floor it would be wrong way upwards, or sideways, or
oblique to most of those who viewed it; and to employ a pattern of
this character in such a position is highly absurd, when a pattern can
as readily be formed which will avoid this unpleasantness. What would
we think were we asked to view a picture, or even to visit an
apartment containing such, were this work of art presented to our view
in an inverted manner? We should feel astonished at the absurdity; yet
this would be no worse than expecting us to view a carpet while the
pattern is to us in an inverted position.

And the principle which we have just set forth is one taught by a
consideration of plants. If we wander over the moor, where we tread
on Nature's carpet, we find that all the little plants which nestle in
the short mossy grass are "radiating ornaments"--that is, they are
pretty objects which consist of parts spreading regularly from a

[Illustration: Fig. 70.]

[Illustration: Fig. 71.]

[Illustration: Fig. 72.]

[Illustration: Fig. 73.]

I cannot too strongly advise the young ornamentist to study the
principles on which Nature works. Knowledge of the laws which govern
the development of plant-growth is very desirable; but it is not our
place to _imitate_ even the most beautiful of plant-forms--this being
the work of the pictorial artists. Yet it is ours to study Nature's
laws, and to observe all her beauty, even to her most subtle effects,
and then we may safely pillage from her all that we can _consistently_
adapt to our own purposes. But in order that we produce ornament, we
must infuse mind or soul into whatever we borrow from her. (See page

With the view of more fully impressing the manner in which Nature
teaches us principles which we may apply in art, and of aiding the
student in his inquiries, we will give one or two illustrations. Thus
Fig. 64 is a drawing of a spray of the guelder rose (_Viburnum
opulus_) when seen from the side, or, as I might express it, when
viewed as a wall decoration; and Fig. 70 is the same spray as seen
from above, or, to use the same manner of expression, when seen as a
floor pattern. Further, Fig. 71 represents a young plant of a species
of speedwell (_Veronica_) as a wall ornament, and Fig. 72, the same
plant when seen as a floor ornament; and Figs. 65 and 73 represent a
portion of the goosegrass (_Galium Aparine_) as seen in the same two

[Illustration: Fig. 74.]

[Illustration: Fig. 75.]

[Illustration: Fig. 76.]

From these illustrations we see that plants furnish us with types of
two essentially different ornaments, which are adapted to the
decoration of the two positions of wall and floor, and may be
introduced with truthful expression and effect into wall-paper or

[Illustration: Fig. 77.]

[Illustration: Fig. 78.]

[Illustration: Fig. 79.]

Even when the leaves appear somewhat dispersed upon the stem, a
principle of order can yet be distinctly traced in the manner of their
arrangement, as is diagrammatically expressed in Figs. 74, 75, 76; and
here, also, the top view gives us a regular radiating ornament.[25]

[25] The spray here represented is that of the oak, and the diagram
(Fig. 74) shows the orderly spiral manner in which the leaves spring
from the stem.

The same law prevails in the flower that we have traced as existing in
the arrangement of leaves upon the stem: thus Fig. 77, which
represents the London pride (_Saxifraga umbrosa_), affords an example
of a regular radiating flower, which we find so placed, in different
examples, as to appear as a floor or wall ornament; and Figs. 78 and
79, the former being the flower of the speedwell (Veronica), and the
latter that of the common pansy (_Viola tricolor_), furnish us with
illustrations of bilateral flowers intended only as wall ornaments. In
order to secure our seeing the pansy only laterally, it is furnished
with a bent stalk; hence it never rests horizontally upon the summit
of its stem, but always hangs so that it is perfectly seen only from
the side.

There are cases, however, in which bilateral flowers are placed
horizontally; but it is very interesting to notice that when this
occurs the disposition or arrangement of the flowers is such as to
restore the radiating symmetry. Thus, if we take the candytuft
(_Iberis_) or the common hemlock (_Conium_), we find that while each
flower is bilateral in character, the flowers are yet arranged around
a centre in such a manner that the smaller portion of each flower
points to the centre of the flower-head, while the larger parts point
outwards from the centre of the group. These, then, are the teachings
of plants, to which we are called upon to hearken.

The above illustrations are not only useful examples of the
suggestions of plant-forms to the ornamentist, but form excellent
material to the art-student for the conventional treatment of leaves
and sprays, buds and blossoms. They will also serve to indicate the
kind of plant-forms that should be chosen for decorative purposes.
Students of this branch of art would find it a useful practice to make
a collection of flowers and plants or parts of plants that appear to
offer features similar to those of which we have been writing, and
test their capabilities for decorative purposes, by endeavouring to
arrange them for the ornamentation of wall and floor, as we have
treated the plant-forms indicated in this chapter.

We have now seen the principle on which all carpet patterns should be
constructed as distinctive from wall patterns, and in order to impress
the necessity of giving a radiating basis to the ornaments placed upon
carpets, and not a bilateral structure, we have referred to the
principle of plant growth, where we noticed that all plants, when
viewed as floor ornaments (when viewed from above), are of a radiating
character; whereas if they are seen as wall or vertical ornaments,
they are either radiating or bilateral. This is a necessity of a
carpet pattern, that it have a radiating structure, or, in other
words, that it point in more than two directions.

Man naturally accustomed to tread on grass, when brought into a state
of civilisation, seeks some covering for his floor which shall be
softer to the tread and richer in colour than stone or brick. And in
our northern climate he seeks also warmth; hence he chooses not a mere
matting, or lattice of reeds, but a covering such as shall satisfy his

In early times our floors appear to have been strewn with sand--a
custom still lingering in some country districts; then came the habit
of strewing reeds over the floor, and on the part of the opulent,
sweet-scented reeds (_Acorus calamus_). And it is curious to notice,
in connection with this subject, that one of the charges brought by
Henry VIII. against Cardinal Wolsey was that of extravagance in the
use of sweet reeds. This use of reeds was succeeded by the employment
of mats of simple appearance, formed of a kind of grass, and these by
the introduction of wool mats, which, at first, were chiefly imported,
but afterwards manufactured in our own country. The wool mats were in
their turn replaced by carpets, which gradually increased in size till
their proportions became such as to cover the entire floor on which
they were placed.

This brief history brings us to notice what is required of a
carpet:--it should be soft in texture, rich in appearance, and of
"bloomy" effect.

We may add to these requirements by saying that a carpet should also
be a suitable background to all works of furniture or other objects
placed upon it, and that in character it should accord with the
objects with which it is associated in any particular apartment.

Considering more fully these requirements, we notice that a carpet
should be soft. This is very desirable, for softness gives a sense of
comfort, and with softness is generally combined durability of the
fabric; but softness can scarcely be regarded as an art-quality. Yet
as the art which an object bears is more leniently viewed when the
fitness of the object to the purpose for which it is intended is
apparent, we may safely regard softness as a very desirable quality of
a carpet.

The Eastern carpets are pre-eminent in this quality of softness, and
of English-made carpets "Brussels" and tapestry are the least
satisfactory in this way; as usually made, they have a hard "backing."
A kind of Brussels carpeting with a soft back has recently been
brought out, but at present it is not general in the trade. If the
carpet employed in any apartment as a floor covering is harsh in
character, it is desirable to place soft felt under it (felt for this
purpose can be got at carpet warehouses), or evenly spread soft hay,
for by so doing the wear of the fabric will be greatly increased, and
the pleasure of walking on it will also be correspondingly greater.

The next quality of a carpet is richness. No carpet is satisfactory
which is "washy" or faded in appearance. There must be "depth" of
effect, a "fulness" of art-quality. Hangings may be delicate,
wall-decorations soft in tint, but a carpet must be rich and "full" in
effect, yet a general softness of tone is desirable.

But this richness must be of singular character, for the most
desirable effect which a carpet can present is that of a glowing
neutral bloom.

I hope that my language does not appear mystical to the general reader
or young student. To the ornamentist I think it will be intelligible.
What I wish to say is that the effect should be glowing, or radiant,
or bright, as opposed to dull, quiet, or heavy; that it should be such
as results from the use of a predominance of bright and warm colours,
rather than of cold and neutral hues; that it should be neutral,
inasmuch as it should not present large masses of positive colour, hut
should have an equality of rich harmonious colours throughout; that it
should be "bloomy," or have the effect of a garden full of flowers, or
better, of the slope of a Swiss alp, where the flowers combine to form
one vast harmonious "glow" of colour. This is the effect which a
carpet should present, yet it should never present flowers,
imitatively rendered, as its ornamentation. Such imitative renderings
are not to be produced by the ornamentist; they must come from the
pictorial artist, for they are pictures. They cannot form suitable
backgrounds to furniture and living objects, for they are positive,
and not neutral, in their general effect. A picture, also, will not
bear repetition: whoever heard of one person having two copies of the
same picture in one room? Yet a pictorial group of flowers may be
seen repeated many times over a floor, which is very objectionable.
The effect to be produced is that of a rich "colour-bloom;" but the
skilled ornamentist will achieve this without violating any laws of
fitness, and will gently and delicately hint at the beauty of a
profusion of blossom through his tenderly formed pattern.

[Illustration: Fig. 80.]

Yet a carpet must be neutral in its general effect, as it is the
background on which objects rest. Neutrality of effect is of two
kinds. Large masses of tertiary or neutral colours will achieve its
production, so also will the juxtaposition of the primary colours in
small quantities, either alone or with the secondary colours, and
black or white; but there will be this difference between the two
effects--that produced by low-toned colours will be simply neutral,
while that produced by the primary colours will be "bloomy" as well as
neutral, and if yellows and reds slightly predominate in the
intermingling of colours, the effect will be glowing or radiant.

The radiant, or glowing, bloomy neutrality of effect is that which it
is most desirable that a carpet should present.

[Illustration: Fig. 81.]

This effect is rarely produced in English carpets, owing either to the
want of skill on the part of the ornamentist, who is unable to produce
such works; the want of judgment on the part of the manufacturer,
whereby he fails to produce such patterns; or the want of taste on the
part of the consumer, owing to which he buys works of a more vulgar
character. I have designed carpets in which I have sought to realise
as much of this effect as I could with six colours--the number to
which I have been limited by the conditions of manufacture, and
fortunately these appear to be commanding a large sale, and to be
setting a fashion in carpets; but those who wish to study these bloomy
effects in their more perfect forms, must do so in the carpets of
India, Persia, Smyrna, and Morocco, but especially in the Indian rugs.

Some of the carpets from India are perfect marvels of colour-harmony,
and of radiant bloom. They appear to glow as a bed of flowers in the
sunshine, and yet they are neutral in their general effect, and when
placed in an apartment do not usurp a primary place, as does any
pictorially treated pattern.

This "bloom" was seen to perfection in one or two silk rugs which were
shown at the International Exhibition of 1862 in London, and it was
not much less apparent in some of the carpets from India shown in the
Paris Exhibition of 1867. Most Indian carpets have this colour-bloom
to some extent, and few are unworthy of careful study.

Persian carpets (Fig. 80) are also models of what carpets should be;
they are less radiant than many of the Indian works, but are almost
more mingled in colour-effect. In pattern many of the Indian and
Persian carpets are identical, being traditional, yet in colour they
differ, and both are worthy of much consideration.

The Morocco carpets (Fig. 81) differ again from both those of India
and Persia, and even to a greater degree than the Persian carpet
differs from the Indian. In these there is often a prevalence of soft
yellows and juicy yellow-greens, intermingled with reds, blues, and
grey-whites, in such a manner as to produce a most harmonious and
artistic effect. To the young student, and to any who may desire to
cultivate his taste in respect to such matters, I say, Study the
carpets of the East most carefully, especially those of India, Persia,
and Morocco.

[Illustration: Fig. 82.]

Indian carpets, such as we have just referred to, may be seen at the
museum in the building of the new India Office at Whitehall, which
museum is open free to the public (for examples, see Figs. 82, 83,

As to the nature of the pattern which may be applied to a carpet, we
have "all-over" patterns, or patterns spreading regularly all over the
surface; "geometrical" patterns, or those which have an apparent
regularity of structure; and panel patterns, or those in which
particular parts are, as it were, framed off from other parts.

First, as to "all-over" patterns. These are what we almost always find
in both Indian and Persian carpets, and are, undoubtedly, the true
form of decoration for a woven floor covering. What is desirable is an
evenly spread pattern, such as will give richness without destroying
the unity of the entire effect. The pattern may have parts slightly
accentuated or emphasised beyond other parts, but not strongly so, and
this emphasising of parts must be arranged with the view of securing
to the pattern special interest. Thus, if a carpet is viewed at a
distance it should not appear as devoid of all pattern, but through
the slight predominance of certain leading features (in Indian
carpets, generally of ornamental flowers) the plan of the design
should be indicated. More detail should be apparent when the work is
seen from a nearer point of view, and still more upon close
inspection; but in no case should any parts appear strongly
pronounced, or otherwise than refined and beautiful, and in no case
should there be a want of interest manifested by the pattern.

[Illustration: Fig. 83.]

Carpet patterns are generally better if founded on a geometrical plan.
In this way most of the Indian and Persian patterns are constructed. A
geometrical plan secures to the design a manifestation of order and
thought in its formation. Panel patterns, unless very carefully
managed, become coarse. In some Indian carpets we find a sort of panel
in which the colour of the ground is changed from that of the general
ground of the carpet, but here the panel has usually a truly
ornamental form, and is, indeed, rather a large ornament than a sort
of frame enclosing a distinct space. Whenever a panel occurs in an
Indian, Persian, or Moorish carpet, it is so managed, and its
surroundings are such, as to cause it to appear as a part natural to
the general design; but it is far otherwise with the panel patterns
which we occasionally see in our shop-windows as the produce of native
industry, and it is far otherwise with those which are used in vast
quantities by the Americans. Judging from the carpets which they
order, I imagine that nowhere on earth is taste in matters of
decorative art so depraved as it is in America. It is true that the
great floral patterns have ceased to be demanded by them, but they are
only replaced by coarse, raw-looking panel patterns, coloured in the
most vulgar manner, and without even a hint at refinement or harmony
of colour. Let the pattern be "loud" and inharmoniously coloured, and
the chances of its sale in the American market are great.

[Illustration: Fig. 84.]

But we must not forget that even in our own country bad patterns sell
equally as well as good, inartistic patterns as well as those which
are of a more refined character, and that even here in Great Britain
more of the indifferent, if not of the very bad, sells than of the
good. Let us cast the beam, then, from our own eye, before we try to
extract it from that of another.

The ground colour of a carpet may vary much, as we all know; it may be
black, blue, red, green, or white, or any other colour. If the ground
of a carpet is pure white, it is almost impossible that it look well.
When I make this assertion I am often told that some of the Indian
carpets which I so much admire have white grounds. This is a mistake.
Some of them have light grounds, but not pure white. They have light
cream-grey, or green-white grounds, but not pure white, and this
variety of tone altogether alters the case. Yet even with a
light-toned ground it is not an easy matter to make a carpet which
shall appear as a suitable background to the furniture of a room; it
can be done, but it is a thing difficult to achieve. The safest and
best ground for a carpet is black or indigo blue. If on this a closely
fitting, well-studied pattern be arranged, drawn in small masses of
bright colour, a beautiful bloomy effect may be achieved, and a glance
at our best shop-windows will show that the most satisfactory carpets
are coloured in this way.

As to the size of the pattern we can say but little, as this will be
determined by the coarseness or fineness of the fabric. In a Brussels
carpet each stitch is about the one-tenth of an inch square. In some
Turkey carpets each stitch is a quarter of an inch square. It is
obvious that a much smaller and finer pattern can be produced in
Brussels than in Turkey carpet.

A carpet pattern is best small, or at least small in detail if not in
the extent of the design. A pattern may repeat three or four times in
the width of the fabric (twenty-seven inches if Brussels), or but one
figure may be shown, yet in this latter case the detail of the pattern
may be as great as in the former. That degree of smallness which is
compatible with tolerable distinctness of detail is desirable. For
this reason Turkey carpets are not altogether satisfactory; no fine
pattern can be worked in them, and besides this they have no
colour-bloom and little colour-harmony. In some respects they are
good, but altogether they are not satisfying.

Before I close these remarks upon carpets, let me say that, as
designers, manufacturers, and consumers, we are one and all timid of
new things. We want daring--the energy to produce new things, to
manufacture them, to use them. What if the pattern is "extreme," if it
is better than others? what if Mrs. Grundy should think us
eccentric?--better be eccentric than ever harping on one monotony. If
we could but bear calmly the derisive smiles of the ignorant,
art-progress would be easy.

With us carpets cover the entire floor. In London these carpets are
nailed to the boards, and but seldom taken up. In some parts of
England we find rings sewn around the under edge of the carpet, which
rings are looped to the heads of nails. Carpets so furnished can be
more readily removed for cleaning than those which are nailed to the
floor. Square carpets, such as the Turkey, Indian, and Persian, are
spread loosely on the boards, and can be taken up and shaken without
difficulty. This is unquestionably the most healthy plan of using a
carpet, and it is also an artistic plan. If the outer portion of the
room floor is formed of inlaid wood of simple and suitable pattern,
and a loose square carpet is spread in the centre, we have an artistic
effect, and the desirable knowledge that cleanliness is also
attainable with a reasonable expenditure of labour.

Before we leave the consideration of carpets we will state in
axiomatic form the conditions which govern the application of ornament
to them, as reference can more easily be made to short concise
sentences than to more extended remarks.

1st. Carpet patterns may with advantage have a geometrical formation,
for this gives to the mind an idea of order or arrangement.

2nd. When the pattern has not a geometrical basis, a general evenness
of surface should be preserved.

3rd. Carpets are better not formed into "panels," as though they were
works of wood or stone; on the contrary, they should have a general
"all-over" effect without any great accentuation of particular parts.
The Indian and Persian carpets meet this requirement.

4th. While a carpet should present a general appearance of evenness,
parts may yet be slightly "pronounced" or emphasised, so as to give to
the mind the idea of centres from which the pattern radiates.

5th. A carpet should, in some respects, resemble a bank richly covered
with flowers; thus, when seen from a distance the effect should be
that of a general "bloom" of colour; when viewed from a nearer point
it should present certain features of somewhat special interest; and
when looked at closely new beauties should make their appearance.

6th. As a floor is a flat surface, no ornamental covering placed on it
should make it appear otherwise.

7th. A carpet, having to serve as a background to furniture, should be
of a somewhat neutral character.

8th. Every carpet, however small, should have a border, which is as
necessary to it as a frame is to a picture.

Having thus summarised the principles that govern the application of
ornament to carpets, we may proceed to notice the conditions governing
the decoration of other woven fabrics.



In the consideration of hangings of various kinds, we have first to
notice the nature of the cloth on which the pattern is to be
worked--whether it is of open or close texture. Fabrics of an open
character should bear upon them a larger pattern than those which are
thicker or closer. The openness or closeness of the fabric will thus
determine, to an extent, the nature of the ornament which is to be
placed upon it. Muslins, being open in character, should have larger
patterns than calicoes, which are closer in texture, or the pattern
will be indistinct in the one case or coarse in the other.

But not only does texture influence the pattern when considered as to
coarseness or fineness, but also the nature of the cloth as regards
material. Thus silk will bear greater fulness of colour than muslins
or calico-prints, owing to the fact that the lustre of the material,
by reflecting light to the eye of the observer, destroys a certain
portion of the intensity of the effect of colour which a less
reflective material would exhibit. Silk, as a material, also conveys
to the mind an idea of costliness or worth, and wherever the material
does so the pattern may be richer in colour than it should be in
cheaper and commoner fabrics. If a pattern is in two tints of the same
colour only, as in the case of those woven silks where the pattern is
formed by the contrast of "tabby" and satin, it may be considerably
larger than in those cases where it is rendered conspicuous by

This latter remark will apply also to damask table-linen, and to all
similar materials, as well as to dress fabrics, and draperies such as
window hangings; but of these we shall say a word shortly.

The closeness or openness of a fabric should, then, be considered when
we design patterns for its enrichment, and so should the nature of the
material, as this will influence its deadness or lustre. But there are
also other considerations which must not be lost sight of. If the
pattern is to be wrought by printing, then one class of conditions
must be complied with; if by weaving, then another class of
requirements call for consideration.

The requirements of manufacture are much more numerous than might be
supposed, and are in some cases very restrictive. The size of the
repeat, the manner in which colour can be applied, the character of
surface attainable, and many other considerations have to be carefully
complied with before a pattern can appear as a manufactured article.

The chief fault of patterns, as applied to fabrics generally, is their
want of simplicity--want of simple structure, want of simple
treatment, want of simplicity of effect; and together with this we
generally find largeness and coarseness of parts.

These errors arise chiefly out of a want of consideration of the
capabilities of the material. What can be done with this or that
particular fabric, is a question that we should carefully ask
ourselves before we think of preparing a design. Have we colour at our
disposal, or texture merely? and if colour, can it be employed freely
or only sparingly? and can any desired colours be placed in
juxtaposition or only certain tints? These are questions of great
importance, and they should be asked and carefully considered before
the first step is taken towards the formation of a pattern. Having
ascertained what can be done with the material at command, let us ever
remember that we should always endeavour to so employ the capabilities
of a material as to conceal its weakness and emphasise its more
desirable effects. If this consideration were always given by
designers to the power which the material has of yielding effects, we
should see, in very many instances, effects strangely different from
those which we often encounter; and this remark applies to no class of
fabrics more fully than to damask table-linen and coloured damask
window hangings.

No satisfactory effect can be got in light and shade upon any woven or
printed fabric; besides, to attempt such a mode of treatment is
absurd. Light and shade belong only to pictorial art. The ornamentist
when enriching a fabric deals only with a surface, and has no thought
of placing pictures thereon; he has simply to enrich or beautify that
which without his art would be plain and unornamental. A picture will
never bear repetition. Who ever heard of a man having two copies of
one picture in a room? Yet how much more absurd is it to repeat a
little picture--perhaps a pictorially rendered flower--a hundred times
over one surface! Besides this, a surface must always be treated, for
decorative purposes, as a surface, and not in a manner calculated to
deceive by giving apparent relief, or thickness, to that which is
essentially without thickness. Take a common damask table-cover. This
is by custom almost always white, although it would be better if of a
deep cream-colour, or soft buff; and the pattern which it bears
results from a change of surface only (why a margin of "ingrain"
colour is not added, I could never see); yet in nine cases out of ten
the pattern which is presented by such a fabric is a miserable shaded
attempt at a pictorial treatment, and is also a thorough failure.

Simplicity of pattern naturally accords with a simple mode of
production, and the means of producing pattern in damasks is certainly
most simple. That there is a natural harmony between simplicity of
pattern and simple means of producing an art-effect is obvious, for of
all patterns that I have ever seen upon damask table-linen the simple
spot, or dot, is the most satisfactory. If, combined with this spot,
we have a border formed of a simple Greek "key-pattern," or of mere
lines (a very usual border to good cloths), the effect is perfectly
satisfying, and, as far as it goes, is highly to be commended.

It is curious that this spot is only sold in the better quality of
table-linen (at least so they tell me in the City), and this shows
that the wealthy, or, in other words, the educated, buy such patterns,
as they prefer the true to the meretricious, while the false and showy
devices which we see on the common cloths please only the common
people of vulgar taste. I am not sure, however, that many persons,
whose means are limited, would not buy spots and other simple, but
correctly treated, patterns, if such were to be got in common
qualities of damask; but when the pocket must govern the purchase, it
is hard to say that the false is preferred to the true, if the true is
not procurable with the means at command.

While I cannot withhold praise from this little spot, it must not be
thought that I thereby give to it a high place as an art-work. Little
is here attempted, and that little is done well. But let us analyse
this pattern. First, the spots are of one tint throughout, if I may
thus express myself--a tint, shall we say, which is the reverse of
that of the ground. It is not shaded so that it may appear as a ball
or globe, and is not graduated in "colour" in any way (were it
graduated or shaded, feebleness of effect must inevitably accrue), but
is a simple, honest spot, treated as a surface ornament. Secondly,
this spot is geometrically arranged, or, in other words, has an
orderly arrangement.

If an attempt is made at rendering a pictorial, or light-and-shade
effect, in damask, an absurd failure can alone result, for depth of
shade is not obtainable in the material; and, besides this, what
appears as shade, when the cloth is seen from one point of view,
appears as light if seen from another point of view. Nothing could be
more absurd, then, than seeking to produce shaded effects with such
means as are here at our disposal. But were the fabric capable of
rendering such effects, it would still be wrong to employ them, as we
deal only with the surface, and are seeking to enhance the value of,
or beautify, a fabric, and not to cover it with pictures. In our
simple spot we have those elements which may be extended into the
richest and most artistic damask patterns. We have order--as indicated
by the geometrical plan of the pattern--and an honest and simple
expression, or application, of the capabilities of the material.

All table-covers should certainly have a border. Any object which is
to be used as a whole looks unsatisfactory if it appears as though it
were part of a whole. If a cloth is without border it is impossible to
avoid the impression that it is a part of a larger cloth, and in every
respect the general effect is decidedly unsatisfactory.

It is perhaps well that we notice one peculiarity of a table-cover
before we dismiss the consideration of such fabrics, which is this,
that while the central portion is seen flat, the border portion is
viewed in folds; and here we come to one of the great peculiarities of
most draperies, that of their being viewed not as flat surfaces, but
in waves or folds. One portion of a table-cloth is, however, seen
flat, but this is almost an exception in the case of draperies.
Another exception to this rule of hangings appearing in folds, and
that of a very complete character, occurs in silk damasks which are
used as a rich lining to the walls of palaces and some mansions; but
of table-cloths we will speak for the present.

[Illustration: Fig. 85.]

[Illustration: Fig. 86.]

[Illustration: Fig. 87.]

[Illustration: Fig. 88.]

[Illustration: Fig. 89.]

[Illustration: Fig. 90.]

The central part of a table-cloth, that portion which is always to be
viewed as a flat surface, may be enriched with any diaper pattern
that is simply treated, and this diaper pattern may be full of design,
provided the parts are not too large or too small. It may also be
formed of gracefully curved parts, or of straight lines or circles, or
of any combination of these elements; but, preferably, not wholly of
straight lines.

Were it not for the fact that much of this central portion of the
cloth is to be covered by articles of the dinner-table, it might well
be furnished with a central ornament, repeating only in quarters; but
as such an ornament, in order that it be satisfying, requires to be
seen as a whole, it is not desirable that such be here employed. A
diaper pattern that repeats many times in the centre is preferable, as
the pattern can then be seen in a satisfactory manner.

[Illustration: Fig. 91.]

The border of a table-cloth, like all fabrics that are to be seen in
folds, requires special treatment, for what looks well when seen as a
flat surface may not look well when seen on a waved surface. Tender
and graceful curves are lost when viewed upon folds, for they here
appear as mere wormy lines. On the contrary, right lines, whether
horizontal or diagonal, and circles, all look well when seen upon
waved grounds. These lines become, owing to the folds of the fabric,
curves of a subtle character. The manner in which lines become
influenced by falling on a curved surface can be readily illustrated
by forming semicircles of paper, and folding them into cones, after
having drawn upon them a series of circles (Fig. 85) or straight lines
(Fig. 86). If these cones (Figs. 87 and 88) are now viewed from above,
or in such a manner that the eye rests over the apices, it will be
seen that the circles have now become richly varied curves, each
having somewhat the form of a blunt heart or cardioid (Fig. 89), and
that the straight lines become horse-shoe-shaped (Fig. 90). These
illustrations will be sufficient to show that what is plain when seen
upon a flat surface may be delicate and satisfying if seen upon a
curved surface; and will also lead us to understand that what may be
delicate and refined when seen upon a flat surface may become feeble
and unsatisfactory if falling upon a waved ground. I have said that
stripes or straight lines, if _crossing_ a folded fabric, are
satisfactory. This is so in almost all cases, the only exception being
in ladies' dresses. Here lines crossing the fabric are not
satisfactory, as they become rings around the body, which appear to
divide it into hoop-like strata. The patterns of dresses _may_ consist
of narrow, vertical stripes, as these are collected together at the
waist of the figure, and fall into graceful curves with any motion of
the body, but the very opposite is the case with window-hangings. All
vertical stripes are here highly offensive, while horizontal stripes
are thoroughly satisfactory.

A consideration of the window-hanging materials made in Spain,
Algeria, and on the Morocco coast, will show us the beauty of
horizontal stripes; and in some of the little Algerian warehouses,
such as we have in Regent Street, London, and in the Rue de Rivoli in
Paris, we see some of these fabrics of a most interesting character.

[Illustration: Fig. 92.]

To state in a concise form the laws which should govern the
application of ornament to certain fabrics which are to be seen in
folds, I should say--

1st. Great simplicity of pattern is necessary.

2nd. Circles, straight lines crossing the fabric, and diagonal lines
are all correct in such a case, and are improved by the folds, which
form them into subtle and beautiful curves (Fig. 91).

3rd. If curves are tender and graceful, they become commonplace on a
waved or folded ground.

4th. The size of the pattern should be considered in relation to the
size of the folds of the material.

[Illustration: Fig. 93.]

In Germany a kind of ornament is applied to rich stiff fabrics which
is almost peculiar to the country. This ornament is rich, bold, hard
or stiff in its lines, and in every way adapted for the decoration of
a costly fabric which falls in large folds, the folds changing the
hard and stiff lines into graceful curves. This should also be noted
respecting these curious yet beautiful patterns, that they are always
simple in plan, however rich in detail, and are invariably founded on
a geometrical basis. "German Gothic" is a name by which such ornament
may be distinguished (flat Gothic ornament has always been quite
distinct from the stone and metal ornaments of Gothic buildings, which
have solid and not merely superficial form), see Figs. 92 and 93. This
particular class of ornament forms the background to many old
pictures, a most interesting collection of which exists in the museum
of Cologne, and is certainly worthy of the most careful study.

As to flat silk wall-damasks, which are used in some of the
upper-class houses as wall-papers are used in the middle-class houses,
all that need be said is that they should be treated as wall
decorations, and not as fabrics which are to be seen folded. Were I
asked whether I approve of these damasks as wall coverings, I should
say, "Certainly not." A wall is better treated as a wall, and not so
covered with drapery as to leave space for vermin between the wall and
its enrichment. There is also the further objection that the lines
where the fabric is joined are visible, and these are most certainly

[Illustration: Fig. 94.]

Besides the illustrations of German ornament just given, we figure
also a specimen of Indian embroidery on cotton (Fig. 94). I cannot too
strongly recommend the designer of patterns for woven goods to study
the native fabrics of India, exhibited at the Indian Museum,

[Illustration: Fig. 95.]

[Illustration: Fig. 96.]

Besides the collection here brought together, there is also in most of
our manufacturing towns a large series of specimens of these cloths
deposited with the Chamber of Commerce, and these can be consulted by
all respectable members of the community. Speaking of these Indian
fabrics, Mr. Redgrave says, in his Report on Design prepared for the
Commissioners of the International Exhibition of 1851:--"These are
almost wholly designed on the principles here presumed to be just
ones--the ornament is always flat, and without shadow; natural
flowers are never used imitatively or perspectively, but are
conventionalised by being displayed flat and according to a
symmetrical arrangement; and all other objects, even animals and
birds, when used as ornament, are reduced to their simplest flat form.
When colour is added, it is usually rendered by the simplest local
hue, often bordered with a darker shade of the colour, to give it a
clearer expression; but the shades of the flowers are rarely
introduced. The cloth of gold figured in the loom (Fig. 95), and part
of an Indian scarf (Fig. 96), illustrate fully these remarks. The
ornament is geometrically and symmetrically arranged, flat, in simple
tints, and bordered, as above described, with darker shades of the
local colour. The principle of colour adopted is a balance of the
complementaries red and green, in both cases with white introduced to
give points of expression, and to lead the eye to the symmetrical
arrangement of the ornament. In Fig. 95 purple is introduced to
harmonise with the gold ground, a harmony very frequently used in the
rich tissues of India. In Fig. 96 variety has been obtained by
introducing two reds, giving an interchange of a lighter tint in every
other flower in the border. The borders of these scarves are
beautifully illustrative of the simple and graceful flowing lines
which characterise Indian ornament; and in Fig. 96 we can observe the
difference between the Eastern and the mediæval patterns--while the
same principles are acknowledged in both, the latter are often stiffer
and more angular than the graceful sprigs of this border. Both these
works show how much beauty may be obtained by simple means, when
regulated by just principles, and how perfectly unnecessary are the
multiplied tints by which modern designers think to give value to
their works, but which increase the difficulties of production out of
all proportion to any effect resulting from them--nay, often even to
the absolute disadvantage of the fabric. If we look at the details of
the Indian patterns, we shall be surprised at their extreme
simplicity, and be led to wonder at their rich and satisfactory
effect; it will soon be evident, however, that their beauty results
entirely from adherence to the principles above described. The parts
themselves are often poor, ill-drawn, and common-place; yet, from the
knowledge of the designer, due attention to the just ornamentation of
the fabric, and the refined delicacy evident in the selection of
_quantity_ and the choice of tints, both for the ground, where gold is
not used as a ground, and for the ornamental forms, the fabrics,
individually and as a whole, are a lesson to our designers and
manufacturers, given by those from whom we least expected it."

Much that Mr. Redgrave here says is worthy of careful consideration,
and I can do no more than recommend the student to study these
beautiful Indian fabrics, and consider them in conjunction with the
remarks which we have made respecting them and fabrics in general.



In this chapter I have to commence our consideration of pottery, and
of hollow vessels especially; and this I do with considerable
pleasure, as works in pottery enjoy a longer existence, though through
the character of the material of which they are made they are more
fragile, than those formed of almost any other substance. Many works
of Greek pottery are known to us, and not a few such works by the
ancient Egyptians, and these are preserved not as fragments merely,
but as works in their entirety, and with the same beauty that they
possessed when first they left the hands of the workman.

Clay is a most desirable material with which to form works of utility
and of beauty, and this for many reasons. First, it is so inexpensive
as to be almost valueless; secondly, it is easily formed into vessels
of almost any required shape; thirdly, it is capable of being "worked"
into shapes of great beauty by a momentary exercise of skill;
fourthly, clay is naturally of many beautiful colours; fifthly, it is
capable of receiving by application to its surface any amount of
colour, and of preserving such colours as are applied to it in an
unimpaired state for ages; and sixthly, it is susceptible of the
highest art-finish, or the bold sketchy touch of the modeller's hand.
I say that clay is a very desirable material for formation into
vessels of various kinds, because of its inexpensive character. This
quality of cheapness gives to the material an advantage over many
other substances of a much more costly character, such as should not
be overlooked, for the long existence which so many works of
earthenware have had is mainly due to the worthlessness of the
material of which they are composed. In my first chapter I gave an
extract from the writings of Professor George Wilson, showing that
gold and silver, while beautiful in themselves, and worthy to be
fashioned into exquisite devices, are yet too tempting to the thief,
and to all who are pressed for means, to remain long in the form of
art-works. Families who have been reduced in circumstances, and have
thereby been constrained to part with their old plate, have melted it,
so as to hide their shame. To illustrate this, let me quote from the
"Handbook of the Arts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as applied
to the Decoration of Furniture, Arms, Jewels, etc., translated from
the French of M. Jules Labarte, 1856." After giving the names of many
workers in the precious metals, the author says:--"We may form some
idea of what artists these Italian goldsmiths were of the fourteenth,
fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, and what admirable works they must
have produced. But, alas! these noble works have almost all perished;
their artistic worth proving no safeguard against cupidity or
necessity, the fear of pillage, or the love of change. But a very few
names even of those skilled artists have descended to us, and in
making known those preserved to us in the writings of Vasari,
Benvenuto, Cellini, and others, we can rarely point out any of their
works as being still in existence.

"Cellini tells us that while Pope Clement VII. was besieged in the
castle of St. Angelo, he received orders to unset all the precious
stones that were upon the tiaras, the sacred vessels, and the jewels
of the sovereign pontiff; and to melt down the gold, of which he
obtained 200 pounds. How many artistic treasures must have perished in
the crucible of Cellini." We now see clearly that while clay is a much
more fragile material than either silver or gold, its very
worthlessness, despite its fragility, gives to it length of years.

We have said that clay is easily formed into vessels of almost any
required shape. This is so within certain limits. Throughout these
chapters I have lost no opportunity of insisting upon the importance
of working every material in a befitting manner, and in the most
simple and easy way in which the material can be wrought. Almost every
material can be simply "worked" in some way, or while in some
particular condition.

Glass has a molten state in which it can be "blown" into the most
beautiful of shapes, and this process of blowing is the work of but a
few seconds. Glass has also a solid condition, yet as it can be formed
into works of great beauty by the exercise of momentary skill, it
would be extremely foolish to take a mass of the solid glass, and by
laborious grinding form it into a bottle or a bowl. It fortunately
happens that if a material is worked in its most simple and befitting
manner, the results obtained are more beautiful and satisfying than
those which are arrived at by any roundabout method of production.
Glass should be formed into hollow vessels only when in its plastic
condition, for it cannot be shaped into the form of such vessels as we
require when in its solid state without the expenditure of much
unnecessary, therefore wasteful, labour. But if a mass of crystal or
marble is required to assume the form of a bowl or font, then the
laborious process of grinding must be resorted to, for these
substances have no plastic state.

The potter's wheel has been known from the earliest historic time, and
this has at all times been the instrument with which the best earthen
vessels have been formed. A mass of clay of suitable size is placed on
a horizontal disc of wood, to which a rotary motion is imparted. The
operator presses his thumbs into the centre of the clay, and then, by
causing his fingers to approach his thumbs, manipulates the clay into
a cup, a bowl, a vase, an earthen bottle, or whatever form he may
please; and if skilful, the operator can form objects of marvellous
beauty with a rapidity that astonishes all who see for the first time
his mode of working.

If potters would but content themselves, in order to the production of
such articles as we require in common life, with the "potter's
wheel," we should be almost sure of a certain amount of beauty in
domestic earthenware, but such is not the case. They make fancy moulds
of plaster of Paris and of wire gauze, and roll out clay as the
pastrycook does dough, and manipulate it as so much pie-crust, instead
of applying to it simple skill. Neither a bowl nor a plate need have a
scalloped edge, indeed they are much better without it; and if
unnecessary, and even undesirable, absurdities were avoided, and a
simple and natural method of working each material alone employed, a
great improvement in art would speedily take place.

It is strange but true, that the worker in one material seems rarely
to be satisfied with making his works look as well and as consistent
as possible; he desires rather to form poor imitations of something
else. We have all seen earthen jugs made in imitation of wicker-work,
although to do so is obviously foolish, as no wicker vessel could hold
water, and the thing imitated is much less beautiful than a thousand
forms which clay is capable of assuming. Men's heads without brains
are, or were at least, favourite jugs. Well, that there are many
models for this idea in Nature, I doubt not; yet why we should copy
them by making a jug in the form of a hollow head, I know not. I have
in my possession a milk-jug, such as is common in the district of
Swansea in South Wales, in the likeness of a cow. The tail is twisted
into a handle; by a hole in the back the milk is admitted, and through
the mouth it is ejected. A more wretched and coarse idea it is
scarcely possible to conceive of, yet the vulgar admire this jug. Let
us work the material in a simple and befitting manner, and
satisfactory results are almost sure to accrue.

I have said that clay, as such, has many beautiful colours. Naturally
clay is black, grey-white, red, brown, and yellow, and it is capable
of assuming many desirable tints by the agency of chemical means. We
do not use coloured clays as we should do. We want so much
white--everything to look so clean. All ornamental ware, at least,
should be artistic, and the art-effect should supersede that cold
whiteness which the Dutch and the English mistake for cleanliness. A
clay of good natural colour is not a thing to be hidden, or ashamed

Clay is capable, when glazed, of receiving any amount of colour, and
of preserving these colours in their beauty for almost any length of
time. These qualities are invaluable to the ornamentist. Colour is not
always at his disposal. The goldsmith has difficulty in getting it,
but to the potter it is very accessible. Colour is capable of giving
to objects a charm which they could not possibly have without it. Let
us use the power thus placed at our disposal rightly and well, and
then the enduring character of the colour-harmonies which we produce
may gladden posterity in ages yet to come.

Clay is susceptible of the highest art-finish, or of a bold sketchy
treatment. Finish is very desirable in some cases. The cup which my
lady uses in her boudoir should be delicate and fine, for what is
worthy to approach the sacred lips of the occupant of a fair apartment
but such a work as is tender and refined?

As a rule, however, we over-estimate the value of finish, and
under-value bold art-effects. Excessive finish often (but by no means
always) destroys art-effect. I have before me some specimens of
Japanese earthenware, which are formed of a coarse dark brown clay,
and are to a great extent without that finish which most Europeans
appear so much to value, yet these are artistic and beautiful. In the
case of cheap goods we spend time in getting smoothness of surface,
while the Japanese devote it to the production of an art-effect. We
get finish without art, they prefer art without finish.

[Illustration: Fig. 97.]

[Illustration: Fig. 98.]

[Illustration: Fig. 99.]

[Illustration: Fig. 100.]

We must now devote ourselves to a special consideration of the shapes
of earthen vessels, and to the manner in which ornament should be
applied to them.

In his primitive condition man appears to have used the shells of
certain fruits as drinking vessels and bottles; and to this day we
find many tribes of uncivilised or half-civilised men using the same
class of vessels. "Monkey-pots" (the hard shells of the _Lecythis
allaria_), the coverings of the Brazil nut (_Bertholetia excelsa_),
and especially the rinds of the calabash and many species of gourd
(Figs. 97 and 98), have been used in this way.[26] The first efforts
made at the production of earthen vessels were mere attempts at
copying in clay the forms of the fruit-shells which were in use as
drinking vessels. After a power of forming earthen vessels, having a
certain amount of perfection of manufacture, was gained, we still find
the origin of the potter's art manifested by certain works. Thus in
China, where the potter's art has so long been understood, we still
find vessels made in the form of the bottle-gourd, just as was their
custom in the days of their first manufacturing efforts (Fig. 99).
Before considering the shapes of vessels from a utilitarian point of
view, I should tell the student that certain shapes are characteristic
of different nations and of different periods of time.

[26] All who are interested in this subject are referred to a paper
published in the "Transactions of the Edinburgh Botanical Society,"
for 1859, by Professor George Wilson, on the "Fruits of the

The Greek shapes, as we may call them--that is, the forms of those
vessels which the Greeks produced--are of a particular class, and the
vessels produced by the Egyptians are of a different type; while those
of the Chinese, Indians, Japanese, and Mexicans again differ from each
other, and from those of both the Greeks and the Egyptians. For grace
of form the vessels of the old Greeks stand pre-eminent (Figs. 101 and
102); for simple dignified severity, those of the Egyptians (Fig.
100); for quaintness, those of the Mexicans (Fig. 103); for a
combination of grace with dignity, those of the Chinese (Figs. 104 and
105); and for a combination of beauty with quaintness, those of the
Japanese (Fig. 106); while in many respects the Indian shapes (Figs.
107 and 108) resemble those of the Japanese. Fig. 109 is a water
vessel from Ha, and Figs. 110 and 111 are jugs from Morocco.

I cannot enter into any details respecting the characteristic forms of
vessels produced by these various nations, but must content myself by
giving a few illustrations of the various shapes, and leaving the
matter with the learner for study. The British Museum, the South
Kensington Museum, and the Indian Museum will aid him in his

It has been said that the character of a people can be told by their
water-vessels. As the consideration of this statement will lead us to
see how perfectly a domestic utensil may answer the end which it
should serve, I will extract from my "Art of Decorative Design" a few
remarks on this subject.

This statement can well "be illustrated by the Egyptian and Greek
water-vessels, the former of which has sides tapering to the top and
slanting inwards, a small orifice, and a rounded base, and the mouth
of the vessel bridged by an arched handle, the whole being constructed
of bronze (Fig. 112); the latter consists of an egg-shaped body (the
broad end being above) resting upon a secure foot, which is surmounted
by a large, divergent, funnel-shaped member (Fig. 113). It has no
handle over the orifice, but has one at either side.

"Not only do these vessels differ in form, but associated
circumstances differ also; and it is this variation in circumstances
which brought about the difference in form of the two water-vessels.

"The peculiarities of the Egyptian water-vessel are its formation of
bronze, the roundness of its base, which renders it unfitted for
standing, the narrowness of its mouth, and the handle arching the
orifice; and of the Greek, its being wrought in clay, the secure base,
the wide mouth, the contraction in the centre, and the handle at
either side. We should judge from these vessels that the Egyptians
drew water from a river, or some position which required that the
vessel be attached to a cord and cast into the source of supply, for
the roundness of the base at once points to this, it being a provision
for enabling the vessel to fill by turning upon its side (were its
base flat it would float on the water); it is also formed out of metal
so as to facilitate this end. The arched handle not only points to
the attachment of the vessel to a string in order that it be cast into
the water, but also to the carrying the vessel pendent from the hand
in the manner that pails are at present carried, and the contracted
mouth restrains the splashing over of the water: and what this simple
water-vessel points to we find to have been the case, for the
Egyptians derived water from the Nile in the very manner that the
vessel would indicate; but with the Greeks circumstances were
different, and the shape of the vessel varies accordingly. The base is
here flat, in order that the vessel may stand; the mouth is large, in
order to collect the water which fell from above,--from the
dripping-rocks and water-spouts. This being the manner in which water
was gathered, a vessel formed of heavy metal was unnecessary; the
contraction prevented the water from splashing over when carried, and
up to this point the vessel was filled, and no higher; and the handles
at the side show that it was carried on the head. But, in conjunction
with this mode of carrying, there is another consideration of
interest, which is, the centre of gravity is high. If we attempt to
balance a stick, having one enlarged end, on the finger, it will be
found necessary that the weight be at the top; and in balancing
anything, it will be found that the object, in order that it ride
steadily, have its point of greatest weight considerably elevated
above its base. In the Greek water-vessel, which was carried balanced
on the head, we find this condition fully complied with, the centre of
gravity occupying a high position, while in the Egyptian vessel the
centre of gravity was low; but where the vessel is to be carried
underhand, it is as great an advantage to have the centre of gravity
low as it is in the case of a coach, where security is thus gained
just as the centre of gravity is lowered. The Greek water-vessel,
then, consists of a cavity for holding water, a funnel to collect and
guide the water, a base for the vessel to rest upon, and handles to
enable it to be raised to the head, and the centre of gravity is high
in order that it be readily balanced; and we should judge from this
vessel that the Greeks procured water from dripping-rocks and
water-spouts, and this is exactly what did occur. These are the direct
teachings of the Egyptian and Greek water-vessels; yet how many
circumstances and incidents of common life can be conceived as
associated with these different forms of vessel. There is the gossip
round the well, and the lingering by the river-side where the image of
the date-palm is mirrored by the glassy surface of the waters. The
effect of the noise of the splashing water upon the mind in the one
case, combined with the comparatively loud and energetic speaking
which would be necessary in order that the voice be not drowned by the
noise, and of the calm tranquillity of the river-bank in the other,
where the limpid water is ever flowing on in silent majesty, must be
considerable. Then we have the potter's art essential to the
production of the vessel in the one case, and the metal-worker's in
the other--the digging of clay, the mining of metal, the kilns and
smelting furnaces. We will not continue this portion of the subject
further, and have brought forward this illustration in order to show
how well-considered objects reveal to us the habits and customs of the
peoples and nations in which they originated."

[Illustration: Fig. 101.]

[Illustration: Fig. 102.]

[Illustration: Fig. 103.]

[Illustration: Fig. 104.]

[Illustration: Fig. 105.]

[Illustration: Fig. 106.]

[Illustration: Fig. 107.]

[Illustration: Fig. 108.]

[Illustration: Fig. 109.]

[Illustration: Fig. 110.]

[Illustration: Fig. 111.]

[Illustration: Fig. 112.]

[Illustration: Fig. 113.]

It will now be apparent that even a common object may result from such
careful consideration that its form will at once suggest its use; but
the object will only reveal the purpose for which it was created with
definiteness of expression when it perfectly answers the end proposed
by its formation. The advice which I must give to every designer is to
study carefully exactly what is required, before he proceeds to form
his ideas of what the object proposed to be created should be like,
and then to diligently strive to arrange such a form for it as shall
cause it to be perfectly suited to the want which it is intended to

More will be said upon the subject of form when speaking of glass
vessels and of silversmiths' work; and when considering these subjects
we shall also give the law which governs the application of handles
and spouts to vessels; and it is of the utmost importance that they be
correctly placed in order that the vessel may be used with convenience
(see page 140). A word must now be said respecting the decoration of
earthen vessels, but on this subject our remarks must be brief.

[Illustration: Fig. 114.]

[Illustration: Fig. 115.]

[Illustration: Fig. 116.]

[Illustration: Fig. 117.]

The object to which the decoration is applied must determine the
nature of the ornament to be employed. In the case of a vessel which
is to be in part hidden when in use, great simplicity of treatment
should be adopted, and the ornament may with advantage consist of
repeated parts. In the case of a plate, little or no ornament should
be placed in the centre; but if there is a central ornament it should
be a small, regular, radiating figure, consisting of like parts (Figs.
114 and 115). The border should also consist of simple members
repeated, for it will then look well if portions are covered; and
these remarks will apply equally to all kinds of plates, whether
intended for use at dinner or dessert.

No plate should have a landscape painted upon it, nor a figure, nor a
group of flowers. Whatever has a right and wrong way upwards is
inappropriate in such a position, as whatever ornament a plate bears
should be in all positions as fully right way upwards to the beholder
as it can be. Besides, landscapes, groups of flowers, and figures are
spoiled if in part hidden, provided they are satisfactory when the
whole is seen.

[Illustration: Fig. 118.]

Plates may have a white ground, for it is desirable that those
articles on which food is presented should manifest the utmost
cleanliness, yet to a cream tint there can be no objection. I should,
however, prefer white plates, with a rather deep blue, Indian red,
maroon, or brown pattern upon them, and a pale buff table-cloth for
them to rest upon.

In the case of cups and saucers the treatment should be similar to
that of the plate. The saucer may have a simple border ornament,
consisting of parts repeated, and little or no ornament in the central
portion on which the cup rests. The cup may have an external border
ornament, and a double narrow line of colour around the upper portion
of the interior, but no other ornament is here required.

Whatever ornament is placed around a cup, or vase, or any tall object
must be such as will not suffer by perspective, for there is scarcely
any portion of the ornament that can be seen otherwise than
foreshortened (Figs. 103 and 111). Let simplicity be the ruling
principle in the decoration of all rounded objects, and ever remember
that a line which is straight on a flat surface becomes a curve on a
round surface (see page 110).

I have given what is a correct decoration for a plate and cup and
saucer, but there are other methods of treatment than those just
named. The Japanese are very fond of placing little circular groups of
flowers on plates, saucers, and bowls (Figs. 116 and 117). The Greeks
had various methods of enriching their tazzas and vases with
ornament, and the Egyptians were partial to the plan of rendering a
cup as a lotus-flower (Fig. 100). But when they formed a cup thus,
they were careful to draw the flower conventionally and ornamentally,
and never produced an imitative work (see page 24). The Chinese treat
the flower of the sacred bean in the same way (Fig. 118).

What I have said has been addressed to the student. The remarks,
however, made respecting the form chosen being that which is most
suitable to the end proposed, and the conditions to which I shall make
reference as governing the application of handle and spout to any
object, are binding upon all who would produce satisfactory works; but
to the genius who has power to produce beautiful and vigorous
ornament, and whose taste has, by years of study and cultivation,
become refined and judicious, I can give no rules, his own taste being
his best guide.


When speaking of earthenware, I insisted upon the desirability of
using every material in the easiest and most natural manner, and I
illustrated my meaning by saying that glass has a molten condition as
well as a solid state, and that while in the molten condition it can
be "blown" into forms of exquisite beauty. Glass-blowing is an
operation of skill, and an operation in which natural laws come to our
aid, and I cannot too strongly repeat my statement that every material
should be "worked" in the most simple and befitting manner; and I
think that our consideration of the formation of glass vessels will
render the reasonableness of my demand apparent.

Let a portion of molten glass be gathered upon the end of a metal
pipe, and blown into a bubble while the pipe drops vertically from the
mouth of the operator, and a flask is formed such as is used for the
conveyance of olive oil (Fig. 119); and what vessel could be more
beautiful than such a flask? Its grace of form is obvious; the
delicate curvature of its sides, the gentle swelling of the bulb, and
the exquisitely rounded base, all manifest beauty.

Here we get a vessel formed for us almost wholly by Nature. It is the
attraction of gravitation which converts what would be a mere bubble,
or hollow sphere of glass, into a gracefully elongated and
delicately-shaped flask. This may be taken as a principle, that
whenever a material is capable of being "worked" in a manner which
will so secure the operation of natural laws as to modify the shapes
of the objects into which it is formed, it is very desirable that we
avail ourselves of such a means of formation, for the operation of
gravitation and similar forces upon plastic matter is calculated to
give beauty of form.

When clay is worked upon the potter's wheel, it is shaped by the
operator's skill, and is sufficiently stiff to retain the shape given
to it to a very considerable extent; yet the operation of gravitation
upon it, so long as it has any plasticity whatever, is calculated to
secure delicacy of form. This rule should ever be remembered by the
art-student--that a curve is beautiful just as its origin is difficult
to detect (see Chap. I., page 23). In the formation of vases, bottles,
etc., knowledge of this law is very important, and the operation of
gravity upon hollow plastic vessels is calculated to give to their
curves subtlety (intricate beauty) of character. Having arranged that
the material shall be worked in the manner most befitting its nature,
we must next consider what purpose the object to be formed is intended
to serve.

Take a common hock-bottle (Fig. 120) and consider it. What is wanted
is a vessel such as will stand, in which wine can be stored. It must
have a strong neck, so that a cork may be driven in without splitting
it, and must be formed of a material that is not absorbent. Glass, as
a material, admirably answers the want, and this bottle is capable of
storing wine; it will stand, and has a rim around the neck such as
gives to it strength. But, besides serving the requirements named, it
is both easily formed and is beautiful. The designer must be a
utilitarian, but he must be an artist also. We must have useful
vessels, but the objects with which we are to surround ourselves must
likewise be beautiful; and unless they are beautiful, our delicacy of
feeling and power to appreciate Nature, which is full of beauties,
will be impaired. A hock-bottle is a mere elongated bubble, with the
bottom portion pressed in so that it may stand, and the neck thickened
by a rim of glass being placed around it.

[Illustration: Fig. 119.]

[Illustration: Fig. 120.]

Here we have a bottle shaped by natural agency; it is formed of heavy
glass, and the bubble was thick at its lower part, hence its elongated
form; but if length is required in any bubble, and the glass is even
light, it can always be given by swinging the bubble round from the
centre, so that centrifugal force may be brought into play in the
direction of its length; or if it has to be widened, this can as
easily be done by giving to it a rotatory motion, whereby the
centrifugal force is caused to act from the axis of the vessel
outwards, and not from the apex to the base, as in the former
instance. In either case a certain amount of beauty would appear in
the shape produced, for Nature here works for us. (Compare the short,
dumpy, yet beautiful bottle, in which we receive curaçao, with the
hock-bottle, when the two natural modes of forming bottles will be
illustrated.) Our wine-bottles are moulded, hence their ugliness. We
work without Nature's assistance, and we reap ugliness as the reward.

Let us now consider what a decanter should be. In many respects, the
wants which a decanter is intended to meet are similar to those which
are met by the bottle, as just enumerated, but here is a great
difference--a bottle is only _intended_ to be filled once, whereas a
decanter will have to be filled many times; and a bottle is made so
that it can travel, while a decanter is not meant to be the subject of
long journeys. It is true that a bottle may be refilled many times,
but it is not intended that it should, as the fact that we use a
funnel when we wish to fill it clearly shows, and without a funnel the
vessel is not complete. All objects which are meant to be refilled
many times should have a funnel-shaped mouth (see my remarks on the
Greek water-vessel, page 121), but if a bottle had a distended orifice
it would not be well adapted for transport. A decanter should have
capacity for containing liquid; it should stand securely, and have a
double funnel--a funnel to collect the fluid and conduct it into the
bottle, and a funnel to collect it and conduct it out of the bottle.
It must also be convenient to use and hold, and the upper funnel
should be of such a character that it will guide the liquid in a
proper direction when poured from the decanter.

[Illustration: Fig. 121.]

[Illustration: Fig. 122.]

[Illustration: Fig. 123.]

If we take a flask and flatten its base, and extend the upper portion
of the neck slightly into the form of a funnel, we have all that is
required of a decanter, with the exception of a permanent cork, which
is a stopper (Fig. 121).

But as most decanters are intended to hold wine, the brilliancy of
which is not readily apparent when that portion of the vessel which
contains the liquid rests immediately upon the table, it is desirable
to give to the vessel a foot, or, in other words, raise the body of
the decanter so that light may surround it as fully as possible (Figs.
122 and 123).

In Figs. 124 to 135 I give a number of shapes of decanters and jugs,
such as may be seen in our best shop-windows, and such as I consider
desirable forms for such vessels; and in considering-the shape of such
vessels, the character of the upper portion of the neck (the lip) must
be regarded, as well as that of the body and base. Notice also whether
the centre of gravity is high or low, and the position and character
of the handle; but respecting the application of handles to vessels I
will speak when considering silversmiths' work (see page 140).

[Illustration: Fig. 124.]

[Illustration: Fig. 125.]

[Illustration: Fig. 126.]

[Illustration: Fig. 127.]

[Illustration: Fig. 128.]

[Illustration: Fig. 129.]

[Illustration: Fig. 130.]

[Illustration: Fig. 131.]

[Illustration: Fig. 132.]

[Illustration: Fig. 133.]

[Illustration: Fig. 134.]

[Illustration: Fig. 135.]

Besides decanters and bottles, glass is formed into tumblers,
wine-glasses, flower-holders, and many other things; but the
principles which we have already laid down will apply equally to all,
for if the objects formed result from the easiest mode of working the
material, and are such as perfectly answer the end proposed by their
formation, and are beautiful, nothing more can be expected of them.

Many objects of fancy shape have been produced as mere feats of
glass-blowing, and with some of these efforts I sympathise. Wherever
the work produced is truly adapted to use, or where an artistic effect
is achieved, the glass-blower has my warm sympathy; but if the effort
is made at the production of novelty merely, the result gained is sure
to be unsatisfactory. Much of the Venetian glass will illustrate these
last remarks.

Fig. 136 is a very excellent and picturesque spirit-bottle; it is easy
to hold, and quaint in appearance.[27] Figs. 137, 138, and 139 are
Venetian glass vessels, wrought entirely at the furnace-mouth, and
neither cut nor engraved--they are artistic, and of interesting
appearance; while Fig. 140 is a work of Roman glass, in which the
upper distension is useful if the liquid contains a sediment which it
is not desirable to pour out with the liquid.

[27] In order that the nature of this bottle be better understood, I
give a section of it at A as seen when cut through the central part.

[Illustration: Fig. 136.]

[Illustration: Section of Fig. 136 at A.]

[Illustration: Fig. 137.]

[Illustration: Fig. 138.]

[Illustration: Fig. 139.]

[Illustration: Fig. 140.]

There is one thing pertaining to table-glass that we do not now
sufficiently consider, which is its capacity for colour. Our one idea
in the formation of glass vessels is the imitation of crystal, unless
we happen to produce a vessel of the strongest tint. With the
exception of hock-glasses, which are generally either ruby-colour,
dark green, or intense yellow-green, we rarely employ tinted glass on
our tables. These three colours, which we usually employ in
hock-glasses, are all too strong in tint for ordinary purposes, and
they are coarse and vulgar. It is curious that we should confine
ourselves to these colours when glass is capable of assuming the most
delicate of shades, of appearing as a soft, subtle, golden hue of the
most beautiful light tertiary green, lilac, and blue, and, indeed, of
almost any colour.

Why, then, should we employ only two or three colours, and those of
the most crude character? If the Roman and Greek glass of the British
Museum be inspected, it will be seen that the Romans employed various
soft and delicate tints, and why we should not do so I cannot see. For
many reasons the colours of our hock-glasses are highly objectionable,
but especially for two. First, as already stated, the colour is so
strong that they appear as mere dark spots on the cloth, and
altogether fail in imparting to the table a pleasant colour-effect;
and, secondly, they utterly destroy the beauty of appearance which the
wine would otherwise present.

[Illustration: Fig. 141.]

[Illustration: Fig. 142.]

No glass which is to contain a liquid of pleasant colour should be so
strong in tint as to mar the beauty of the contained fluid, and
especially is this true when the colour of the glass is of an opposite
character to that of the liquid: thus a red liquid placed in a
strongly-coloured green glass becomes highly offensive in appearance,
and yet we often see claret served in green hock-glasses. A
dinner-table requires colour. Let the cloth be pale buff, or
cream-colour, instead of white; and the glass water-vessels of very
pale, but refined and various, tints; and the salt-cellars, if of
glass, also coloured, in a tender and befitting manner, and a most
harmonious effect will be produced. The flowers with which the table
is adorned would then harmonise with the other things, and much beauty
might be produced.

Respecting the ornamentation of glass, two methods of treatment are
resorted to, which are "cutting" and "engraving." Both modes deal with
glass as a hard, crystal-like substance; and consist in grinding the
surface, and either leaving it "dead" or repolishing it. In the case
of "cutting" a considerable portion of the substance of the glass is
generally removed, and the surface is repolished; but in the case of
"engraving" little more than the surface is generally acted upon, and
the engraved portion remains dead.

Cutting may be employed in bringing about ornamental effects in glass,
but it is rarely to be commended when so lavishly used as to be the
chief means of giving form to the vessel; indeed, cutting should be
sparingly and judiciously used. A vessel formed of glass should never
be wholly shaped by cutting, as though it were a work of stone. If the
neck of a decanter can be made more convenient by being slightly
cut--if it can be so treated that it can be held more securely--then
let it be cut; but in all cases avoid falling into the error of too
much cutting which causes the work to appear laboured, for any work
which presents the appearance of having been the result of much labour
is as unpleasant to look upon as that work is pleasing which results
from the exercise of momentary skill. There is a great art-principle
manifested in the expression "Let there be light, and there was

[Illustration: Fig. 143.]

[Illustration: Fig. 144.]

Engraving is also laborious, and while it is capable of yielding most
delicate and beautiful effects, it should yet be somewhat sparingly
used, for extravagance in labour is never desirable, and there is such
a thing as extravagance of beauty.

However delicate ornament may be, and however well composed, yet if it
covers the whole of the walls of an apartment and of the objects which
it contains, it fails to please. There must be the contrast of plain
surfaces with ornamented--plain for the eye to rest upon, ornament for
the mind to enjoy. In the enrichment of glass these remarks fully
apply. Let there be plain surfaces as well as ornamented parts, and
the effect will be more satisfying than if all be covered with

All that I said respecting the decoration of damask table-linen will
apply equally to glass, considering only the different way in which
the effect is produced (see Chap. VI., page 108). Thus we have
ornament produced only by a variation of surface. Such simple means of
producing an art-effect are capable of rendering in a satisfactory
manner simple treatments only, but simple patterns are capable of
yielding the highest pleasure, and such patterns can be almost
perfectly rendered by engraving, as shown in Figs. 141, 142, 143.[28]

[28] Fig. 143 represents a decanter made for the Prince of Wales by
Messrs. Pellatt and Co., which is in good taste. Fig. 141 is a goblet
from Austria: it was shown in the International Exhibition of Paris in

Somewhat elaborate effects can be rendered in glass by very laborious
engraving, whereby different depths of cutting are attained; but such
work is the result of great labour, and rarely produces an effect
proportionate to the toil expended upon it; and if a bottle so
engraved is filled with a coloured wine, the entire beauty of its
engraving is destroyed. Fig. 144 is a drawing of a most elaborately
engraved bottle, which was shown in the Exhibition of 1862. It
represents, to a great extent, wasted labour.

[Illustration: Fig. 145.]

It must be borne in mind that any ornament placed on a decanter,
wine-glass, or tumbler, is to be seen almost wholly in perspective;
and the remarks made respecting the effects of folded or waved
surfaces on ornament (Chap. VI., page 110), and those made in
reference to the application of ornament to earthen vases (Chap. VII.,
page 126), apply equally here.

It is not my province to enter into the various methods of
manipulating glass, nor into all the classes of art-effect which glass
is capable of yielding: I can only call attention to general
principles, and leave the art-student to think for himself what should
be the treatment of any particular object. There is a sort of crackle
glass which has come into use during the last few years, and is an
imitation of old Venetian work; this is in some respects pleasant in
appearance, but it is somewhat uncomfortable to handle, and difficult
to keep clean; its use must therefore be limited. The Romans were in
the habit of forming glass which was opaque, dark, and of many
colours. Fig. 145 is an illustration of this kind of glass, the
pattern being formed by portions of various coloured glass being
imbedded in the substance of the vessel.

In another chapter I shall have a few remarks to make upon stained
glass; but as our present remarks pertain to hollow vessels chiefly,
and as general principles regulate the formation of all such, whether
they are formed of earthenware, glass, or metal, I think it better to
proceed to the consideration of silversmiths' ware, and thus continue
a notice of hollow vessels, than to pass to glass windows, although
they are formed of the material now under review. What we are
specially considering at present are vessels of capacity, or hollow

[Illustration: Fig. 146.]

[Illustration: Fig. 147.]


Continuing our remarks upon hollow vessels, we have now to notice
silversmiths' work, and here we may observe that while the material
with which we have now to deal differs in character widely from that
of which those vessels already noticed have been formed, yet that many
principles which have been enunciated are equally applicable to the
objects now under consideration. Silver objects, like those formed of
clay or glass, should perfectly serve the end for which they have been
formed; also, the fact that ornament applied to rounded surfaces
should be adapted for being viewed in perspective remains as binding
on us as before; but herein the works of the silversmith differ from
those already discussed--they are formed of a material of intrinsic
value, which is not the case with articles of earthenware or glass.
Silver and gold being materials of considerable worth, it is necessary
that the utmost economy be observed in using them, and in order to
effect this a special mode of construction must be resorted to. If we
propose to ourselves the formation of a sugar-basin of semi-circular
shape, of what thickness must the metal be in order that it may not
bend when lifted? It is obvious that the vessel must not yield its
shape to ordinary pressure, nor be subject to alterations of form when
in ordinary use; but if it is to be formed throughout of metal of such
thickness as will secure its retaining its shape, it will be costly
and heavy, and an amount of metal will be used in its formation
sufficient for the manufacture of two or three such articles.

Instead of forming the vessel throughout of thick metal, we may
construct it from a thin sheet of silver; but in order that it possess
sufficient strength we must indent one or more beads in its side (see
Fig. 146); or we can form an angle by having a rim projecting into the
basin (Fig. 147), or extending from it, and thus give strength; but
the two beads are the more desirable, as the one gives strength at the
top and the other at a lower portion of the vessel.

Modes of economising material, when we are forming vessels of costly
substances, are of the utmost importance, and should be carefully
thought out. If the designer forms works which are expensive, he
places them beyond the reach of those who might otherwise enjoy them,
and if heavy they appear clumsy in the hands of those accustomed to
delicate and light objects.

Besides this, works in silver and in gold are always in danger of
being destroyed, owing to the intrinsic value of these metals; for if
stolen, the theft is promptly hidden in the melting-pot. Now if we
form the vessels of thin metal, we render the money value of the
material less, and thus our works are to a smaller degree tempting to
the avaricious, and their chance of long existence is greater. The
precious metals are at all times perilous materials for the formation
of works of art; but while we use them, let us take care so to employ
them as to give to our works every possible opportunity for long
existence. If a work is to be so formed that it may exist for many
years, it becomes of the highest importance that those objects which
we create be well considered as to their utility, and at the same time
be beautiful in form. Long existence is an evil in the case of an ugly
object, or an ill-considered vessel; that which is not refining in its
influence is better blotted out. Let that man who will not seek to
embody beauty in his works make them heavy with metal, so that they
may tempt the thief, and thus sooner blot out his works from
existence, as they tend only to debase and degrade; but he who loves
refinement, and seeks to give chasteness of character to the objects
which he creates, may well strive to secure to them length of

There are various modes of working metal. It may be cast, hammered,
cut, engraved, and manipulated in various ways.

Little that is satisfactory can result from casting. Casting is a
rough means of producing a result, and at best achieves the formation
of a mass which may be less troublesome to cut into shape than a more
solid piece of metal; but casting without the application of other
means of working-metal achieves little of an art nature.

Some of the fine iron castings of Berlin are wonderfully good in their
way, and are to an extent artistic; and certainly they contrast
strangely with the cast handles and knobs which we often see applied
to vegetable-dishes, and similar silver objects here in England; yet
even these will not compare with works wrought by the hammer and the
chisel. Thin metal hammered into form, and touched where necessary
with the chisel, the graver, and the chasing-tool, is capable of the
very finest effects which can be achieved in metal-work. Let the
reader consider the beautiful vessels with which Arabian metal-work
presents us: these are all formed by the hammer and chisel, with the
assistance of the graver and chasing-tool, and how marvellously
delicate and beautiful are the results! We have in these vessels
beauty and dignity of form, richness of design, great intricacy and
delicacy of detail, and altogether a refinement of effect which may
long be considered and repeatedly enjoyed (Fig. 148).

[Illustration: Fig. 148.]

Several, I may almost say many, of these beautiful objects are to be
found in the South Kensington Museum, and it should be generally known
that fac-similes of these lovely works, in the form of electrotype
copies, have been prepared by Messrs. Elkington and Co., under the
sanction of the authorities of the Department of Science and Art, and
that these are procurable at small cost. For purposes of study these
copies are of almost equal value with the originals, and for the
adornment of a sideboard they are hardly inferior. I strongly advise
those who can afford to purchase these beautiful copies to garnish
their sideboards with plate of this description, rather than with the
meretricious electro-plate which we often see in our shop-windows.

Having determined on the best mode of working the material, consider
carefully the requirements which the work to be produced is intended
to meet, and then strive to form the object so that it may perfectly
answer the end proposed by its creation.

Let us take a sugar-basin. What form should it have? After much
consideration, I have arrived at the conclusion that the two shapes
engraved in Figs. 149 and 150 are those which best fulfil the
requirements of such a vessel, for in them the sugar is always
collected together, and the dust sugar separates itself from the

The handles of a sugar-basin are often so small as to be partially or
wholly useless. It not unfrequently happens that only one or two
fingers can rest on the handle, owing to its smallness, while the
thumb has to be placed within the orifice of the basin when it is
desired to move it. This should not be so; if a handle is to exist at
all, it should be so formed as to be useful, and afford a means of
moving the object with ease and comfort.

To form a handle as a mere ornament is an absurdity, for the handle is
part of the vessel structurally, while the ornamentation is an after
and separate consideration. In order to its existence a vessel must be
constructed, but when formed it need not of necessity be ornamented;
ornamentation must ever be regarded as separate from construction.

Such a sugar-basin as I have suggested would not stand without legs:
it must therefore have them; but I see no reason why the legs and
handles should not be combined; hence I propose three feet so formed
as to serve as handles throughout their upper parts (Figs. 149, 150),
they being convenient to hold.

Modern European silversmiths have fallen into the error (an error now
prevailing wherever art can be applied to any object) of making their
works of a pictorial, rather than an ornamental, character--an error
which the Arabians, Indians, and Japanese never perpetrate, whose
works in metal are unsurpassed by any, and equalled by indeed few. It
is a mistake to cover an entire vase with figures in high relief; but
wherever anything of the kind is attempted, care must be exercised in
causing the groups to follow the line of the vase, and not to appear
as irregular projections from it. As to the modes of decorating works
in silver and in gold, they are many; of ornamentation by _repoussé_
work we have already spoken, and of chasing and engraving. But besides
these there are other methods, and some of great interest, for there
is damascene work, or inlaying; and applying colour, or enamelling;
and niello work; jewels may also be added.

Damascene work is of great interest. Metal of one colour is inlaid
into metal of another colour. India produces, perhaps, the rarest
examples of this kind of work, the Indians being experts at this
manufacture; but the Indian work consists chiefly of silver inlaid in
iron. This mode of work seems to be capable of producing many
beautiful effects, as all who have examined the large inlaid hookahs
of India will admit.

Having chosen a form for a vessel, the next question with which we
have to deal is, will it require a handle and spout? It is curious
that while the position of a spout and handle in relation to a vessel
is governed by a simple natural law, we yet rarely find them placed as
they should be. This is the more curious, as a vessel may become
practically of great weight, owing to the handle being misplaced.

[Illustration: Fig. 149.]

[Illustration: Fig. 150.]

A pound weight is easily lifted, but when applied to the shorter end
of the steel-yard it will balance a hundredweight. If this principle
is applied to a tea-pot which actually weighs but little, it may yet
be very heavy to lift. In nineteen cases out of twenty, handles are so
placed on tea-pots and similar vessels that they are in use lifted
only by a force capable of raising two or three such vessels, if the
principle of the steel-yard was not acting against the person who uses
the vessel. Take our ordinary forms of tea-pot, and see how far the
centre of the weight (the centre of gravity) is from the handle in a
horizontal direction, and you will be able to judge of the leverage
acting disadvantageously to the person who may pour tea from such
pots. Now if the part which is grasped is to the right or left of a
right line passing through the centre of gravity of any vessel, there
is leverage acting to the disadvantage of the person desiring to pour
from that vessel, and this leverage increases just as the point held
is removed from the central line spoken of.

Fig. 151 would pour when in the position shown in Fig. 152, but see
how far the hand that holds it would be to the right of the centre of
gravity (_a_), which distance is of great disadvantage, as it causes
the vessel to appear much heavier than it actually is, and requires a
much greater expenditure of force in order that the tea-pot be put to
its use than is necessary were it properly formed.

[Illustration: Fig. 151.]

[Illustration: Fig. 152.]

[Illustration: Fig. 153.]

[Illustration: Fig. 154.]

[Illustration: Fig. 155.]

The law governing the application of handle and spout to vessels is
this, and the same principle applies whether the vessel be formed of
metal, glass, or earthenware:--Find the centre of gravity of the
vessel, which can easily be done by letting a vertical line drop over
it when placed in two different positions, as in Figs. 153, 154, and
where the two vertical lines intersect, as in _a_ in Fig. 155, is the
centre of gravity. The position of the handle being fixed on, draw a
line through the centre of the handle, and continue it through the
centre of gravity of the vessel. The spout must now be at right angles
to this line. If this be the case the vessel will pour freely while
the handle is just hung upon the thumb or finger of the person
desiring to pour from it, as may be seen from Figs. 156, 157, in which
the straight line A, passing through the centre of gravity _a_, is at
right angles, as it should be, with the straight line passing through
the spout.

This law, if obeyed, will always enable liquid to be poured from a
vessel without its appearing heavier than it actually is, but it will
be seen that the shape of the vessel must be considered so that the
spout and handle can bear this relation to each other, as in Figs.
156, 157, 158, 159, and 160. Some shapes will not admit of it, so they
must be avoided, as may be seen by examining Figs. 151 and 152, which
show a tea-pot of faulty shape in this respect.

[Illustration: Fig. 156.]

[Illustration: Fig. 157.]

[Illustration: Fig. 158.]

[Illustration: Fig. 159.]

A consideration of this law shows that the handles of jugs--those
formed of silver, of glass, and of earthenware alike--are usually
placed too high; but in this respect things are much better than they
were a few years back. Now we somewhat frequently see a jug with the
handle in the right place, while some years back we never did. Silver
jugs are now the most generally faulty in this respect, and such
mistakes as the wrong placing of the handle or spout of a vessel
result only from ignorance, for no man knowing the law would violate
it. Fig. 161 shows a common form of jug with its handle, but the
handle is too high; the position which it should occupy is shown by
the dotted line. A very excellent handle is applied to many of the
French water-pots, as shown in Fig. 162.

It is unnecessary that I say more respecting the shape and general
construction of silver and gold vessels, except to remark that if
figures or other ornaments are beaten up on their surfaces, they must
not destroy or mar their general contour.

Iron is not used with us as it should be. Not only is the effect
produced when it is inlaid with silver and other metals excellent, but
by this mode of work our art-creations are greatly preserved, for the
iron is valueless, and the labour of removing the small quantity of
precious metal inlaid would be so great as to render the gain
inadequate remuneration for the time consumed in collecting it.

[Illustration: Fig. 160.]

[Illustration: Fig. 161.]

[Illustration: Fig. 162.]

M. Christophle, of Paris, and also M. Barbedien in a lesser degree,
have commenced to inlay copper vessels with silver, and some of their
works are very beautiful. The Japanese have from an early time inlaid
silver in bronze. This inlaying of silver into copper is a step in the
right direction, and should be encouraged by all lovers of art. The
Indians not only inlay silver in iron, but also gold in silver and in
iron; and the Italians and other peoples have inlaid metals in a
similar way; and the firmness and intricacy of some specimens of this
inlaying are truly marvellous.

By the process of enamelling, colour can be applied to metal, and of
all arts this art of enamelling produces works which are most lovely;
at least, if the best works of enamel do not surpass those produced by
any other manufacture, they are equal in beauty to the works of the
highest excellence. Transparent enamels are in some cases very
beautiful, but they do not generally compare with the opaque enamels,
such as were largely used by the Chinese about a hundred and fifty
years back, and by the Japanese, or those now so skilfully produced by
Barbedien, the Algerian Onyx Company, and Christophle, all of Paris.

Chinese _cloisonné_ enamel vases may be seen at the South Kensington
Museum, and here you may also find one or two small pieces of Japanese
enamel, as well as one or two grand specimens by Barbedien, of Paris.

The Chinese enamels have most frequently a light blue (sort of
turquoise) ground, but they occur with both red, white, green, and
yellow grounds; while the ornament is of mixed colours, but generally
with light yellow-green, deeper blue-green, or dark blue prevailing in

The Japanese enamels have a lower tone of colour-effect than the
Chinese, and the work is finer and the colours more mingled, while the
modern French enamels are full in colour, and are yet rich and subdued
in general effect--some of them, indeed, are most beautiful works.

The Elkingtons, of Birmingham and London, have also produced some
beautiful things in this way, but not in the quantities that Barbedien
has. I most strongly advise the art-student to study these works in

Niello-work is a form of enrichment applied to metal, but is not in
general use; it is a difficult process. Silver snuff-boxes and
pendants for watch-chains with a niello pattern upon them are not
uncommon, however, in Belgium and Russia, the niello pattern appearing
as dark lead-pencil work upon the silver. Some niello-work is very
quiet and beautiful, but much need not be said respecting it.

Jewels may be inserted in metal, but if this is done they should be
somewhat sparingly used, even in the most costly of works, for if they
are abundant they produce mere glitter, and the aim of the ornamentist
must in all cases be the production of repose.



Having considered metal-work in its more costly branches, we come to
the consideration of hardware, and I am glad that we have now to deal
with such metal-work as results from the use of inexpensive materials,
for it is such that must be generally employed, while works formed of
the precious metals can be used only by comparatively few persons. The
object of art is the giving of pleasure; the mission of the artist is
that of giving ennobling pleasure. If as an artist I give pleasure, I
to an extent fulfil my mission; but I do so, perfectly, only when I
give the greatest amount of the most refined pleasure by my art that
it is possible for me to give. If by producing works which can be
procured by many I give pleasure, it is well that I do so; but if the
many fail to derive pleasure from my works, then I must address myself
to the few, and be content with my lesser mission. Education appears
to be necessary to the appreciation of all art; the artist, then, is a
man who appeals to the educated. If some persons, by their superior
education, are enabled to appreciate art more fully than those who are
ignorant, and can consequently derive more pleasure from it than the
less cultured person, it might then be desirable that the artist
should address himself, through costly materials, to the few, for
thereby he might be giving the greatest amount of pleasure. I always,
however, like to produce works in cheap materials, for then I know
that I form what is capable of giving pleasure to the poor man--if
appreciative--who may possess it, as well as the rich.

In hardware we find two classes of work in the market which appear to
have little in common--the one class being characterised by a
preponderance of excellence, and the other by the dominance of what is
coarse and inartistic. The first class of work is that which is
produced by what are termed ecclesiastical metal-workers; the second
consists of what is generally known as Birmingham ware.

It is an error to suppose that these so-called ecclesiastical--or
mediæval, as they are sometimes called--metal-workers produce only
ecclesiastical and mediæval work. On the contrary, some of these
men--and they are now many in number--devote themselves almost
exclusively to domestic work, and most of them fabricate articles in
all styles of art. If I wanted an artistic set of fire-irons, I should
go to one of the ecclesiastical warehouses, for there I have seen many
sets that my reason commends and my judgment approves; but I never saw
a set produced for the general market that I liked; and the most
artistic fenders, grates, and gas-fittings, in almost any style, are
to be got at these shops. I do not mean to convey the impression that
all things made at these ecclesiastical warehouses are good, and that
all things of Birmingham (or Sheffield) manufacture are bad, for I
have seen indifferent works in these mediæval shops, and I have seen
excellent things from Birmingham--especially I might mention as good
certain gaseliers produced by two of the smaller Birmingham
houses--but as a rule the works found in the mediæval warehouses are
good, and as a rule the works in hardware produced by Birmingham and
Sheffield are bad, in point of art.

[Illustration: Fig. 163.]

[Illustration: Fig. 164.]

It will appear a mere repetition if I insist that the materials of
which works of hardware are formed be used in the easiest manner in
which they can be worked, and that every article be so formed as
perfectly to answer the end of its formation. Yet I must do so. Let us
look for a common set of fire-irons, and we shall find that nine
pokers out of ten have a handle terminating in a pointed knob. Now, as
the object of this knob is that of enabling us to exercise force
wherewith to break large pieces of coal, the folly of terminating this
knob with a point is obvious. A poker is, essentially, an object of
utility; it should therefore be useful. It is ridiculous to talk
of a poker as an ornament; yet we find it fashionable now to have a
bright poker as an ornament, which is obtrusively displayed to the
visitor, and a little black poker, which is carefully concealed from
view, reserved for use. I cannot imagine what people will not do for
show and fashion, but to the thinking mind such littleness as that
which induces women to keep a poker as an ornament must be
distressing; and until persons who desire to be regarded as educated
learn to discriminate between an ornament and an article of utility,
little progress in art can be made. If a poker is simply a thing to be
looked at, then it may be as inconvenient as you please, for if it
has no purpose to fulfil by its creation it cannot be unfitted to its
purpose. The same remarks will apply to shovel and tongs. If they are
intended as works of utility, then their form must be carefully
considered; but if they are to be mere ornaments I have nothing to say
respecting them.

[Illustration: Fig. 165.]

[Illustration: Fig. 166.]

Utility and beauty are not inseparable; but if an article of any kind
is intended to answer any particular end, it should be fitted to
answer the end proposed by its formation; but after it is created as a
work of utility, care must be exercised in order that it be also a
work of beauty. With due consideration, almost every work may be
rendered both useful and beautiful, and it must ever be the aim of the
intelligent ornamentist to render them so.

[Illustration: Fig. 167.]

[Illustration: Fig. 168.]

Iron is capable of being wrought in various ways; it maybe cast, or
hammered, or cut, or filed. Casting is the least artistic mode of
treating iron; but if iron is to be cast, the patterns formed should
be so fully adapted to this method of manufacture that the mode of
working may be readily apparent. It is foolish to seek to make
cast-iron appear as wrought-iron: cast-iron should appear as
cast-iron, and wrought-iron as wrought-iron. Cast-iron is brittle,
and must not be relied upon as of great strength; while wrought-iron
is tough, and will bend under great pressure rather than break.
Wrought-iron can be readily bent into scrolls, or the end of a rod of
metal can be hammered flat and shaped into the form of a leaf, and
parts can either be welded together or fastened by small collars,
pins, or screws. One or two illustrations of good wrought-iron work by
Skidmore, Benham, and Hart, are given in the engravings.

As an illustration of a simple railing, is figured one shown in the
International Exhibition of 1862 (Fig. 163), which is in every respect
excellent. Its strength is very great, yet it is quaint and beautiful.
As it was shown it was coloured, and the colours were so applied as to
increase its effect and beauty. If the student will carefully devote
himself to the consideration of excellent works in metal, he will
learn more than by much reading. Let him procure, if possible, the
illustrated catalogues of such men as Hart of London, Hardman of
Birmingham, and Dovey of Manchester, and study the sketches which he
will there see, and he will certainly discover the principles of a
true art, such as he must seek to apply in a manner concordant with
his own original feelings.

[Illustration: Fig. 169.]

Of our illustrations, the example by Skidmore (Fig. 161) furnishes us
with an excellent mode of treatment. Iron bands are readily bent into
volutes, or curves of various descriptions, and the parts so formed
can be united by welding, screws, or bolts. Hardman's gate (Fig. 165)
is in every respect excellent; it is quaint, vigorous, and
illustrative of a true mode of working metal. The two foliated
railings (Figs. 166, 167) are also very meritorious. They are simple
in design, and their parts are well fastened together. I advise very
strongly that the student carefully consider the illustrations which
accompany this chapter.

In iron-work the manifestation of a true constructive principle is
beyond all things desirable. Iron, being a strong material, should not
be formed into heavy masses unless immense weight has to be
sustained, or very great strength is required. If we form lamps,
candelabra, and such works of iron, it is obvious that the portions of
metal employed in their construction may be thin, as the material is
of great strength. Were we to form such works of wood, then a greatly
increased thickness of material would be necessary, in order that the
same strength be secured, as wood is not nearly so strong as iron.

My remarks will have special reference to wrought-iron, as cast-iron
cannot so fully be said to have a constructive character. The small
railing (Fig. 163) is an admirable illustration of a true constructive
formation, as the parts are all held together, and strengthened to a
wonderful degree, by the introduction of a horseshoe-shaped member.
This railing is worthy of the most careful study, for its strength is
great. Besides strength we have also beauty. The horseshoe form,
especially when judiciously applied, is far from being offensive.
Utility must come first, and then beauty, and so it does in this
particular railing; but here we have great simplicity, and a correct
structural character has been arrived at in its production rather than
any elaboration of the principles of beauty.

From the catalogue of J. W. Dovey, of Manchester, I select an
illustration of structure in the form of a candelabrum which is highly
satisfactory in character as a simple work (Fig. 168). There is a
solidly-formed heavy base, an upright stem terminating in a
candle-holder. There is an arrangement for catching waste grease, and
extra strength is given to the stem by four slender buttress-like
brackets, which are securely and well attached to the base and to the
stem above; and these are strengthened by two hoops, which prevent
their bending under pressure.

[Illustration: Fig. 170.]

Figs. 169 and 170, the former being a ridge or wall cresting, and the
latter a stair railing, are each illustrations of a correct treatment,
inasmuch as strength (a structural quality) and beauty (an art
quality) are secured at the same time. Fig. 169 is admirably
constructed, only it is a little slender above the middle horizontal
line. These two illustrations are also from Mr. Dovey's catalogue.

In the catalogue just named, and in those previously named also, many
good examples may be found illustrative of the successful combination
of true structural qualities with a considerable amount of beauty, and
also acknowledging the strength of the material by the lightness of
the parts.

[Illustration: Fig. 171.]

Those who reside in, or visit, London, will do well to go to the South
Kensington Museum, and study a large and splendid, candelabrum of
Messrs. Hurt, Son, and Peard, which is well worthy of consideration.
It is rather heavy, and is of enormous strength, but in most other
respects it is highly commendable. It, is beautiful, well
proportioned, and illustrative of a correct treatment of metal.
Besides this, it exemplifies the manner in which stones or jewels may
be applied to works in hardware with advantage. As a further
illustration of a correct and very beautiful treatment of metal, we
give one segment of the Hereford Cathedral Screen (Fig. 171), the work
of that most intelligent of metal-workers, Mr. Skidmore of Coventry.
This screen was shown in the International Exhibition of 1862, in
London, and was from there removed to its place in the cathedral. All
who can will do well to view this beautiful work, which is one of the
finest examples of artistic metal-work with which we are acquainted.
Notice the ease with which iron may be treated if a correct mode of
working be employed. Let a bar of iron be taken which is about half an
inch in thickness, by 1¼ broad. This can be rolled into a volute (the
filigree mode of treatment), or its end can be hammered out into stems
and leaves, and to it can be attached other leaves by rivets, screws,
or ties, or it can be bent into any structural form. To the student I
say, study the shapes into which simple bars of iron can be beaten,
both mentally and by observing well-formed works.

[Illustration: Fig. 172.]

Brass, copper, and other metals may be associated with iron in the
formation of any works. If well managed, brass and other bright metals
may act as gems--that is, they may give bright spots; but where the
bright metals are used with this view, care must be exercised in order
that the bright spots be formed by beautiful parts, and that their
distribution be just, for that which is bright will attract first

Before leaving this part of our subject, I must call attention to a
hinge by Hardman, of Birmingham, which was shown in the International
Exhibition of 1862, as it is both quaint and beautiful (Fig. 172). The
door to which this hinge was applied opened twice; the first half
opened and folded back on the second half, and then the two halves
opened as one door, as will be seen from the illustration. It is very
desirable that we have a little novelty of arrangement in our works.
We are too apt to repeat ourselves, hence it is a sort of relief to
meet with a new idea.

It is impossible that I take up each article of hardware and consider
it separately. All I can do is to point out principles, and leave the
learner to consider and apply them for himself--principles which, once
understood, may result in the construction of many excellent works,
and may lead to the formation of a correct judgment respecting such
objects as may be brought forward for criticism. I will, however, just
call attention to gas-branches, as they are often wrongly constructed.
A gas-branch is a duct through which gas is to be conveyed. It must be
strong if it is to be exposed to pressure, or if it runs the chance of
coming in collision with the person, as do standard lights in public
buildings. The main part of a gas-branch is the tube or pipe which is
to convey the gas, but this may be supported in many ways, as by such
buttress-like brackets as in the candelabrum shown in Fig. 168; and if
there are branch tubes for several lights, these may well be connected
with the central tube, not only by their own attachment, but by
brackets of some sort, or with one another by some connecting parts.
Whether the gas-branch be pendent or standard, this mode of
strengthening the tube-work should be employed, for the tubes
themselves are but slightly held together, and by pressure being
brought to bear upon them, a dangerous and expensive escape of gas may

In the manufacture of gaseliers one or two of the smaller Birmingham
houses have certainly distinguished themselves by the production of
works both beautiful and true; and these lead me to think that a
better day is dawning for Birmingham, in which its art shall be
exalted rather than degraded, and shall be such as will win to it the
esteem of the world rather than call forth the execrations of
art-loving people.

As to the colouring of iron I can say little. In my judgment the best
modes of colouring metals were originated by Mr. Skidmore of Coventry,
of whom I have before spoken. His theory is this, that metals are best
coloured by the tints of their oxides. When a metal, especially brass,
is seen in a furnace in a molten condition, the flames, where the
oxygen of the atmosphere is uniting with the vapour of the metal,
present the most resplendent tints. The same thing in a lesser degree
occurs in the case of iron, but here the colours are less brilliant,
and are more tertiary in character. Mr. Skidmore applies to a metal
the colours seen in the flames of the furnace where it melts. Without
attempting to limit the colourist to any theory whereby his ideas
might be restricted, I must say that Skidmore's colouring of the
metals is very good.



From early times it has been customary to colour glass. To the ancient
Egyptians a method of forming glass of various tints was known, and by
producing a mass of glass consisting of variously coloured pieces
vitreously united, and cutting this into slices, they, in a costly and
laborious manner, produced a sort of stained glass which might have
been employed for the sides of lanterns or other purposes. The Greeks
were acquainted with a similar process, and bowls formed in this
manner by them are common in our museums.

Soon after the re-discovery of glass in our own country, methods of
colouring it were sought, and cathedral windows were formed, which
were of such beauty, and were so thoroughly fitted to answer the end
of their creation, that little or no improvement upon these early
works has even yet been made, and much of the decorative glass which
we now produce is far inferior to them as regards design, colour, and
mode of treatment.

A window must fulfil two purposes--it must keep out rain, wind, and
cold, and must admit light; having fulfilled these ends, it may be

If a window commands a lovely view let it, if possible, be formed of
but few sheets (if not very large, of one sheet) of plate-glass; for
the works of God are more worthy of contemplation, with their
ever-changing beauty, than the works of man; but if the window
commands only a mass of bricks and mortar inartistically arranged, let
it, if possible, be formed of coloured glass having beauty of design
manifested by the arrangement of its parts. A window should never
appear as a picture with parts treated in light and shade. The
foreshortening of the parts, and all perspective treatments, are best
avoided, as far as possible. I do not say that the human figure, the
lower animals, and plants must not be delineated upon window glass,
for, on the contrary, they may be so treated as not only to be
beautiful, but also to be a consistent decoration of glass; but this I
do say, that many stained windows are utterly spoiled through the
window being treated as a picture, and not as a protection from the
weather and as a source of light.

If pictorially treated subjects are employed upon window glass, they
should be treated very simply, and drawn in bold outline without
shading, and the parts should be separated from each other by varying
their colours. Thus, the flesh of a figure may be formed of glass
having a pink tone; the robe of the figure of glass which is green,
purple, or any other colour; a flower may be formed of white glass, or
of glass of any colour; the leaves of green glass; and the sky
background of blue glass. All the parts will thus be distinguished
from each other by colour, and the distinction of part from part will
be further enhanced by the strong black outline which bounds the parts
and furnishes the drawing of the picture.

[Illustration: Fig. 173.]

[Illustration: Fig. 174.]

Strong colours should rarely be used in windows, as they retard the
admission of light. Light is essential to our well-being; our health
of body depends in a large measure upon the amount of light which
falls upon the skin. Those wonderful chemical changes, in the absence
of which there can be no life, in part, at least, depend upon the
exposure of our bodies to light; let our windows, then, admit these
life-giving rays. It must also be remembered that if light is not
freely admitted to an apartment the colours of all the objects which
it contains, and of its own decorations if it has any, are sacrificed,
for in the absence of light there is no colour.

[Illustration: Fig. 175.]

[Illustration: Fig. 176.]

[Illustration: Fig. 177.]

[Illustration: Fig. 178.]

[Illustration: Fig. 179.]

[Illustration: Fig. 180.]

It is not necessary, in order to the production of a beautiful window,
that much strong colour be used; tints of creamy yellow, pale amber,
light tints of tertiary blue, blue-grey, olive, russet, and other
sombre or delicate hues, if enlivened with small portions of ruby or
other full colours, produce the most charming effects, and by their
use we have consistent windows.

A good domestic window is often produced by armorial bearings in
colour being placed on geometrically arranged tesseræ of slightly
tinted glass. In some cases such an arrangement as this is highly
desirable, for the room may thus get the benefit which a bit of colour
will sometimes afford, and at the same time a pleasant view may be had
through the uncoloured portion of the window. As an illustration of
this class of window, we extract one from the catalogue of those
excellent artists in stained glass, Messrs. Heaton, Butler, and Bayne,
of Garrick Street (Fig. 173). A good window may also be formed by
bordering a plain window with colour, (Fig. 174), or in place of the
plain centre squares of glass may be used, each bearing a diaper
pattern, as Figs. 175 to 182.

[Illustration: Fig. 181.]

[Illustration: Fig. 182.]

No architectural constructive feature should be introduced into a
window--thus, an elaborate architectural canopy overshadowing a figure
is not at all desirable. If a figure is formed of a perishable
material, and stands on the outside of a building, it is well that it
be protected from the rain by a canopy; but such a contrivance when
introduced over a figure drawn on a flat window is absurd, being
useless. Let us always consider what we have to do before we commence
the formation of any ornamental article, and then seek to do it in the
most simple, consistent, and beautiful manner. Figs. 183 and 184
represent my views of what stained glass may advantageously be.

[Illustration: Fig. 183.]

More than once in the course of these chapters I have protested in
strong terms against pretence in art and art-decoration--the desire to
make things appear to be made of better material or more costly
substances than what they have in reality been wrought from--that
leads men to paint and varnish a plain freestone mantelpiece in
imitation of some expensive marble, or to make doors and
window-shutters, skirting and panelling that the carpenter has
fashioned out of red or yellow deal, assume the appearance of oak, or
maple, or satinwood, by the deceptive skill of the grainer. In no
case can the imitation ever approach a fair resemblance to the reality
it is proposed to imitate. The coarse, rough grain of the soft
freestone, which is incapable of receiving a polish, or rather of
being polished until it becomes as smooth, and even, and lustrous as
good glass, can never be made by successive coatings of paint and
varnish to afford a satisfactory resemblance to the marble that it is
supposed to represent, however carefully the cunning hand of the
painter may have imitated the veins, and spots, and curious
diversities of colour with which Nature has variegated the surface of
the substance that he is endeavouring to copy. Nor, again, can a
coarse-grained, soft wood, however skilled may be the hand that
manipulates it, be treated so as to resemble the texture and
smoothness of hard, close-grained wood, which from its very nature is
capable of receiving the high polish that the softer material can
never take if treated by the same process--that is, unless the expense
of producing the imitation greatly exceeds the cost of the thing
imitated. And what is applicable to the treatment of wood and stone is
applicable also to the treatment of glass: for as a freestone
mantelpiece, or deal door, however suitable and pleasing to the eye
either may be when simply painted in the one case and varnished in the
other to preserve the surface from the deteriorating influences of
dirt of any kind, can never be made by the exercise of reasonable time
and skill to present the appearance of marble or oak; so glass, by the
application of colour rendered transparent by varnish, can never be
brought to resemble glass stained or painted by the legitimate method,
either in delicacy of tint, or depth, and richness, and brilliancy of
colour. The greater part of the imitative stained glass, or
"diaphanie" as it is styled, fails not only in colour, but in design;
and in this indeed it may perhaps be said to be especially faulty. The
designs, which are printed on paper, with the view of imitating glass
patterns, err principally in being too elaborate, and in representing
figures and scenery which are not in character or keeping with the
designs that are usually represented in painted glass. If confined to
simple diaper work, or borderings and heraldic emblems, as shown in
Figs. 173 and 174, or patterns similar to that shown in Fig. 183, the
artistic effect produced would be more satisfactory, although it can
never equal genuine stained glass in depth of colour or purity of

[Illustration: Fig. 184.]



I have now treated of art as applied to our industrial manufactures,
and have pointed out principles which must be recognisable in all
art-works which pretend to merit. We have seen that material must in
all cases be used in the simplest and most natural manner; that,
wherever possible, we must avail ourselves of the friendly aid of
natural forces;[29] that the most convenient shape must always be
selected for a vessel or art-object of any kind; and that beauty must
then be added to that which is useful. All art-objects must be useful
and then beautiful; they must be utilitarian, and yet so graceful, so
comely, that they shall be loved for their beauty as well as valued
for their usefulness. While I have set forth those principles which
must ever govern the application of ornament to useful articles, I
cannot show the student any royal road to the attainment of
art-knowledge. There is something in a true art-work which is too
subtle for expression by words; there is a "quality" about an
art-work, or the expression of an amount of "feeling," which cannot be
described, yet which is so obvious as to be at once apparent to the
trained eye.

[29] See chapters on glass and earthenware.

The only way in which the power of appreciating art-qualities can be
gained, especially if these qualities are of a subtle nature, is by
the careful study of works of known excellence. Could the student
visit our museums in company with a trained ornamentist, who would
point out what was good and what was bad in art, he would soon learn,
by studying the beautiful works, to perceive art-qualities; but as
this is not possible to most, the learner must be content to consider
each art-work with which he comes in contact in conjunction with the
principles I have set forward.

Let him take a work--say a tea-pot. He will now ask himself--has the
material of which it is formed been judiciously and simply used?--is
the shape convenient?--is the handle properly applied, and does the
spout bear a proper relation to the handle?--is the form graceful or
vigorous?--is the curve which bounds the form of a subtle nature?--is
the engraving applied in judicious quantities and in just
proportions?--are the engraved forms beautiful, and such as do not
suffer by being seen in perspective on a rounded surface? By such
questions the student will inquire into the nature of whatever is
presented to his consideration, and only by constantly making such
inquiries, and seeking to answer them correctly, can he gain the
knowledge which will enable him rightly to judge of the nature of

Some of these inquiries the young student will readily answer, with
others he will have difficulty; for, his taste being yet uncultivated,
he will not know whether a form is beautiful or not. Nevertheless, I
say to the learner, try to answer these various inquiries as well as
you can, and then note the shape of the object in a memorandum-book,
and write your opinion respecting it in brief terms, and your reasons
for your opinion. By thus noting your studies you gain many
advantages; thus, you must frame your ideas with some degree of
exactness when you have to put them into words, and exactness of idea
is essential to your success. You can also refer to previous thoughts,
and thus impress them upon the memory; and you can observe your
progress, which is important, and should be encouraging. In order that
you acquire the power of perceiving art-merit as quickly as possible,
you must study those works in which examples of bad taste are rarely
met with, you must at first consider art-objects from India, Persia,
China, and Japan, as well as examples of ancient art from Egypt and
Greece. But in selecting modern works from the East, choose those
which are not altogether new if possible.

During the last ten years the art-works of Japan have deteriorated to
a lamentable extent. Contact with Europeans unfortunately brings about
the deterioration of Eastern art: in order that the European demand be
met, quantity is produced and quality disregarded, for we cavil
respecting price, and yet by thus creating a demand for inferior work
we raise the price even of that which is comparatively bad, and soon
have to pay for the coarser wares a price for which superior articles
could at first be procured.

But this should be noted: that the commonest wares which we receive
from Japan and India are never utterly bad in art. Inharmonious
colouring does not appear to be produced by these nations, and the
same may be said of Persia and China, and, to an extent, of Morocco
and Algeria, the only exceptions being where European influence has
been long continued. In selecting examples for study you may almost
rely upon the beauty of all works from China, Japan, Persia, and
India, which have not been produced under European influence.

A notable example of the deteriorating influence of European taste
(perhaps chiefly English taste) upon Eastern art is apparent if we
examine old carved sandalwood boxes from India, and those which are
now sent to us from the same country; the quiet, unobtrusive
consistency of the ornament by which it was sought only to enrich a
properly constructed box was not sufficiently attractive to suit
European (or English?) taste. The ornament must be more pronounced and
in higher relief, and the entire work must be more attractive--more
vulgarly attractive I might say, and thus the exquisite refinement of
the older works is sacrificed to the wants of a rich but vulgar
people, whose taste for art is infinitely below that of their
conquered brethren, from whom they learn the principles of a beautiful
art but slowly, while they do much to destroy the refinement of
art-taste which the workmen of our Eastern empire appear to inherit.
Study the works of the Eastern nations in conjunction with the remarks
which I made in my first chapter (see pages 6, 9, and 48), and then
consider the numerous objects left to us by the early Egyptians and
Greeks, and bear in mind while viewing them what we have said on
Egyptian and Greek art (see pages 6, 8, and 10), and after having
learned to understand the merits of Persian, Japanese, Indian, and
Chinese art, and of that of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, you may
commence to consider other styles, taking up the study of Italian and
Renaissance art in its various forms last of all; for in these styles,
or dialects of a style if I may thus speak, there is so much that is
false in structure, false in representation, untruthful in expression,
and pictorial rather than ornamental in effect, that a very complete
acquaintance with ornamental art is necessary in order that all the
defects of these styles be apparent, and in order that the student
avoid falling into the error of regarding a pictorial effect as the
result of a true style of ornamental art.

Study, when accompanied by individual thought, is the means whereby
art-knowledge will be gained. No mere looking at works which are
beautiful and true will make a great ornamentist. He who would attain
to great knowledge must _study_ whatever commends itself to him as
worthy of his attention, and, above all, must think much upon the
works which he contemplates; it is the evidence of mind--not of
degraded but of noble mind, of refined mind, of cultivated mind, of
well-informed mind, of mind which has knowledge, of mind which has
vigour, of mind which is fresh and new--that we find impressed upon a
work and giving to it value. While we, as art-students, have, above
all things, to attain to cultivation of the mind, we cannot give
expression to refined feelings manifested in form unless we can draw,
and draw almost faultlessly; and the ability to draw with accuracy,
power, and feeling can only result from much practice.

Let every spare moment, then, find the sketch-book in your hand, and
be constantly trying to draw both carefully, neatly, and with
exactness and finish, such objects as you see around you, even if
examples of good art-works are not at hand; for by constant and
careful practice you can alone acquire the necessary power of
expressing refined thought in refined form. Avoid making hasty
sketches. When a finished artist, you can afford to make sketch
memoranda; but till you can draw with great power, energy,
truthfulness, and refinement, let your every drawing be as careful and
as finished in character, however simple the object portrayed, as
though your welfare in life depended upon its character, for upon
every sketch your future position does, to a great extent, depend. The
habit of careful painstaking should sedulously be cultivated; and with
every drawing thus made an amount of power is gained which the making
of a hundred careless sketches would not afford. Let painstaking,
then, be characteristic of your working.

Ornament of some kind is applied to almost every article that we see
around us. The papers on our walls, the carpets on our floors, the
hangings at our windows, the plates from which we eat, are all covered
by patterns of some kind; yet it is rare, even now when ornamentation
has become general, to find anything original in ornament; and if we
do meet with something new in kind it is often feeble or
timid-looking, if it does not altogether fail to impress us with the
idea that the producer was a man of knowledge. Let the reader be
assured that if the designer is a man of knowledge, his ornamental
compositions will never fail to reveal his learning; that if he is a
man of power, his works will reveal his strength of character; if he
is a man of refined feelings, that his designs will manifest his
tenderness of perception. In like manner, if a man is ignorant he
cannot withhold from his patterns the manifestation of his ignorance.
Did not the Egyptians express their power of character in their
ornaments? did not the Greeks manifest their refinement in the forms
which they drew? do we not even find an expression of religious
feeling strongly, yea, impressively, set forth by some art-works, as
by the illuminated manuscripts of the early Middle Ages? and do we not
every day see the impress of the ignorant upon certain wall-papers,
carpets, and other things? It is a fact, and it is necessary that we
fully recognise it, that the knowledge of the producer is manifested
by his works; and that the ignorance of the ignorant is also
manifested in his works.

If ornament is produced having new characters, it is often feeble, and
is generally without grace; while power is the expression of
manliness, and grace of refinement. Without claiming to have made a
successful effort, I put forth, in the frontispiece to this volume
(Plate I.), four of my studies in original ornament, all of which are
to me more or less satisfactory as studies in composition. I have
endeavoured to secure in each an amount of energy, vigour--the power
of life, yet at the same time to avoid coarseness, or any glaring want
of refinement. I have sought to combine right lines, which are
expressive of power, with such curved shapes as shall, with them,
produce a pleasing contrast of form, and express a certain amount of
grace. In the light ornament on the citrine ground (that at the lower
left-hand corner of our plate) I have endeavoured especially to secure
an expression of grace in combination with that amount of energy which
avoids any expression of feebleness.

In the border ornament I have introduced the arch form, as it hints at
a structural "setting out" which is pleasant; and I have endeavoured
to cause the composition to appear as though it rested on the lower
dotted band, as this gives a feeling of security. I do not say that it
is necessary that this be so: all I assert is that in some cases it
gives a feeling of satisfaction.

So far as I know, the colouring is also original. The colours employed
are chiefly of a tertiary character, but small masses of primary or
secondary colours are employed in order to impart "life" to the

I do not set these studies before my readers with the idea of showing
them what original ornament should be: I only set them forth as
examples of new compositions, and must leave each to clothe his own
thoughts with a befitting expression of his individual original ideas.

As I am writing for the working man, as well as for others, will he
pardon me reminding him that we are called to exercise an art, yet at
the same time our art is associated with the scientific professions--a
knowledge of natural sciences, of botany, zoology, natural philosophy,
and chemistry can be very fully utilised in our art--and that we
should, therefore, act as professional men and as artists of the
highest rank; for thereby only can we hope to place our calling in
that position of esteem in which it should be held, and must be held,
by the people at large, if we are to administer to their pleasure as
we ought.

In taking leave of my reader, let me say that if I personally can aid
him in any way, I shall be glad to do so. If any who really seek
knowledge of decorative design, and are hard workers, choose to send
me designs for criticism or comment, or desire any other aid that I
can give them, I shall be happy to do what little I can for them. My
address will be found at the end of the Preface.


    Alternation in Ornament, 24.

    America, Depraved Artistic Taste in, 104.

    Anthemion; a Greek Decorative Device, 9.

    Arabian Metal-work, 137.

    Arch used in Furniture, 51, 52.

    Art may be Degrading, 2;
      aims at producing Repose, 63;
      the Object of, 144.

    Art-knowledge, The Value of, 2.

    Baptism, Symbol of, in Gothic Art, 12.

    Beauty in Decoration, 16, 17.

    Bed-room, Decoration for a, 15.

    Birmingham Ware, 144, 145, 152.

    Black, a Neutral in Decorative Work, 45.

    Buhl-work, 64.

    Buildings, Decoration of, 73, _et seq._

    Byzantine Ornament, 11.

    Cabinet, Construction of a, 61.

    Calico, Patterns on, 107.

    Carpets, Art-qualities and Patterns of, 94, _et seq._;
      Different Sorts of, 94, 95;
      Foreign-made, 102, 103;
      how they should be laid down, 105;
      the Conditions which Govern the Application of Ornament to, 106.

    Carving, when to be used, 61, 62.

    Casting in Metal, 136.

    Casting, the least Artistic Mode of Treating Iron, 147.

    Ceilings, Decoration of, 75, _et seq._;
      Various, worthy of Study, 82;
      with Painted Pictures Objectionable, 82.

    Celtic Ornament, 25.

    Chair-coverings, 72.

    Chairs, Construction of, 52-57.

    Character of the Designer shown by his Work, 163.

    Chinese Enamels, 143.

    Chinese Harmony of Colour, 48.

    Chinese Ornament, 11.

    Christian Art, 11, 12.

    Clay as a Material for Art-purposes, 117, _et seq._

    Colour--in Decoration, 30, _et seq._;
      Contrast in, 32, 33;
      Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary, 32;
      Harmony in, 33, 39, _et seq._;
      Qualities of, 33, 34;
      Analytical Tables of, 34;
      Teachings of Experience in regard to, 34, 45;
      Proportions in which Colours Harmonise, 34, 35, 36;
      Pure, and Pigments, 37, 38;
      Permanence of, 38, _note_;
      Shades, Tints, and Hues, 39;
      Works on, referred to, 49;
      for Stained Windows, 154, _et seq._

    Colouring Metals. _See_ Skidmore, Mr.

    Colour-top, the, 48, and _note_.

    Copper Vessels Inlaid with Silver, 142.

    Cornices, Colouring of, 93.

    Couches, 57, _et seq._

    Curtain Materials, 107, _et seq._

    Curves, most Beautiful when most Subtle, 23.

    Damascene Work, 139.

    Damask Table-linen, Patterns on, 107, 108, 109.

    Damask Wall-coverings. _See_ Silk Wall Damasks.

    Decanters, what they should be, 129.

    Decoration should be in keeping with Architecture, 73, 74, 75.

    Design and Ornament, Redgrave on, 50.

    Dining-room, Decoration for a, 14.

    Dining-tables, Mr. Eastlake on Telescopic, 66, 67.

    Distemper Colours for Wall Decoration, 83.

    Doric Column, The, 9.

    Drawing-room, Decoration for a, 15.

    Dress, Ladies' and Gentlemen's, 90.
      Patterns for Ladies', 112.

    Earthen Vessels, Decoration of, 125, 126, 127.

    Eastlake, Mr., on Household Art, referred to, 52, and _note_.

    Ecclesiastical Metal-workers, 144, 145.

    Egyptian Architecture, 8.

    Egyptian Coloured Glass, 153.

    Egyptian Drawing, Peculiarity of, 5.

    Egyptian Ornament, 4-8.

    Embroidery on Cotton, Indian, 114.

    Enamelling in Metal-work, 143.

    England, Architectural Buildings in, 11;
      House Decoration in, 30, 31.

    European Influence Injurious to Eastern Art, 161.

    Excess in Upholstery, 70.

    Fabrics, Patterns Suitable for Woven, 107, _et seq._

    Finish, its Value Over-estimated, 120.

    Folds, Ornamentation of Fabrics to be seen in, 112, _et seq._

    French Errors of Taste in Furniture, 65.

    Furniture, Decorative Principles applied to, 50, _et seq._;
      What is Required to make it an Object of Art, 50;
      Material used for, 51;
      Truthful Construction of, 59, 65, _et seq._;
      Proportion and Enrichment of, 61, 63.

    Glass, as a Material for Art-purposes, 118, 127, _et seq._;
      Vessels, Various, 130, _et seq._;
      Vessels, Coloured, 131, 132;
      Cutting of, 132;
      Engraving of, 133; Ornamentation of, 133;
      Stained, 153, _et seq._

    Gold, a Neutral in Decorative Work, 44, 45.

    Gold and Silver, Works in, 136.

    Gothic Architecture, Modern, 74.

    Gothic Furniture, Falsely Constructed, 66.

    Gothic Ornament, 12.

    Granite Imitated, Objected to, 89.

    Greek Coloured Glass, 153.

    Greek Ornament, 9, 10, 11.

    Greek Vessels, 121.

    Grotesque. _See_ Humour.

    Handles of Vessels, 138, 139, 140.

    Hardware, Art in Connection with, 144, _et seq._

    Harmony of Colour. _See_ Colour.

    Historical Inquiry Necessary to the Understanding of Decoration, 4,

    Humour in Ornament, 24-29;
      Chinese and Japanese, 25, 27, 28.

    Imitations of Marbles and Granites, 89.

    Indian Art Injured by European Influence, 161.

    Indian Fabrics, 48, _note_.

    Indian Fabrics, Mr. Redgrave on, 115, 116.

    Indian Metal-work, 142.

    Indian Work in regard to Colouring, 47.

    Inlaying as a means of Enriching Works of Furniture, 63.

    Irish Crosses, Numerous Ornaments on, 25.

    Iron, as an Art-material, 142.

    Iron, how Wrought, 147.

    Iron, Metals that may be Associated with, 151.

    Iron-castings of Berlin, 136.

    Iron-work, Ornamental, 147, _et seq._;
      must Manifest a True Constructive Principle, 148;
      Colouring of, 152.

    Italian Metal-work, 142.

    Japan, Deterioration in the Art-works of, 161.

    Japanese Art, 11.

    Japanese Colouring, 48.

    Japanese Earthenware, 120.

    Japanese Enamels, 142, 143.

    Japanese Metal-work, 142.

    Jewels in Metal-work, 143.

    Joists in Ceilings, how they should be Treated, 79.

    Labour Necessary to Success in Art, 4, 31.

    Library, Decoration for a, 15.

    Lotus in Egyptian Design, 5, 6.

    Marble Imitated, Objected to, 89.

    Mediæval Metal-workers, 144, 145.

    Mental Effects produced by Decorative Forms, 14.

    Moorish Ornament, 11.

    Muslin, Patterns on, 107.

    Natural Forms in Carpet Patterns, 96, 97, 98.

    Niello-work applied to Metals, 143.

    Norman Architecture, 11.

    Novelty Wanted in Carpet Patterns, 105.

    Oil-colour "Flatted" for Wall Decoration, 83.

    Order, a Principle in Ornament, 23.

    Ormolu Ornaments, 64.

    Ornament and Architecture Inseparable, 13.

    Papered Walls. _See_ Wall Papers.

    Papyrus in Egyptian Architecture, 8.

    Persian Ornament, 11.

    Picture Frames, 72.

    Pigments. _See_ Colour.

    Plants as Ornaments, How to Treat, 24.

    Plaques of Stone or Earthenware applied to Works of Furniture, 63,

    Pottery, Art in, 117, _et seq._

    Power an Art-principle, 17.

    Precious Materials in the Form of Art-works, 117, 118.

    Preface, v., vi.

    Pretence in Art-decoration, 157-159.

    Proportion must be Subtle, 23.

    Purpose, Adaptation to, Taught by Plants, 21.

    Renaissance Ornament, 13.

    Repetition of Parts in Ornament, 23.

    Roman Ornament, 11.

    Shams in Decoration, 89.

    Silk, Patterns on, 107.

    Silk Wall Damasks, 114.

    Silversmiths' Work, 135, _et seq._

    Skidmore, Mr., and his Theory of Colouring Metals, 152.

    Sofa-coverings, 70, 72.

    South Kensington Museum, 48, _note_.

    Spouts of Vessels, 139, _et seq._

    Stools, 53.

    Study of Art-decoration, how it should be carried on, 14, 160, 161,

    Styles of Architecture, 73.

    Sugar-basin, its Form, 138.

    Surface Decoration, 73, _et seq._

    Symbols in Christian Art, 12.

    Table-covers, The Borders of, 109, 111.

    Taste of the Uneducated, 15.

    Trinity, Symbols of the, in Gothic Art, 12.

    Truth an Art-principle, 15, 16, 89, 158, 159.

    Utility must Govern the Production and Application of Ornament,
        17-22, 145.

    Utility in Architecture, 20.

    Utility Professor George Wilson on, 19, 20.

    Utility Various Writers on, 20.

    Vehicles for Art, The Best, the least Costly, 3.

    Veneering, 69.

    Venetian Glass, 130, 131.

    Vessels, Primitive, 120.

    Wall Decorations, 83, _et seq._

    Wall Papers, 87, 90, _et seq._

    Walls should be Unobtrusive, 90.

    Water-vessels, Egyptian and Greek, 121-124.

    White a Neutral in Decorative Work, 45.

    Window-hangings, 69, 70, 108.

    Windows, 69, 70;
      the Object of, 153;
      how they should be Treated, 153.

    Wine-bottles, Forms of, 128.

    "Winged Globe," in Egyptian Design, 7.

    Woods and their Relative Strength, 51.

    Workmen; their Study of Decorative Laws, 1.

    " Advice to, 164.

    Wrought-iron, its Qualities, 147, 148.


       *       *       *       *       *




(_Finsbury Technical College, City and Guilds of London Institute_),


During the last two years a very great impetus has been given to the
advancement of Technical Education, so that at the present time there
is a widespread demand on the part of technical students for
text-books. The object of this series is to meet this demand by
furnishing books which describe _the application of science to
industry_, which translate the language and results of science into
the language of the workshop, and will thus bring to the benefit of
the English Industries the workman's acquaintance with the scientific
principles which underlie his daily work.

These manuals of Technology are not intended to teach _pure_ science.
Nor are they intended to enable the reader to dispense with learning,
by actual practice in the workshop, the handicraft of the various
trades. They will form a link between these two designs. They will
give the reader an intelligent grasp of the complicated machinery of
the factory. They are designed to make workmen thinkers, and not
merely human tools.

No special knowledge of mathematics or of science is necessary to the
student of this series, but it is expected that he will have been
observant of the processes carried on in his workshop, which will be
here scientifically explained. The subjects will be treated
analytically rather than synthetically; that is to say, the machine,
as the workman knows it, will be taken as a whole and analysed, and
special care will be taken to avoid the method too common in
scientific books, according to which a number of abstract principles
are first developed, while their practical application is deferred to
the end of the book, which, probably, the practical man never reaches.

As text-books for the large and increasing number of candidates at the
Technological Examinations of the City and Guilds of London Institute,
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science would suggest for improving the present processes.

The following books are already in preparation, and others will be

    APPLIED MECHANICS                           Professor Perry, M.E.
    IRON AND STEEL                              W. H. Greenwood, Esq.
    FLUID MOTORS                                Professor Perry, M.E.
    CHEMISTRY                                   Dr. Armstrong, F.R.S.
    FLAX SPINNING                               D. S. Thomson, Esq.
    WATCH AND CLOCK MAKING                      D. Glasgow, Esq.

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     =Applied Mechanics.=--By Prof. JOHN PERRY, M.E. With numerous
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    (_For full particulars of this Series, see preceding Page._)

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Transcriber's note:

Archaic syntax and punctuation and inconsistent spelling were retained.

Footnote [7]: "in order to this" modified to "in order to do this" to
fit context.

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