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Title: The Decoration of Houses
Author: Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937, Ogden Codman Jr.
Language: English
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THE DECORATION OF HOUSES



     Charles Scribner's
     Sons
     New York
     1914

     The
     Decoration of
     Houses

     By

     Edith Wharton
     and
     Ogden Codman Jr.



Copyright, 1897, by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS



"_Une forme doit être belle en elle-même et on ne doit jamais compter
sur le décor appliqué pour en sauver les imperfections._"

     HENRI MAYEUX: _La Composition Décorative_.



TABLE OF CONTENTS


                                                              PAGE
          INTRODUCTION                                         xix

     I    THE HISTORICAL TRADITION                               1

     II   ROOMS IN GENERAL                                      17

     III  WALLS                                                 31

     IV   DOORS                                                 48

     V    WINDOWS                                               64

     VI   FIREPLACES                                            74

     VII  CEILINGS AND FLOORS                                   89

     VIII ENTRANCE AND VESTIBULE                               103

     IX   HALL AND STAIRS                                      106

     X    THE DRAWING-ROOM, BOUDOIR, AND MORNING-ROOM          122

     XI   GALA ROOMS: BALL-ROOM, SALOON, MUSIC-ROOM, GALLERY   134

     XII  THE LIBRARY, SMOKING-ROOM, AND "DEN"                 145

     XIII THE DINING-ROOM                                      155

     XIV  BEDROOMS                                             162

     XV   THE SCHOOL-ROOM AND NURSERIES                        173

     XVI  BRIC-À-BRAC                                          184

          CONCLUSION                                           196

          INDEX                                                199



LIST OF PLATES


                                                       FACING PAGE

     I      ITALIAN GOTHIC CHEST                                 1

     II     FRENCH ARM-CHAIRS, XV AND XVI CENTURIES              6

     III    FRENCH _Armoire_, XVI CENTURY                       10

     IV     FRENCH SOFA AND ARM-CHAIR, LOUIS XIV PERIOD         12

     V      ROOM IN THE GRAND TRIANON, VERSAILLES               14

     VI     FRENCH ARM-CHAIR, LOUIS XV PERIOD                   16

     VII    FRENCH _Bergère_, LOUIS XVI PERIOD                  20

     VIII   FRENCH _Bergère_, LOUIS XVI PERIOD                  24

     IX     FRENCH SOFA, LOUIS XV PERIOD                        28

     X      FRENCH MARQUETRY TABLE, LOUIS XVI PERIOD            30

     XI     DRAWING-ROOM, HOUSE IN BERKELEY SQUARE, LONDON      34

     XII    ROOM IN THE VILLA VERTEMATI                         38

     XIII   DRAWING-ROOM AT EASTON NESTON HALL                  42

     XIV    DOORWAY, DUCAL PALACE, MANTUA                       48

     XV     SALA DEI CAVALLI, PALAZZO DEL T                     54

     XVI    DOOR IN THE SALA DELLO ZODIACO, DUCAL PALACE,
            MANTUA                                              58

     XVII   EXAMPLES OF MODERN FRENCH LOCKSMITHS' WORK          60

     XVIII  CARVED DOOR, PALACE OF VERSAILLES                   62

     XIX    SALON DES MALACHITES, GRAND TRIANON, VERSAILLES     68

     XX     MANTELPIECE, DUCAL PALACE, URBINO                   74

     XXI    MANTELPIECE, VILLA GIACOMELLI                       78

     XXII   FRENCH FIRE-SCREEN, LOUIS XIV PERIOD                86

     XXIII  CARVED WOODEN CEILING, VILLA VERTEMATI              90

     XXIV   CEILING IN PALAIS DE JUSTICE, RENNES                92

     XXV    CEILING OF THE SALA DEGLI SPOSI, DUCAL PALACE,
            MANTUA                                              96

     XXVI   CEILING IN THE STYLE OF BÉRAIN                     100

     XXVII  CEILING IN THE CHÂTEAU OF CHANTILLY                102

     XXVIII ANTECHAMBER, VILLA CAMBIASO, GENOA                 104

     XXIX   ANTECHAMBER, DURAZZO PALACE, GENOA                 106

     XXX    STAIRCASE, PARODI PALACE, GENOA                    108

     XXXI   STAIRCASE, HÔTEL DE VILLE, NANCY                   112

     XXXII  STAIRCASE, PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU                 116

     XXXIII FRENCH _Armoire_, LOUIS XIV PERIOD                 120

     XXXIV  SALA DELLA MADDALENA, ROYAL PALACE, GENOA          122

     XXXV   CONSOLE IN PETIT TRIANON, VERSAILLES               124

     XXXVI  SALON, PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU                     126

     XXXVII ROOM IN THE PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU                128

     XXXVIII _Lit de Repos_, EARLY LOUIS XV PERIOD             130

     XXXIX  _Lit de Repos_, LOUIS XV PERIOD                    130

     XL     PAINTED WALL-PANEL AND DOOR, CHANTILLY             132

     XLI    FRENCH BOUDOIR, LOUIS XVI PERIOD                   132

     XLII   _Salon à l'italienne_                              136

     XLIII  BALL-ROOM, ROYAL PALACE, GENOA                     138

     XLIV   SALOON, VILLA VERTEMATI                            140

     XLV    SALA DELLO ZODIACO, DUCAL PALACE, MANTUA           140

     XLVI   FRENCH TABLE, TRANSITION BETWEEN LOUIS XIV AND
            LOUIS XV PERIODS                                   142

     XLVII  LIBRARY OF LOUIS XVI, PALACE OF VERSAILLES         144

     XLVIII SMALL LIBRARY, AUDLEY END                          146

     XLIX   FRENCH WRITING-CHAIR, LOUIS XV PERIOD              150

     L      DINING-ROOM, PALACE OF COMPIÈGNE                   154

     LI     DINING-ROOM FOUNTAIN, PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU      156

     LII    FRENCH DINING-CHAIR, LOUIS XIV PERIOD              158

     LIII   FRENCH DINING-CHAIR, LOUIS XVI PERIOD              158

     LIV    BEDROOM, PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU                   162

     LV     BATH-ROOM, PITTI PALACE, FLORENCE                  168

     LVI    BRONZE ANDIRON, XVI CENTURY                        184



BOOKS CONSULTED


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     LE MUET, PIERRE.

     Manière de Bien Bâtir pour toutes sortes de Personnes.

     OPPENORD, GILLES MARIE.

     Oeuvres. _1750._

     MARIETTE, PIERRE JEAN.

     L'Architecture Françoise. _1727._

     BRISEUX, CHARLES ÉTIENNE.

     L'Art de Bâtir les Maisons de Campagne. _Paris, 1743._

     LALONDE, FRANÇOIS RICHARD DE.

     Recueil de ses Oeuvres.

     AVILER, C. A. D'.

     Cours d'Architecture. _1760._

     BLONDEL, JACQUES FRANÇOIS.

     Architecture Françoise. _Paris, 1752._

     Cours d'Architecture. _Paris, 1771-77._

     De la Distribution des Maisons de Plaisance et de la
     Décoration des Édifices. _Paris, 1737._

     ROUBO, A. J., FILS.

     L'Art du Menuisier.

     HÉRÉ DE CORNY, EMMANUEL.

     Recueil des Plans, Élévations et Coupes des Châteaux,
     Jardins et Dépendances que le Roi de Pologne occupe en
     Lorraine. _Paris, n. d._

     PERCIER ET FONTAINE.

     Choix des plus Célèbres Maisons de Plaisance de Rome et de
     ses Environs. _Paris, 1809._

     Palais, Maisons, et autres Édifices Modernes dessinés à
     Rome. _Paris, 1798._

     Résidences des Souverains. _Paris, 1833._

     KRAFFT ET RANSONNETTE.

     Plans, Coupes, et Élévations des plus belles Maisons et
     Hôtels construits à Paris et dans les Environs. _Paris,
     1801._

     DURAND, JEAN NICOLAS LOUIS.

     Recueil et Parallèle des Édifices de tout Genre. _Paris,
     1800._

     Précis des Leçons d'Architecture données à l'École Royale
     Polytechnique. _Paris, 1823._

     QUATREMÈRE DE QUINCY, A. C.

     Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages des plus Célèbres
     Architectes du XIe siècle jusqu'à la fin du XVIII siècle.
     _Paris, 1830._

     PELLASSY DE L'OUSLE.

     Histoire du Palais de Compiègne. _Paris, n. d._

     LETAROUILLY, PAUL MARIE.

     Édifices de Rome Moderne. _Paris, 1825-57._

     RAMÉE, DANIEL.

     Histoire Générale de l'Architecture. _Paris, 1862._

     Meubles Religieux et Civils Conservés dans les principaux
     Monuments et Musées de l'Europe.

     VIOLLET LE DUC, EUGÈNE EMMANUEL.

     Dictionnaire Raisonné de l'Architecture Française du XIe au
     XVIe siècle. _Paris, 1868._

     SAUVAGEOT, CLAUDE.

     Palais, Châteaux, Hôtels et Maisons de France du XVe au
     XVIIIe siècle.

     DALY, CÉSAR.

     Motifs Historiques d'Architecture et de Sculpture
     d'Ornement.

     ROUYER ET DARCEL.

     L'Art Architectural en France depuis François Ier jusqu'à
     Louis XIV.

     HAVARD, HENRY.

     Dictionnaire de l'Ameublement et de la Décoration depuis le
     XIIIe siècle jusqu'à nos Jours. _Paris, n. d._

     Les Arts de l'Ameublement.

     GUILMARD, D.

     Les Maîtres Ornemanistes. _Paris, 1880._

     BAUCHAL, CHARLES.

     Dictionnaire des Architectes Français. _Paris, 1887._

     ROUAIX, PAUL.

     Les Styles. _Paris, n. d._

     BIBLIOTHÈQUE DE L'ENSEIGNEMENT DES BEAUX ARTS.

     Maison Quantin, _Paris_.


ENGLISH

     WARE, ISAAC.

     A Complete Body of Architecture. _London, 1756._

     BRETTINGHAM, MATTHEW.

     Plans, Elevations and Sections of Holkham in Norfolk, the
     Seat of the late Earl of Leicester. _London, 1761._

     CAMPBELL, COLEN.

     Vitruvius Britannicus; or, The British Architect. _London,
     1771._

     ADAM, ROBERT AND JAMES.

     The Works in Architecture. _London, 1773-1822._

     HEPPLEWHITE, A.

     The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide.

     SHERATON, THOMAS.

     The Cabinet-Maker's Dictionary. _London, 1803._

     PAIN, WILLIAM.

     The British Palladio; or The Builder's General Assistant.
     _London, 1797._

     SOANE, SIR JOHN.

     Sketches in Architecture. _London, 1793._

     HAKEWILL, ARTHUR WILLIAM.

     General Plan and External Details, with Picturesque
     Illustrations, of Thorpe Hall, Peterborough.

     LEWIS, JAMES.

     Original Designs in Architecture.

     PYNE, WILLIAM HENRY.

     History of the Royal Residences of Windsor Castle, St.
     James's Palace, Carlton House, Kensington Palace, Hampton
     Court, Buckingham Palace, and Frogmore. _London, 1819._

     GWILT, JOSEPH.

     Encyclopedia of Architecture. New edition. _Longman's,
     1895._

     FERGUSSON, JAMES.

     History of Architecture. _London, 1874._

     History of the Modern Styles of Architecture. Third edition,
     revised by Robert Kerr. _London, 1891._

     GOTCH, JOHN ALFRED.

     Architecture of the Renaissance in England.

     HEATON, JOHN ALDAM.

     Furniture and Decoration in England in the Eighteenth
     Century.

     ROSENGARTEN.

     Handbook of Architectural Styles. _New York, 1876._

     HORNE, H. P.

     The Binding of Books. _London, 1894._

     LOFTIE, W. J.

     Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren. _London, 1893._

     KERR, ROBERT.

     The English Gentleman's House. _London, 1865._

     STEVENSON, J. J.

     House Architecture. _London, 1880._


GERMAN AND ITALIAN

     BURCKHARDT, JACOB.

     Architektur der Renaissance in Italien. _Stuttgart, 1891._

     REINHARDT.

     Palast Architektur von Ober Italien und Toskana.

     GURLITT, CORNELIUS.

     Geschichte des Barockstiles in Italien. _Stuttgart, 1887._

     EBE, GUSTAV.

     Die Spät-Renaissance. _Berlin, 1886._

     LA VILLA BORGHESE, FUORI DI PORTA PINCIANA, CON L'ORNAMENTI
     CHE SI OSSERVANO NEL DI LEI PALAZZO. _Roma, 1700._

     INTRA, G. B.

     Mantova nei suoi Monumenti.

     LUZIO E RENIER.

     Mantova e Urbino. _Torino-Roma, 1893._

     MOLMENTI, POMPEO.

     La Storia di Venezia nella Vita Privata. _Torino, 1885._

     MALAMANI, VITTORIO.

     Il Settecento a Venezia. _Milano, 1895._

     LA VITA ITALIANA NEL SEICENTO. CONFERENZE TENUTE A FIRENZE
     NEL 1890.



INTRODUCTION


Rooms may be decorated in two ways: by a superficial application of
ornament totally independent of structure, or by means of those
architectural features which are part of the organism of every house,
inside as well as out.

In the middle ages, when warfare and brigandage shaped the conditions
of life, and men camped in their castles much as they did in their
tents, it was natural that decorations should be portable, and that
the naked walls of the mediæval chamber should be hung with arras,
while a _ciel_, or ceiling, of cloth stretched across the open timbers
of its roof.

When life became more secure, and when the Italian conquests of the
Valois had acquainted men north of the Alps with the spirit of classic
tradition, proportion and the relation of voids to masses gradually
came to be regarded as the chief decorative values of the interior.
Portable hangings were in consequence replaced by architectural
ornament: in other words, the architecture of the room became its
decoration.

This architectural treatment held its own through every change of
taste until the second quarter of the present century; but since then
various influences have combined to sever the natural connection
between the outside of the modern house and its interior. In the
average house the architect's task seems virtually confined to the
elevations and floor-plan. The designing of what are to-day regarded
as insignificant details, such as mouldings, architraves, and
cornices, has become a perfunctory work, hurried over and unregarded;
and when this work is done, the upholsterer is called in to "decorate"
and furnish the rooms.

As the result of this division of labor, house-decoration has ceased
to be a branch of architecture. The upholsterer cannot be expected to
have the preliminary training necessary for architectural work, and it
is inevitable that in his hands form should be sacrificed to color and
composition to detail. In his ignorance of the legitimate means of
producing certain effects, he is driven to all manner of expedients,
the result of which is a piling up of heterogeneous ornament, a
multiplication of incongruous effects; and lacking, as he does, a
definite first conception, his work becomes so involved that it seems
impossible for him to make an end.

The confusion resulting from these unscientific methods has reflected
itself in the lay mind, and house-decoration has come to be regarded
as a black art by those who have seen their rooms subjected to the
manipulations of the modern upholsterer. Now, in the hands of
decorators who understand the fundamental principles of their art, the
surest effects are produced, not at the expense of simplicity and
common sense, but by observing the requirements of both. These
requirements are identical with those regulating domestic
architecture, the chief end in both cases being the suitable
accommodation of the inmates of the house.

The fact that this end has in a measure been lost sight of is perhaps
sufficient warrant for the publication of this elementary sketch. No
study of _house-decoration as a branch of architecture_ has for at
least fifty years been published in England or America; and though
France is always producing admirable monographs on isolated branches
of this subject, there is no modern French work corresponding with
such comprehensive manuals as d'Aviler's _Cours d'Architecture_ or
Isaac Ware's _Complete Body of Architecture_.

The attempt to remedy this deficiency in some slight degree has made
it necessary to dwell at length upon the strictly architectural
principles which controlled the work of the old decorators. The
effects that they aimed at having been based mainly on the due
adjustment of parts, it has been impossible to explain their methods
without assuming their standpoint--that of _architectural
proportion_--in contradistinction to the modern view of
house-decoration as _superficial application of ornament_. When
house-decoration was a part of architecture all its values were
founded on structural modifications; consequently it may seem that
ideas to be derived from a study of such methods suggest changes too
radical for those who are not building, but are merely decorating.
Such changes, in fact, lie rather in the direction of alteration than
of adornment; but it must be remembered that the results attained will
be of greater decorative value than were an equal expenditure devoted
to surface-ornament. Moreover, the great decorators, if scrupulous in
the observance of architectural principles, were ever governed, in the
use of ornamental detail, by the [Greek: sôphrosynê], the "wise
moderation," of the Greeks; and the rooms of the past were both
simpler in treatment and freer from mere embellishments than those of
to-day.

Besides, if it be granted for the sake of argument that a reform in
house-decoration, if not necessary, is at least desirable, it must be
admitted that such reform can originate only with those whose means
permit of any experiments which their taste may suggest. When the rich
man demands good architecture his neighbors will get it too. The
vulgarity of current decoration has its source in the indifference of
the wealthy to architectural fitness. Every good moulding, every
carefully studied detail, exacted by those who can afford to indulge
their taste, will in time find its way to the carpenter-built cottage.
Once the right precedent is established, it costs less to follow than
to oppose it.

In conclusion, it may be well to explain the seeming lack of accord
between the arguments used in this book and the illustrations chosen
to interpret them. While much is said of simplicity, the illustrations
used are chiefly taken from houses of some importance. This has been
done in order that only such apartments as are accessible to the
traveller might be given as examples. Unprofessional readers will
probably be more interested in studying rooms that they have seen, or
at least heard of, than those in the ordinary private dwelling; and
the arguments advanced are indirectly sustained by the most ornate
rooms here shown, since their effect is based on such harmony of line
that their superficial ornament might be removed without loss to the
composition.

Moreover, as some of the illustrations prove, the most magnificent
palaces of Europe contain rooms as simple as those in any private
house; and to point out that simplicity is at home even in palaces is
perhaps not the least service that may be rendered to the modern
decorator.

  [Illustration: _PLATE I._

     ITALIAN GOTHIC CHEST.
     MUSEUM OF THE BARGELLO, FLORENCE.]



I

THE HISTORICAL TRADITION


The last ten years have been marked by a notable development in
architecture and decoration, and while France will long retain her
present superiority in these arts, our own advance is perhaps more
significant than that of any other country. When we measure the work
recently done in the United States by the accepted architectural
standards of ten years ago, the change is certainly striking,
especially in view of the fact that our local architects and
decorators are without the countless advantages in the way of schools,
museums and libraries which are at the command of their European
colleagues. In Paris, for instance, it is impossible to take even a
short walk without finding inspiration in those admirable buildings,
public and private, religious and secular, that bear the stamp of the
most refined taste the world has known since the decline of the arts
in Italy; and probably all American architects will acknowledge that
no amount of travel abroad and study at home can compensate for the
lack of daily familiarity with such monuments.

It is therefore all the more encouraging to note the steady advance in
taste and knowledge to which the most recent architecture in America
bears witness. This advance is chiefly due to the fact that American
architects are beginning to perceive two things that their French
colleagues, among all the modern vagaries of taste, have never quite
lost sight of: first that architecture and decoration, having wandered
since 1800 in a labyrinth of dubious eclecticism, can be set right
only by a close study of the best models; and secondly that, given the
requirements of modern life, these models are chiefly to be found in
buildings erected in Italy after the beginning of the sixteenth
century, and in other European countries after the full assimilation
of the Italian influence.

As the latter of these propositions may perhaps be questioned by those
who, in admiring the earlier styles, sometimes lose sight of their
relative unfitness for modern use, it must be understood at the outset
that it implies no disregard for the inherent beauties of these
styles. It would be difficult, assuredly, to find buildings better
suited to their original purpose than some of the great feudal
castles, such as Warwick in England, or Langeais in France; and as
much might be said of the grim machicolated palaces of republican
Florence or Siena; but our whole mode of life has so entirely changed
since the days in which these buildings were erected that they no
longer answer to our needs. It is only necessary to picture the lives
led in those days to see how far removed from them our present social
conditions are. Inside and outside the house, all told of the
unsettled condition of country or town, the danger of armed attack,
the clumsy means of defence, the insecurity of property, the few
opportunities of social intercourse as we understand it. A man's house
was in very truth his castle in the middle ages, and in France and
England especially it remained so until the end of the sixteenth
century.

Thus it was that many needs arose: the tall keep of masonry where the
inmates, pent up against attack, awaited the signal of the watchman
who, from his platform or _échauguette_, gave warning of assault; the
ponderous doors, oak-ribbed and metal-studded, with doorways often
narrowed to prevent entrance of two abreast, and so low that the
incomer had to bend his head; the windows that were mere openings or
slits, narrow and high, far out of the assailants' reach, and piercing
the walls without regard to symmetry--not, as Ruskin would have us
believe, because irregularity was thought artistic, but because the
mediæval architect, trained to the uses of necessity, knew that he
must design openings that should afford no passage to the besiegers'
arrows, no clue to what was going on inside the keep. But to the
reader familiar with Viollet-le-Duc, or with any of the many excellent
works on English domestic architecture, further details will seem
superfluous. It is necessary, however, to point out that long after
the conditions of life in Europe had changed, houses retained many
features of the feudal period. The survival of obsolete customs which
makes the study of sociology so interesting, has its parallel in the
history of architecture. In the feudal countries especially, where the
conflict between the great nobles and the king was of such long
duration that civilization spread very slowly, architecture was
proportionately slow to give up many of its feudal characteristics. In
Italy, on the contrary, where one city after another succumbed to some
accomplished condottiere who between his campaigns read Virgil and
collected antique marbles, the rugged little republics were soon
converted into brilliant courts where, life being relatively secure,
social intercourse rapidly developed. This change of conditions
brought with it the paved street and square, the large-windowed
palaces with their great court-yards and stately open staircases, and
the market-place with its loggia adorned with statues and marble
seats.

Italy, in short, returned instinctively to the Roman ideal of civic
life: the life of the street, the forum and the baths. These very
conditions, though approaching so much nearer than feudalism to our
modern civilization, in some respects make the Italian architecture of
the Renaissance less serviceable as a model than the French and
English styles later developed from it. The very dangers and
barbarities of feudalism had fostered and preserved the idea of home
as of something private, shut off from intrusion; and while the Roman
ideal flowered in the great palace with its galleries, loggias and
saloons, itself a kind of roofed-in forum, the French or English
feudal keep became, by the same process of growth, the modern private
house. The domestic architecture of the Renaissance in Italy offers
but two distinctively characteristic styles of building: the palace
and the villa or hunting-lodge.[1] There is nothing corresponding in
interior arrangements with the French or English town house, or the
_manoir_ where the provincial nobles lived all the year round. The
villa was a mere perch used for a few weeks of gaiety in spring or
autumn; it was never a home as the French or English country-house
was. There were, of course, private houses in Renaissance Italy, but
these were occupied rather by shopkeepers, craftsmen, and the
_bourgeoisie_ than by the class which in France and England lived in
country houses or small private hôtels. The elevations of these small
Italian houses are often admirable examples of domestic architecture,
but their planning is rudimentary, and it may be said that the
characteristic tendencies of modern house-planning were developed
rather in the mezzanin or low-studded intermediate story of the
Italian Renaissance palace than in the small house of the same period.

It is a fact recognized by political economists that changes in
manners and customs, no matter under what form of government, usually
originate with the wealthy or aristocratic minority, and are thence
transmitted to the other classes. Thus the _bourgeois_ of one
generation lives more like the aristocrat of a previous generation
than like his own predecessors. This rule naturally holds good of
house-planning, and it is for this reason that the origin of modern
house-planning should be sought rather in the prince's mezzanin than
in the small middle-class dwelling. The Italian mezzanin probably
originated in the habit of building certain very high-studded saloons
and of lowering the ceiling of the adjoining rooms. This created an
intermediate story, or rather scattered intermediate rooms, which
Bramante was among the first to use in the planning of his palaces;
but Bramante did not reveal the existence of the mezzanin in his
façades, and it was not until the time of Peruzzi and his
contemporaries that it became, both in plan and elevation, an accepted
part of the Italian palace. It is for this reason that the year 1500
is a convenient point from which to date the beginning of modern
house-planning; but it must be borne in mind that this date is purely
arbitrary, and represents merely an imaginary line drawn between
mediæval and modern ways of living and house-planning, as exemplified
respectively, for instance, in the ducal palace of Urbino, built by
Luciano da Laurano about 1468, and the palace of the Massimi alle
Colonne in Rome, built by Baldassare Peruzzi during the first half of
the sixteenth century.

The lives of the great Italian nobles were essentially open-air lives:
all was organized with a view to public pageants, ceremonies and
entertainments. Domestic life was subordinated to this spectacular
existence, and instead of building private houses in our sense, they
built palaces, of which they set aside a portion for the use of the
family. Every Italian palace has its mezzanin or private apartment;
but this part of the building is now seldom seen by travellers in
Italy. Not only is it usually inhabited by the owners of the palace
but, its decorations being simpler than those of the _piano nobile_,
or principal story, it is not thought worthy of inspection. As a
matter of fact, the treatment of the mezzanin was generally most
beautiful, because most suitable; and while the Italian Renaissance
palace can seldom serve as a model for a modern private house, the
decoration of the mezzanin rooms is full of appropriate suggestion.

In France and England, on the other hand, private life was gradually,
though slowly, developing along the lines it still follows in the
present day. It is necessary to bear in mind that what we call modern
civilization was a later growth in these two countries than in Italy.
If this fact is insisted upon, it is only because it explains the
relative unsuitability of French Renaissance or Tudor and Elizabethan
architecture to modern life. In France, for instance, it was not until
the Fronde was subdued and Louis XIV firmly established on the throne,
that the elements which compose what we call modern life really began
to combine. In fact, it might be said that the feudalism of which the
Fronde was the lingering expression had its counterpart in the
architecture of the period. While long familiarity with Italy was
beginning to tell upon the practical side of house-planning, many
obsolete details were still preserved. Even the most enthusiastic
admirer of the French Renaissance would hardly maintain that the
houses of that period are what we should call in the modern sense
"convenient." It would be impossible for a modern family to occupy
with any degree of comfort the Hôtel Voguë at Dijon, one of the best
examples (as originally planned) of sixteenth-century domestic
architecture in France.[2] The same objection applies to the furniture
of the period. This arose from the fact that, owing to the unsettled
state of the country, the landed proprietor always carried his
furniture with him when he travelled from one estate to another.
Furniture, in the vocabulary of the middle ages, meant something which
may be transported: "Meubles sont apelez qu'on peut transporter";--hence
the lack of variety in furniture before the seventeenth century, and
also its unsuitableness to modern life. Chairs and cabinets that had
to be carried about on mule-back were necessarily somewhat stiff and
angular in design. It is perhaps not too much to say that a
comfortable chair, in our self-indulgent modern sense, did not exist
before the Louis XIV arm-chair (see Plate IV); and the cushioned
_bergère_, the ancestor of our upholstered easy-chair, cannot be
traced back further than the Regency. Prior to the time of Louis XIV,
the most luxurious people had to content themselves with hard
straight-backed seats. The necessities of transportation permitted
little variety of design, and every piece of furniture was constructed
with the double purpose of being easily carried about and of being
used as a trunk (see Plate I). As Havard says, "Tout meuble se
traduisait par un coffre." The unvarying design of the cabinets is
explained by the fact that they were made to form two trunks,[3] and
even the chairs and settles had hollow seats which could be packed
with the owners' wardrobe (see Plate II). The king himself, when he
went from one château to another, carried all his furniture with him,
and it is thus not surprising that lesser people contented themselves
with a few substantial chairs and cabinets, and enough arras or cloth
of Douai to cover the draughty walls of their country-houses. One of
Madame de Sévigné's letters gives an amusing instance of the
scarceness of furniture even in the time of Louis XIV. In describing a
fire in a house near her own hôtel in Paris, she says that one or two
of the persons from the burning house were brought to her for shelter,
because it was known in the neighborhood (at that time a rich and
fashionable one) that she had _an extra bed_ in the house!

  [Illustration: _PLATE II._

     FRENCH CHAIRS, XV AND XVI CENTURIES.
     FROM THE GAVET COLLECTION.]

It was not until the social influences of the reign of Louis XIV were
fully established that modern domestic life really began. Tradition
ascribes to Madame de Rambouillet a leading share in the advance in
practical house-planning; but probably what she did is merely typical
of the modifications which the new social conditions were everywhere
producing. It is certain that at this time houses and rooms first
began to be comfortable. The immense cavernous fireplaces originally
meant for the roasting of beeves and the warming of a flock of frozen
retainers,--"les grandes antiquailles de cheminées," as Madame de
Sévigné called them,--were replaced by the compact chimney-piece of
modern times. Cushioned _bergères_ took the place of the throne-like
seats of Louis XIII, screens kept off unwelcome draughts, Savonnerie
or moquette carpets covered the stone or marble floors, and grandeur
gave way to luxury.[4]

English architecture having followed a line of development so similar
that it need not here be traced, it remains only to examine in detail
the opening proposition, namely, that modern architecture and
decoration, having in many ways deviated from the paths which the
experience of the past had marked out for them, can be reclaimed only
by a study of the best models.

It might of course be said that to attain this end originality is more
necessary than imitativeness. To this it may be replied that no lost
art can be re-acquired without at least for a time going back to the
methods and manner of those who formerly practised it; or the
objection may be met by the question, What is originality in art?
Perhaps it is easier to define what it is _not_; and this may be done
by saying that it is never a wilful rejection of what have been
accepted as the necessary laws of the various forms of art. Thus, in
reasoning, originality lies not in discarding the necessary laws of
thought, but in using them to express new intellectual conceptions; in
poetry, originality consists not in discarding the necessary laws of
rhythm, but in finding new rhythms within the limits of those laws.
Most of the features of architecture that have persisted through
various fluctuations of taste owe their preservation to the fact that
they have been proved by experience to be necessary; and it will be
found that none of them precludes the exercise of individual taste,
any more than the acceptance of the syllogism or of the laws of rhythm
prevents new thinkers and new poets from saying what has never been
said before. Once this is clearly understood, it will be seen that the
supposed conflict between originality and tradition is no conflict at
all.[5]

In citing logic and poetry, those arts have been purposely chosen of
which the laws will perhaps best help to explain and illustrate the
character of architectural limitations. A building, for whatever
purpose erected, must be built in strict accordance with the
requirements of that purpose; in other words, it must have a reason
for being as it is and must be as it is for that reason. Its
decoration must harmonize with the structural limitations (which is by
no means the same thing as saying that all decoration must be
structural), and from this harmony of the general scheme of decoration
with the building, and of the details of the decoration with each
other, springs the rhythm that distinguishes architecture from mere
construction. Thus all good architecture and good decoration (which,
it must never be forgotten, _is only interior architecture_) must be
based on rhythm and logic. A house, or room, must be planned as it is
because it could not, in reason, be otherwise; must be decorated as it
is because no other decoration would harmonize as well with the plan.

  [Illustration: _PLATE III._

     FRENCH ARMOIRE, XVI CENTURY.]

Many of the most popular features in modern house-planning and
decoration will not be found to stand this double test. Often (as will
be shown further on) they are merely survivals of earlier social
conditions, and have been preserved in obedience to that instinct that
makes people cling to so many customs the meaning of which is lost.
In other cases they have been revived by the archæologizing spirit
which is so characteristic of the present time, and which so often
leads its possessors to think that a thing must be beautiful because
it is old and appropriate because it is beautiful.

But since the beauty of all such features depends on their
appropriateness, they may in every case be replaced by a more suitable
form of treatment without loss to the general effect of house or room.
It is this which makes it important that each room (or, better still,
all the rooms) in a house should receive the same style of decoration.
To some people this may seem as meaningless a piece of archaism as the
habit of using obsolete fragments of planning or decoration; but such
is not the case. It must not be forgotten, in discussing the question
of reproducing certain styles, that the essence of a style lies not in
its use of ornament, but in its handling of proportion. Structure
conditions ornament, not ornament structure. That is, a room with
unsuitably proportioned openings, wall-spaces and cornice might
receive a surface application of Louis XV or Louis XVI ornament and
not represent either of those styles of decoration; whereas a room
constructed according to the laws of proportion accepted in one or the
other of those periods, in spite of a surface application of
decorative detail widely different in character,--say Romanesque or
Gothic,--would yet maintain its distinctive style, because the detail,
in conforming with the laws of proportion governing the structure of
the room, must necessarily conform with its style. In other words,
decoration is always subservient to proportion; and a room, whatever
its decoration may be, must represent the style to which its
proportions belong. The less cannot include the greater. Unfortunately
it is usually by ornamental details, rather than by proportion, that
people distinguish one style from another. To many persons, garlands,
bow-knots, quivers, and a great deal of gilding represent the Louis
XVI style; if they object to these, they condemn the style. To an
architect familiar with the subject the same style means something
absolutely different. He knows that a Louis XVI room may exist without
any of these or similar characteristics; and he often deprecates their
use as representing the cheaper and more trivial effects of the
period, and those that have most helped to vulgarize it. In fact, in
nine cases out of ten his use of them is a concession to the client
who, having asked for a Louis XVI room, would not know he had got it
were these details left out.[6]

Another thing which has perhaps contributed to make people distrustful
of "styles" is the garbled form in which they are presented by some
architects. After a period of eclecticism that has lasted long enough
to make architects and decorators lose their traditional habits of
design, there has arisen a sudden demand for "style." It necessarily
follows that only the most competent are ready to respond to this
unexpected summons. Much has to be relearned, still more to be
unlearned. The essence of the great styles lay in proportion and the
science of proportion is not to be acquired in a day. In fact, in such
matters the cultivated layman, whether or not he has any special
familiarity with the different schools of architecture, is often a
better judge than the half-educated architect. It is no wonder that
people of taste are disconcerted by the so-called "colonial" houses
where stair-rails are used as roof-balustrades and mantel-friezes
as exterior entablatures, or by Louis XV rooms where the wavy movement
which, in the best rococo, was always an ornamental incident and never
broke up the main lines of the design, is suffered to run riot through
the whole treatment of the walls, so that the bewildered eye seeks in
vain for a straight line amid the whirl of incoherent curves.

  [Illustration: _PLATE IV._

     FRENCH SOFA AND ARMCHAIR, LOUIS XIV PERIOD.
     FROM THE CHÂTEAU DE BERCY.]

To conform to a style, then, is to accept those rules of proportion
which the artistic experience of centuries has established as the
best, while within those limits allowing free scope to the individual
requirements which must inevitably modify every house or room adapted
to the use and convenience of its occupants.

There is one thing more to be said in defence of conformity to style;
and that is, the difficulty of getting rid of style. Strive as we may
for originality, we are hampered at every turn by an artistic
tradition of over two thousand years. Does any but the most
inexperienced architect really think that he can ever rid himself of
such an inheritance? He may mutilate or misapply the component parts
of his design, but he cannot originate a whole new architectural
alphabet. The chances are that he will not find it easy to invent one
wholly new moulding.

The styles especially suited to modern life have already been roughly
indicated as those prevailing in Italy since 1500, in France from the
time of Louis XIV, and in England since the introduction of the
Italian manner by Inigo Jones; and as the French and English styles
are perhaps more familiar to the general reader, the examples given
will usually be drawn from these. Supposing the argument in favor of
these styles to have been accepted, at least as a working hypothesis,
it must be explained why, in each room, the decoration and furniture
should harmonize. Most people will admit the necessity of harmonizing
the colors in a room, because a feeling for color is more general than
a feeling for form; but in reality the latter is the more important in
decoration, and it is the feeling for form, and not any archæological
affectation, which makes the best decorators insist upon the necessity
of keeping to the same style of furniture and decoration. Thus the
massive dimensions and heavy panelling of a seventeenth-century room
would dwarf a set of eighteenth-century furniture; and the wavy,
capricious movement of Louis XV decoration would make the austere yet
delicate lines of Adam furniture look stiff and mean.

Many persons object not only to any attempt at uniformity of style,
but to the use of any recognized style in the decoration of a room.
They characterize it, according to their individual views, as
"servile," "formal," or "pretentious."

It has already been suggested that to conform within rational limits
to a given style is no more servile than to pay one's taxes or to
write according to the rules of grammar. As to the accusations of
formality and pretentiousness (which are more often made in America
than elsewhere), they may probably be explained by the fact that most
Americans necessarily form their idea of the great European styles
from public buildings and palaces. Certainly, if an architect were to
propose to his client to decorate a room in a moderate-sized house in
the Louis XIV style, and if the client had formed his idea of that
style from the state apartments in the palace at Versailles, he would
be justified in rejecting the proposed treatment as absolutely
unsuitable to modern private life; whereas the architect who had gone
somewhat more deeply into the subject might have singled out the style
as eminently suitable, having in mind one of the simple panelled
rooms, with tall windows, a dignified fireplace, large tables and
comfortable arm-chairs, which were to be found in the private houses
of the same period (see Plate V). It is the old story of the two
knights fighting about the color of the shield. Both architect and
client would be right, but they would be looking at the different
sides of the question. As a matter of fact, the bed-rooms,
sitting-rooms, libraries and other private apartments in the smaller
dwelling-houses built in Europe between 1650 and 1800 were far
simpler, less pretentious and more practical in treatment than those
in the average modern house.

  [Illustration: _PLATE V._

     ROOM IN THE GRAND TRIANON, VERSAILLES.
     (EXAMPLE OF SIMPLE LOUIS XIV DECORATION.)]

It is therefore hoped that the antagonists of "style," when they are
shown that to follow a certain style is not to sacrifice either
convenience or imagination, but to give more latitude to both, will
withdraw an opposition which seems to be based on a misapprehension of
facts.

Hitherto architecture and decoration have been spoken of as one, as in
any well-designed house they ought to be. Indeed, it is one of the
numerous disadvantages of the present use of styles, that unless the
architect who has built the house also decorates it, the most hopeless
discord is apt to result. This was otherwise before our present desire
for variety had thrown architects, decorators, and workmen out of the
regular routine of their business. Before 1800 the decorator called
upon to treat the interior of a house invariably found a suitable
background prepared for his work, while much in the way of detail was
intrusted to the workmen, who were trained in certain traditions
instead of being called upon to carry out in each new house the
vagaries of a different designer.

But it is with the decorator's work alone that these pages are
concerned, and the above digression is intended to explain why his
task is now so difficult, and why his results are so often
unsatisfactory to himself as well as to his clients. The decorator of
the present day may be compared to a person who is called upon to
write a letter in the English language, but is ordered, in so doing,
to conform to the Chinese or Egyptian rules of grammar, or possibly to
both together.

By the use of a little common sense and a reasonable conformity to
those traditions of design which have been tested by generations of
architects, it is possible to produce great variety in the decoration
of rooms without losing sight of the purpose for which they are
intended. Indeed, the more closely this purpose is kept in view, and
the more clearly it is expressed in all the details of each room, the
more pleasing that room will be, so that it is easy to make a room
with tinted walls, deal furniture and dimity curtains more beautiful,
because more logical and more harmonious, than a ball-room lined with
gold and marbles, in which the laws of rhythm and logic have been
ignored.

  [Illustration: _PLATE VI._

     FRENCH ARMCHAIR, LOUIS XV PERIOD.]

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Charming as the Italian villa is, it can hardly be used in our
Northern States without certain modifications, unless it is merely
occupied for a few weeks in mid-summer; whereas the average French or
English country house built after 1600 is perfectly suited to our
climate and habits. The chief features of the Italian villa are the
open central _cortile_ and the large saloon two stories high. An
adaptation of these better suited to a cold climate is to be found in
the English country houses built in the Palladian manner after its
introduction by Inigo Jones. See Campbell's _Vitruvius Britannicus_
for numerous examples.

[2] The plan of the Hôtel Voguë has been greatly modified.

[3] Cabinets retained this shape after the transporting of furniture
had ceased to be a necessity (see Plate III).

[4] It must be remembered that in describing the decoration of any
given period, we refer to the private houses, not the royal palaces,
of that period. Versailles was more splendid than any previous palace;
but private houses at that date were less splendid, though far more
luxurious, than during the Renaissance.

[5] "Si l'on dispose un édifice d'une manière convenable à l'usage
auquel on le destine, ne différera-t-il pas sensiblement d'un autre
édifice destiné à un autre usage? N'aura-t-il pas naturellement un
caractère, et, qui plus est, son caractère propre?" J. L. N. Durand.
_Précis des Leçons d'Architecture données à l'École Royale
Polytechnique._ Paris, 1823.

[6] It must not be forgotten that the so-called "styles" of Louis XIV,
Louis XV and Louis XVI were, in fact, only the gradual development of
one organic style, and hence differed only in the superficial use of
ornament.



II

ROOMS IN GENERAL


Before beginning to decorate a room it is essential to consider for
what purpose the room is to be used. It is not enough to ticket it
with some such general designation as "library," "drawing-room," or
"den." The individual tastes and habits of the people who are to
occupy it must be taken into account; it must be not "a library," or
"a drawing-room," but the library or the drawing-room best suited to
the master or mistress of the house which is being decorated.
Individuality in house-furnishing has seldom been more harped upon
than at the present time. That cheap originality which finds
expression in putting things to uses for which they were not intended
is often confounded with individuality; whereas the latter consists
not in an attempt to be different from other people at the cost of
comfort, but in the desire to be comfortable in one's own way, even
though it be the way of a monotonously large majority. It seems easier
to most people to arrange a room like some one else's than to analyze
and express their own needs. Men, in these matters, are less exacting
than women, because their demands, besides being simpler, are
uncomplicated by the feminine tendency to want things because other
people have them, rather than to have things because they are wanted.

But it must never be forgotten that every one is unconsciously
tyrannized over by the wants of others,--the wants of dead and gone
predecessors, who have an inconvenient way of thrusting their
different habits and tastes across the current of later existences.
The unsatisfactory relations of some people with their rooms are often
to be explained in this way. They have still in their blood the
traditional uses to which these rooms were put in times quite
different from the present. It is only an unconscious extension of the
conscious habit which old-fashioned people have of clinging to their
parents' way of living. The difficulty of reconciling these instincts
with our own comfort and convenience, and the various compromises to
which they lead in the arrangement of our rooms, will be more fully
dealt with in the following chapters. To go to the opposite extreme
and discard things because they are old-fashioned is equally
unreasonable. The golden mean lies in trying to arrange our houses
with a view to our own comfort and convenience; and it will be found
that the more closely we follow this rule the easier our rooms will be
to furnish and the pleasanter to live in.

People whose attention has never been specially called to the _raison
d'être_ of house-furnishing sometimes conclude that because a thing is
unusual it is artistic, or rather that through some occult process the
most ordinary things become artistic by being used in an unusual
manner; while others, warned by the visible results of this theory of
furnishing, infer that everything artistic is unpractical. In the
Anglo-Saxon mind beauty is not spontaneously born of material wants,
as it is with the Latin races. We have to _make_ things beautiful;
they do not grow so of themselves. The necessity of making this effort
has caused many people to put aside the whole problem of beauty and
fitness in household decoration as something mysterious and
incomprehensible to the uninitiated. The architect and decorator are
often aware that they are regarded by their clients as the possessors
of some strange craft like black magic or astrology.

This fatalistic attitude has complicated the simple and intelligible
process of house-furnishing, and has produced much of the discomfort
which causes so many rooms to be shunned by everybody in the house, in
spite (or rather because) of all the money and ingenuity expended on
their arrangement. Yet to penetrate the mystery of house-furnishing it
is only necessary to analyze one satisfactory room and to notice
wherein its charm lies. To the fastidious eye it will, of course, be
found in fitness of proportion, in the proper use of each moulding and
in the harmony of all the decorative processes; and even to those who
think themselves indifferent to such detail, much of the sense of
restfulness and comfort produced by certain rooms depends on the due
adjustment of their fundamental parts. Different rooms minister to
different wants and while a room may be made very livable without
satisfying any but the material requirements of its inmates it is
evident that the perfect room should combine these qualities with what
corresponds to them in a higher order of needs. At present, however,
the subject deals only with the material livableness of a room, and
this will generally be found to consist in the position of the doors
and fireplace, the accessibility of the windows, the arrangement of
the furniture, the privacy of the room and the absence of the
superfluous.

The position of doors and fireplace, though the subject comes properly
under the head of house-planning, may be included in this summary,
because in rearranging a room it is often possible to change its
openings, or at any rate, in the case of doors, to modify their
dimensions.

The fireplace must be the focus of every rational scheme of
arrangement. Nothing is so dreary, so hopeless to deal with, as a room
in which the fireplace occupies a narrow space between two doors, so
that it is impossible to sit about the hearth.[7] Next in importance
come the windows. In town houses especially, where there is so little
light that every ray is precious to the reader or worker, window-space
is invaluable. Yet in few rooms are the windows easy of approach, free
from useless draperies and provided with easy-chairs so placed that
the light falls properly on the occupant's work.

It is no exaggeration to say that many houses are deserted by the men
of the family for lack of those simple comforts which they find at
their clubs: windows unobscured by layers of muslin, a fireplace
surrounded by easy-chairs and protected from draughts, well-appointed
writing-tables and files of papers and magazines. Who cannot call to
mind the dreary drawing-room, in small town houses the only possible
point of reunion for the family, but too often, in consequence of its
exquisite discomfort, of no more use as a meeting-place than the
vestibule or the cellar? The windows in this kind of room are
invariably supplied with two sets of muslin curtains, one hanging
against the panes, the other fulfilling the supererogatory duty of
hanging against the former; then come the heavy stuff curtains, so
draped as to cut off the upper light of the windows by day, while it
is impossible to drop them at night: curtains that have thus ceased to
serve the purpose for which they exist. Close to the curtains
stands the inevitable lamp or jardinière, and the wall-space
between the two windows, where a writing-table might be put, is
generally taken up by a cabinet or console, surmounted by a picture
made invisible by the dark shadow of the hangings. The writing-table
might find place against the side-wall near either window; but these
spaces are usually sacred to the piano and to that modern futility,
the silver-table. Thus of necessity the writing-table is either
banished or put in some dark corner, where it is little wonder that
the ink dries unused and a vase of flowers grows in the middle of the
blotting-pad.

  [Illustration: _PLATE VII._

     FRENCH BERGÈRE, LOUIS XVI PERIOD.]

The hearth should be the place about which people gather; but the
mantelpiece in the average American house, being ugly, is usually
covered with inflammable draperies; the fire is, in consequence,
rarely lit, and no one cares to sit about a fireless hearth. Besides,
on the opposite side of the room is a gap in the wall eight or ten
feet wide, opening directly upon the hall, and exposing what should be
the most private part of the room to the scrutiny of messengers,
servants and visitors. This opening is sometimes provided with doors;
but these, as a rule, are either slid into the wall or are unhung and
replaced by a curtain through which every word spoken in the room must
necessarily pass. In such a room it matters very little how the rest
of the furniture is arranged, since it is certain that no one will
ever sit in it except the luckless visitor who has no other refuge.

Even the visitor might be thought entitled to the solace of a few
books; but as all the tables in the room are littered with
knick-knacks, it is difficult for the most philanthropic hostess to
provide even this slight alleviation.

When the town-house is built on the basement plan, and the
drawing-room or parlor is up-stairs, the family, to escape from its
discomforts, habitually take refuge in the small room opening off the
hall on the ground floor; so that instead of sitting in a room twenty
or twenty-five feet wide, they are packed into one less than half that
size and exposed to the frequent intrusions from which, in basement
houses, the drawing-room is free. But too often even the "little room
down-stairs" is arranged less like a sitting-room in a private house
than a waiting-room at a fashionable doctor's or dentist's. It has the
inevitable yawning gap in the wall, giving on the hall close to the
front door, and is either the refuge of the ugliest and most
uncomfortable furniture in the house, or, even if furnished with
taste, is arranged with so little regard to comfort that one might as
well make it part of the hall, as is often done in rearranging old
houses. This habit of sacrificing a useful room to the useless
widening of the hall is indeed the natural outcome of furnishing rooms
of this kind in so unpractical a way that their real usefulness has
ceased to be apparent. The science of restoring wasted rooms to their
proper uses is one of the most important and least understood branches
of house-furnishing.

Privacy would seem to be one of the first requisites of civilized
life, yet it is only necessary to observe the planning and arrangement
of the average house to see how little this need is recognized. Each
room in a house has its individual uses: some are made to sleep in,
others are for dressing, eating, study, or conversation; but whatever
the uses of a room, they are seriously interfered with if it be not
preserved as a small world by itself. If the drawing-room be a part of
the hall and the library a part of the drawing-room, all three will be
equally unfitted to serve their special purpose. The indifference to
privacy which has sprung up in modern times, and which in France, for
instance, has given rise to the grotesque conceit of putting sheets
of plate-glass between two rooms, and of replacing doorways by
openings fifteen feet wide, is of complex origin. It is probably due
in part to the fact that many houses are built and decorated by people
unfamiliar with the habits of those for whom they are building. It may
be that architect and decorator live in a simpler manner than their
clients, and are therefore ready to sacrifice a kind of comfort of
which they do not feel the need to the "effects" obtainable by vast
openings and extended "vistas." To the untrained observer size often
appeals more than proportion and costliness than suitability. In a
handsome house such an observer is attracted rather by the ornamental
detail than by the underlying purpose of planning and decoration. He
sees the beauty of the detail, but not its relation to the whole. He
therefore regards it as elegant but useless; and his next step is to
infer that there is an inherent elegance in what is useless.

Before beginning to decorate a house it is necessary to make a
prolonged and careful study of its plan and elevations, both as a
whole and in detail. The component parts of an undecorated room are
its floor, ceiling, wall-spaces and openings. The openings consist of
the doors, windows and fireplace; and of these, as has already been
pointed out, the fireplace is the most important in the general scheme
of decoration.

No room can be satisfactory unless its openings are properly placed
and proportioned, and the decorator's task is much easier if he has
also been the architect of the house he is employed to decorate; but
as this seldom happens his ingenuity is frequently taxed to produce a
good design upon the background of a faulty and illogical structure.
Much may be done to overcome this difficulty by making slight changes
in the proportions of the openings; and the skilful decorator, before
applying his scheme of decoration, will do all that he can to correct
the fundamental lines of the room. But the result is seldom so
successful as if he had built the room, and those who employ different
people to build and decorate their houses should at least try to
select an architect and a decorator trained in the same school of
composition, so that they may come to some understanding with regard
to the general harmony of their work.

In deciding upon a scheme of decoration, it is necessary to keep in
mind the relation of furniture to ornament, and of the room as a whole
to other rooms in the house. As in a small house a very large room
dwarfs all the others, so a room decorated in a very rich manner will
make the simplicity of those about it look mean. Every house should be
decorated according to a carefully graduated scale of ornamentation
culminating in the most important room of the house; but this plan
must be carried out with such due sense of the relation of the rooms
to each other that there shall be no violent break in the continuity
of treatment. If a white-and-gold drawing-room opens on a hall with a
Brussels carpet and papered walls, the drawing-room will look too fine
and the hall mean.

In the furnishing of each room the same rule should be as carefully
observed. The simplest and most cheaply furnished room (provided the
furniture be good of its kind, and the walls and carpet
unobjectionable in color) will be more pleasing to the fastidious eye
than one in which gilded consoles and cabinets of buhl stand side by
side with cheap machine-made furniture, and delicate old marquetry
tables are covered with trashy china ornaments.

  [Illustration: _PLATE VIII._

     FRENCH BERGÈRE, LOUIS XVI PERIOD.]

It is, of course, not always possible to refurnish a room when it is
redecorated. Many people must content themselves with using their
old furniture, no matter how ugly and ill-assorted it may be; and it
is the decorator's business to see that his background helps the
furniture to look its best. It is a mistake to think that because the
furniture of a room is inappropriate or ugly a good background will
bring out these defects. It will, on the contrary, be a relief to the
eye to escape from the bad lines of the furniture to the good lines of
the walls; and should the opportunity to purchase new furniture ever
come, there will be a suitable background ready to show it to the best
advantage.

Most rooms contain a mixture of good, bad, and indifferent furniture.
It is best to adapt the decorative treatment to the best pieces and to
discard those which are in bad taste, replacing them, if necessary, by
willow chairs and stained deal tables until it is possible to buy
something better. When the room is to be refurnished as well as
redecorated the client often makes his purchases without regard to the
decoration. Besides being an injustice to the decorator, inasmuch as
it makes it impossible for him to harmonize his decoration with the
furniture, this generally produces a result unsatisfactory to the
owner of the house. Neither decoration nor furniture, however good of
its kind, can look its best unless each is chosen with reference to
the other. It is therefore necessary that the decorator, before
planning his treatment of a room, should be told what it is to
contain. If a gilt set is put in a room the walls of which are treated
in low relief and painted white, the high lights of the gilding will
destroy the delicate values of the mouldings, and the walls, at a
little distance, will look like flat expanses of whitewashed plaster.

When a room is to be furnished and decorated at the smallest possible
cost, it must be remembered that the comfort of its occupants depends
more on the nature of the furniture than of the wall-decorations or
carpet. In a living-room of this kind it is best to tint the walls and
put a cheerful drugget on the floor, keeping as much money as possible
for the purchase of comfortable chairs and sofas and substantial
tables. If little can be spent in buying furniture, willow
arm-chairs[8] with denim cushions and solid tables with stained legs
and covers of denim or corduroy will be more satisfactory than the
"parlor suit" turned out in thousands by the manufacturer of cheap
furniture, or the pseudo-Georgian or pseudo-Empire of the dealer in
"high-grade goods." Plain bookcases may be made of deal, painted or
stained; and a room treated in this way, with a uniform color on the
wall, and plenty of lamps and books, is sure to be comfortable and can
never be vulgar.

It is to be regretted that, in this country and in England, it should
be almost impossible to buy plain but well-designed and substantial
furniture. Nothing can exceed the ugliness of the current designs: the
bedsteads with towering head-boards fretted by the versatile jig-saw;
the "bedroom suits" of "mahoganized" cherry, bird's-eye maple, or some
other crude-colored wood; the tables with meaninglessly turned legs;
the "Empire" chairs and consoles stuck over with ornaments of cast
bronze washed in liquid gilding; and, worst of all, the supposed
"Colonial" furniture, that unworthy travesty of a plain and dignified
style. All this showy stuff has been produced in answer to the
increasing demand for cheap "effects" in place of unobtrusive merit in
material and design; but now that an appreciation of better things in
architecture is becoming more general, it is to be hoped that the
"artistic" furniture disfiguring so many of our shop-windows will no
longer find a market.

There is no lack of models for manufacturers to copy, if their
customers will but demand what is good. France and England, in the
eighteenth century, excelled in the making of plain, inexpensive
furniture of walnut, mahogany, or painted beechwood (see Plates
VII-X). Simple in shape and substantial in construction, this kind of
furniture was never tricked out with moulded bronzes and machine-made
carving, or covered with liquid gilding, but depended for its effect
upon the solid qualities of good material, good design and good
workmanship. The eighteenth-century cabinet-maker did not attempt
cheap copies of costly furniture; the common sense of his patrons
would have resented such a perversion of taste. Were the modern public
as fastidious, it would soon be easy to buy good furniture for a
moderate price; but until people recognize the essential vulgarity of
the pinchbeck article flooding our shops and overflowing upon our
sidewalks, manufacturers will continue to offer such wares in
preference to better but less showy designs.

The worst defects of the furniture now made in America are due to an
Athenian thirst for novelty, not always regulated by an Athenian sense
of fitness. No sooner is it known that beautiful furniture was made in
the time of Marie-Antoinette than an epidemic of supposed
"Marie-Antoinette" rooms breaks out over the whole country. Neither
purchaser nor manufacturer has stopped to inquire wherein the
essentials of the style consist. They know that the rooms of the
period were usually painted in light colors, and that the furniture
(in palaces) was often gilt and covered with brocade; and it is taken
for granted that plenty of white paint, a pale wall-paper with
bow-knots, and fragile chairs dipped in liquid gilding and covered
with a flowered silk-and-cotton material, must inevitably produce a
"Marie-Antoinette" room. According to the creed of the modern
manufacturer, you have only to combine certain "goods" to obtain a
certain style.

This quest of artistic novelties would be encouraging were it based on
the desire for something better, rather than for something merely
different. The tendency to dash from one style to another, without
stopping to analyze the intrinsic qualities of any, has defeated the
efforts of those who have tried to teach the true principles of
furniture-designing by a return to the best models. If people will buy
the stuff now offered them as Empire, Sheraton or Louis XVI, the
manufacturer is not to blame for making it. It is not the maker but
the purchaser who sets the standard; and there will never be any
general supply of better furniture until people take time to study the
subject, and find out wherein lies the radical unfitness of what now
contents them.

Until this golden age arrives the householder who cannot afford to buy
old pieces, or to have old models copied by a skilled cabinet-maker,
had better restrict himself to the plainest of furniture, relying for
the embellishment of his room upon good bookbindings and one or two
old porcelain vases for his lamps.

Concerning the difficult question of color, it is safe to say that the
fewer the colors used in a room, the more pleasing and restful the
result will be. A multiplicity of colors produces the same effect as a
number of voices talking at the same time. The voices may not be
discordant, but continuous chatter is fatiguing in the long run. Each
room should speak with but one voice: it should contain one color,
which at once and unmistakably asserts its predominance, in obedience
to the rule that where there is a division of parts one part shall
visibly prevail over all the others.

  [Illustration: _PLATE IX._

     FRENCH SOFA, LOUIS XV PERIOD.
     TAPESTRY DESIGNED BY BOUCHER.]

To attain this result, it is best to use the same color and, if
possible, the same material, for curtains and chair-coverings. This
produces an impression of unity and gives an air of spaciousness to
the room. When the walls are simply panelled in oak or walnut, or are
painted in some neutral tones, such as gray and white, the carpet may
contrast in color with the curtains and chair-coverings. For instance,
in an oak-panelled room crimson curtains and chair-coverings may be
used with a dull green carpet, or with one of dark blue patterned in
subdued tints; or the color-scheme may be reversed, and green hangings
and chair-coverings combined with a plain crimson carpet.

Where the walls are covered with tapestry, or hung with a large number
of pictures, or, in short, are so treated that they present a variety
of colors, it is best that curtains, chair-coverings and carpet should
all be of one color and without pattern. Graduated shades of the same
color should almost always be avoided; theoretically they seem
harmonious, but in reality the light shades look faded in proximity
with the darker ones. Though it is well, as a rule, that carpet and
hangings should match, exception must always be made in favor of a
really fine old Eastern rug. The tints of such rugs are too subdued,
too subtly harmonized by time, to clash with any colors the room may
contain; but those who cannot cover their floors in this way will do
well to use carpets of uniform tint, rather than the gaudy rugs now
made in the East. The modern red and green Smyrna or Turkey carpet is
an exception. Where the furniture is dark and substantial, and the
predominating color is a strong green or crimson, such a carpet is
always suitable. These Smyrna carpets are usually well designed; and
if their colors be restricted to red and green, with small admixture
of dark blue, they harmonize with almost any style of decoration. It
is well, as a rule, to shun the decorative schemes concocted by the
writers who supply our newspapers with hints for "artistic interiors."
The use of such poetic adjectives as jonquil-yellow, willow-green,
shell-pink, or ashes-of-roses, gives to these descriptions of the
"unique boudoir" or "ideal summer room" a charm which the reality
would probably not possess. The arrangements suggested are usually
cheap devices based upon the mistaken idea that defects in structure
or design may be remedied by an overlaying of color or ornament. This
theory often leads to the spending of much more money than would have
been required to make one or two changes in the plan of the room, and
the result is never satisfactory to the fastidious.

There are but two ways of dealing with a room which is fundamentally
ugly: one is to accept it, and the other is courageously to correct
its ugliness. Half-way remedies are a waste of money and serve rather
to call attention to the defects of the room than to conceal them.

  [Illustration: _PLATE X._

     FRENCH MARQUETRY TABLE, LOUIS XVI PERIOD.]

FOOTNOTES:

[7] There is no objection to putting a fireplace between two doors,
provided both doors be at least six feet from the chimney.

[8] Not rattan, as the models are too bad.



III

WALLS


Proportion is the good breeding of architecture. It is that something,
indefinable to the unprofessional eye, which gives repose and
distinction to a room: in its origin a matter of nice mathematical
calculation, of scientific adjustment of voids and masses, but in its
effects as intangible as that all-pervading essence which the ancients
called the soul.

It is not proposed to enter here into a technical discussion of the
delicate problem of proportion. The decorator, with whom this book is
chiefly concerned, is generally not consulted until the house that he
is to decorate has been built--and built, in all probability, quite
without reference to the interior treatment it is destined to receive.
All he can hope to do is, by slight modifications here and there in
the dimensions or position of the openings, to re-establish that
harmony of parts so frequently disregarded in modern house-planning.
It often happens, however, that the decorator's desire to make these
slight changes, upon which the success of his whole scheme depends, is
a source of perplexity and distress to his bewildered client, who sees
in it merely the inclination to find fault with another's work.
Nothing can be more natural than this attitude on the part of the
client. How is he to decide between the architect, who has possibly
disregarded in some measure the claims of symmetry and proportion in
planning the interior of the house, and the decorator who insists upon
those claims without being able to justify his demands by any
explanation comprehensible to the unprofessional? It is inevitable
that the decorator, who comes last, should fare worse, especially as
he makes his appearance at a time when contractors' bills are pouring
in, and the proposition to move a mantelpiece or change the dimensions
of a door opens fresh vistas of expense to the client's terrified
imagination.

Undoubtedly these difficulties have diminished in the last few years.
Architects are turning anew to the lost tradition of symmetry and to a
scientific study of the relation between voids and masses, and the
decorator's task has become correspondingly easier. Still, there are
many cases where his work is complicated by some trifling obstacle,
the removal of which the client opposes only because he cannot in
imagination foresee the improvement which would follow. If the client
permits the change to be made, he has no difficulty in appreciating
the result: he cannot see it in advance.

A few words from Isaac Ware's admirable chapter on "The Origin of
Proportions in the Orders"[9] may serve to show the importance of
proportion in all schemes of decoration, and the necessity of
conforming to certain rules that may at first appear both arbitrary
and incomprehensible.

"An architect of genius," Ware writes (alluding to the latitude which
the ancients allowed themselves in using the orders), "will think
himself happy, in designing a building that is to be enriched with the
Doric order, that he has all the latitude between two and a half and
seventeen for the projecture of its capital; that he can proportion
this projecture to the general idea of his building anywhere between
these extremes and show his authority. This is an happiness to the
person of real genius;... but as all architects are not, nor can be
expected to be, of this stamp, it is needful some standard should be
established, founded upon what a good taste shall most admire in the
antique, and fixed as a model from which to work, or as a test to
which we may have recourse in disputes and controversies."

If to these words be added his happy definition of the sense of
proportion as "fancy under the restraint and conduct of judgment," and
his closing caution that "it is mean in the undertaker of a great work
to copy strictly, and it is dangerous to give a loose to fancy
_without a perfect knowledge how far a variation may be justified_,"
the unprofessional reader may form some idea of the importance of
proportion and of the necessity for observing its rules.

If proportion is the good breeding of architecture, symmetry, or the
answering of one part to another, may be defined as the sanity of
decoration. The desire for symmetry, for balance, for rhythm in form
as well as in sound, is one of the most inveterate of human instincts.
Yet for years Anglo-Saxons have been taught that to pay any regard to
symmetry in architecture or decoration is to truckle to one of the
meanest forms of artistic hypocrisy. The master who has taught this
strange creed, in words magical enough to win acceptance for any
doctrine, has also revealed to his generation so many of the forgotten
beauties of early art that it is hard to dispute his principles of
æsthetics. As a guide through the byways of art, Mr. Ruskin is
entitled to the reverence and gratitude of all; but as a logical
exponent of the causes and effects of the beauty he discovers, his
authority is certainly open to question. For years he has spent the
full force of his unmatched prose in denouncing the enormity of
putting a door or a window in a certain place in order that it may
correspond to another; nor has he scrupled to declare to the victims
of this practice that it leads to abysses of moral as well as of
artistic degradation.

Time has taken the terror from these threats and architects are
beginning to see that a regard for external symmetry, far from
interfering with the requirements of house-planning, tends to produce
a better, because a more carefully studied, plan, as well as a more
convenient distribution of wall-space; but in the lay mind there still
lingers not only a vague association between outward symmetry and
interior discomfort, between a well-balanced facade and badly
distributed rooms, but a still vaguer notion that regard for symmetry
indicates poverty of invention, lack of ingenuity and weak
subservience to a meaningless form.

What the instinct for symmetry means, philosophers may be left to
explain; but that it does exist, that it means something, and that it
is most strongly developed in those races which have reached the
highest artistic civilization, must be acknowledged by all students of
sociology. It is, therefore, not superfluous to point out that, in
interior decoration as well as in architecture, a regard for symmetry,
besides satisfying a legitimate artistic requirement, tends to make
the average room not only easier to furnish, but more comfortable to
live in.

  [Illustration _PLATE XI._

     DRAWING-ROOM IN BERKELEY SQUARE, LONDON. XVIII CENTURY.]

As the effect produced by a room depends chiefly upon the distribution
of its openings, it will be well to begin by considering the treatment
of the walls. It has already been said that the decorator can often
improve a room, not only from the artistic point of view, but as
regards the comfort of its inmates, by making some slight change in
the position of its openings. Take, for instance, a library in which
it is necessary to put the two principal bookcases one on each side of
a door or fireplace. If this opening is in the _centre_ of one side of
the room, the wall-decorations may be made to balance, and the
bookcases may be of the same width,--an arrangement which will give to
the room an air of spaciousness and repose. Should the wall-spaces on
either side of the opening be of unequal extent, both decorations and
bookcases must be modified in size and design; and not only does the
problem become more difficult, but the result, because necessarily
less simple, is certain to be less satisfactory. Sometimes, on the
other hand, convenience is sacrificed to symmetry; and in such cases
it is the decorator's business to remedy this defect, while preserving
to the eye the aspect of symmetry. A long narrow room may be taken as
an example. If the fireplace is in the centre of one of the long sides
of the room, with a door directly opposite, the hearth will be without
privacy and the room virtually divided into two parts, since, in a
narrow room, no one cares to sit in a line with the doorway. This
division of the room makes it more difficult to furnish and less
comfortable to live in, besides wasting all the floor-space between
the chimney and the door. One way of overcoming the difficulty is to
move the door some distance down the long side of the room, so that
the space about the fireplace is no longer a thoroughfare, and the
privacy of the greater part of the room is preserved, even if the door
be left open. The removal of the door from the centre of one side of
the room having disturbed the equilibrium of the openings, this
equilibrium may be restored by placing in a line with the door, at the
other end of the same side-wall, a piece of furniture corresponding as
nearly as possible in height and width to the door. This will satisfy
the eye, which in matters of symmetry demands, not absolute similarity
of detail, but merely correspondence of outline and dimensions.

It is idle to multiply examples of the various ways in which such
readjustments of the openings may increase the comfort and beauty of a
room. Every problem in house decoration demands a slightly different
application of the same general principles, and the foregoing
instances are intended only to show how much depends upon the placing
of openings and how reasonable is the decorator's claim to have a
share in planning the background upon which his effects are to be
produced.

It may surprise those whose attention has not been turned to such
matters to be told that in all but the most cheaply constructed houses
the interior walls are invariably treated as an order. In all houses,
even of the poorest kind, the walls of the rooms are finished by a
plain projecting board adjoining the floor, surmounted by one or more
mouldings. This base, as it is called, is nothing more nor less than
the part of an order between shaft and floor, or shaft and pedestal,
as the case may be. If it be next remarked that the upper part of the
wall, adjoining the ceiling, is invariably finished by a moulded
projection corresponding with the crowning member of an order, it will
be clear that the shaft, with its capital, has simply been omitted, or
that the uniform wall-space between the base and cornice has been
regarded as replacing it. In rooms of a certain height and importance
the column or pilaster is frequently restored to its proper place
between base and cornice; but where such treatment is too monumental
for the dimensions of the room, the main lines of the wall-space
should none the less be regarded as distinctly architectural, and the
decoration applied should be subordinate to the implied existence of
an order. (For the application of an order to walls, see Plates XLII
and L.)

Where the shafts are omitted, the eye undoubtedly feels a lack of
continuity in the treatment: the cornice seems to hang in air and the
effect produced is unsatisfactory. This is obviated by the use of
panelling, the vertical lines carried up at intervals from base to
cornice satisfying the need for some visible connection between the
upper and lower members of the order. Moreover, if the lines of the
openings are carried up to the cornice (as they are in all
well-designed schemes of decoration), the openings may be considered
as intercolumniations and the intermediate wall-spaces as the shafts
or piers supporting the cornice.

In well-finished rooms the order is usually imagined as resting, not
on the floor, but on pedestals, or rather on a continuous pedestal.
This continuous pedestal, or "dado" as it is usually called, is
represented by a plinth surmounted by mouldings, by an intermediate
member often decorated with tablets or sunk panels with moulded
margins, and by a cornice. The use of the dado raises the chief
wall-decoration of the room to a level with the eye and prevents its
being interrupted or concealed by the furniture which may be placed
against the walls. This fact makes it clear that in all well-designed
rooms there should be a dado about two and a half feet high. If lower
than this, it does not serve its purpose of raising the
wall-decoration to a line above the furniture; while the high dado
often seen in modern American rooms throws all the rest of the
panelling out of scale and loses its own significance as the pedestal
supporting an order.

In rooms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when little
furniture was used, the dado was often richly ornamented, being
sometimes painted with delicate arabesques corresponding with those on
the doors and inside shutters. As rooms grew smaller and the quantity
of furniture increased so much that the dado was almost concealed, the
treatment of the latter was wisely simplified, being reduced, as a
rule, to sunk panels and a few strongly marked mouldings. The
decorator cannot do better than plan the ornamentation of his dado
according to the amount of furniture to be placed against the walls.
In corridor or antechamber, or in a ball-room, the dado may receive a
more elaborate treatment than is necessary in a library or
drawing-room, where probably much less of it will be seen. It was not
unusual, in the decoration of lobbies and corridors in old French and
Italian houses, to omit the dado entirely if an order was used, thus
bringing the wall-decoration down to the base-board; but this was done
only in rooms or passage-ways not meant to contain any furniture.

The three noblest forms of wall-decoration are fresco-painting,
panelling, and tapestry hangings. In the best period of decoration all
three were regarded as subordinate to the architectural lines of the
room. The Italian fresco-painters, from Giotto to Tiepolo, never lost
sight of the interrelation between painting and architecture. It
matters not if the connection between base and cornice be maintained
by actual pilasters or mouldings, or by their painted or woven
imitations. The line, and not the substance, is what the eye demands.
It is a curious perversion of artistic laws that has led certain
critics to denounce painted architecture or woven mouldings. As in
imaginative literature the author may present to his reader as
possible anything that he has the talent to make the reader accept, so
in decorative art the artist is justified in presenting to the eye
whatever his skill can devise to satisfy its requirements; nor is
there any insincerity in this proceeding. Decorative art is not an
exact science. The decorator is not a chemist or a physiologist; it is
part of his mission, not to explain illusions, but to produce them.
Subject only to laws established by the limitations of the eye, he is
master of the domain of fancy, of that _pays bleu_ of the impossible
that it is his privilege to throw open to the charmed imagination.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XII._

     ROOM IN THE VILLA VERTEMATI, NEAR CHIAVENNA.
     XVI OR EARLY XVII CENTURY.
     (EXAMPLE OF FRESCOED CEILING.)]

Of the means of wall-decoration already named, fresco-painting and
stucco-panelling were generally preferred by Italian decorators, and
wood-panelling and tapestries by those of northern Europe. The use of
arras naturally commended itself to the northern noble, shivering in
his draughty castles and obliged to carry from one to another the
furniture and hangings that the unsettled state of the country made it
impossible to leave behind him. Italy, however, long supplied the
finest designs to the tapestry-looms of northern Europe, as the
Italian painters provided ready-made backgrounds of peaked hills,
winding torrents and pinnacled cities to the German engravers and the
Flemish painters of their day.

Tapestry, in the best periods of house-decoration, was always
subordinated to the architectural lines of the room (see Plate XI).
Where it was not specially woven for the panels it was intended to
fill, the subdivisions of the wall-spaces were adapted to its
dimensions. It was carefully fitted into the panelling of the room,
and never made to turn an angle, as wall-paper does in modern rooms,
nor combined with other odds and ends of decoration. If a room was
tapestried, it was tapestried, not decorated in some other way, with
bits of tapestry hung here and there at random over the fundamental
lines of the decoration. Nothing can be more beautiful than tapestry
properly used; but hung up without regard to the composition of the
room, here turning an angle, there covering a part of the dado or
overlapping a pilaster, it not only loses its own value, but destroys
the whole scheme of decoration with which it is thus unmeaningly
combined.

Italian panelling was of stone, marble or stucco, while in northern
Europe it was so generally of wood that (in England especially) the
term _panelling_ has become almost synonymous with _wood-panelling_,
and in some minds there is a curious impression that any panelling not
of wood is a sham. As a matter of fact, wood-panelling was used in
northern Europe simply because it kept the cold out more successfully
than a _revêtement_ of stone or plaster; while south of the Alps its
use was avoided for the equally good reason that in hot climates it
attracts vermin.

If priority of use be held as establishing a standard in decoration,
wood-panelling should be regarded as a sham and plaster-panelling as
its lawful prototype; for the use of stucco in the panelling of walls
and ceilings is highly characteristic of Roman interior decoration,
and wood-panelling as at present used is certainly of later origin.
But nothing can be more idle than such comparisons, nor more
misleading than the idea that stucco is a sham because it seeks to
imitate wood. It does not seek to imitate wood. It is a recognized
substance, of incalculable value for decorative effect, and no more
owes its place in decoration to a fancied resemblance to some other
material than the nave of a cathedral owes its place in architecture
to the fancied resemblance to a ship.

In the hands of a great race of artistic _virtuosi_ like the Italians,
stucco has produced effects of beauty which in any other substance
would have lost something of their freshness, their plastic
spontaneity. From the delicate traceries of the Roman baths and the
loveliness of Agostino da Duccio's chapel-front at Perugia, to the
improvised bravura treatment of the Farnese theatre at Parma, it has
served, through every phase of Italian art, to embody the most refined
and studied, as well as the most audacious and ephemeral, of
decorative conceptions.

It must not be supposed that because painting, panelling and tapestry
are the noblest forms of wall-decoration, they are necessarily the
most unattainable. Good tapestry is, of course, very expensive, and
even that which is only mediocre is beyond the reach of the average
purchaser; while stuff hangings and wall-papers, its modern
successors, have less to recommend them than other forms of
wall-decoration. With painting and panelling the case is different.
When painted walls were in fashion, there existed, below the great
creative artists, schools of decorative designers skilled in the art
of fresco-decoration, from the simplest kind to the most ornate. The
demand for such decoration would now call forth the same order of
talent, and many artists who are wasting their energies on the
production of indifferent landscapes and unsuccessful portraits might,
in the quite different field of decorative painting, find the true
expression of their talent.

To many minds the mention of a frescoed room suggests the image of a
grandiose saloon, with gods and goddesses of heroic size crowding the
domed ceiling and lofty walls; but the heroic style of fresco-painting
is only one of its many phases. To see how well this form of
decoration may be adapted to small modern rooms and to our present way
of living, it is only necessary to study the walls of the little
Pompeian houses, with their delicate arabesques and slender, fanciful
figures, or to note the manner in which the Italian painters treated
the small rooms of the casino or garden-pavilion which formed part of
every Italian country-seat. Examples of this light style of decoration
may be found in the Casino del grotto in the grounds of the Palazzo
del T at Mantua, in some of the smaller rooms of the hunting-lodge of
Stupinigi near Turin, and in the casino of the Villa Valmarana near
Vicenza, where the frescoes are by Tiepolo; while in France a pleasing
instance of the same style of treatment is seen in the small octagonal
pavilion called the Belvédère, frescoed by Le Riche, in the gardens of
the Petit Trianon at Versailles.

As regards panelling, it has already been said that if the effect
produced be satisfactory to the eye, the substance used is a matter of
indifference. Stone-panelling has the merit of solidity, and the
outlines of massive stone mouldings are strong and dignified; but the
same effect may be produced in stucco, a material as well suited to
the purpose as stone, save for its greater fragility. Wood-panelling
is adapted to the most delicate carving, greater sharpness of edge and
clearness of undercutting being obtainable than in stucco: though this
qualification applies only to the moulded stucco ornaments used from
economy, not to those modelled by hand. Used in the latter way, stucco
may be made to produce the same effects as carved wood, and for
delicacy of modelling in low relief it is superior to any other
material. There is, in short, little to choose between the different
substances, except in so far as one or the other may commend itself to
the artist as more peculiarly suited to the special requirements of
his design, or to the practical conditions regulating his work.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XIII._

     DRAWING-ROOM AT EASTON NESTON HALL, ENGLAND.
     BUILT BY NICHOLAS HAWKESMOOR, 1702.
     (EXAMPLE OF STUCCO DECORATION.)]

It is to this regard for practical conditions, and not to any fancied
superiority over other materials, that the use of wood-panelling in
northern Europe may most reasonably be attributed. Not only was wood
easy to obtain, but it had the additional merit of keeping out the
cold: two qualities sufficient to recommend it to the common sense of
French and English architects. From the decorative point of view it
has, when unpainted, one undeniable advantage over stucco--that is,
beauty of color and veining. As a background for the dull gilding of
old picture-frames, or as a setting for tapestry, nothing can surpass
the soft rich tones of oak or walnut panelling, undefaced by the
application of a shiny varnish.

With the introduction of the orders into domestic architecture and the
treatment of interior walls with dado and cornice, the panelling of
the wall-space between those two members began to assume definite
proportions. In England and France, before that time, wall-panels were
often divided into small equal-sized rectangles which, from lack of
any central motive, produced a most inadequate impression. Frequently,
too, in the houses of the Renaissance the panelling, instead of being
carried up to the ceiling, was terminated two or three feet below it a
form of treatment that reduced the height of the room and broke the
connection between walls and ceiling. This awkward device of stunted
panelling, or, as it might be called, of an unduly heightened dado,
has been revived by modern decorators; and it is not unusual to see
the walls of a room treated, as regards their base-board and cornice,
as part of an order, and then panelled up to within a foot or two of
the cornice, without apparent regard to the true _raison d'être_ of
the dado (see Plate XII).

If, then, the design of the wall-panelling is good, it matters little
whether stone, stucco, or wood be used. In all three it is possible to
obtain effects ranging from the grandeur of the great loggia of the
Villa Madama to the simplicity of any wood-panelled parlor in a New
England country-house, and from the greatest costliness to an outlay
little larger than that required for the purchase of a good
wall-paper.

It was well for the future of house-decoration when medical science
declared itself against the use of wall-papers. These hangings have,
in fact, little to recommend them. Besides being objectionable on
sanitary grounds, they are inferior as a wall-decoration to any form
of treatment, however simple, that maintains, instead of effacing, the
architectural lines of a room. It was the use of wall-paper that led
to the obliteration of the over-door and over-mantel, and to the
gradual submerging under a flood of pattern of all the main lines of
the wall-spaces. Its merits are that it is cheap, easy to put on and
easy to remove. On the other hand, it is readily damaged, soon fades,
and cannot be cleaned; while from the decorative point of view there
can be no comparison between the flat meanderings of wall-paper
pattern and the strong architectural lines of any scheme of panelling,
however simple. Sometimes, of course, the use of wall-paper is a
matter of convenience, since it saves both time and trouble; but a
papered room can never, decoratively or otherwise, be as satisfactory
as one in which the walls are treated in some other manner.

The hanging of walls with chintz or any other material is even more
objectionable than the use of wall-paper, since it has not the saving
merit of cheapness. The custom is probably a survival of the time when
wall-decorations had to be made in movable shape; and this facility of
removal points to the one good reason for using stuff hangings. In a
hired house, if the wall-decorations are ugly, and it is necessary to
hide them, the rooms may be hung with stuff which the departing tenant
can take away. In other words, stuff hangings are serviceable if used
as a tent; as a permanent mode of decoration they are both unhealthy
and inappropriate. There is something unpleasant in the idea of a
dust-collecting fabric fixed to the wall, so that it cannot be shaken
out at will like a curtain. Textile fabrics are meant to be moved,
folded, shaken: they have none of the qualities of permanence and
solidity which we associate with the walls of a room. The much-derided
marble curtains of the Jesuit church in Venice are no more illogical
than stuff wall-hangings.

In decorating the walls of a room, the first point to be considered is
whether they are to form a background for its contents, or to be in
themselves its chief decoration. In many cases the disappointing
effects of wall-decoration are due to the fact that this important
distinction has been overlooked. In rooms that are to be hung with
prints or pictures, the panelling or other treatment of the walls
should be carefully designed with a view to the size and number of the
pictures. Pictures should never be hung against a background of
pattern. Nothing is more distressing than the sight of a large
oil-painting in a ponderous frame seemingly suspended from a spray of
wild roses or any of the other naturalistic vegetation of the modern
wall-paper. The overlaying of pattern is always a mistake. It produces
a confusion of line in which the finest forms lose their individuality
and significance.

It is also important to avoid hanging pictures or prints too close to
each other. Not only do the colors clash, but the different designs of
the frames, some of which may be heavy, with deeply recessed
mouldings, while others are flat and carved in low relief, produce an
equally discordant impression. Every one recognizes the necessity of
selecting the mouldings and other ornamental details of a room with a
view to their position in the scheme of decoration; but few stop to
consider that in a room hung with pictures, the frames take the place
of wall-mouldings, and consequently must be chosen and placed as
though they were part of a definite decorative composition.

Pictures and prints should be fastened to the wall, not hung by a cord
or wire, nor allowed to tilt forward at an angle. The latter
arrangement is specially disturbing since it throws the picture-frames
out of the line of the wall. It must never be forgotten that pictures
on a wall, whether set in panels or merely framed and hung, inevitably
become a part of the wall-decoration. In the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, in rooms of any importance, pictures were always
treated as a part of the decoration, and frequently as panels sunk in
the wall in a setting of carved wood or stucco mouldings (see
paintings in Plates V and XIX). Even when not set in panels, they were
always fixed to the wall, and their frames, whether of wood or stucco,
were made to correspond with the ornamental detail of the rest of the
room. Beautiful examples of this mode of treatment are seen in many
English interiors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,[10] and
some of the finest carvings of Grinling Gibbons were designed for this
purpose.

Even where the walls are not to be hung with pictures, it is necessary
to consider what kind of background the furniture and objects of art
require. If the room is to be crowded with cabinets, bookcases and
other tall pieces, and these, as well as the tables and mantel-shelf,
are to be covered with porcelain vases, bronze statuettes, ivories,
Chinese monsters and Chelsea groups, a plain background should be
provided for this many-colored medley. Should the room contain only a
few important pieces of furniture, and one or two vases or busts, the
walls against which these strongly marked objects are to be placed may
receive a more decorative treatment. It is only in rooms used for
entertaining, dining, or some special purpose for which little
furniture is required, that the walls should receive a more elaborate
scheme of decoration.

Where the walls are treated in an architectural manner, with a
well-designed dado and cornice, and an over-mantel and over-doors
connecting the openings with the cornice, it will be found that in a
room of average size the intervening wall-spaces may be tinted in a
uniform color and left unornamented. If the fundamental lines are
right, very little decorative detail is needed to complete the effect;
whereas, when the lines are wrong, no overlaying of ornamental odds
and ends, in the way of pictures, bric-à-brac and other improvised
expedients, will conceal the structural deficiencies.

FOOTNOTES:

[9] _A Complete Body of Architecture_, Book II, chap. iii.

[10] See the saloon at Easton Neston, built by Nicholas Hawkesmoor
(Plate XIII), and various examples given in Pyne's _Royal Residences_.



IV

DOORS


The fate of the door in America has been a curious one, and had the
other chief features of the house--such as windows, fireplaces, and
stairs--been pursued with the same relentless animosity by architects
and decorators, we should no longer be living in houses at all. First,
the door was slid into the wall; then even its concealed presence was
resented, and it was unhung and replaced by a portière; while of late
it has actually ceased to form a part of house-building, and many
recently built houses contain doorways _without doors_. Even the front
door, which might seem to have too valid a reason for existence to be
disturbed by the variations of fashion, has lately had to yield its
place, in the more pretentious kind of house, to a wrought-iron
gateway lined with plate-glass, against which, as a climax of
inconsequence, a thick curtain is usually hung.

It is not difficult to explain such architectural vagaries. In
general, their origin is to be found in the misapplication of some
serviceable feature and its consequent rejection by those who did not
understand that it had ceased to be useful only because it was not
properly used.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XIV._

     DOORWAY WITH MARBLE ARCHITRAVE,
     DUCAL PALACE, MANTUA. XVI CENTURY.]

In the matter of doors, such an explanation at once presents itself.
During the latter half of the eighteenth century it occurred to
some ingenious person that when two adjoining rooms were used for
entertaining, and it was necessary to open the doors between them,
these doors might be in the way; and to avoid this possibility, a
recess was formed in the thickness of the wall, and the door was made
to slide into it.

This idea apparently originated in England, for sliding doors, even in
the present day, are virtually unknown on the continent; and Isaac
Ware, in the book already quoted, speaks of the sliding door as having
been used "at the house, late Mr. de Pestre's, near Hanover Square,"
and adds that "the manner of it there may serve as an example to other
builders," showing it to have been a novelty which he thought worthy
of imitation.

English taste has never been so sure as that of the Latin races; and
it has, moreover, been perpetually modified by a passion for
contriving all kinds of supposed "conveniences," which instead of
simplifying life not unfrequently tend to complicate it. Americans
have inherited this trait, and in both countries the architect or
upholsterer who can present a new and more intricate way of planning a
house or of making a piece of furniture, is more sure of a hearing
than he who follows the accepted lines.

It is doubtful if the devices to which so much is sacrificed in
English and American house-planning always offer the practical
advantages attributed to them. In the case of the sliding door these
advantages are certainly open to question, since there is no reason
why a door should not open into a room. Under ordinary circumstances,
doors should always be kept shut; it is only, as Ware points out, when
two adjoining rooms are used for entertaining that it is necessary to
leave the door between them open. Now, between two rooms destined for
entertaining, a double door (_à deux battants_) is always preferable
to a single one; and as an opening four feet six inches wide is
sufficient in such cases, each of the doors will be only two feet
three inches wide, and therefore cannot encroach to any serious extent
on the floor-space of the room. On the other hand, much has been
sacrificed to the supposed "convenience" of the sliding door: first,
the decorative effect of a well-panelled door, with hinges, box-locks
and handle of finely chiselled bronze; secondly, the privacy of both
rooms, since the difficulty of closing a heavy sliding door always
leads to its being left open, with the result that two rooms are
necessarily used as one. In fact, the absence of privacy in modern
houses is doubtless in part due to the difficulty of closing the doors
between the rooms.

The sliding door has led to another abuse in house-planning: the
exaggerated widening of the doorway. While doors were hung on hinges,
doorways were of necessity restricted to their proper dimensions; but
with the introduction of the sliding door, openings eight or ten feet
wide became possible. The planning of a house is often modified by a
vague idea on the part of its owners that they may wish to give
entertainments on a large scale. As a matter of fact, general
entertainments are seldom given in a house of average size; and those
who plan their houses with a view to such possibilities sacrifice
their daily comfort to an event occurring perhaps once a year. But
even where many entertainments are to be given large doorways are of
little use. Any architect of experience knows that ease of circulation
depends far more on the planning of the house and on the position of
the openings than on the actual dimensions of the latter. Indeed, two
moderate-sized doorways leading from one room to another are of much
more use in facilitating the movements of a crowd than one opening ten
feet wide.

Sliding doors have been recommended on the ground that their use
preserves a greater amount of wall-space; but two doorways of moderate
dimensions, properly placed, will preserve as much wall-space as one
very large opening and will probably permit a better distribution of
panelling and furniture. There was far more wall-space in seventeenth
and eighteenth-century rooms than there is in rooms of the same
dimensions in the average modern American house; and even where this
space was not greater in actual measurement, more furniture could be
used, since the openings were always placed with a view to the proper
arrangement of what the room was to contain.

According to the best authorities, the height of a well-proportioned
doorway should be twice its width; and as the height is necessarily
regulated by the stud of the room, it follows that the width varies;
but it is obvious that no doorway should be less than six feet high
nor less than three feet wide.

When a doorway is over three feet six inches wide, a pair of doors
should always be used; while a single door is preferable in a narrow
opening.

In rooms twelve feet or less in height, doorways should not be more
than nine feet high. The width of openings in such rooms is therefore
restricted to four feet six inches; indeed, it is permissible to make
the opening lower and thus reduce its width to four feet; six inches
of additional wall-space are not to be despised in a room of average
dimensions.

The treatment of the door forms one of the most interesting chapters
in the history of house-decoration. In feudal castles the interior
doorway, for purposes of defense, was made so small and narrow that
only one person could pass through at a time, and was set in a plain
lintel or architrave of stone, the door itself being fortified by
bands of steel or iron, and by heavy bolts and bars. Even at this
early period it seems probable that in the chief apartments the lines
of the doorway were carried up to the ceiling by means of an over-door
of carved wood, or of some painted decorative composition.[11] This
connection between the doorway and the ceiling, maintained through all
the subsequent phases of house-decoration, was in fact never
disregarded until the beginning of the present century.

It was in Italy that the door, in common with the other features of
private dwellings, first received a distinctly architectural
treatment. In Italian palaces of the fifteenth century the doorways
were usually framed by architraves of marble, enriched with
arabesques, medallions and processional friezes in low relief,
combined with disks of colored marble. Interesting examples of this
treatment are seen in the apartments of Isabella of Este in the ducal
palace at Mantua (see Plate XIV), in the ducal palace at Urbino, and
in the Certosa of Pavia--some of the smaller doorways in this
monastery being decorated with medallion portraits of the Sforzas, and
with other low reliefs of extraordinary beauty.

The doors in Italian palaces were usually of inlaid wood, elaborate in
composition and affording in many cases beautiful instances of that
sense of material limitation that preserves one art from infringing
upon another. The intarsia doors of the palace at Urbino are among the
most famous examples of this form of decoration. It should be noted
that many of the woods used in Italian marquetry were of a light
shade, so that the blending of colors in Renaissance doors produces a
sunny golden-brown tint in perfect harmony with the marble architrave
of the doorway. The Italian decorator would never have permitted so
harsh a contrast as that between the white trim and the mahogany doors
of English eighteenth-century houses. This juxtaposition of colors was
disapproved by French decorators also, and was seldom seen except in
England and in the American houses built under English influence. It
should be observed, too, that the polish given to hard-grained wood in
England, and imitated in the wood-varnish of the present day, was
never in favor in Italy and France. Shiny surfaces were always
disliked by the best decorators.

The classic revival in Italy necessarily modified the treatment of the
doorway. Flat arabesques and delicately chiselled medallions gave way
to a plain architrave, frequently masked by an order; while the
over-door took the form of a pediment, or, in the absence of shafts,
of a cornice or entablature resting on brackets. The use of a pediment
over interior doorways was characteristic of Italian decoration.

In studying Italian interiors of this period from photographs or
modern prints, or even in visiting the partly dilapidated palaces
themselves, it may at first appear that the lines of the doorway were
not always carried up to the cornice. Several causes have combined to
produce this impression. In the first place, the architectural
treatment of the over-door was frequently painted on the wall, and has
consequently disappeared with the rest of the wall-decoration (see
Plate XV). Then, again, Italian rooms were often painted with
landscapes and out-of-door architectural effects, and when this was
done the doorways were combined with these architectural compositions,
and were not treated as part of the room, but as part of what the room
_pretended to be_. In the suppressed Scuola della Carità (now the
Academy of Fine Arts) at Venice, one may see a famous example of this
treatment in the doorway under the stairs leading up to the temple, in
Titian's great painting of the "Presentation of the Virgin."[12]
Again, in the high-studded Italian saloons containing a musician's
gallery, or a clerestory, a cornice was frequently carried around the
walls at suitable height above the lower range of openings, and the
decorative treatment above the doors, windows and fireplace extended
only to this cornice, not to the actual ceiling of the room.

Thus it will be seen that the relation between the openings and
cornice in Italian decoration was in reality always maintained except
where the decorator chose to regard them as forming a part, not of the
room, but of some other architectural composition.

In the sixteenth century the excessive use of marquetry was abandoned,
doors being panelled, and either left undecorated or painted with
those light animated combinations of figure and arabesque which
Raphael borrowed from the Roman fresco-painters, and which since his
day have been peculiarly characteristic of Italian decorative
painting.[13]

Wood-carving in Italy was little used in house-decoration, and, as a
rule, the panelling of doors was severely architectural in character,
with little of the delicate ornamentation marking the French work of
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.[14]

  [Illustration: _PLATE XV._

     SALA DEI CAVALLI, PALAZZO DEL T, MANTUA. XVI CENTURY.
     (EXAMPLE OF PAINTED ARCHITECTURAL DECORATION.)]

In France the application of the orders to interior doorways was never
very popular, though it figures in French architectural works of
the eighteenth century. The architrave, except in houses of great
magnificence, was usually of wood, sometimes very richly carved. It
was often surmounted by an entablature with a cornice resting on
carved brackets; while the panel between this and the ceiling-cornice
was occupied by an over-door consisting either of a painting, of a
carved panel or of a stucco or marble bas-relief. These over-doors
usually corresponded with the design of the over-mantel.

Great taste and skill were displayed in the decoration of door-panels
and embrasure. In the earlier part of the seventeenth century, doors
and embrasures were usually painted, and nothing in the way of
decorative painting can exceed in beauty and fitness the French
compositions of this period.[15]

During the reign of Louis XIV, doors were either carved or painted,
and their treatment ranged from the most elaborate decoration to the
simplest panelling set in a plain wooden architrave. In some French
doors of this period painting and carving were admirably combined; and
they were further ornamented by the chiselled locks and hinges for
which French locksmiths were famous. So important a part did these
locks and hinges play in French decoration that Lebrun himself is said
to have designed those in the Galerie d'Apollon, in the Louvre, when
he composed the decoration of the room. Even in the simplest private
houses, where chiselled bronze was too expensive a luxury, and
wrought-iron locks and hinges, with plain knobs of brass or iron, were
used instead, such attention was paid to both design and execution
that it is almost impossible to find in France an old lock or hinge,
however plain, that is not well designed and well made (see Plate
XVII). The miserable commercial article that disgraces our modern
doors would not have been tolerated in the most unpretentious
dwelling.

The mortise-lock now in use in England and America first made its
appearance toward the end of the eighteenth century in England, where
it displaced the brass or iron box-lock; but on the Continent it has
never been adopted. It is a poor substitute for the box-lock, since it
not only weakens but disfigures the door, while a well-designed
box-lock is both substantial and ornamental (see Plate XVII).

In many minds the Louis XV period is associated with a general
waviness of line and excess of carving. It has already been pointed
out that even when the rocaille manner was at its height the main
lines of a room were seldom allowed to follow the capricious movement
of the ornamental accessories. Openings being the leading features of
a room, their main lines were almost invariably respected; and while
considerable play of movement was allowed in some of the accessory
mouldings of the over-doors and over-mantels, the plan of the panel,
in general symmetrical, was in many cases a plain rectangle.[16]

During the Louis XV period the panelling of doors was frequently
enriched with elaborate carving; but such doors are to be found only
in palaces, or in princely houses like the Hôtels de Soubise, de
Rohan, or de Toulouse (see Plate XVIII). In the most magnificent
apartments, moreover, plain panelled doors were as common as those
adorned with carving; while in the average private hôtel, even where
much ornament was lavished on the panelling of the walls, the doors
were left plain.

Towards the close of this reign, when the influence of Gabriel began
to simplify and restrain the ornamental details of house-decoration,
the panelled door was often made without carving and was sometimes
painted with attenuated arabesques and grisaille medallions, relieved
against a gold ground. Gabriel gave the key-note of what is known as
Louis XVI decoration, and the treatment of the door in France followed
the same general lines until the end of the eighteenth century. As the
classic influence became more marked, paintings in the over-door and
over-mantel were replaced by low or high reliefs in stucco: and
towards the end of the Louis XVI period a processional frieze in the
classic manner often filled the entablature above the architrave of
the door (see Plate XVI).

Doors opening upon a terrace, or leading from an antechamber into a
summer-parlor, or _salon frais_, were frequently made of glass; while
in gala rooms, doors so situated as to correspond with the windows of
the room were sometimes made of looking-glass. In both these instances
the glass was divided into small panes, with such strongly marked
mouldings that there could not be a moment's doubt of the apparent, as
well as the actual, solidity of the door. In good decorative art first
impressions are always taken into account, and the immediate
satisfaction of the eye is provided for.

In England the treatment of doorway and door followed in a general way
the Italian precedent. The architrave, as a rule, was severely
architectural, and in the eighteenth century the application of an
order was regarded as almost essential in rooms of a certain
importance. The door itself was sometimes inlaid,[17] but oftener
simply panelled (see Plate XI).

In the panelling of doors, English taste, except when it closely
followed Italian precedents, was not always good. The use of a pair of
doors in one opening was confined to grand houses, and in the average
dwelling single doors were almost invariably used, even in openings
over three feet wide. The great width of some of these single doors
led to a curious treatment of the panels, the door being divided by a
central stile, which was sometimes beaded, as though, instead of a
single door, it were really a pair held together by some invisible
agency. This central stile is almost invariably seen in the doors of
modern American houses.

Towards the middle of the eighteenth century the use of highly
polished mahogany doors became general in England. It has already been
pointed out that the juxtaposition of a dark-colored door and a white
architrave was not approved by French and Italian architects. Blondel,
in fact, expressly states that such contrasts are to be avoided, and
that where walls are pale in tint the door should never be dark: thus
in vestibules and antechambers panelled with Caen stone he recommends
painting the doors a pale shade of gray.

In Italy, when doors were left unpainted they were usually made of
walnut, a wood of which the soft, dull tone harmonizes well with
almost any color, whether light or dark; while in France it would not
be easy to find an unpainted door, except in rooms where the
wall-panelling is also of natural wood.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XVI._

     DOOR IN THE SALA DELLO ZODIACO,
     DUCAL PALACE, MANTUA. XVIII CENTURY.]

In the better type of house lately built in America there is seen a
tendency to return to the use of doors hung on hinges. These, however,
have been so long out of favor that the rules regulating their
dimensions have been lost sight of, and the modern door and architrave
are seldom satisfactory in these respects. The principles of
proportion have been further disturbed by a return to the confused
and hesitating system of panelling prevalent in England during the
Tudor and Elizabethan periods.

The old French and Italian architects never failed to respect that
rule of decorative composition which prescribes that where there is
any division of parts, one part shall unmistakably predominate. In
conformity with this rule, the principal panel in doors of French or
Italian design is so much higher than the others that these are at
once seen to be merely accessory; whereas many of our modern doors are
cut up into so many small panels, and the central one so little
exceeds the others in height, that they do not "compose."

The architrave of the modern door has been neglected for the same
reasons as the window-architrave. The use of the heavy sliding door,
which could not be opened or shut without an effort, led to the
adoption of the portière; and the architrave, being thus concealed,
was no longer regarded as a feature of any importance in the
decoration of the room.

The portière has always been used, as old prints and pictures show;
but, like the curtain, in earlier days it was simply intended to keep
out currents of air, and was consequently seldom seen in well-built
houses, where double sets of doors served far better to protect the
room from draughts. In less luxurious rooms, where there were no
double doors, and portières had to be used, these were made as scant
and unobtrusive as possible. The device of draping stuffs about the
doorway, thus substituting a textile architrave for one of wood or
stone, originated with the modern upholsterer; and it is now not
unusual to see a wide opening with no door in it, enclosed in yards
and yards of draperies which cannot even be lowered at will.

The portière, besides causing a break in architectural lines, has
become one of the chief expenses in the decoration of the modern room;
indeed, the amount spent in buying yards of plush or damask, with the
addition of silk cord, tassels, gimp and fringe, often makes it
necessary to slight the essential features of the room; so that an
ugly mantelpiece or ceiling is preserved because the money required to
replace it has been used in the purchase of portières. These
superfluous draperies are, in fact, more expensive than a well-made
door with hinges and box-lock of chiselled bronze.

The general use of the portière has also caused the disappearance of
the over-door. The lines of the opening being hidden under a mass of
drapery, the need of connecting them with the cornice was no longer
felt, and one more feature of the room passed out of the architect's
hands into those of the upholsterer, or, as he might more fitly be
called, the house-dressmaker.

The return to better principles of design will do more than anything
else to restore the architectural lines of the room. Those who use
portières generally do so from an instinctive feeling that a door is
an ugly thing that ought to be hidden, and modern doors are in fact
ugly; but when architects give to the treatment of openings the same
attention they formerly received, it will soon be seen that this
ugliness is not a necessity, and portières will disappear with the
return of well-designed doors.

Some general hints concerning the distribution of openings have been
given in the chapter on walls. It may be noted in addition that while
all doorways in a room should, as a rule, be of one height, there are
cases where certain clearly subordinate openings may be lower than
those which contain doors _à deux battants_. In such cases the
panelling of the door must be carefully modified in accordance with
the dimensions of the opening, and the treatment of the over-doors
in their relation to each other must be studied with equal attention.
Examples of such adaptations are to be found in many old French and
Italian rooms.[18]

  [Illustration: _PLATE XVII._

     EXAMPLES OF MODERN FRENCH LOCKSMITHS' WORK.]

Doors should always swing _into_ a room. This facilitates entrance and
gives the hospitable impression that everything is made easy to those
who are coming in. Doors should furthermore be so hung that they
screen that part of the room in which the occupants usually sit. In
small rooms, especially those in town houses, this detail cannot be
too carefully considered. The fact that so many doors open in the
wrong way is another excuse for the existence of portières.

A word must also be said concerning the actual making of the door.
There is a general impression that veneered doors or furniture are
cheap substitutes for articles made of solid blocks of wood. As a
matter of fact, owing to the high temperature of American houses, all
well-made wood-work used in this country is of necessity composed of
at least three, and often of five, layers of wood. This method of
veneering, in which the layers are so placed that the grain runs in
different directions, is the only way of counteracting the shrinking
and swelling of the wood under artificial heat.

To some minds the concealed door represents one of those architectural
deceptions which no necessity can excuse. It is certain that the
concealed door is an expedient, and that in a well-planned house there
should be no need for expedients, unless the architect is hampered by
limitations of space, as is the case in designing the average American
town house. Architects all know how many principles of beauty and
fitness must be sacrificed to the restrictions of a plot of ground
twenty-five feet wide by seventy-five or a hundred in length. Under
such conditions, every device is permissible that helps to produce an
effect of spaciousness and symmetry without interfering with
convenience: chief among these contrivances being the concealed door.

Such doors are often useful in altering or adding to a badly planned
house. It is sometimes desirable to give increased facilities of
communication without adding to the visible number of openings in any
one room; while in other cases the limited amount of wall-space may
make it difficult to find place for a doorway corresponding in
dimensions with the others; or, again, where it is necessary to make a
closet under the stairs, the architrave of a visible door may clash
awkwardly with the stringboard.

Under such conditions the concealed door naturally suggests itself. To
those who regard its use as an offense against artistic integrity, it
must once more be pointed out that architecture addresses itself not
to the moral sense, but to the eye. The existing confusion on this
point is partly due to the strange analogy drawn by modern critics
between artistic sincerity and moral law. Analogies are the most
dangerous form of reasoning: they connect resemblances, but disguise
facts; and in this instance nothing can be more fallacious than to
measure the architect's action by an ethical standard.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XVIII._

     CARVED DOOR, PALACE OF VERSAILLES.
     LOUIS XV PERIOD.
     (SHOWING PAINTED OVER-DOOR.)]

"Sincerity," in many minds, is chiefly associated with speaking the
truth; but architectural sincerity is simply obedience to certain
visual requirements, one of which demands that what are at once seen
to be the main lines of a room or house shall be acknowledged as such
in the application of ornament. The same architectural principles
demand that the main lines of a room shall not be unnecessarily
interrupted; and in certain cases it would be bad taste to disturb the
equilibrium of wall-spaces and decoration by introducing a visible
door leading to some unimportant closet or passageway, of which the
existence need not be known to any but the inmates of the house. It is
in such cases that the concealed door is a useful expedient. It can
hardly be necessary to point out that it would be a great mistake to
place a concealed door in a main opening. These openings should always
be recognized as one of the chief features of the room, and so treated
by the decorator; but this point has already been so strongly insisted
upon that it is reverted to here only in order to show how different
are the requirements which justify concealment.

The concealed door has until recently been used so little by American
architects that its construction is not well understood, and it is
often hung on ordinary visible hinges, instead of being swung on a
pivot. There is no reason why, with proper care, a door of this kind
should not be so nicely adjusted to the wall-panelling as to be
practically invisible; and to fulfil this condition is the first
necessity of its construction (see concealed door in Plate XLV).

FOOTNOTES:

[11] See Viollet-le-Duc, _Dictionnaire raisonné de l'Architecture
française_, under _Porte_.

[12] This painting has now been restored to its proper position in the
Scuola della Carità, and the door which had been _painted in_ under
the stairs has been removed to make way for the actual doorway around
which the picture was originally painted.

[13] See the doors of the Sala dello Zodiaco in the ducal palace at
Mantua (Plate XVI).

[14] Some rooms of the rocaille period, however, contain doors as
elaborately carved as those seen in France (see the doors in the royal
palace at Genoa, Plate XXXIV).

[15] See the doors at Vaux-le-Vicomte and in the Palais de Justice at
Rennes.

[16] Only in the most exaggerated German baroque were the vertical
lines of the door-panels sometimes irregular.

[17] The inlaid doors of Houghton Hall, the seat of Sir Robert
Walpole, were noted for their beauty and costliness. The price of each
was £200.

[18] See a room in the Ministère de la Marine at Paris, where a
subordinate door is cleverly treated in connection with one of more
importance.



V

WINDOWS


In the decorative treatment of a room the importance of openings can
hardly be overestimated. Not only do they represent the three chief
essentials of its comfort,--light, heat and means of access,--but they
are the leading features in that combination of voids and masses that
forms the basis of architectural harmony. In fact, it is chiefly
because the decorative value of openings has ceased to be recognized
that modern rooms so seldom produce a satisfactory and harmonious
impression. It used to be thought that the effect of a room depended
on the treatment of its wall-spaces and openings; now it is supposed
to depend on its curtains and furniture. Accessory details have
crowded out the main decorative features; and, as invariably happens
when the relation of parts is disturbed, everything in the modern room
has been thrown out of balance by this confusion between the essential
and the incidental in decoration.[19]

The return to a more architectural treatment of rooms and to a
recognition of the decorative value of openings, besides producing
much better results, would undoubtedly reduce the expense of
house-decoration. A small quantity of ornament, properly applied, will
produce far more effect than ten times its amount used in the wrong
way; and it will be found that when decorators rely for their effects
on the treatment of openings, the rest of the room will require little
ornamentation. The crowding of rooms with furniture and bric-à-brac is
doubtless partly due to an unconscious desire to fill up the blanks
caused by the lack of architectural composition in the treatment of
the walls.

The importance of connecting the main lines of the openings with the
cornice having been explained in the previous chapter, it is now
necessary to study the different openings in turn, and to see in how
many ways they serve to increase the dignity and beauty of their
surroundings.

As light-giving is the main purpose for which windows are made, the
top of the window should be as near the ceiling as the cornice will
allow. Ventilation, the secondary purpose of the window, is also
better served by its being so placed, since an opening a foot wide
near the ceiling will do more towards airing a room than a space twice
as large near the floor. In our northern States, where the dark winter
days and the need of artificial heat make light and ventilation so
necessary, these considerations are especially important. In Italian
palaces the windows are generally lower than in more northern
countries, since the greater intensity of the sunshine makes a much
smaller opening sufficient; moreover, in Italy, during the summer,
houses are not kept cool by letting in the air, but by shutting it
out.

Windows should not exceed five feet in width, while in small rooms
openings three feet wide will be found sufficient. There are
practical as well as artistic reasons for observing this rule, since a
sash-window containing a sheet of glass more than five feet wide
cannot be so hung that it may be raised without effort; while a
casement, or French window, though it may be made somewhat wider, is
not easy to open if its width exceeds six feet.

The next point to consider is the distance between the bottom of the
window and the floor. This must be decided by circumstances, such as
the nature of the view, the existence of a balcony or veranda, or the
wish to have a window-seat. The outlook must also be considered, and
the window treated in one way if it looks upon the street, and in
another if it gives on the garden or informal side of the house. In
the country nothing is more charming than the French window opening to
the floor. On the more public side of the house, unless the latter
gives on an enclosed court, it is best that the windows should be
placed about three feet from the floor, so that persons approaching
the house may not be able to look in. Windows placed at this height
should be provided with a fixed seat, or with one of the little
settees with arms, but without a back, formerly used for this purpose.

Although for practical reasons it may be necessary that the same room
should contain some windows opening to the floor and others raised
several feet above it, the tops of all the windows should be on a
level. To place them at different heights serves no useful end, and
interferes with any general scheme of decoration and more specially
with the arrangement of curtains.

Mullions dividing a window in the centre should be avoided whenever
possible, since they are an unnecessary obstruction to the view. The
chief drawback to a casement window is that its sashes join in the
middle; but as this is a structural necessity, it is less
objectionable. If mullions are required, they should be so placed as
to divide the window into three parts, thus preserving an unobstructed
central pane. The window called Palladian illustrates this point.

Now that large plate-glass windows have ceased to be a novelty, it
will perhaps be recognized that the old window with subdivided panes
had certain artistic and practical merits that have of late been
disregarded.

Where there is a fine prospect, windows made of a single plate of
glass are often preferred; but it must be remembered that the
subdivisions of a sash, while obstructing the view, serve to establish
a relation between the inside of the house and the landscape, making
the latter what, _as seen from a room_, it logically ought to be: a
part of the wall-decoration, in the sense of being subordinated to the
same general lines. A large unbroken sheet of plate-glass interrupts
the decorative scheme of the room, just as in verse, if the distances
between the rhymes are so great that the ear cannot connect them, the
continuity of sound is interrupted. Decoration must rhyme to the eye,
and to do so must be subject to the limitations of the eye, as verse
is subject to the limitations of the ear. Success in any art depends
on a due regard for the limitations of the sense to which it appeals.

The effect of a perpetually open window, produced by a large sheet of
plate-glass, while it gives a sense of coolness and the impression of
being out of doors, becomes for these very reasons a disadvantage in
cold weather.

It is sometimes said that the architects of the eighteenth century
would have used large plates of glass in their windows had they been
able to obtain them; but as such plates were frequently used for
mirrors, it is evident that they were not difficult to get, and that
there must have been other reasons for not employing them in windows;
while the additional expense could hardly have been an obstacle in an
age when princes and nobles built with such royal disregard of cost.
The French, always logical in such matters, having tried the effect of
plate-glass, are now returning to the old fashion of smaller panes;
and in many of the new houses in Paris, where the windows at first
contained large plates of glass, the latter have since been subdivided
by a network of narrow mouldings applied to the glass.

As to the comparative merits of French, or casement, and sash windows,
both arrangements have certain advantages. In houses built in the
French or Italian style, casement windows are best adapted to the
general treatment; while the sash-window is more in keeping in English
houses. Perhaps the best way of deciding the question is to remember
that "les fenêtres sont intimement liées aux grandes lignes de
l'architecture," and to conform to the rule suggested by this axiom.

The two common objections to French windows--that they are less
convenient for ventilation, and that they cannot be opened without
letting in cold air near the floor--are both unfounded. All properly
made French windows have at the top an impost or stationary part
containing small panes, one of which is made to open, thus affording
perfect ventilation without draught. Another expedient, seen in one of
the rooms of Mesdames de France at Versailles, is a small pane in the
main part of the window, opening on hinges of its own. (For examples
of well-designed French windows, see Plates XXX and XXXI.)

  [Illustration: _PLATE XIX._

     SALON DES MALACHITES, GRAND TRIANON, VERSAILLES.
     LOUIS XIV PERIOD.
     (SHOWING WELL-DESIGNED WINDOW WITH SOLID INSIDE SHUTTER, AND
     PICTURES FORMING PART OF WALL-DECORATION.)]

Sash-windows have the disadvantage of not opening more than half-way,
a serious drawback in our hot summer climate. It is often said that
French windows cannot be opened wide without interfering with the
curtains; but this difficulty is easily met by the use of curtains
made with cords and pulleys, in the sensible old-fashioned manner. The
real purpose of the window-curtain is to regulate the amount of light
admitted to the room, and a curtain so arranged that it cannot be
drawn backward and forward at will is but a meaningless accessory. It
was not until the beginning of the present century that curtains were
used without regard to their practical purpose. The window-hangings of
the middle ages and of the Renaissance were simply straight pieces of
cloth or tapestry hung across the window without any attempt at
drapery, and regarded not as part of the decoration of the room, but
as a necessary protection against draughts. It is probably for this
reason that in old prints and pictures representing the rooms of
wealthy people, curtains are so seldom seen. The better the house, the
less need there was for curtains. In the engravings of Abraham Bosse,
which so faithfully represent the interior decoration of every class
of French house during the reign of Louis XIII, it will be noticed
that in the richest apartments there are no window-curtains. In all
the finest rooms of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the
inside shutters and embrasures of the windows were decorated with a
care which proves that they were not meant to be concealed by curtains
(see the painted embrasures of the saloon in the Villa Vertemati,
Plate XLIV). The shutters in the state apartments of Fouquet's château
of Vaux-le-Vicomte, near Melun, are painted on both sides with
exquisite arabesques; while those in the apartments of Mesdames de
France, on the ground floor of the palace of Versailles, are examples
of the most beautiful carving. In fact, it would be more difficult to
cite a room of any importance in which the windows were not so
treated, than to go on enumerating examples of what was really a
universal custom until the beginning of the present century. It is
known, of course, that curtains were used in former times: prints,
pictures and inventories alike prove this fact; but the care expended
on the decorative treatment of windows makes it plain that the
curtain, like the portière, was regarded as a necessary evil rather
than as part of the general scheme of decoration. The meagreness and
simplicity of the curtains in old pictures prove that they were used
merely as window shades or sun-blinds. The scant straight folds pushed
back from the tall windows of the Prince de Conti's salon, in
Olivier's charming picture of "Le Thé à l'Anglaise chez le Prince de
Conti," are as obviously utilitarian as the strip of green woollen
stuff hanging against the leaded casement of the mediæval bed-chamber
in Carpaccio's "Dream of St. Ursula."

Another way of hanging window-curtains in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries was to place them inside the architrave, so that
they did not conceal it. The architectural treatment of the trim, and
the practice prevalent at that period of carrying the windows up to
the cornice, made this a satisfactory way of arranging the curtain;
but in the modern American house, where the trim is usually bad, and
where there is often a dreary waste of wall-paper between the window
and the ceiling, it is better to hang the curtains close under the
cornice.

It was not until the eighteenth century that the window-curtain was
divided in the middle; and this change was intended only to facilitate
the drawing of the hangings, which, owing to the increased size of the
windows, were necessarily wider and heavier. The curtain continued to
hang down in straight folds, pulled back at will to permit the opening
of the window, and drawn at night. Fixed window-draperies, with
festoons and folds so arranged that they cannot be lowered or raised,
are an invention of the modern upholsterer. Not only have these fixed
draperies done away with the true purpose of the curtain, but they
have made architects and decorators careless in their treatment of
openings. The architrave and embrasure of a window are now regarded as
of no more importance in the decorative treatment of a room than the
inside of the chimney.

The modern use of the lambrequin as an ornamental finish to
window-curtains is another instance of misapplied decoration. Its
history is easy to trace. The mediæval bed was always enclosed in
curtains hanging from a wooden framework, and the lambrequin was used
as a kind of cornice to conceal it. When the use of gathered
window-shades became general in Italy, the lambrequin was transferred
from the bed to the window, in order to hide the clumsy bunches of
folds formed by these shades when drawn up. In old prints, lambrequins
over windows are almost always seen in connection with Italian shades,
and this is the only logical way of using them; though they are often
of service in concealing the defects of badly-shaped windows and
unarchitectural trim.

Those who criticize the architects and decorators of the past are
sometimes disposed to think that they worked in a certain way because
they were too ignorant to devise a better method; whereas they were
usually controlled by practical and artistic considerations which
their critics are prone to disregard, not only in judging the work of
the past, but in the attempt to make good its deficiencies. Thus the
cabinet-makers of the Renaissance did not make straight-backed wooden
chairs because they were incapable of imagining anything more
comfortable, but because the former were better adapted than cushioned
arm-chairs to the _déplacements_ so frequent at that period. In like
manner, the decorator who regarded curtains as a necessity rather than
as part of the decoration of the room knew (what the modern
upholsterer fails to understand) that, the beauty of a room depending
chiefly on its openings, to conceal these under draperies is to hide
the key of the whole decorative scheme.

The muslin window-curtain is a recent innovation. Its only purpose is
to protect the interior of the room from public view: a need not felt
before the use of large sheets of glass, since it is difficult to look
through a subdivided sash from the outside. Under such circumstances
muslin curtains are, of course, useful; but where they may be
dispensed with, owing to the situation of the room or the subdivision
of panes, they are no loss. Lingerie effects do not combine well with
architecture, and the more architecturally a window is treated, the
less it need be dressed up in ruffles. To put such curtains in a
window, and then loop them back so that they form a mere frame to the
pane, is to do away with their real purpose, and to substitute a
textile for an architectural effect. Where muslin curtains are
necessary, they should be a mere transparent screen hung against the
glass. In town houses especially all outward show of richness should
be avoided; the use of elaborate lace-figured curtains, besides
obstructing the view, seems an attempt to protrude the luxury of the
interior upon the street. It is needless to point out the futility of
the second layer of muslin which, in some houses, hangs inside the
sash-curtains.

The solid inside shutter, now so generally discarded, save in France,
formerly served the purposes for which curtains and shades are used,
and, combined with outside blinds, afforded all the protection that a
window really requires (see Plate XIX). These shutters should be made
with solid panels, not with slats, their purpose being to darken the
room and keep out the cold, while the light is regulated by the
outside blinds. The best of these is the old-fashioned hand-made
blind, with wide fixed slats, still to be seen on old New England
houses and always used in France and Italy: the frail machine-made
substitute now in general use has nothing to recommend it.

FOOTNOTE:

[19] As an example of the extent to which openings have come to be
ignored as factors in the decorative composition of a room, it is
curious to note that in Eastlake's well-known _Hints on Household
Taste_ no mention is made of doors, windows or fireplaces. Compare
this point of view with that of the earlier decorators, from Vignola
to Roubo and Ware.



VI

FIREPLACES


The fireplace was formerly always regarded as the chief feature of the
room, and so treated in every well-thought-out scheme of decoration.

The practical reasons which make it important that the windows in a
room should be carried up to the cornice have already been given, and
it has been shown that the lines of the other openings should be
extended to the same height. This applies to fireplaces as well as to
doors, and, indeed, as an architectural principle concerning all kinds
of openings, it has never been questioned until the present day. The
hood of the vast Gothic fireplace always descended from the springing
of the vaulted roof, and the monumental chimney-pieces of the
Renaissance followed the same lines (see Plate XX). The importance of
giving an architectural character to the chimney-piece is insisted on
by Blondel, whose remark, "Je voudrais n'appliquer à une cheminée que
des ornements convenables à l'architecture," is a valuable axiom for
the decorator. It is a mistake to think that this treatment
necessitates a large mantel-piece and a monumental style of panelling.
The smallest mantel, surmounted by a picture or a mirror set in simple
mouldings, may be as architectural as the great chimney-pieces at
Urbino or Cheverny: all depends on the spirit of the treatment and
on the proper relation of the different members used. Pajou's monument
to Madame du Barry's canary-bird is far more architectural than the
Albert Memorial.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XX._

     MANTELPIECE IN DUCAL PALACE, URBINO.
     XV CENTURY.
     (TRANSITION BETWEEN GOTHIC AND RENAISSANCE.)]

When, in the middle ages, the hearth in the centre of the room was
replaced by the wall-chimney, the fireplace was invariably constructed
with a projecting hood of brick or stone, generally semicircular in
shape, designed to carry off the smoke which in earlier times had
escaped through a hole in the roof. The opening of the fireplace, at
first of moderate dimensions, was gradually enlarged to an enormous
size, from the erroneous idea that the larger the fire the greater
would be the warmth of the room. By degrees it was discovered that the
effect of the volume of heat projected into the room was counteracted
by the strong draught and by the mass of cold air admitted through the
huge chimney; and to obviate this difficulty iron doors were placed in
the opening and kept closed when the fire was not burning (see Plate
XXI). But this was only a partial remedy, and in time it was found
expedient to reduce the size of both chimney and fireplace.

In Italy the strong feeling for architectural lines and the invariable
exercise of common sense in construction soon caused the fireplace to
be sunk into the wall, thus ridding the room of the Gothic hood, while
the wall-space above the opening received a treatment of panelling,
sometimes enclosed in pilasters, and usually crowned by an entablature
and pediment. When the chimney was not sunk in the wall, the latter
was brought forward around the opening, thus forming a flat
chimney-breast to which the same style of decoration could be applied.
This projection was seldom permitted in Italy, where the thickness of
the walls made it easy to sink the fireplace, while an unerring
feeling for form rejected the advancing chimney-breast as a needless
break in the wall-surface of the room. In France, where Gothic
methods of construction persisted so long after the introduction of
classic ornament, the habit of building out the chimney-breast
continued until the seventeenth century, and even a hundred years
later French decorators described the plan of sinking the fireplace
into the thickness of the wall as the "Italian manner." The thinness
of modern walls has made the projecting chimney-breast a structural
necessity; but the composition of the room is improved by "furring
out" the wall on each side of the fireplace in such a way as to
conceal the projection and obviate a break in the wall-space. Where
the room is so small that every foot of space is valuable, a niche may
be formed in either angle of the chimney-breast, thus preserving the
floor-space which would be sacrificed by advancing the wall, and yet
avoiding the necessity of a break in the cornice. The Italian plan of
panelling the space between mantel and cornice continued in favor,
with various modifications, until the beginning of the present
century. In early Italian Renaissance over-mantels the central panel
was usually filled by a bas-relief; but in the sixteenth century this
was frequently replaced by a picture, not hung on the panelling, but
forming a part of it.[20] In France the sculptured over-mantel
followed the same general lines of development, though the treatment,
until the time of Louis XIII, showed traces of the Gothic tendency to
overload with ornament without regard to unity of design, so that the
main lines of the composition were often lost under a mass of
ill-combined detail.

In Italy the early Renaissance mantels were usually of marble. French
mantels of the same period were of stone; but this material was so
unsuited to the elaborate sculpture then in fashion that wood was
sometimes used instead. For a season richly carved wooden
chimney-pieces, covered with paint and gilding, were in favor; but
when the first marble mantels were brought from Italy, that sense of
fitness in the use of material for which the French have always been
distinguished, led them to recognize the superiority of marble, and
the wooden mantel-piece was discarded: nor has it since been used in
France.

With the seventeenth century, French mantel-pieces became more
architectural in design and less florid in ornament, and the ponderous
hood laden with pinnacles, escutcheons, fortified castles and statues
of saints and warriors, was replaced by a more severe decoration.

Thackeray's gibe at Louis XIV and his age has so long been accepted by
the English-speaking races as a serious estimate of the period, that
few now appreciate the artistic preponderance of France in the
seventeenth century. As a matter of fact, it is to the schools of art
founded by Louis XIV and to his magnificent patronage of the
architects and decorators trained in these schools that we owe the
preservation, in northern Europe, of that sense of form and spirit of
moderation which mark the great classic tradition. To disparage the
work of men like Levau, Mansart, de Cotte and Lebrun, shows an
insufficient understanding, not only of what they did, but of the
inheritance of confused and turgid ornament from which they freed
French art.[21] Whether our individual tastes incline us to the Gothic
or to the classic style, it is easy to see that a school which tried
to combine the structure of the one with the ornament of the other was
likely to fall into incoherent modes of expression; and this was
precisely what happened to French domestic architecture at the end of
the Renaissance period. It has been the fashion to describe the art of
the Louis XIV period as florid and bombastic; but a comparison of the
designs of Philibert de Lorme and Androuet Ducerceau with those of
such men as Levau and Robert de Cotte will show that what the latter
did was not to introduce a florid and bombastic manner, but to discard
it for what Viollet-le-Duc, who will certainly not be suspected of
undue partiality for this school of architects, calls "une grandeur
solide, sans faux ornements." No better illustration of this can be
obtained than by comparing the mantel-pieces of the respective
periods.[22] The Louis XIV mantel-pieces are much simpler and more
coherent in design. The caryatides supporting the entablature above
the opening of the earlier mantels, and the full-length statues
flanking the central panel of the over-mantel, are replaced by massive
and severe mouldings of the kind which the French call _mâle_ (see
mantels in Plates V and XXXVI). Above the entablature there is usually
a kind of attic or high concave member of marble, often fluted, and
forming a ledge or shelf just wide enough to carry the row of
porcelain vases with which it had become the fashion to adorn the
mantel. These vases, and the bas-relief or picture occupying the
central panel above, form the chief ornament of the chimney-piece,
though occasionally the crowning member of the over-mantel is treated
with a decoration of garlands, masks, trophies or other strictly
architectural ornament, while in Italy and England the broken
pediment is frequently employed. The use of a mirror over the
fireplace is said to have originated with Mansart; but according to
Blondel it was Robert de Cotte who brought about this innovation, thus
producing an immediate change in the general scheme of composition.
The French were far too logical not to see the absurdity of placing a
mirror too high to be looked into; and the concave Louis XIV member,
which had raised the mantel-shelf six feet from the floor, was
removed[23] and the shelf placed directly over the entablature.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXI._

     MANTELPIECE IN THE VILLA GIACOMELLI,
     AT MASER, NEAR TREVISO. XVI CENTURY.
     (SHOWING IRON DOORS IN OPENING.)]

Somewhat later the introduction of clocks and candelabra as mantel
ornaments made it necessary to widen the shelf, and this further
modified the general design; while the suites of small rooms which had
come into favor under the Regent led to a reduction in the size of
mantel-pieces, and to the use of less massive and perhaps less
architectural ornament.

In the eighteenth century, mantel-pieces in Italy and France were
almost always composed of a marble or stone architrave surmounted by a
shelf of the same material, while the over-mantel consisted of a
mirror, framed in mouldings varying in design from the simplest style
to the most ornate. This over-mantel, which was either of the exact
width of the mantel-shelf or some few inches narrower, ended under the
cornice, and its upper part was usually decorated in the same way as
the over-doors in the room. If these contained paintings, a picture
carrying out the same scheme of decoration was often placed in the
upper part of the over-mantel; or the ornaments of carved wood or
stucco filling the panels over the doors were repeated in the upper
part of the mirror-frame.

In France, mirrors had by this time replaced pictures in the central
panel of the over-mantel; but in Italian decoration of the same period
oval pictures were often applied to the centre of the mirror, with
delicate lines of ornament connecting the picture and mirror
frames.[24]

The earliest fireplaces were lined with stone or brick, but in the
sixteenth century the more practical custom of using iron fire-backs
was introduced. At first this fire-back consisted of a small plaque of
iron, shaped like a headstone, and fixed at the back of the fireplace,
where the brick or stone was most likely to be calcined by the fire.
When chimney-building became more scientific, the size of the
fireplace was reduced, and the sides of the opening were brought much
nearer the flame, thus making it necessary to extend the fire-back
into a lining for the whole fireplace.

It was soon seen that besides resisting the heat better than any other
substance, the iron lining served to radiate it into the room. The
iron back consequently held its own through every subsequent change in
the treatment of the fireplace; and the recent return, in England and
America, to brick or stone is probably due to the fact that the modern
iron lining is seldom well designed. Iron backs were adopted because
they served their purpose better than any others; and as no new
substance offering greater advantages has since been discovered, there
is no reason for discarding them, especially as they are not only more
practical but more decorative than any other lining. The old
fire-backs (of which reproductions are readily obtained) were
decorated with charming bas-reliefs, and their dark bosses, in the
play of the firelight, form a more expressive background than the
dead and unresponsive surface of brick or stone.

It was not uncommon in England to treat the mantel as an order crowned
by its entablature. Where this was done, an intermediate space was
left between mantel and over-mantel, an arrangement which somewhat
weakened the architectural effect. A better plan was that of
surmounting the entablature with an attic, and making the over-mantel
spring directly from the latter. Fine examples of this are seen at
Holkham, built by Brettingham for the Earl of Leicester about the
middle of the eighteenth century.

The English fireplace was modified at the end of the seventeenth
century, when coal began to replace wood. Chippendale gives many
designs for beautiful basket-grates, such as were set in the large
fireplaces originally intended for wood; for it was not until later
that chimneys with smaller openings were specially constructed to
receive the fixed grate and the hob-grate.

It was in England that the architectural treatment of the over-mantel
was first abandoned. The use of a mirror framed in a panel over the
fireplace had never become general in England, and toward the end of
the eighteenth century the mantel-piece was frequently surmounted by a
blank wall-space, on which a picture or a small round mirror was hung
high above the shelf (see Plate XLVII). Examples are seen in
Moreland's pictures, and in prints of simple eighteenth-century
English interiors; but this treatment is seldom found in rooms of any
architectural pretensions.

The early American fireplace was merely a cheap provincial copy of
English models of the same period. The application of the word
"Colonial" to pre-Revolutionary architecture and decoration has
created a vague impression that there existed at that time an American
architectural style. As a matter of fact, "Colonial" architecture is
simply a modest copy of Georgian models; and "Colonial" mantel-pieces
were either imported from England by those who could afford it, or
were reproduced in wood from current English designs. Wooden mantels
were, indeed, not unknown in England, where the use of a wooden
architrave led to the practice of facing the fireplace with Dutch
tiles; but wood was used, both in England and America, only from
motives of cheapness, and the architrave was set back from the opening
only because it was unsafe to put an inflammable material so near the
fire.

After 1800 all the best American houses contained imported marble
mantel-pieces. These usually consisted of an entablature resting on
columns or caryatides, with a frieze in low relief representing some
classic episode, or simply ornamented with bucranes and garlands. In
the general decline of taste which marked the middle of the present
century, these dignified and well-designed mantel-pieces were replaced
by marble arches containing a fixed grate. The hideousness of this
arched opening soon produced a distaste for marble mantels in the
minds of a generation unacquainted with the early designs. This
distaste led to a reaction in favor of wood, resulting in the
displacement of the architrave and the facing of the space between
architrave and opening with tiles, iron or marble.

People are beginning to see that the ugliness of the marble
mantel-pieces of 1840-60 does not prove that wood is the more suitable
material to employ. There is indeed something of unfitness in the use
of an inflammable material surrounding a fireplace. Everything about
the hearth should not only be, but _look_, fire-proof. The chief
objection to wood is that its use necessitates the displacement of the
architrave, thus leaving a flat intermediate space to be faced with
some fire-proof material. This is an architectural fault. A door of
which the architrave should be set back eighteen inches or more to
admit of a facing of tiles or marble would be pronounced
unarchitectural; and it is usually admitted that all classes of
openings should be subject to the same general treatment.

Where the mantel-piece is of wood, the setting back of the architrave
is a necessity; but, curiously enough, the practice has become so
common in England and America that even where the mantel is made of
marble or stone it is set back in the same way; so that it is unusual
to see a modern fireplace in which the architrave defines the opening.
In France, also, the use of an inner facing (called a _retrécissement_)
has become common, probably because such a device makes it possible to
use less fuel, while not disturbing the proportions of the mantel as
related to the room.

The reaction from the bare stiff rooms of the first quarter of the
present century--the era of mahogany and horsehair--resulted, some
twenty years since, in a general craving for knick-knacks; and the
latter soon spread from the tables to the mantel, especially in
England and America, where the absence of the architectural
over-mantel left a bare expanse of wall above the chimney-piece.

The use of the mantel as a bric-à-brac shelf led in time to the
lengthening and widening of this shelf, and in consequence to the
enlargement of the whole chimney-piece.

Mantels which in the eighteenth century would have been thought in
scale with rooms of certain dimensions would now be considered too
small and insignificant. The use of large mantel-pieces, besides
throwing everything in the room out of scale, is a structural mistake,
since the excessive projection of the mantel has a tendency to make
the fire smoke; indeed, the proportions of the old mantels, far from
being arbitrary, were based as much on practical as on artistic
considerations. Moreover, the use of long, wide shelves has brought
about the accumulation of superfluous knick-knacks, whereas a smaller
mantel, if architecturally designed, would demand only its
conventional _garniture_ of clock and candlesticks.

The device of concealing an ugly mantel-piece by folds of drapery
brings an inflammable substance so close to the fire that there is a
suggestion of danger even where there is no actual risk. The lines of
a mantel, however bad, represent some kind of solid architrave,--a
more suitable setting for an architectural opening than flimsy
festoons of brocade or plush. Any one who can afford to replace an
ugly chimney-piece by one of good design will find that this change
does more than any other to improve the appearance of a room. Where a
badly designed mantel cannot be removed, the best plan is to leave it
unfurbelowed, simply placing above it a mirror or panel to connect the
lines of the opening with the cornice.

The effect of a fireplace depends much upon the good taste and
appropriateness of its accessories. Little attention is paid at
present to the design and workmanship of these and like necessary
appliances; yet if good of their kind they add more to the adornment
of a room than a multiplicity of useless knick-knacks.

Andirons should be of wrought-iron, bronze or ormolu. Substances which
require constant polishing, such as steel or brass, are unfitted to a
fireplace. It is no longer easy to buy the old bronze andirons of
French or Italian design, with pedestals surmounted by statuettes of
nymph or faun, to which time has given the iridescence that modern
bronze-workers vainly try to reproduce with varnish. These bronzes,
and the old ormolu andirons, are now almost _introuvables_; but the
French artisan still copies the old models with fair success (see
Plates V and XXXVI). Andirons should not only harmonize with the
design of the mantel but also be in scale with its dimensions. In the
fireplace of a large drawing-room, boudoir andirons would look
insignificant; while the monumental Renaissance fire-dogs would dwarf
a small mantel and make its ornamentation trivial.

If andirons are gilt, they should be of ormolu. The cheaper kinds of
gilding are neither durable nor good in tone, and plain iron is
preferable to anything but bronze or fire-gilding. The design of
shovel and tongs should accord with that of the andirons: in France
such details are never disregarded. The shovel and tongs should be
placed upright against the mantel-piece, or rest upon hooks inserted
in the architrave: the brass or gilt stands now in use are seldom well
designed. Fenders, being merely meant to protect the floor from
sparks, should be as light and easy to handle as possible: the folding
fender of wire-netting is for this reason preferable to any other,
since it may be shut and put away when not in use. The low guards of
solid brass in favor in England and America not only fail to protect
the floor, but form a permanent barrier between the fire and those who
wish to approach it; and the latter objection applies also to the
massive folding fender that is too heavy to be removed.

Coal-scuttles, like andirons, should be made of bronze, ormolu or
iron. The unnecessary use of substances which require constant
polishing is one of the mysteries of English and American
housekeeping: it is difficult to see why a housemaid should spend
hours in polishing brass or steel fenders, andirons, coal-scuttles and
door-knobs, when all these articles might be made of some substance
that does not need daily cleaning.

Where wood is burned, no better wood-box can be found than an old
carved chest, either one of the Italian _cassoni_, with their painted
panels and gilded volutes, or a plain box of oak or walnut with
well-designed panels and old iron hasps. The best substitute for such
a chest is a plain wicker basket, without ornamentation, enamel paint
or gilding. If an article of this kind is not really beautiful, it had
better be as obviously utilitarian as possible in design and
construction.

A separate chapter might be devoted to the fire-screen, with its
carved frame and its panel of tapestry, needlework, or painted
arabesques. Of all the furniture of the hearth, it is that upon which
most taste and variety of invention have been spent; and any of the
numerous French works on furniture and house-decoration will supply
designs which the modern decorator might successfully reproduce (see
Plate XXII). So large is the field from which he may select his
models, that it is perhaps more to the purpose to touch upon the
styles of fire-screens to be avoided: such as the colossal brass or
ormolu fan, the stained-glass screen, the embroidered or painted
banner suspended on a gilt rod, or the stuffed bird spread out in a
broiled attitude against a plush background.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXII._

     FRENCH FIRE-SCREEN, LOUIS XIV PERIOD.
     FROM THE CHÂTEAU OF ANET.]

In connection with the movable fire-screen, a word may be said of the
fire-boards which, until thirty or forty years ago, were used to close
the opening of the fireplace in summer. These fire-boards are now
associated with old-fashioned boarding-house parlors, where they are
still sometimes seen, covered with a paper like that on the walls, and
looking ugly enough to justify their disuse. The old fire-boards
were very different: in rooms of any importance they were beautifully
decorated, and in Italian interiors, where the dado was often painted,
the same decoration was continued on the fire-boards. Sometimes the
latter were papered; but the paper used was designed expressly for the
purpose, with a decorative composition of flowers, landscapes, or the
ever-amusing _chinoiseries_ on which the eighteenth-century designer
played such endless variations.

Whether the fireplace in summer should be closed by a board, or left
open, with the logs laid on the irons, is a question for individual
taste; but it is certain that if the painted fire-board were revived,
it might form a very pleasing feature in the decoration of modern
rooms. The only possible objection to its use is that it interferes
with ventilation by closing the chimney-opening; but as fire-boards
are used only at a season when all the windows are open, this drawback
is hardly worth considering.

In spite of the fancied advancement in refinement and luxury of
living, the development of the modern heating apparatus seems likely,
especially in America, to do away with the open fire. The temperature
maintained in most American houses by means of hot-air or hot-water
pipes is so high that even the slight additional warmth of a wood fire
would be unendurable. Still there are a few exceptions to this rule,
and in some houses the healthy glow of open fires is preferred to the
parching atmosphere of steam. Indeed, it might almost be said that the
good taste and _savoir-vivre_ of the inmates of a house may be guessed
from the means used for heating it. Old pictures, old furniture and
fine bindings cannot live in a furnace-baked atmosphere; and those who
possess such treasures and know their value have an additional motive
for keeping their houses cool and well ventilated.

No house can be properly aired in winter without the draughts produced
by open fires. Fortunately, doctors are beginning to call attention to
this neglected detail of sanitation; and as dry artificial heat is the
main source of throat and lung diseases, it is to be hoped that the
growing taste for open-air life and out-door sports will bring about a
desire for better ventilation, and a dislike for air-tight stoves,
gas-fires and steam-heat.

Aside from the question of health and personal comfort, nothing can be
more cheerless and depressing than a room without fire on a winter
day. The more torrid the room, the more abnormal is the contrast
between the cold hearth and the incandescent temperature. Without a
fire, the best-appointed drawing-room is as comfortless as the shut-up
"best parlor" of a New England farm-house. The empty fireplace shows
that the room is not really lived in and that its appearance of luxury
and comfort is but a costly sham prepared for the edification of
visitors.

FOOTNOTES:

[20] In Italy, where the walls were frescoed, the architectural
composition over the mantel was also frequently painted. Examples of
this are to be seen at the Villa Vertemati, near Chiavenna, and at the
Villa Giacomelli, at Maser, near Treviso. This practice accounts for
the fact that in many old architectural drawings of Italian interiors
a blank wall-space is seen over the mantel.

[21] It is to be hoped that the recently published English translation
of M. Émile Bourgeois's book on Louis XIV will do much to remove this
prejudice.

[22] It is curious that those who criticize the ornateness of the
Louis XIV style are often the warmest admirers of the French
Renaissance, the style of all others most remarkable for its excessive
use of ornament, exquisite in itself, but quite unrelated to structure
and independent of general design.

[23] It is said to have been put at this height in order that the
porcelain vases should be out of reach. See Daviler, "Cours
d'Architecture."

[24] Examples are to be seen in several rooms of the hunting-lodge of
the kings of Savoy, at Stupinigi, near Turin.



VII

CEILINGS AND FLOORS


To attempt even an outline of the history of ceilings in domestic
architecture would exceed the scope of this book; nor would it serve
any practical purpose to trace the early forms of vaulting and
timbering which preceded the general adoption of the modern plastered
ceiling. To understand the development of the modern ceiling, however,
one must trace the two very different influences by which it has been
shaped: that of the timber roof of the North and that of the brick or
stone vault of the Latin builders. This twofold tradition has
curiously affected the details of the modern ceiling. During the
Renaissance, flat plaster ceilings were not infrequently coffered with
stucco panels exactly reproducing the lines of timber framing; and in
the Villa Vertemati, near Chiavenna, there is a curious and
interesting ceiling of carved wood made in imitation of stucco (see
Plate XXIII); while one of the rooms in the Palais de Justice at
Rennes contains an elaborate vaulted ceiling constructed entirely of
wood, with mouldings nailed on (see Plate XXIV).

In northern countries, where the ceiling was simply the under side of
the wooden floor,[25] it was natural that its decoration should
follow the rectangular subdivisions formed by open timber-framing. In
the South, however, where the floors were generally of stone, resting
on stone vaults, the structural conditions were so different that
although the use of caissons based on the divisions of timber-framing
was popular both in the Roman and Renaissance periods, the architect
always felt himself free to treat the ceiling as a flat, undivided
surface prepared for the application of ornament.

The idea that there is anything unarchitectural in this method comes
from an imperfect understanding of the construction of Roman ceilings.
The vault was the typical Roman ceiling, and the vault presents a
smooth surface, without any structural projections to modify the
ornament applied to it. The panelling of a vaulted or flat ceiling was
as likely to be agreeable to the eye as a similar treatment of the
walls; but the Roman coffered ceiling and its Renaissance successors
were the result of a strong sense of decorative fitness rather than of
any desire to adhere to structural limitations.

Examples of the timbered ceiling are, indeed, to be found in Italy as
well as in France and England; and in Venice the flat wooden ceiling,
panelled upon structural lines, persisted throughout the Renaissance
period; but in Rome, where the classic influences were always much
stronger, and where the discovery of the stucco ceilings of ancient
baths and palaces produced such lasting effects upon the architecture
of the early Renaissance, the decorative treatment of the stone vault
was transferred to the flat or coved Renaissance ceiling without a
thought of its being inapplicable or "insincere." The fear of
insincerity, in the sense of concealing the anatomy of any part of a
building, troubled the Renaissance architect no more than it did his
Gothic predecessor, who had never hesitated to stretch a "ciel" of
cloth or tapestry over the naked timbers of the mediæval ceiling. The
duty of exposing structural forms--an obligation that weighs so
heavily upon the conscience of the modern architect--is of very recent
origin. Mediæval as well as Renaissance architects thought first of
adapting their buildings to the uses for which they were intended and
then of decorating them in such a way as to give pleasure to the eye;
and the maintenance of that relation which the eye exacts between main
structural lines and their ornamentation was the only form of
sincerity which they knew or cared about.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXIII._

     CARVED WOODEN CEILING, VILLA VERTEMATI.
     XVI CENTURY.
     (SHOWING INFLUENCE OF STUCCO DECORATION.)]

If a flat ceiling rested on a well-designed cornice, or if a vaulted
or coved ceiling sprang obviously from walls capable of supporting it,
the Italian architect did not allow himself to be hampered by any
pedantic conformity to structural details. The eye once satisfied that
the ceiling had adequate support, the fit proportioning of its
decoration was considered far more important than mere technical
fidelity to the outline of floor-beams and joists. If the Italian
decorator wished to adorn a ceiling with carved or painted panels he
used the lines of the timbering to frame his panels, because they
naturally accorded with his decorative scheme; while, were a large
central painting to be employed, or the ceiling to be covered with
reliefs in stucco, he felt no more hesitation in deviating from the
lines of the timbering than he would have felt in planning the pattern
of a mosaic or a marble floor without reference to the floor-beams
beneath it.

In France and England it was natural that timber-construction should
long continue to regulate the design of the ceiling. The Roman vault
lined with stone caissons, or with a delicate tracery of stucco-work,
was not an ever-present precedent in northern Europe. Tradition
pointed to the open-timbered roof; and as Italy furnished numerous and
brilliant examples of decorative treatment adapted to this form of
ceiling, it was to be expected that both in France and England the
national form should be preserved long after Italian influences had
established themselves in both countries. In fact, it is interesting
to note that in France, where the artistic feeling was much finer, and
the sense of fitness and power of adaptation were more fully
developed, than in England, the lines of the timbered ceiling
persisted throughout the Renaissance and Louis XIII periods; whereas
in England the Elizabethan architects, lost in the mazes of Italian
detail, without a guiding perception of its proper application,
abandoned the timbered ceiling, with its eminently architectural
subdivisions, for a flat plaster surface over which geometrical
flowers in stucco meandered in endless sinuosities, unbroken by a
single moulding, and repeating themselves with the maddening
persistency of wall-paper pattern. This style of ornamentation was
done away with by Inigo Jones and his successors, who restored the
architectural character of the ceiling, whether flat or vaulted; and
thereafter panelling persisted in England until the French Revolution
brought about the general downfall of taste.[26]

In France, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the liking for
_petits appartements_ led to greater lightness in all kinds of
decorative treatment; and the ceilings of the Louis XV period, while
pleasing in detail, are open to the criticism of being somewhat weak
in form. Still, they are always _compositions_, and their light
traceries, though perhaps too dainty and fragile in themselves, are so
disposed as to form a clearly marked design, instead of being allowed
to wander in a monotonous network over the whole surface of the
ceiling, like the ubiquitous Tudor rose. Isaac Ware, trained in the
principles of form which the teachings of Inigo Jones had so deeply
impressed upon English architects, ridicules the "petty wildnesses" of
the French style; but if the Louis XV ceiling lost for a time its
architectural character, this was soon to be restored by Gabriel and
his followers, while at the same period in England the forcible
mouldings of Inigo Jones's school were fading into the ineffectual
grace of Adam's laurel-wreaths and velaria.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXIV._

     CEILING IN THE PALAIS DE JUSTICE, RENNES.
     LOUIS XIV PERIOD.
     (WOODEN CEILING IMITATING MASONRY VAULTING AND STUCCO
     ORNAMENTATION.)]

In the general effect of the room, the form of the ceiling is of more
importance than its decoration. In rooms of a certain size and height,
a flat surface overhead looks monotonous, and the ceiling should be
vaulted or coved.[27] Endless modifications of this form of treatment
are to be found in the architectural treatises of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, as well as in the buildings of that period.

A coved ceiling greatly increases the apparent height of a low-studded
room; but rooms of this kind should not be treated with an order,
since the projection of the cornice below the springing of the cove
will lower the walls so much as to defeat the purpose for which the
cove has been used. In such rooms the cove should rise directly from
the walls; and this treatment suggests the important rule that where
the cove is not supported by a cornice the ceiling decoration should
be of very light character. A heavy panelled ceiling should not rest
on the walls without the intervention of a strongly profiled cornice.
The French Louis XV decoration, with its fanciful embroidery of stucco
ornament, is well suited to coved ceilings springing directly from
the walls in a room of low stud; while a ceiling divided into panels
with heavy architectural mouldings, whether it be flat or vaulted,
looks best when the walls are treated with a complete order.

Durand, in his lectures on architecture, in speaking of cornices lays
down the following excellent rules: "Interior cornices must
necessarily differ more or less from those belonging to the orders as
used externally, though in rooms of reasonable height these
differences need be but slight; but if the stud be low, as sometimes
is inevitable, the cornice must be correspondingly narrowed, and given
an excessive projection, in order to increase the apparent height of
the room. Moreover, as in the interior of the house the light is much
less bright than outside, the cornice should be so profiled that the
juncture of the mouldings shall form not right angles, but acute
angles, with spaces between the mouldings serving to detach the latter
still more clearly from each other."

The choice of the substance out of which a ceiling is to be made
depends somewhat upon the dimensions of the room, the height of the
stud and the decoration of the walls. A heavily panelled wooden
ceiling resting upon walls either frescoed or hung with stuff is
likely to seem oppressive; but, as in all other kinds of decoration,
the effect produced depends far more upon the form and the choice of
ornamental detail than upon the material used. Wooden ceilings,
however, both from the nature of the construction and the kind of
ornament which may most suitably be applied to them, are of necessity
rather heavy in appearance, and should therefore be used only in large
and high-studded rooms the walls of which are panelled in wood.[28]

Stucco and fresco-painting are adapted to every variety of decoration,
from the light traceries of a boudoir ceiling to the dome of the
_salon à l'Italienne_; but the design must be chosen with strict
regard to the size and height of the room and to the proposed
treatment of its walls. The cornice forms the connecting link between
walls and ceiling and it is essential to the harmony of any scheme of
decoration that this important member should be carefully designed. It
is useless to lavish money on the adornment of walls and ceiling
connected by an ugly cornice.

The same objections extend to the clumsy plaster mouldings which in
many houses disfigure the ceiling. To paint or gild a ceiling of this
kind only attracts attention to its ugliness. When the expense of
removing the mouldings and filling up the holes in the plaster is
considered too great, it is better to cover the bulbous rosettes and
pendentives with kalsomine than to attempt their embellishment by
means of any polychrome decoration. The cost of removing plaster
ornaments is not great, however, and a small outlay will replace an
ugly cornice by one of architectural design; so that a little economy
in buying window-hangings or chair-coverings often makes up for the
additional expense of these changes. One need only look at the
ceilings in the average modern house to see what a thing of horror
plaster may become in the hands of an untrained "designer."

The same general principles of composition suggested for the treatment
of walls may be applied to ceiling-decoration. Thus it is essential
that where there is a division of parts, one part shall perceptibly
predominate; and this, in a ceiling, should be the central division.
The chief defect of the coffered Renaissance ceiling is the lack of
this predominating part. Great as may have been the decorative skill
expended on the treatment of beams and panels, the coffered ceiling
of equal-sized divisions seems to press down upon the spectator's
head; whereas the large central panel gives an idea of height that the
great ceiling-painters were quick to enhance by glimpses of cloud and
sky, or some aerial effect, as in Mantegna's incomparable ceiling of
the Sala degli Sposi in the ducal palace of Mantua.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXV._

     CEILING OF THE SALA DEGLI SPOSI, DUCAL PALACE, MANTUA.
     BY ANDREA MANTEGNA, 1474.]

Ceiling-decoration should never be a literal reproduction of
wall-decoration. The different angle and greater distance at which
ceilings are viewed demand a quite different treatment and it is to
the disregard of this fact that most badly designed ceilings owe their
origin. Even in the high days of art there was a tendency on the part
of some decorators to confound the two plane surfaces of wall and
ceiling, and one might cite many wall-designs which have been
transferred to the ceiling without being rearranged to fit their new
position. Instances of this kind have never been so general as in the
present day. The reaction from the badly designed mouldings and
fungoid growths that characterized the ceilings of forty years ago has
led to the use of attenuated laurel-wreaths combined with other puny
attributes taken from Sheraton cabinets and Adam mantel-pieces. These
so-called ornaments, always somewhat lacking in character, become
absolutely futile when viewed from below.

This pressed-flower ornamentation is a direct precedent to the modern
ceiling covered with wall-paper. One would think that the
inappropriateness of this treatment was obvious; but since it has
become popular enough to warrant the manufacture of specially designed
ceiling-papers, some protest should be made. The necessity for hiding
cracks in the plaster is the reason most often given for papering
ceilings; but the cost of mending cracks is small and a plaster
ceiling lasts much longer than is generally thought. It need never
be taken down unless it is actually falling; and as well-made repairs
strengthen and improve the entire surface, a much-mended ceiling is
stronger than one that is just beginning to crack. If the cost of
repairing must be avoided, a smooth white lining-paper should be
chosen in place of one of the showy and vulgar papers which serve only
to attract attention.

Of all forms of ceiling adornment painting is the most beautiful.
Italy, which contains the three perfect ceilings of the world--those
of Mantegna in the ducal palace of Mantua (see Plate XXV), of Perugino
in the Sala del Cambio at Perugia and of Araldi in the Convent of St.
Paul at Parma--is the best field for the study of this branch of art.
From the semi-classical vaults of the fifteenth century, with their
Roman arabesques and fruit-garlands framing human figures detached as
mere ornament against a background of solid color, to the massive
goddesses and broad Virgilian landscapes of the Carracci and to the
piled-up perspectives of Giordano's school of prestidigitators,
culminating in the great Tiepolo, Italian art affords examples of
every temperament applied to the solution of one of the most
interesting problems in decoration.

Such ceilings as those on which Raphael and Giovanni da Udine worked
together, combining painted arabesques and medallions with stucco
reliefs, are admirably suited to small low-studded rooms and might
well be imitated by painters incapable of higher things.

There is but one danger in adapting this decoration to modern
use--that is, the temptation to sacrifice scale and general
composition to the search after refinement of detail. It cannot be
denied that some of the decorations of the school of Giovanni da Udine
are open to this criticism. The ornamentation of the great loggia of
the Villa Madama is unquestionably out of scale with the dimensions
of the structure. Much exquisite detail is lost in looking up past the
great piers and the springing of the massive arches to the lace-work
that adorns the vaulting. In this case the composition is less at
fault than the scale: the decorations of the semi-domes at the Villa
Madama, if transferred to a small mezzanin room, would be found to
"compose" perfectly. Charming examples of the use of this style in
small apartments may be studied in the rooms of the Casino del Grotto,
near Mantua.

The tendency of many modern decorators to sacrifice composition to
detail, and to neglect the observance of proportion between ornament
and structure, makes the adaptation of Renaissance stucco designs a
somewhat hazardous undertaking; but the very care required to preserve
the scale and to accentuate the general lines of the design affords
good training in the true principles of composition.

Equally well suited to modern use are the designs in arabesque with
which, in France, Bérain and his followers painted the ceilings of
small rooms during the Louis XIV period (see Plate XXVI). With the
opening of the eighteenth century the Bérain arabesques, animated by
the touch of Watteau, Huet and J.-B. Leprince, blossomed into
trellis-like designs alive with birds and monkeys, Chinese mandarins
balancing umbrellas, and nymphs and shepherdesses under slender
classical ruins. Side by side with the monumental work of such artists
as Lebrun and Lesueur, Coypel, Vouet and Natoire, this light style of
composition was always in favor for the decoration of _petits
appartements_: the most famous painters of the day did not think it
beneath them to furnish designs for such purposes (see Plate XXVII).

In moderate-sized rooms which are to be decorated in a simple and
inexpensive manner, a plain plaster ceiling with well-designed
cornice is preferable to any device for producing showy effects at
small cost. It may be laid down as a general rule in house-decoration
that what must be done cheaply should be done simply. It is better to
pay for the best plastering than to use a cheaper quality and then to
cover the cracks with lincrusta or ceiling-paper. This is true of all
such expedients: let the fundamental work be good in design and
quality and the want of ornament will not be felt.

In America the return to a more substantial way of building and the
tendency to discard wood for brick or stone whenever possible will
doubtless lead in time to the use of brick, stone or marble floors.
These floors, associated in the minds of most Americans with shivering
expeditions through damp Italian palaces, are in reality perfectly
suited to the dry American climate, and even the most anæmic person
could hardly object to brick or marble covered by heavy rugs.

The inlaid marble floors of the Italian palaces, whether composed of
square or diamond-shaped blocks, or decorated with a large design in
different colors, are unsurpassed in beauty; while in high-studded
rooms where there is little pattern on the walls and a small amount of
furniture, elaborately designed mosaic floors with sweeping arabesques
and geometrical figures are of great decorative value.

Floors of these substances have the merit of being not only more
architectural in character, more solid and durable, but also easier to
keep clean. This should especially commend them to the
hygienically-minded American housekeeper, since floors that may be
washed are better suited to our climate than those which must be
covered with a nailed-down carpet.

Next in merit to brick or marble comes the parquet of oak or other
hard wood; but even this looks inadequate in rooms of great
architectural importance. In ball-rooms a hard-wood floor is generally
regarded as a necessity; but in vestibule, staircase, dining-room or
saloon, marble is superior to anything else. The design of the parquet
floor should be simple and unobtrusive. The French, who brought this
branch of floor-laying to perfection, would never have tolerated the
crudely contrasted woods that make the modern parquet so aggressive.
Like the walls of a room, the floor is a background: it should not
furnish pattern, but set off whatever is placed upon it. The
perspective effects dear to the modern floor-designer are the climax
of extravagance. A floor should not only be, but appear to be, a
perfectly level surface, without simulated bosses or concavities.

In choosing rugs and carpets the subject of design should be carefully
studied. The Oriental carpet-designers have always surpassed their
European rivals. The patterns of Eastern rugs are invariably well
composed, with skilfully conventionalized figures in flat unshaded
colors. Even the Oriental rug of the present day is well drawn; but
the colors used by Eastern manufacturers since the introduction of
aniline dyes are so discordant that these rugs are inferior to most
modern European carpets.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXVI._

     CEILING IN THE STYLE OF BÉRAIN.
     LOUIS XIV PERIOD.]

In houses with deal floors, nailed-down carpets are usually considered
a necessity, and the designing of such carpets has improved so much in
the last ten or fifteen years that a sufficient choice of unobtrusive
geometrical patterns may now be found. The composition of European
carpets woven in one piece, like rugs, has never been satisfactory.
Even the splendid _tapis de Savonnerie_ made in France at the royal
manufactory during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were not
so true to the best principles of design as the old Oriental rugs. In
Europe there was always a tendency to transfer wall or ceiling-decoration
to floor-coverings. Such incongruities as architectural mouldings,
highly modelled trophies and human masks appear in most of the
European carpets from the time of Louis XIV to the present day; and
except when copying Eastern models the European designers were subject
to strange lapses from taste. There is no reason why a painter should
not simulate loggia and sky on a flat plaster ceiling, since no one
will try to use this sham opening as a means of exit; but the
carpet-designer who puts picture-frames and human faces under foot,
though he does not actually deceive, produces on the eye a momentary
startling sense of obstruction. Any _trompe-l'oeil_ is permissible in
decorative art if it gives an impression of pleasure; but the inherent
sense of fitness is shocked by the act of walking upon upturned faces.

Recent carpet-designs, though usually free from such obvious
incongruities, have seldom more than a negative merit. The
unconventionalized flower still shows itself, and even when banished
from the centre of the carpet lingers in the border which accompanies
it. The vulgarity of these borders is the chief objection to using
carpets of European manufacture as rugs, instead of nailing them to
the floor. It is difficult to find a border that is not too wide, and
of which the design is a simple conventional figure in flat unshaded
colors. If used at all, a carpet with a border should always be in the
form of a rug, laid in the middle of the room, and not cut to follow
all the ins and outs of the floor, as such adaptation not only narrows
the room but emphasizes any irregularity in its plan.

In houses with deal floors, where nailed-down carpets are used in all
the rooms, a restful effect is produced by covering the whole of each
story with the same carpet, the door-sills being removed so that the
carpet may extend from one room to another. In small town houses,
especially, this will be found much less fatiguing to the eye than the
usual manner of covering the floor of each room with carpets differing
in color and design.

Where several rooms are carpeted alike, the floor-covering chosen
should be quite plain, or patterned with some small geometrical figure
in a darker shade of the foundation color; and green, dark blue or red
will be found most easy to combine with the different color-schemes of
the rooms.

Pale tints should be avoided in the selection of carpets. It is better
that the color-scale should ascend gradually from the dark tone of
floor or carpet to the faint half-tints of the ceiling. The opposite
combination--that of a pale carpet with a dark ceiling--lowers the
stud and produces an impression of top-heaviness and gloom; indeed, in
a room where the ceiling is overladen, a dark rich-toned carpet will
do much to lighten it, whereas a pale floor-covering will bring it
down, as it were, on the inmates' heads.

Stair-carpets should be of a strong full color and, if possible,
without pattern. It is fatiguing to see a design meant for a
horizontal surface constrained to follow the ins and outs of a flight
of steps; and the use of pattern where not needed is always
meaningless, and interferes with a decided color-effect where the
latter might have been of special advantage to the general scheme of
decoration.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXVII._

     CEILING IN THE CHÂTEAU OF CHANTILLY.
     LOUIS XV PERIOD.
     (EXAMPLE OF CHINOISERIE DECORATION.)]

FOOTNOTES:

[25] In France, until the sixteenth century, the same
word--_plancher_--was used to designate both floor and ceiling.

[26] For a fine example of an English stucco ceiling, see Plate XIII.

[27] The flat Venetian ceilings, such as those in the ducal palace,
with their richly carved wood-work and glorious paintings, beautiful
as they have been made by art, are not so fine architecturally as a
domed or coved ceiling.

[28] For an example of a wooden ceiling which is too heavy for the
wall-decoration below it, see Plate XLIV.



VIII

ENTRANCE AND VESTIBULE


The decoration of the entrance necessarily depends on the nature of
the house and its situation. A country house, where visitors are few
and life is simple, demands a less formal treatment than a house in a
city or town; while a villa in a watering-place where there is much in
common with town life has necessarily many points of resemblance to a
town house.

It should be borne in mind of entrances in general that, while the
main purpose of a door is to admit, its secondary purpose is to
exclude. The outer door, which separates the hall or vestibule from
the street, should clearly proclaim itself an effectual barrier. It
should look strong enough to give a sense of security, and be so plain
in design as to offer no chance of injury by weather and give no
suggestion of interior decoration.

The best ornamentation for an entrance-door is simple panelling, with
bold architectural mouldings and as little decorative detail as
possible. The necessary ornament should be contributed by the design
of locks, hinges and handles. These, like the door itself, should be
strong and serviceable, with nothing finikin in their treatment, and
made of a substance which does not require cleaning. For the latter
reason, bronze and iron are more fitting than brass or steel.

In treating the vestibule, careful study is required to establish a
harmony between the decorative elements inside and outside the house.
The vestibule should form a natural and easy transition from the plain
architecture of the street to the privacy of the interior (see Plate
XXVIII).

No portion of the inside of the house being more exposed to the
weather, great pains should be taken to avoid using in its decoration
materials easily damaged by rain or dust, such as carpets or
wall-paper. The decoration should at once produce the impression of
being weather-proof.

Marble, stone, scagliola, or painted stucco are for this reason the
best materials. If wood is used, it should be painted, as dust and
dirt soon soil it, and unless its finish be water-proof it will
require continual varnishing. The decorations of the vestibule should
be as permanent as possible in character, in order to avoid incessant
small repairs.

The floor should be of stone, marble, or tiles; even a linoleum or
oil-cloth of sober pattern is preferable to a hard-wood floor in so
exposed a situation. For the same reason, it is best to treat the
walls with a decoration of stone or marble. In simpler houses the same
effect may be produced at much less cost by dividing the wall-spaces
into panels, with wooden mouldings applied directly to the plaster,
the whole being painted in oil, either in one uniform tint or in
varying shades of some cold sober color. This subdued color-scheme
will produce an agreeable contrast with the hall or staircase, which,
being a degree nearer the centre of the house, should receive a gayer
and more informal treatment than the vestibule.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXVIII._

     ANTECHAMBER IN THE VILLA CAMBIASO, GENOA.
     BUILT BY ALESSI, XVI CENTURY.]

The vestibule usually has two doors: an outer one opening toward the
street and an inner one giving into the hall; but when the outer is
entirely of wood, without glass, and must therefore be left open
during the day, the vestibule is usually subdivided by an inner glass
door placed a few feet from the entrance. This arrangement has the
merit of keeping the house warm and of affording a shelter to the
servants who, during an entertainment, are usually compelled to wait
outside. The French architect always provides an antechamber for this
purpose.

No furniture which is easily soiled or damaged, or difficult to keep
clean, is appropriate in a vestibule. In large and imposing houses
marble or stone benches and tables should be used, and the
ornamentation may consist of statues, vases, or busts on pedestals
(see Plate XXIX). When the decoration is simpler and wooden benches
are used, they should resemble those made for French gardens, with
seats of one piece of wood, or of broad thick slats; while in small
vestibules, benches and chairs with cane seats are appropriate.

The excellent reproductions of Robbia ware made by Cantagalli of
Florence look well against painted walls; while plaster or terra-cotta
bas-reliefs are less expensive and equally decorative, especially
against a pale-blue or green background.

The lantern, the traditional form of fixture for lighting vestibules,
is certainly the best in so exposed a situation; and though where
electric light is used draughts need not be considered, the sense of
fitness requires that a light in such a position should always have
the semblance of being protected.



IX

HALL AND STAIRS


What is technically known as the staircase (in German the
_Treppenhaus_) has, in our lax modern speech, come to be designated as
the hall.

In Gwilt's _Encyclopedia of Architecture_ the staircase is defined as
"that part or subdivision of a building containing the stairs which
enable people to ascend or descend from one floor to another"; while
the hall is described as follows: "The first large apartment on
entering a house.... In magnificent edifices, where the hall is larger
and loftier than usual, and is placed in the middle of the house, it
is called a saloon; and a royal apartment consists of a hall, or
chamber of guards, etc."

It is clear that, in the technical acceptance of the term, a hall is
something quite different from a staircase; yet the two words were
used interchangeably by so early a writer as Isaac Ware, who, in his
_Complete Body of Architecture_, published in 1756, continually speaks
of the staircase as the hall. This confusion of terms is difficult to
explain, for in early times the staircase was as distinct from the
hall as it continued to be in France and Italy, and, with rare
exceptions, in England also, until the present century.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXIX._

     ANTECHAMBER IN THE DURAZZO PALACE, GENOA.
     DECORATED BY TORRIGIANI. LATE XVIII CENTURY.]

In glancing over the plans of the feudal dwellings of northern Europe
it will be seen that, far from being based on any definite
conception, they were made up of successive accretions about the
nobleman's keep. The first room to attach itself to the keep was the
"hall," a kind of microcosm in which sleeping, eating, entertaining
guests and administering justice succeeded each other or went on
simultaneously. In the course of time various rooms, such as the
parlor, the kitchen, the offices, the muniment-room and the lady's
bower, were added to the primitive hall; but these were rather
incidental necessities than parts of an organized scheme of
planning.[29] In this agglomeration of apartments the stairs found a
place where they could. Space being valuable, they were generally
carried up spirally in the thickness of the wall, or in an
angle-turret. Owing to enforced irregularity of plan, and perhaps to
the desire to provide numerous separate means of access to the
different parts of the dwelling, each castle usually contained several
staircases, no one of which was more important than the others.

It was in Italy that stairs first received attention as a feature in
the general composition of the house. There, from the outset, all the
conditions had been different. The domestic life of the upper classes
having developed from the eleventh century onward in the comparative
security of the walled town, it was natural that house-planning should
be less irregular,[30] and that more regard should be given to
considerations of comfort and dignity. In early Italian palaces the
stairs either ascended through the open central _cortile_ to an
arcaded gallery on the first floor, as in the Gondi palace and the
Bargello at Florence, or were carried up in straight flights between
walls.[31] This was, in fact, the usual way of building stairs in
Italy until the end of the fifteenth century. These enclosed stairs
usually started near the vaulted entranceway leading from the street
to the _cortile_. Gradually the space at the foot of the stairs, which
at first was small, increased in size and in importance of decorative
treatment; while the upper landing opened into an antechamber which
became the centre of the principal suite of apartments. With the
development of the Palladian style, the whole staircase (provided the
state apartments were not situated on the ground floor) assumed more
imposing dimensions; though it was not until a much later date that
the monumental staircase so often regarded as one of the chief
features of the Italian Renaissance began to be built. Indeed, a
detailed examination of the Italian palaces shows that even in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries such staircases as were built by
Fontana in the royal palace at Naples, by Juvara in the Palazzo Madama
at Turin and by Vanvitelli at Caserta, were seen only in royal
palaces. Even Morelli's staircase in the Braschi palace in Rome,
magnificent as it is, hardly reaches the popular conception of the
Italian state staircase--a conception probably based rather upon the
great open stairs of the Genoese _cortili_ than upon any actually
existing staircases. It is certain that until late in the seventeenth
century (as Bernini's Vatican staircase shows) inter-mural stairs were
thought grand enough for the most splendid palaces of Italy (see Plate
XXX).

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXX._

     STAIRCASE IN THE PARODI PALACE, GENOA.
     XVI CENTURY.
     (SHOWING INTER-MURAL STAIRS AND MARBLE FLOOR.)]

The spiral staircase, soon discarded by Italian architects save as
a means of secret communication or for the use of servants, held
its own in France throughout the Renaissance. Its structural
difficulties afforded scope for the exercise of that marvellous, if
sometimes superfluous, ingenuity which distinguished the Gothic
builders. The spiral staircase in the court-yard at Blois is an
example of this kind of skilful engineering and of the somewhat
fatiguing use of ornament not infrequently accompanying it; while such
anomalies as the elaborate out-of-door spiral staircase enclosed
within the building at Chambord are still more in the nature of a
_tour de force_,--something perfect in itself, but not essential to
the organism of the whole.

Viollet-le-Duc, in his dictionary of architecture, under the heading
_Château_, has given a sympathetic and ingenious explanation of the
tenacity with which the French aristocracy clung to the obsolete
complications of Gothic house-planning and structure long after
frequent expeditions across the Alps had made them familiar with the
simpler and more rational method of the Italian architects. It may be,
as he suggests, that centuries of feudal life, with its surface of
savagery and violence and its undercurrent treachery, had fostered in
the nobles of northern Europe a desire for security and isolation that
found expression in the intricate planning of their castles long after
the advance of civilization had made these precautions unnecessary. It
seems more probable, however, that the French architects of the
Renaissance made the mistake of thinking that the essence of the
classic styles lay in the choice and application of ornamental
details. This exaggerated estimate of the importance of detail is very
characteristic of an imperfect culture; and the French architects who
in the fifteenth century were eagerly taking their first lessons from
their contemporaries south of the Alps, had behind them nothing like
the great synthetic tradition of the Italian masters. Certainly it
was not until the Northern builders learned that the beauty of the old
buildings was, above all, a matter of proportion, that their own
style, freed from its earlier incoherencies, set out on the line of
unbroken national development which it followed with such harmonious
results until the end of the eighteenth century.

In Italy the staircase often gave directly upon the entranceway; in
France it was always preceded by a vestibule, and the upper landing
invariably led into an antechamber.

In England the relation between vestibule, hall and staircase was
never so clearly established as on the Continent. The old English
hall, so long the centre of feudal life, preserved its somewhat
composite character after the _grand'salle_ of France and Italy had
been broken up into the vestibule, the guard-room and the saloon. In
the grandest Tudor houses the entrance-door usually opened directly
into this hall. To obtain in some measure the privacy which a
vestibule would have given, the end of the hall nearest the
entrance-door was often cut off by a screen that supported the
musicians' gallery. The corridor formed by this screen led to the
staircase, usually placed behind the hall, and the gallery opened on
the first landing of the stairs. This use of the screen at one end of
the hall had so strong a hold upon English habits that it was never
quite abandoned. Even after French architecture and house-planning had
come into fashion in the eighteenth century, a house with a vestibule
remained the rarest of exceptions in England; and the relative privacy
afforded by the Gothic screen was then lost by substituting for the
latter an open arcade, of great decorative effect, but ineffectual in
shutting off the hall from the front door.

The introduction of the Palladian style by Inigo Jones transformed
the long and often narrow Tudor hall into the many-storied central
saloon of the Italian villa, with galleries reached by concealed
staircases, and lofty domed ceiling; but it was still called the hall,
it still served as a vestibule, or means of access to the rest of the
house, and, curiously enough, it usually adjoined another apartment,
often of the same dimensions, called a saloon. Perhaps the best way of
defining the English hall of this period is to say that it was really
an Italian saloon, but that it was used as a vestibule and called a
hall.

Through all these changes the staircase remained shut off from the
hall, upon which it usually opened. It was very unusual, except in
small middle-class houses or suburban villas, to put the stairs in the
hall, or, more correctly speaking, to make the front door open into
the staircase. There are, however, several larger houses in which the
stairs are built in the hall. Inigo Jones, in remodelling Castle Ashby
for the Earl of Northampton, followed this plan; though this is
perhaps not a good instance to cite, as it may have been difficult to
find place for a separate staircase. At Chevening, in Kent, built by
Inigo Jones for the Earl of Sussex, the stairs are also in the hall;
and the same arrangement is seen at Shobden Court, at West Wycombe,
built by J. Donowell for Lord le Despencer (where the stairs are shut
off by a screen) and at Hurlingham, built late in the eighteenth
century by G. Byfield.

This digression has been made in order to show the origin of the
modern English and American practice of placing the stairs in the hall
and doing away with the vestibule. The vestibule never formed part of
the English house, but the stairs were usually divided from the hall
in houses of any importance; and it is difficult to see whence the
modern architect has derived his idea of the combined hall and
staircase. The tendency to merge into one any two apartments designed
for different uses shows a retrogression in house-planning; and while
it is fitting that the vestibule or hall should adjoin the staircase,
there is no good reason for uniting them and there are many for
keeping them apart.

The staircase in a private house is for the use of those who inhabit
it; the vestibule or hall is necessarily used by persons in no way
concerned with the private life of the inmates. If the stairs, the
main artery of the house, be carried up through the vestibule, there
is no security from intrusion. Even the plan of making the vestibule
precede the staircase, though better, is not the best. In a properly
planned house the vestibule should open on a hall or antechamber of
moderate size, giving access to the rooms on the ground floor, and
this antechamber should lead into the staircase. It is only in houses
where all the living-rooms are up-stairs that the vestibule may open
directly into the staircase without lessening the privacy of the
house.

In Italy, where wood was little employed in domestic architecture,
stairs were usually of stone. Marble came into general use in the
grander houses when, in the seventeenth century, the stairs, instead
of being carried up between walls, were often placed in an open
staircase. The balustrade was usually of stone or marble, iron being
much less used than in France.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXXI._

     STAIRCASE OF THE HÔTEL DE VILLE, NANCY.
     LOUIS XV PERIOD.
     BUILT BY HÉRÉ DE CORNY; STAIR-RAIL BY JEAN LAMOUR.]

In the latter country the mediæval stairs, especially in the houses of
the middle class, were often built of wood; but this material was soon
abandoned, and from the time of Louis XIV stairs of stone with
wrought-iron rails are a distinctive feature of French domestic
architecture. The use of wrought-iron in French decoration received a
strong impulse from the genius of Jean Lamour, who, when King
Stanislas of Poland remodelled the town of Nancy early in the reign of
Louis XV, adorned its streets and public buildings with specimens
of iron-work unmatched in any other part of the world. Since then
French decorators have expended infinite talent in devising the
beautiful stair-rails and balconies which are the chief ornament of
innumerable houses throughout France (see Plates XXXI and XXXII).

Stair-rails of course followed the various modifications of taste
which marked the architecture of the day. In the seventeenth and early
eighteenth centuries they were noted for severe richness of design.
With the development of the rocaille manner their lines grew lighter
and more fanciful, while the influence of Gabriel, which, toward the
end of the reign of Louis XV, brought about a return to classic
models, manifested itself in a simplified mode of treatment. At this
period the outline of a classic baluster formed a favorite motive for
the iron rail. Toward the close of the eighteenth century the designs
for these rails grew thin and poor, with a predominance of upright
iron bars divided at long intervals by some meagre medallion or
geometrical figure. The exuberant sprays and volutes of the rococo
period and the architectural lines of the Louis XVI style were alike
absent from these later designs, which are chiefly marked by the
negative merit of inoffensiveness.

In the old French stair-rails steel was sometimes combined with gilded
iron. The famous stair-rail of the Palais Royal, designed by Coutant
d'Ivry, is made of steel and iron, and the Duc d'Aumale copied this
combination in the stair-rail at Chantilly. There is little to
recommend the substitution of steel for iron in such cases. It is
impossible to keep a steel stair-rail clean and free from rust, except
by painting it; and since it must be painted, iron is the more
suitable material.

In France the iron rail is usually painted black, though a very dark
blue is sometimes preferred. Black is the better color, as it forms a
stronger contrast with the staircase walls, which are presumably
neutral in tint and severe in treatment. Besides, as iron is painted,
not to improve its appearance, but to prevent its rusting, the color
which most resembles its own is more appropriate. In French houses of
a certain importance the iron stair-rail often had a few touches of
gilding, but these were sparingly applied.

In England wooden stair-rails were in great favor during the Tudor and
Elizabethan period. These rails were marked rather by fanciful
elaboration of detail than by intrinsic merit of design, and are
doubtless more beautiful now that time has given them its patina, than
they were when first made.

With the Palladian style came the classic balustrade of stone or
marble, or sometimes, in simpler houses, of wood. Iron rails were
seldom used in England, and those to be found in some of the great
London houses (as in Carlton House, Chesterfield House and Norfolk
House) were probably due to the French influence which made itself
felt in English domestic architecture during the eighteenth century.
This influence, however, was never more than sporadic; and until the
decline of decorative art at the close of the eighteenth century,
Italian rather than French taste gave the note to English decoration.

The interrelation of vestibule, hall and staircase having been
explained, the subject of decorative detail must next be considered;
but before turning to this, it should be mentioned that hereafter the
space at the foot of the stairs, though properly a part of the
staircase, will for the sake of convenience be called _the hall_,
since in the present day it goes by that name in England and America.

In contrasting the vestibule with the hall, it was pointed out that
the latter might be treated in a gayer and more informal manner than
the former. It must be remembered, however, that as the vestibule is
the introduction to the hall, so the hall is the introduction to the
living-rooms of the house; and it follows that the hall must be as
much more formal than the living-rooms as the vestibule is more formal
than the hall. It is necessary to emphasize this because the tendency
of recent English and American decoration has been to treat the hall,
not as a hall, but as a living-room. Whatever superficial attractions
this treatment may possess, its inappropriateness will be seen when
the purpose of the hall is considered. The hall is a means of access
to all the rooms on each floor; on the ground floor it usually leads
to the chief living-rooms of the house as well as to the vestibule and
street; in addition to this, in modern houses even of some importance
it generally contains the principal stairs of the house, so that it is
the centre upon which every part of the house directly or indirectly
opens. This publicity is increased by the fact that the hall must be
crossed by the servant who opens the front door, and by any one
admitted to the house. It follows that the hall, in relation to the
rooms of the house, is like a public square in relation to the private
houses around it. For some reason this obvious fact has been ignored
by many recent decorators, who have chosen to treat halls like rooms
of the most informal character, with open fireplaces, easy-chairs for
lounging and reading, tables with lamps, books and magazines, and all
the appointments of a library. This disregard of the purpose of the
hall, like most mistakes in household decoration, has a very natural
origin. When, in the first reaction from the discomfort and formality
of sixty years ago, people began, especially in England, to study the
arrangement of the old Tudor and Elizabethan houses, many of these
were found to contain large panelled halls opening directly upon the
porch or the terrace. The mellow tones of the wood-work; the bold
treatment of the stairs, shut off as they were merely by a screen; the
heraldic imagery of the hooded stone chimney-piece and of the carved
or stuccoed ceiling, made these halls the chief feature of the house;
while the rooms opening from them were so often insufficient for the
requirements of modern existence, that the life of the inmates
necessarily centred in the hall. Visitors to such houses saw only the
picturesqueness of the arrangement--the huge logs glowing on the
hearth, the books and flowers on the old carved tables, the family
portraits on the walls; and, charmed with the impression received,
they ordered their architects to reproduce for them a hall which, even
in the original Tudor houses, was a survival of older social
conditions.

One might think that the recent return to classic forms of
architecture would have done away with the Tudor hall; but, except in
a few instances, this has not been the case. In fact, in the greater
number of large houses, and especially of country houses, built in
America since the revival of Renaissance and Palladian architecture, a
large many-storied hall communicating directly with the vestibule, and
containing the principal stairs of the house, has been the distinctive
feature. If there were any practical advantages in this overgrown
hall, it might be regarded as one of those rational modifications in
plan which mark the difference between an unreasoning imitation of a
past style and the intelligent application of its principles; but the
Tudor hall, in its composite character as vestibule, parlor and
dining-room, is only another instance of the sacrifice of convenience
to archaism.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXXII._

     STAIRCASE IN THE PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU.
     LOUIS XV PERIOD.]

The abnormal development of the modern staircase-hall cannot be
defended on the plea sometimes advanced that it is a roofed-in
adaptation of the great open _cortile_ of the Genoese palace, since
there is no reason for adapting a plan so useless and so unsuited to
our climate and way of living. The beautiful central _cortile_ of the
Italian palace, with its monumental open stairs, was in no sense part
of a "private house" in our interpretation of the term. It was rather
a thoroughfare like a public street, since the various stories of the
Italian palace were used as separate houses by different branches of
the family.

In most modern houses the hall, in spite of its studied resemblance to
a living-room, soon reverts to its original use as a passageway; and
this fact should indicate the treatment best suited to it. In rooms
where people sit, and where they are consequently at leisure to look
about them, delicacy of treatment and refinement of detail are
suitable; but in an anteroom or a staircase only the first impression
counts, and forcible simple lines, with a vigorous massing of light
and shade, are essential. These conditions point to the use of severe
strongly-marked panelling, niches for vases or statues, and a
stair-rail detaching itself from the background in vigorous decisive
lines.[32]

The furniture of the hall should consist of benches or straight-backed
chairs, and marble-topped tables and consoles. If a press is used, it
should be architectural in design, like the old French and Italian
_armoires_ painted with arabesques and architectural motives, or the
English seventeenth-century presses made of some warm-toned wood like
walnut and surmounted by a broken pediment with a vase or bust in the
centre (see Plate XXXIII).

The walls of the staircase in large houses should be of panelled stone
or marble, as in the examples given in the plates accompanying this
chapter.

In small houses, where an expensive decoration is out of the question,
a somewhat similar architectural effect may be obtained by the use of
a few plain mouldings fixed to the plaster, the whole being painted in
one uniform tint, or in two contrasting colors, such as white for the
mouldings, and buff, gray, or pale green for the wall. To this scheme
may be added plaster medallions, as suggested for the vestibule, or
garlands and other architectural motives made of staff, in imitation
of the stucco ornaments of the old French and Italian decorators. When
such ornaments are used, they should invariably be simple and strong
in design. The modern decorator is too often tempted by mere
prettiness of detail to forget the general effect of his composition.
In a staircase, where only the general effect is seized, prettiness
does not count, and the effect produced should be strong, clear and
telling.

For the same reason, a stair-carpet, if used, should be of one color,
without pattern. Masses of plain color are one of the chief means of
producing effect in any scheme of decoration.

When the floor of the hall is of marble or mosaic,--as, if possible,
it should be,--the design, like that of the walls, should be clear and
decided in outline (see Plate XXX). On the other hand, if the hall is
used as an antechamber and carpeted, the carpet should be of one
color, matching that on the stairs.

In many large houses the stairs are now built of stone or marble, while
the floor of the landings is laid in wood, apparently owing to the
idea that stone or marble floors are cold. In the tropically-heated
American house not even the most sensitive person could be chilled by
passing contact with a stone floor; but if it is thought to "look
cold," it is better to lay a rug or a strip of carpet on the landing
than to permit the proximity of two such different substances as wood
and stone.

Unless the stairs are of wood, that material should never be used for
the rail; nor should wooden stairs be put in a staircase of which the
walls are of stone, marble, or scagliola. If the stairs are of wood,
it is better to treat the walls with wood or plaster panelling. In
simple staircases the best wall-decoration is a wooden dado-moulding
nailed on the plaster, the dado thus formed being painted white, and
the wall above it in any uniform color. Continuous pattern, such as
that on paper or stuff hangings, is specially objectionable on the
walls of a staircase, since it disturbs the simplicity of composition
best fitted to this part of the house.

For the lighting of the hall there should be a lantern like that in
the vestibule, but more elaborate in design. This mode of lighting
harmonizes with the severe treatment of the walls and indicates at
once that the hall is not a living-room, but a thoroughfare.[33]

If lights be required on the stairs, they should take the form of
fire-gilt bronze sconces, as architectural as possible in design,
without any finikin prettiness of detail. (For good examples, see the
_appliques_ in Plates V and XXXIV). It is almost impossible to obtain
well-designed _appliques_ of this kind in America; but the increasing
interest shown in house-decoration will in time doubtless cause a
demand for a better type of gas and electric fixtures. Meantime,
unless imported sconces can be obtained, the plainest brass fixtures
should be chosen in preference to the more elaborate models now to be
found here.

Where the walls of a hall are hung with pictures, these should be few
in number, and decorative in composition and coloring. No subject
requiring thought and study is suitable in such a position. The
mythological or architectural compositions of the Italian and French
schools of the last two centuries, with their superficial graces of
color and design, are for this reason well suited to the walls of
halls and antechambers.

The same may be said of prints. These should not be used in a large
high-studded hall; but they look well in a small entranceway, if hung
on plain-tinted walls. Here again such architectural compositions as
Piranesi's, with their bold contrasts of light and shade, Marc
Antonio's classic designs, or some frieze-like procession, such as
Mantegna's "Triumph of Julius Caesar," are especially appropriate;
whereas the subtle detail of the German Little Masters, the symbolism
of Dürer's etchings and the graces of Marillier or Moreau le Jeune
would be wasted in a situation where there is small opportunity for
more than a passing glance.

In most American houses, the warming of hall and stairs is so amply
provided for that where there is a hall fireplace it is seldom used.
In country houses, where it is sometimes necessary to have special
means for heating the hall, the open fireplace is of more service; but
it is not really suited to such a situation. The hearth suggests an
idea of intimacy and repose that has no place in a thoroughfare like
the hall; and, aside from this question of fitness, there is a
practical objection to placing an open chimney-piece in a position
where it is exposed to continual draughts from the front door and from
the rooms giving upon the hall.

The best way of heating a hall is by means of a faience stove--not the
oblong block composed of shiny white or brown tiles seen in Swiss and
German _pensions_, but one of the fine old stoves of architectural
design still used on the Continent for heating the vestibule and
dining-room. In Europe, increased attention has of late been given to
the design and coloring of these stoves; and if better known here,
they would form an important feature in the decoration of our halls.
Admirable models may be studied in many old French and German houses
and on the borders of Switzerland and Italy; while the museum at Parma
contains several fine examples of the rocaille period.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXXIII._

     FRENCH ARMOIRE, LOUIS XIV PERIOD.
     MUSEUM OF DECORATIVE ARTS, PARIS.]

FOOTNOTES:

[29] Burckhardt, in his _Geschichte der Renaissance in Italien_,
justly points out that the seeming inconsequence of mediæval
house-planning in northern Europe was probably due in part to the fact
that the feudal castle, for purposes of defence, was generally built
on an irregular site. See also Viollet-le-Duc.

[30] "Der gothische Profanbau in Italien ... steht im vollen Gegensatz
zum Norden durch die rationelle Anlage." Burckhardt, _Geschichte der
Renaissance in Italien_, p. 28.

[31] See the stairs of the Riccardi palace in Florence, of the
Piccolomini palace at Pienza and of the ducal palace at Urbino.

[32] For a fine example of a hall-niche containing a statue, see Plate
XXX.

[33] In large halls the tall _torchère_ of marble or bronze may be
used for additional lights (see Plate XXXII).



X

THE DRAWING-ROOM, BOUDOIR, AND MORNING-ROOM


The "with-drawing-room" of mediæval England, to which the lady and her
maidens retired from the boisterous festivities of the hall, seems at
first to have been merely a part of the bedchamber in which the lord
and lady slept. In time it came to be screened off from the
sleeping-room; then, in the king's palaces, it became a separate room
for the use of the queen and her damsels; and so, in due course,
reached the nobleman's castle, and established itself as a permanent
part of English house-planning.

In France the evolution of the _salon_ seems to have proceeded on
somewhat different lines. During the middle ages and the early
Renaissance period, the more public part of the nobleman's life was
enacted in the hall, or _grand'salle_, while the social and domestic
side of existence was transferred to the bedroom. This was soon
divided into two rooms, as in England. In France, however, both these
rooms contained beds; the inner being the real sleeping-chamber, while
in the outer room, which was used not only for administering justice
and receiving visits of state, but for informal entertainments and the
social side of family life, the bedstead represented the lord's _lit
de parade_, traditionally associated with state ceremonial and feudal
privileges.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXXIV._

     SALA DELLA MADDALENA, ROYAL PALACE, GENOA.
     XVIII CENTURY.
     (ITALIAN DRAWING-ROOM IN ROCAILLE STYLE.)]

The custom of having a state bedroom in which no one slept (_chambre
de parade_, as it was called) was so firmly established that even in
the engravings of Abraham Bosse, representing French life in the reign
of Louis XIII, the fashionable apartments in which card-parties,
suppers, and other entertainments are taking place, invariably contain
a bed.

In large establishments the _chambre de parade_ was never used as a
sleeping-chamber except by visitors of distinction; but in small
houses the lady slept in the room which served as her boudoir and
drawing-room. The Renaissance, it is true, had introduced from Italy
the _cabinet_ opening off the lady's chamber, as in the palaces of
Urbino and Mantua; but these rooms were at first seen only in kings'
palaces, and were, moreover, too small to serve any social purpose.
The _cabinet_ of Catherine de' Medici at Blois is a characteristic
example.

Meanwhile, the gallery had relieved the _grand'salle_ of some of its
numerous uses; and these two apartments seem to have satisfied all the
requirements of society during the Renaissance in France.

In the seventeenth century the introduction of the two-storied Italian
saloon produced a state apartment called a _salon_; and this, towards
the beginning of the eighteenth century, was divided into two smaller
rooms: one, the _salon de compagnie_, remaining a part of the gala
suite used exclusively for entertaining (see Plate XXXIV), while the
other--the _salon de famille_--became a family apartment like the
English drawing-room.

The distinction between the _salon de compagnie_ and the _salon de
famille_ had by this time also established itself in England, where
the state drawing-room retained its Italian name of _salone_, or
saloon, while the living-apartment preserved, in abbreviated form, the
mediæval designation of the lady's with-drawing-room.

Pains have been taken to trace as clearly as possible the mixed
ancestry of the modern drawing-room, in order to show that it is the
result of two distinct influences--that of the gala apartment and that
of the family sitting-room. This twofold origin has curiously affected
the development of the drawing-room. In houses of average size, where
there are but two living-rooms--the master's library, or "den," and
the lady's drawing-room,--it is obvious that the latter ought to be
used as a _salon de famille_, or meeting-place for the whole family;
and it is usually regarded as such in England, where common sense
generally prevails in matters of material comfort and convenience, and
where the drawing-room is often furnished with a simplicity which
would astonish those who associate the name with white-and-gold walls
and uncomfortable furniture.

In modern American houses both traditional influences are seen.
Sometimes, as in England, the drawing-room is treated as a family
apartment, and provided with books, lamps, easy-chairs and
writing-tables. In other houses it is still considered sacred to
gilding and discomfort, the best room in the house, and the
convenience of all its inmates, being sacrificed to a vague feeling
that no drawing-room is worthy of the name unless it is uninhabitable.
This is an instance of the _salon de compagnie_ having usurped the
rightful place of the _salon de famille_; or rather, if the bourgeois
descent of the American house be considered, it may be more truly
defined as a remnant of the "best parlor" superstition.

Whatever the genealogy of the American drawing-room, it must be owned
that it too often fails to fulfil its purpose as a family apartment.
It is curious to note the amount of thought and money frequently spent
on the one room in the house used by no one, or occupied at most for
an hour after a "company" dinner.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXXV._

     CONSOLE IN THE PETIT TRIANON, VERSAILLES.
     LATE LOUIS XV STYLE.
     BUST OF LOUIS XVI, BY PAJOU.]

To this drawing-room, from which the inmates of the house
instinctively flee as soon as their social duties are discharged, many
necessities are often sacrificed. The library, or den, where the
members of the family sit, may be furnished with shabby odds and ends;
but the drawing-room must have its gilt chairs covered with brocade,
its _vitrines_ full of modern Saxe, its guipure curtains and velvet
carpet.

The _salon de compagnie_ is out of place in the average house. Such a
room is needed only where the dinners or other entertainments given
are so large as to make it impossible to use the ordinary living-rooms
of the house. In the grandest houses of Europe the gala-rooms are
never thrown open except for general entertainments, or to receive
guests of exalted rank, and the spectacle of a dozen people
languishing after dinner in the gilded wilderness of a state saloon is
practically unknown.

The purpose for which the _salon de compagnie_ is used necessitates
its being furnished in the same formal manner as other gala
apartments. Circulation must not be impeded by a multiplicity of small
pieces of furniture holding lamps or other fragile objects, while at
least half of the chairs should be so light and easily moved that
groups may be formed and broken up at will. The walls should be
brilliantly decorated, without needless elaboration of detail, since
it is unlikely that the temporary occupants of such a room will have
time or inclination to study its treatment closely. The chief
requisite is a gay first impression. To produce this, the
wall-decoration should be light in color, and the furniture should
consist of a few strongly marked pieces, such as handsome cabinets and
consoles, bronze or marble statues, and vases and candelabra of
imposing proportions. Almost all modern furniture is too weak in
design and too finikin in detail to look well in a gala
drawing-room.[34] (For examples of drawing-room furniture, see Plates
VI, IX, XXXIV, and XXXV.)

Beautiful pictures or rare prints produce little effect on the walls
of a gala room, just as an accumulation of small objects of art, such
as enamels, ivories and miniatures, are wasted upon its tables and
cabinets. Such treasures are for rooms in which people spend their
days, not for those in which they assemble for an hour's
entertainment.

But the _salon de compagnie_, being merely a modified form of the
great Italian saloon, is a part of the gala suite, and any detailed
discussion of the decorative treatment most suitable to it would
result in a repetition of what is said in the chapter on Gala Rooms.

The lighting of the company drawing-room--to borrow its French
designation--should be evenly diffused, without the separate centres
of illumination needful in a family living-room. The proper light is
that of wax candles. Nothing has done more to vulgarize interior
decoration than the general use of gas and of electricity in the
living-rooms of modern houses. Electric light especially, with its
harsh white glare, which no expedients have as yet overcome, has taken
from our drawing-rooms all air of privacy and distinction. In
passageways and offices, electricity is of great service; but were it
not that all "modern improvements" are thought equally applicable to
every condition of life, it would be difficult to account for the
adoption of a mode of lighting which makes the _salon_ look like a
railway-station, the dining-room like a restaurant. That such light is
not needful in a drawing-room is shown by the fact that electric bulbs
are usually covered by shades of some deep color, in order that the
glare may be made as inoffensive as possible.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXXVI._

     SALON, PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU.]

The light in a gala apartment should be neither vivid nor
concentrated: the soft, evenly diffused brightness of wax candles is
best fitted to bring out those subtle modellings of light and shade to
which old furniture and objects of art owe half their expressiveness.

The treatment of the _salon de compagnie_ naturally differs from that
of the family drawing-room: the latter is essentially a room in which
people should be made comfortable. There must be a well-appointed
writing-table; the chairs must be conveniently grouped about various
tables, each with its lamp;--in short, the furniture should be so
disposed that people are not forced to take refuge in their bedrooms
for lack of fitting arrangements in the drawing-room.

The old French cabinet-makers excelled in the designing and making of
furniture for the _salon de famille_. The term "French furniture"
suggests to the Anglo-Saxon mind the stiff appointments of the gala
room--heavy gilt consoles, straight-backed arm-chairs covered with
tapestry, and monumental marble-topped tables. Admirable furniture of
this kind was made in France; but in the grand style the Italian
cabinet-makers competed successfully with the French; whereas the
latter stood alone in the production of the simpler and more
comfortable furniture adapted to the family living-room. Among those
who have not studied the subject there is a general impression that
eighteenth-century furniture, however beautiful in design and
execution, was not comfortable in the modern sense. This is owing to
the fact that the popular idea of "old furniture" is based on the
appointments of gala rooms in palaces: visitors to Versailles or
Fontainebleau are more likely to notice the massive gilt consoles and
benches in the state saloons than the simple easy-chairs and
work-tables of the _petits appartements_. A visit to the Garde Meuble
or to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Paris, or the inspection of any
collection of French eighteenth-century furniture, will show the
versatility and common sense of the old French cabinet-makers. They
produced an infinite variety of small _meubles_, in which beauty of
design and workmanship were joined to simplicity and convenience.

The old arm-chair, or _bergère_, is a good example of this
combination. The modern upholsterer pads and puffs his seats as though
they were to form the furniture of a lunatic's cell; and then, having
expanded them to such dimensions that they cannot be moved without
effort, perches their dropsical bodies on four little casters. Any one
who compares such an arm-chair to the eighteenth-century _bergère_,
with its strong tapering legs, its snugly-fitting back and cushioned
seat, must admit that the latter is more convenient and more beautiful
(see Plates VIII and XXXVII).

The same may be said of the old French tables--from desks, card and
work-tables, to the small _guéridon_ just large enough to hold a book
and candlestick. All these tables were simple and practical in design:
even in the Louis XV period, when more variety of outline and ornament
was permitted, the strong structural lines were carefully maintained,
and it is unusual to see an old table that does not stand firmly on
its legs and appear capable of supporting as much weight as its size
will permit (see Louis XV writing-table in Plate XLVI).

The French tables, cabinets and commodes used in the family apartments
were usually of inlaid wood, with little ornamentation save the design
of the marquetry--elaborate mounts of chiselled bronze being
reserved for the furniture of gala rooms (see Plate X). Old French
marquetry was exquisitely delicate in color and design, while Italian
inlaying of the same period, though coarser, was admirable in
composition. Old Italian furniture of the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries was always either inlaid or carved and painted in gay
colors: chiselled mounts are virtually unknown in Italy.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXXVII._

     ROOM IN THE PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU.
     LOUIS XV PANELLING, LOUIS XVI FURNITURE.]

The furniture of the eighteenth century in England, while not
comparable in design to the best French models, was well made and
dignified; and its angularity of outline is not out of place against
the somewhat cold and formal background of an Adam room.

English marquetry suffered from the poverty of ornament marking the
wall-decoration of the period. There was a certain timidity about the
decorative compositions of the school of Adam and Sheraton, and in
their scanty repertoire the laurel-wreath, the velarium and the
cornucopia reappear with tiresome frequency.

The use to which the family drawing-room is put should indicate the
character of its decoration. Since it is a room in which many hours of
the day are spent, and in which people are at leisure, it should
contain what is best worth looking at in the way of pictures, prints,
and other objects of art; while there should be nothing about its
decoration so striking or eccentric as to become tiresome when
continually seen. A fanciful style may be pleasing in apartments used
only for stated purposes, such as the saloon or gallery; but in a
living-room, decoration should be subordinate to the individual,
forming merely a harmonious but unobtrusive background (see Plates
XXXVI and XXXVII). Such a setting also brings out the full decorative
value of all the drawing-room accessories--screens, andirons,
_appliques_, and door and window-fastenings. A study of any old
French interior will show how much these details contributed to the
general effect of the room.

Those who really care for books are seldom content to restrict them to
the library, for nothing adds more to the charm of a drawing-room than
a well-designed bookcase: an expanse of beautiful bindings is as
decorative as a fine tapestry.

The boudoir is, properly speaking, a part of the bedroom suite, and as
such is described in the chapter on the Bedroom. Sometimes, however, a
small sitting-room adjoins the family drawing-room, and this, if given
up to the mistress of the house, is virtually the boudoir.

The modern boudoir is a very different apartment from its
eighteenth-century prototype. Though it may preserve the delicate
decorations and furniture suggested by its name, such a room is now
generally used for the prosaic purpose of interviewing servants, going
over accounts and similar occupations. The appointments should
therefore comprise a writing-desk, with pigeon-holes, drawers, and
cupboards, and a comfortable lounge, or _lit de repos_, for resting
and reading.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXXVIII._

     LIT DE REPOS, EARLY LOUIS XV PERIOD.]

The _lit de repos_, which, except in France, has been replaced by the
clumsy upholstered lounge, was one of the most useful pieces of
eighteenth-century furniture (see Plate XXXVIII). As its name implies,
it is shaped somewhat like a bed, or rather like a cradle that stands
on four legs instead of swinging. It is made of carved wood, sometimes
upholstered, but often seated with cane (see Plate XXXIX). In the
latter case it is fitted with a mattress and with a pillow-like
cushion covered with some material in keeping with the hangings of the
room. Sometimes the _duchesse_, or upholstered _bergère_ with
removable foot-rest in the shape of a square bench, is preferred
to the _lit de repos_; but the latter is the more elegant and
graceful, and it is strange that it should have been discarded in
favor of the modern lounge, which is not only ugly, but far less
comfortable.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XXXIX._

     LIT DE REPOS, LOUIS XV PERIOD.]

As the boudoir is generally a small room, it is peculiarly suited to
the more delicate styles of painting or stucco ornamentation described
in the third chapter. A study of boudoir-decoration in the last
century, especially in France, will show the admirable sense of
proportion regulating the treatment of these little rooms (see Plate
XL). Their adornment was naturally studied with special care by the
painters and decorators of an age in which women played so important a
part.

It is sometimes thought that the eighteenth-century boudoir was always
decorated and furnished in a very elaborate manner. This idea
originates in the fact, already pointed out, that the rooms usually
seen by tourists are those in royal palaces, or in such princely
houses as are thrown open to the public on account of their
exceptional magnificence. The same type of boudoir is continually
reproduced in books on architecture and decoration; and what is really
a small private sitting-room for the lady of the house, corresponding
with her husband's "den," has thus come to be regarded as one of the
luxuries of a great establishment.

The prints of Eisen, Marillier, Moreau le Jeune, and other
book-illustrators of the eighteenth century, show that the boudoir in
the average private house was, in fact, a simple room, gay and
graceful in decoration, but as a rule neither rich nor elaborate (see
Plate XLI). As it usually adjoined the bedroom, it was decorated in
the same manner, and even when its appointments were expensive all
appearance of costliness was avoided.[35]

The boudoir is the room in which small objects of art--prints,
mezzotints and _gouaches_--show to the best advantage. No detail is
wasted, and all manner of delicate effects in wood-carving, marquetry,
and other ornamentation, such as would be lost upon the walls and
furniture of a larger room, here acquire their full value. One or two
well-chosen prints hung on a background of plain color will give more
pleasure than a medley of photographs, colored photogravures, and
other decorations of the cotillon-favor type. Not only do mediocre
ornaments become tiresome when seen day after day, but the mere
crowding of furniture and gimcracks into a small room intended for
work and repose will soon be found fatiguing.

Many English houses, especially in the country, contain a useful room
called the "morning-room," which is well defined by Robert Kerr, in _The
English Gentleman's House_, as "the drawing-room in ordinary." It is,
in fact, a kind of undress drawing-room, where the family may gather
informally at all hours of the day. The out-of-door life led in England
makes it specially necessary to provide a sitting-room which people
are not afraid to enter in muddy boots and wet clothes. Even if the
drawing-room be not, as Mr. Kerr quaintly puts it, "preserved"--that
is, used exclusively for company--it is still likely to contain the
best furniture in the house; and though that "best" is not too fine
for every-day use, yet in a large family an informal, wet-weather room
of this kind is almost indispensable.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XL._

     PAINTED WALL-PANEL AND DOOR, CHÂTEAU OF
     CHANTILLY. LOUIS XV.
     (EXAMPLE OF CHINOISERIE DECORATION.)]

No matter how elaborately the rest of the house is furnished, the
appointments of the morning-room should be plain, comfortable, and
capable of resisting hard usage. It is a good plan to cover the floor
with a straw matting, and common sense at once suggests the furniture
best suited to such a room: two or three good-sized tables with
lamps, a comfortable sofa, and chairs covered with chintz, leather, or
one of the bright-colored horsehairs now manufactured in France.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XLI._

     Sa triste amante abandonnee
     Pleure ses maux et ses plaisirs.

   FRENCH BOUDOIR, LOUIS XVI PERIOD.
   (FROM A PRINT BY LE BOUTEUX.)]

FOOTNOTES:

[34] Much of the old furniture which appears to us unnecessarily stiff
and monumental was expressly designed to be placed against the walls
in rooms used for general entertainments, where smaller and more
delicately made pieces would have been easily damaged, and would,
moreover, have produced no effect.

[35] The ornate boudoir seen in many XVIIIth-century prints is that of
the _femme galante_.



XI

GALA ROOMS: BALL-ROOM, SALOON, MUSIC-ROOM, GALLERY


European architects have always considered it essential that those rooms
which are used exclusively for entertaining--gala rooms, as they are
called--should be quite separate from the family apartments,--either
occupying an entire floor (the Italian _piano nobile_) or being so
situated that it is not necessary to open them except for general
entertainments.

In many large houses lately built in America, with ball and music
rooms and a hall simulating the two-storied Italian saloon, this
distinction has been disregarded, and living and gala rooms have been
confounded in an agglomeration of apartments where the family, for
lack of a smaller suite, sit under gilded ceilings and cut-glass
chandeliers, in about as much comfort and privacy as are afforded by
the public "parlors" of one of our new twenty-story hotels. This
confusion of two essentially different types of room, designed for
essentially different phases of life, has been caused by the fact that
the architect, when called upon to build a grand house, has simply
enlarged, instead of altering, the _maison bourgeoise_ that has
hitherto been the accepted model of the American gentleman's house;
for it must not be forgotten that the modern American dwelling
descends from the English middle-class house, not from the
aristocratic country-seat or town residence. The English nobleman's
town house was like the French _hôtel_, with gates, porter's lodge,
and court-yard surrounded by stables and offices; and the planning of
the country-seat was even more elaborate.

A glance at any collection of old English house-plans, such as
Campbell's _Vitruvius Britannicus_, will show the purely middle-class
ancestry of the American house, and the consequent futility of
attempting, by the mere enlargement of each room, to turn it into a
gentleman's seat or town residence. The kind of life which makes gala
rooms necessary exacts a different method of planning; and until this
is more generally understood the treatment of such rooms in American
houses will never be altogether satisfactory.

Gala rooms are meant for general entertainments, never for any
assemblage small or informal enough to be conveniently accommodated in
the ordinary living-rooms of the house; therefore to fulfil their
purpose they must be large, very high-studded, and not overcrowded
with furniture, while the walls and ceiling--the only parts of a
crowded room that can be seen--must be decorated with greater
elaboration than would be pleasing or appropriate in other rooms. All
these conditions unfit the gala room for any use save that for which
it is designed. Nothing can be more cheerless than the state of a
handful of people sitting after dinner in an immense ball-room with
gilded ceiling, bare floors, and a few pieces of monumental furniture
ranged round the walls; yet in any house which is simply an
enlargement of the ordinary private dwelling the hostess is often
compelled to use the ball-room or saloon as a drawing-room.

A gala room is never meant to be seen except when crowded: the crowd
takes the place of furniture. Occupied by a small number of people,
such a room looks out of proportion, stiff and empty. The hostess
feels this, and tries, by setting chairs and tables askew, and
introducing palms, screens and knick-knacks, to produce an effect of
informality. As a result the room dwarfs the furniture, loses the air
of state, and gains little in real comfort; while it becomes
necessary, when a party is given, to remove the furniture and
disarrange the house, thus undoing the chief _raison d'être_ of such
apartments.

The Italians, inheriting the grandiose traditions of the Augustan age,
have always excelled in the treatment of rooms demanding the "grand
manner." Their unfailing sense that house-decoration is interior
architecture, and must clearly proclaim its architectural
affiliations, has been of special service in this respect. It is rare
in Italy to see a large room inadequately treated. Sometimes the
"grand manner"--the mimic _terribilità_--may be carried too far to
suit Anglo-Saxon taste--it is hard to say for what form of
entertainment such a room as Giulio Romano's Sala dei Giganti in the
Palazzo del T would form a pleasing or appropriate background--but
apart from such occasional aberrations, the Italian decorators showed
a wonderful sense of fitness in the treatment of state apartments. To
small dribbles of ornament they preferred bold forcible mouldings,
coarse but clear-cut free-hand ornamentation in stucco, and either a
classic severity of treatment or the turbulent bravura style of the
saloon of the Villa Rotonda and of Tiepolo's Cleopatra frescoes in the
Palazzo Labia at Venice.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XLII._

     SALON À L'ITALIENNE.
     (FROM A PICTURE BY COYPEL.)]

The saloon and gallery are the two gala rooms borrowed from Italy by
northern Europe. The saloon has already been described in the chapter
on Hall and Stairs. It was a two-storied apartment, usually with
clerestory, domed ceiling, and a gallery to which access was obtained
by concealed staircases (see Plates XLII and XLIII). This gallery
was often treated as an arcade or loggia, and in many old Italian
prints and pictures there are representations of these saloons, with
groups of gaily dressed people looking down from the gallery upon the
throngs crowding the floor. The saloon was used in Italy as a
ball-room or gambling-room--gaming being the chief social amusement of
the eighteenth century.

In England and France the saloon was rarely two stories high, though
there are some exceptions, as for example the saloon at
Vaux-le-Vicomte. The cooler climate rendered a clerestory less
necessary, and there was never the same passion for grandiose effects
as in Italy. The saloon in northern Europe was always a stately and
high-studded room, generally vaulted or domed, and often circular in
plan; but it seldom reached such imposing dimensions as its Italian
prototype, and when more than one story high was known by the
distinctive designation of _un salon à l'italienne_.

The gallery was probably the first feature in domestic house-planning
to be borrowed from Italy by northern Europe. It is seen in almost all
the early Renaissance châteaux of France; and as soon as the influence
of such men as John of Padua and John Shute asserted itself in
England, the gallery became one of the principal apartments of the
Elizabethan mansion. There are several reasons for the popularity of
the gallery. In the cold rainy autumns and winters north of the Alps
it was invaluable as a sheltered place for exercise and games; it was
well adapted to display the pictures, statuary and bric-à-brac which,
in emulation of Italian collectors, the Northern nobles were beginning
to acquire; and it showed off to advantage the long line of ancestral
portraits and the tapestries representing a succession of episodes
from the _Æneid_, the _Orlando Innamorato_, or some of the
interminable epics that formed the light reading of the sixteenth
century. Then, too, the gallery served for the processions which were
a part of the social ceremonial in great houses: the march to the
chapel or banquet-hall, the escorting of a royal guest to the state
bedroom, and other like pageants.

In France and England the gallery seems for a long time to have been
used as a saloon and ball-room, whereas in Italy it was, as a rule,
reserved for the display of the art-treasures of the house, no Italian
palace worthy of the name being without its gallery of antiquities or
of marbles.

In modern houses the ball-room and music-room are the two principal
gala apartments. A music-room need not be a gala room in the sense of
being used only for large entertainments; but since it is outside the
circle of every-day use, and more or less associated with
entertaining, it seems best to include it in this chapter.

Many houses of average size have a room large enough for informal
entertainments. Such a room, especially in country houses, should be
decorated in a gay simple manner in harmony with the rest of the house
and with the uses to which the room is to be put. Rooms of this kind
may be treated with a white dado, surmounted by walls painted in a
pale tint, with boldly modelled garlands and attributes in stucco,
also painted white (see Plate XIII). If these stucco decorations are
used to frame a series of pictures, such as fruit and flower-pieces or
decorative subjects, the effect is especially attractive. Large
painted panels with eighteenth-century _genre_ subjects or pastoral
scenes, set in simple white panelling, are also very decorative. A
coved ceiling is best suited to rooms of this comparatively simple
character, while in state ball-rooms the dome increases the general
appearance of splendor.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XLIII._

     BALL-ROOM, ROYAL PALACE, GENOA. LATE XVIII CENTURY.
     (EXAMPLE OF STUCCO DECORATION.)]

A panelling of mirrors forms a brilliant ball-room decoration, and
charming effects are produced by painting these mirrors with birds,
butterflies, and garlands of flowers, in the manner of the famous
Italian mirror-painter, Mario dei Fiori--"Mario of the Flowers"--as he
was called in recognition of his special gift. There is a beautiful
room by this artist in the Borghese Palace in Rome, and many Italian
palaces contain examples of this peculiarly brilliant style of
decoration, which might be revived to advantage by modern painters.

In ball-rooms of great size and importance, where the walls demand a
more architectural treatment, the use of an order naturally suggests
itself. Pilasters of marble, separated by marble niches containing
statues, form a severe but splendid decoration; and if white and
colored marbles are combined, and the whole is surmounted by a domed
ceiling frescoed in bright colors, the effect is extremely brilliant.

In Italy the architectural decoration of large rooms was often
entirely painted (see Plate XLIV), the plaster walls being covered
with a fanciful piling-up of statues, porticoes and balustrades, while
figures in Oriental costume, or in the masks and parti-colored dress
of the _Comédie Italienne_, leaned from simulated loggias or wandered
through marble colonnades.

The Italian decorator held any audacity permissible in a room used
only by a throng of people, whose mood and dress made them ready to
accept the fairy-tales on the walls as a fitting background to their
own masquerading. Modern travellers, walking through these old Italian
saloons in the harsh light of day, while cobwebs hang from the
audacious architecture, and the cracks in the plaster look like wounds
in the cheeks of simpering nymphs and shepherdesses, should remember
that such apartments were meant to be seen by the soft light of wax
candles in crystal chandeliers, with fantastically dressed dancers
thronging the marble floor.

Such a ball-room, if reproduced in the present day, would be far more
effective than the conventional white-and-gold room, which, though
unobjectionable when well decorated, lacks the imaginative charm, the
personal note, given by the painter's touch.

Under Louis XIV many French apartments of state were panelled with
colored marbles, with an application of attributes or trophies, and
other ornamental motives in fire-gilt bronze: a sumptuous mode of
treatment according well with a domed and frescoed ceiling. Tapestry
was also much used, and forms an admirable decoration, provided the
color-scheme is light and the design animated. Seventeenth and
eighteenth-century tapestries are the most suitable, as the scale of
color is brighter and the compositions are gayer than in the earlier
hangings.

Modern dancers prefer a polished wooden floor, and it is perhaps
smoother and more elastic than any other surface; but in beauty and
decorative value it cannot be compared with a floor of inlaid marble,
and as all the dancing in Italian palaces is still done on such
floors, the preference for wood is probably the result of habit. In a
ball-room of any importance, especially where marble is used on the
walls, the floor should always be of the same substance (see floors in
Plates XXIX, XXX, and LV).

  [Illustration: _PLATE XLIV._

     SALOON IN THE VILLA VERTEMATI. XVI CENTURY.
     (EXAMPLE OF FRESCOED WALLS AND CARVED WOODEN CEILING.)]

Gala apartments, as distinguished from living-rooms, should be lit
from the ceiling, never from the walls. No ball-room or saloon is
complete without its chandeliers: they are one of the characteristic
features of a gala room (see Plates V, XIX, XXXIV, XLIII, XLV, L). For
a ball-room, where all should be light and brilliant, rock-crystal
or cut-glass chandeliers are most suitable: reflected in a long line
of mirrors, they are an invaluable factor in any scheme of gala
decoration.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XLV._

     SALA DELLO ZODIACO, ROYAL PALACE, MANTUA. XVIII CENTURY.
     (EXAMPLE OF STUCCO DECORATION.)]

The old French decorators relied upon the reflection of mirrors for
producing an effect of distance in the treatment of gala rooms. Above
the mantel, there was always a mirror with another of the same shape
and size directly opposite; and the glittering perspective thus
produced gave to the scene an air of fantastic unreality. The gala
suite being so planned that all the rooms adjoined each other, the
effect of distance was further enhanced by placing the openings in
line, so that on entering the suite it was possible to look down its
whole length. The importance of preserving this long vista, or
_enfilade_, as the French call it, is dwelt on by all old writers on
house-decoration. If a ball-room be properly lit and decorated, it is
never necessary to dress it up with any sort of temporary
ornamentation: the true mark of the well-decorated ball-room is to
look always ready for a ball.

The only chair seen in most modern ball-rooms is the folding camp-seat
hired by the hundred when entertainments are given; but there is no
reason why a ball-room should be even temporarily disfigured by these
makeshifts, which look their worst when an effort is made to conceal
their cheap construction under a little gilding and satin. In all old
ball-rooms, benches and _tabourets_ (small seats without backs) were
ranged in a continuous line along the walls. These seats, handsomely
designed, and covered with tapestry, velvet, or embroidered silk
slips, were a part of the permanent decoration of the room. On
ordinary occasions they would be sufficient for a modern ball-room;
and when larger entertainments made it needful to provide additional
seats, these might be copied from the seventeenth-century
_perroquets_, examples of which may be found in the various French
works on the history of furniture. These _perroquets_, or folding
chairs without arms, made of natural walnut or gilded, with seats of
tapestry, velvet or decorated leather, would form an excellent
substitute for the modern cotillon seat.

The first rule to be observed in the decoration of the music-room is
the avoidance of all stuff hangings, draperies, and substances likely
to deaden sound. The treatment chosen for the room must of course
depend on its size and its relation to the other rooms in the house.
While a music-room should be more subdued in color than a ball-room,
sombre tints and heavy ornament are obviously inappropriate: the
effect aimed at should be one of lightness and serenity in form and
color. However small and simple the music-room may be, it should
always appear as though there were space overhead for the notes to
escape; and some form of vaulting or doming is therefore more suitable
than a flat ceiling.

While plain panelling, if well designed, is never out of keeping, the
walls of a music-room are specially suited to a somewhat fanciful
style of decoration. In a ball-room, splendor and brilliancy of effect
are more needful than a studied delicacy; but where people are seated,
and everything in the room is consequently subjected to close and
prolonged scrutiny, sprightliness of composition should be combined
with variety of detail, the decoration being neither so confused and
intricate as to distract attention, nor so conventional as to be
dismissed with a glance on entering the room.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XLVI._

     FRENCH TABLE.
     (TRANSITION BETWEEN LOUIS XIV AND LOUIS XV PERIODS.)]

The early Renaissance compositions in which stucco low-reliefs blossom
into painted arabesques and tendrils, are peculiarly adapted to a
small music-room; while those who prefer a more architectural
treatment may find admirable examples in some of the Italian
eighteenth-century rooms decorated with free-hand stucco ornament, or
in the sculptured wood-panelling of the same period in France. At
Remiremont in the Vosges, formerly the residence of a noble order of
canonesses, the abbess's _hôtel_ contains an octagonal music-room of
exceptional beauty, the panelled walls being carved with skilfully
combined musical instruments and flower-garlands.

In larger apartments a fanciful style of fresco-painting might be
employed, as in the rooms painted by Tiepolo in the Villa Valmarana,
near Vicenza, or in the staircase of the Palazzo Sina, at Venice,
decorated by Longhi with the episodes of an eighteenth-century
carnival. Whatever the design chosen, it should never resemble the
formal treatment suited to ball-room and saloon: the decoration should
sound a note distinctly suggestive of the purpose for which the
music-room is used.

It is difficult to understand why modern music-rooms have so long been
disfigured by the clumsy lines of grand and upright pianos, since the
cases of both might be modified without affecting the construction of
the instrument. Of the two, the grand piano would be the easier to
remodel: if its elephantine supports were replaced by slender fluted
legs, and its case and sounding-board were painted, or inlaid with
marquetry, it would resemble the charming old clavecin which preceded
the pianoforte.

Fewer changes are possible in the "upright"; but a marked improvement
could be produced by straightening its legs and substituting right
angles for the weak curves of the lid. The case itself might be made
of plainly panelled mahogany, with a few good ormolu ornaments; or of
inlaid wood, with a design of musical instruments and similar
"attributes"; or it might be decorated with flower-garlands and
arabesques painted either on the natural wood or on a gilt or colored
background.

Designers should also study the lines of those two long-neglected
pieces of furniture, the music-stool and music-stand. The latter
should be designed to match the piano, and painted or inlaid like its
case. The revolving mushroom that now serves as a music-stool is a
modern invention: the old stools were substantial circular seats
resting on four fluted legs. The manuals of the eighteenth-century
cabinet-makers contain countless models of these piano-seats, which
might well be reproduced by modern designers: there seems no practical
reason why the accessories of the piano should be less decorative than
those of the harpsichord.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XLVII._

     LIBRARY OF LOUIS XVI, PALACE OF VERSAILLES.
     (LOUIS XV WRITING-TABLE WITH BUST.)]



XII

THE LIBRARY, SMOKING-ROOM, AND "DEN"


In the days when furniture was defined as "that which may be carried
about," the natural bookcase was a chest with a strong lock. These
chests, packed with precious manuscripts, followed the prince or noble
from one castle to another, and were even carried after him into camp.
Before the invention of printing, when twenty or thirty books formed
an exceptionally large library, and many great personages were content
with the possession of one volume, such ambulant bookcases were
sufficient for the requirements of the most eager bibliophile.
Occasionally the volumes were kept in a small press or cupboard, and
placed in a chest only when their owner travelled; but the bookcase,
as now known, did not take shape until much later, for when books
multiplied with the introduction of printing, it became customary to
fit up for their reception little rooms called _cabinets_. In the
famous _cabinet_ of Catherine de Medici at Blois the walls are lined
with book-shelves concealed behind sliding panels--a contrivance
rendered doubly necessary by the general insecurity of property, and
by the fact that the books of that period, whether in manuscript or
printed, were made sumptuous as church jewelry by the art of painter
and goldsmith.

Long after the establishment of the printing-press, books, except in
the hands of the scholar, continued to be a kind of curiosity, like
other objects of art: less an intellectual need than a treasure upon
which rich men prided themselves. It was not until the middle of the
seventeenth century that the taste for books became a taste for
reading. France led the way in this new fashion, which was assiduously
cultivated in those Parisian _salons_ of which Madame de Rambouillet's
is the recognized type. The possession of a library, hitherto the
privilege of kings, of wealthy monasteries, or of some distinguished
patron of letters like Grolier, Maioli, or de Thou, now came to be
regarded as a necessity of every gentleman's establishment. Beautiful
bindings were still highly valued, and some of the most wonderful work
produced in France belongs to the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries; but as people began to buy books for the sake of what they
contained, less exaggerated importance was attached to their exterior,
so that bindings, though perfect as taste and skill could make them,
were seldom as extravagantly enriched as in the two preceding
centuries. Up to a certain point this change was not to be regretted:
the mediæval book, with its gold or ivory bas-reliefs bordered with
precious stones, and its massive jewelled clasps, was more like a
monstrance or reliquary than anything meant for less ceremonious use.
It remained for the Italian printers and binders of the sixteenth
century, and for their French imitators, to adapt the form of the book
to its purpose, changing, as it were, a jewelled idol to a human
companion.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XLVIII._

     SMALL LIBRARY AT AUDLEY END, ENGLAND. XVIII CENTURY.]

The substitution of the octavo for the folio, and certain
modifications in binding which made it possible to stand books upright
instead of laying one above the other with edges outward, gradually
gave to the library a more modern aspect. In France, by the middle of
the seventeenth century, the library had come to be a recognized
feature in private houses. The Renaissance _cabinet_ continued to be
the common receptacle for books; but as the shelves were no longer
concealed, bindings now contributed to the decoration of the room.
Movable bookcases were not unknown, but these seem to have been merely
presses in which wooden door-panels were replaced by glass or by a
lattice-work of brass wire. The typical French bookcase _à deux
corps_--that is, made in two separate parts, the lower a cupboard to
contain prints and folios, the upper with shelves and glazed or
latticed doors--was introduced later, and is still the best model for
a movable bookcase. In rooms of any importance, however, the French
architect always preferred to build his book-shelves into niches
formed in the thickness of the wall, thus utilizing the books as part
of his scheme of decoration.

There is no doubt that this is not only the most practical, but the
most decorative, way of housing any collection of books large enough
to be so employed. To adorn the walls of a library, and then conceal
their ornamentation by expensive bookcases, is a waste, or rather a
misapplication, of effects--always a sin against æsthetic principles.

The importance of bookbindings as an element in house-decoration has
already been touched upon; but since a taste for good bindings has
come to be regarded as a collector's fad, like accumulating
snuff-boxes or _baisers-de-paix_, it seems needful to point out how
obvious and valuable a means of decoration is lost by disregarding the
outward appearance of books. To be decorative, a bookcase need not
contain the productions of the master-binders,--old volumes by Eve and
Derôme, or the work of Roger Payne and Sanderson,--unsurpassed as they
are in color-value. Ordinary bindings of half morocco or vellum form
an expanse of warm lustrous color; such bindings are comparatively
inexpensive; yet people will often hesitate to pay for a good edition
bound in plain levant half the amount they are ready to throw away
upon a piece of modern Saxe or a silver photograph-frame.

The question of binding leads incidentally to that of editions, though
the latter is hardly within the scope of this book. People who have
begun to notice the outside of their books naturally come to
appreciate paper and type; and thus learn that the modern book is too
often merely the cheapest possible vehicle for putting words into
print. The last few years have brought about some improvement; and it
is now not unusual for a publisher, in bringing out a book at the
ordinary rates, to produce also a small edition in large-paper copies.
These large-paper books, though as yet far from perfect in type and
make-up, are superior to the average "commercial article"; and, apart
from their artistic merit, are in themselves a good investment, since
the value of such editions increases steadily year by year. Those who
cannot afford both edition and binding will do better to buy
large-paper books or current first editions in boards, than
"handsomely bound" volumes unworthy in type and paper. The plain paper
or buckram covers of a good publisher are, in fact, more decorative,
because more artistic, than showy tree-calf or "antique morocco."

The same principle applies to the library itself: plain shelves filled
with good editions in good bindings are more truly decorative than
ornate bookcases lined with tawdry books.

It has already been pointed out that the plan of building book-shelves
into the walls is the most decorative and the most practical (see
Plate XLVIII). The best examples of this treatment are found in
France. The walls of the rooms thus decorated were usually of panelled
wood, either in natural oak or walnut, as in the beautiful library of
the old university at Nancy, or else painted in two contrasting
colors, such as gray and white. When not set in recesses, the shelves
formed a sort of continuous lining around the walls, as in the library
of Louis XVI in the palace at Versailles (see Plate XLVII), or in that
of the Duc de Choiseul at Chanteloup, now set up in one of the rooms
of the public library at Tours.

In either case, instead of being detached pieces of furniture, the
bookcases formed an organic part of the wall-decoration. Any study of
old French works on house-decoration and furniture will show how
seldom the detached bookcase was used in French libraries: but few
models are to be found, and these were probably designed for use in
the boudoir or study, rather than in the library proper (see bookcase
in Plate V).

In England, where private libraries were fewer and less extensive, the
movable bookcase was much used, and examples of built-in shelves are
proportionately rarer. The hand-books of the old English
cabinet-makers contain innumerable models of handsome bookcases, with
glazed doors set with diamond-shaped panes in wooden mouldings, and
the familiar broken pediment surmounted by a bust or an urn. It was
natural that where books were few, small bookcases should be preferred
to a room lined with shelves; and in the seventeenth century,
according to John Evelyn, the "three nations of Great Britain"
contained fewer books than Paris.

Almost all the old bookcases had one feature in common: that is, the
lower cupboard with solid doors. The bookcase proper rested upon this
projecting cupboard, thus raising the books above the level of the
furniture. The prevalent fashion of low book-shelves, starting from
the floor, and not extending much higher than the dado-moulding, has
probably been brought about by the other recent fashion of
low-studded rooms. Architects are beginning to rediscover the
forgotten fact that the stud of a room should be regulated by the
dimensions of its floor-space; so that in the newer houses the dwarf
bookcase is no longer a necessity. It is certainly less convenient
than the tall old-fashioned press; for not only must one kneel to
reach the lower shelves, but the books are hidden, and access to them
is obstructed, by their being on a level with the furniture.

The general decoration of the library should be of such character as
to form a background or setting to the books, rather than to distract
attention from them. The richly adorned room in which books are but a
minor incident is, in fact, no library at all. There is no reason why
the decorations of a library should not be splendid; but in that case
the books must be splendid too, and sufficient in number to dominate
all the accessory decorations of the room.

When there are books enough, it is best to use them as part of the
decorative treatment of the walls, panelling any intervening spaces in
a severe and dignified style; otherwise movable bookcases may be
placed against the more important wall-spaces, the walls being
decorated with wooden panelling or with mouldings and stucco
ornaments; but in this case composition and color-scheme must be so
subdued as to throw the bookcases and their contents into marked
relief. It does not follow that because books are the chief feature of
the library, other ornaments should be excluded; but they should be
used with discrimination, and so chosen as to harmonize with the
spirit of the room. Nowhere is the modern litter of knick-knacks and
photographs more inappropriate than in the library. The tables should
be large, substantial, and clear of everything but lamps, books and
papers--one table at least being given over to the filing of books
and newspapers. The library writing-table is seldom large enough, or
sufficiently free from odds and ends in the shape of photograph-frames,
silver boxes, and flower-vases, to give free play to the elbows. A
large solid table of the kind called _bureau-ministre_ (see the table
in Plate XLVII) is well adapted to the library; and in front of it
should stand a comfortable writing-chair such as that represented in
Plate XLIX.

  [Illustration: _PLATE XLIX._

     WRITING-CHAIR, LOUIS XV PERIOD.]

The housing of a great private library is one of the most interesting
problems of interior architecture. Such a room, combining monumental
dimensions with the rich color-values and impressive effect produced
by tiers of fine bindings, affords unequalled opportunity for the
exercise of the architect's skill. The two-storied room with gallery
and stairs and domed or vaulted ceiling is the finest setting for a
great collection. Space may of course be gained by means of a series
of bookcases projecting into the room and forming deep bays along each
of the walls; but this arrangement is seldom necessary save in a
public library, and however skilfully handled must necessarily
diminish the architectural effect of the room. In America the great
private library is still so much a thing of the future that its
treatment need not be discussed in detail. Few of the large houses
lately built in the United States contain a library in the serious
meaning of the term; but it is to be hoped that the next generation of
architects will have wider opportunities in this direction.

The smoking-room proper, with its _mise en scène_ of Turkish divans,
narghilehs, brass coffee-trays, and other Oriental properties, is no
longer considered a necessity in the modern house; and the room which
would formerly have been used for this special purpose now comes
rather under the head of the master's lounging-room, or "den"--since
the latter word seems to have attained the dignity of a technical
term.

Whatever extravagances the upholsterer may have committed in other
parts of the house, it is usually conceded that common sense should
regulate the furnishing of the den. Fragile chairs, lace-petticoat
lamp-shades and irrelevant bric-à-brac are consequently excluded; and
the master's sense of comfort often expresses itself in a set of
"office" furniture--a roller-top desk, a revolving chair, and others
of the puffy type already described as the accepted model of a
luxurious seat. Thus freed from the superfluous, the den is likely to
be the most comfortable room in the house; and the natural inference
is that a room, in order to be comfortable, must be ugly. One can
picture the derision of the man who is told that he might, without the
smallest sacrifice of comfort or convenience, transact his business at
a Louis XVI writing-table, seated in a Louis XVI chair!--yet the
handsomest desks of the last century--the fine old _bureaux à la
Kaunitz_ or _à cylindre_--were the prototypes of the modern
"roller-top"; and the cane or leather-seated writing-chair, with
rounded back and five slim strong legs, was far more comfortable than
the amorphous revolving seat. Convenience was not sacrificed to beauty
in either desk or chair; but both the old pieces, being designed by
skilled cabinet-makers, were as decorative as they were useful. There
seems, in fact, no reason why the modern den should not resemble the
financiers' _bureaux_ seen in so many old prints: rooms of dignified
plainness, but where each line of wall-panelling and furniture was as
carefully studied and intelligently adapted to its ends as though
intended for a drawing-room or boudoir.

Reference has been made to the way in which, even in small houses, a
room may be sacrificed to a supposed "effect," or to some inherited
tradition as to its former use. Thus the family drawing-room is too
often made uninhabitable from some vague feeling that a "drawing-room"
is not worthy of its name unless too fine to sit in; while the small
front room on the ground floor--in the average American house the only
corner given over to the master--is thrown into the hall, either that
the house may appear larger and handsomer, or from sheer inability to
make so small a room habitable.

There is no reason why even a ten-by-twelve or an eight-by-fourteen
foot room should not be made comfortable; and the following
suggestions are intended to indicate the lines on which an appropriate
scheme of decoration might be carried out.

In most town houses the small room down-stairs is built with an
opening in the longitudinal wall, close to the front door, while there
is usually another entrance at the back of the room, facing the
window; one at least of these openings being, as a rule, of
exaggerated width. In such cases the door in the side of the room
should be walled up: this gives privacy and provides enough additional
wall-space for a good-sized piece of furniture.

The best way of obtaining an effect of size is to panel the walls by
means of clear-cut architectural mouldings: a few strong vertical
lines will give dignity to the room and height to the ceiling. The
walls should be free from pattern and light in color, since dark walls
necessitate much artificial light, and have the disadvantage of making
a room look small.

The ceiling, if not plain, must be ornamented with the lightest
tracery, and supported by a cornice correspondingly simple in design.
Heavy ceiling-mouldings are obviously out of place in a small room,
and a plain expanse of plaster is always preferable to misapplied
ornament.

A single curtain made of some flexible material, such as corduroy or
thin unlined damask, and so hung that it may be readily drawn back
during the day, is sufficient for the window; while in a corner near
this window may be placed an easy-chair and a small solidly made
table, large enough to hold a lamp and a book or two.

These rooms, in some recently built town houses, contain chimneys set
in an angle of the wall: a misplaced attempt at quaintness, making it
inconvenient to sit near the hearth, and seriously interfering with
the general arrangement of the room. When the chimney occupies the
centre of the longitudinal wall there is space, even in a very narrow
room, for a group of chairs about the fireplace--provided, as we are
now supposing, the opening in the parallel wall has been closed. A
bookcase or some other high piece of furniture may be placed on each
side of the mantel, and there will be space opposite for a sofa and a
good-sized writing-table. If the pieces of furniture chosen are in
scale with the dimensions of the room, and are placed against the
wall, instead of being set sideways, with the usual easel or palm-tree
behind them, it is surprising to see how much a small room may contain
without appearing to be overcrowded.

  [Illustration: _PLATE L._

     DINING-ROOM, PALACE OF COMPIÈGNE. LOUIS XVI PERIOD.
     (OVER-DOORS AND OVER-MANTEL PAINTED IN GRISAILLE, BY SAUVAGE.)]



XIII

THE DINING-ROOM


The dining-room, as we know it, is a comparatively recent innovation
in house-planning. In the early middle ages the noble and his
retainers ate in the hall; then the _grand'salle_, built for
ceremonial uses, began to serve as a banqueting-room, while the meals
eaten in private were served in the lord's chamber. As house-planning
adapted itself to the growing complexity of life, the mediæval bedroom
developed into a private suite of living-rooms, preceded by an
antechamber; and this antechamber, or one of the small adjoining
cabinets, was used as the family dining-room, the banqueting-hall
being still reserved for state entertainments.

The plan of dining at haphazard in any of the family living-rooms
persisted on the Continent until the beginning of the eighteenth
century: even then it was comparatively rare, in France, to see a room
set apart for the purpose of dining. In small _hôtels_ and apartments,
people continued to dine in the antechamber; where there were two
antechambers, the inner was used for that purpose; and it was only in
grand houses, or in the luxurious establishments of the _femmes
galantes_, that dining-rooms were to be found. Even in such cases the
room described as a _salle à manger_ was often only a central
antechamber or saloon into which the living-rooms opened; indeed,
Madame du Barry's sumptuous dining-room at Luciennes was a vestibule
giving directly upon the peristyle of the villa.

In England the act of dining seems to have been taken more seriously,
while the rambling outgrowths of the Elizabethan residence included a
greater variety of rooms than could be contained in any but the
largest houses built on more symmetrical lines. Accordingly, in old
English house-plans we find rooms designated as "dining-parlors"; many
houses, in fact, contained two or three, each with a different
exposure, so that they might be used at different seasons. These rooms
can hardly be said to represent our modern dining-room, since they
were not planned in connection with kitchen and offices, and were
probably used as living-rooms when not needed for dining. Still, it
was from the Elizabethan dining-parlor that the modern dining-room
really developed; and so recently has it been specialized into a room
used only for eating, that a generation ago old-fashioned people in
England and America habitually used their dining-rooms to sit in. On
the Continent the incongruous uses of the rooms in which people dined
made it necessary that the furniture should be easily removed. In the
middle ages, people dined at long tables composed of boards resting on
trestles, while the seats were narrow wooden benches or stools, so
constructed that they could easily be carried away when the meal was
over. With the sixteenth century, the _table-à-tréteaux_ gave way to
various folding tables with legs, and the wooden stools were later
replaced by folding seats without arms called _perroquets_. In the
middle ages, when banquets were given in the _grand'salle_, the plate
was displayed on movable shelves covered with a velvet slip, or on
elaborately carved dressers; but on ordinary occasions little silver
was set out in French dining-rooms, and the great English
sideboard, with its array of urns, trays and wine-coolers, was
unknown in France. In the common antechamber dining-room, whatever was
needed for the table was kept in a press or cupboard with solid wooden
doors; changes of service being carried on by means of serving-tables,
or _servantes_--narrow marble-topped consoles ranged against the walls
of the room.

  [Illustration: _PLATE LI._

     DINING-ROOM FOUNTAIN, PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU.
     LOUIS XV PERIOD.]

For examples of dining-rooms, as we understand the term, one must look
to the grand French houses of the eighteenth century (see Plate L) and
to the same class of dwellings in England. In France such dining-rooms
were usually intended for gala entertainments, the family being still
served in antechamber or cabinet; but English houses of the same
period generally contain a family dining-room and another intended for
state.

The dining-room of Madame du Barry at Luciennes, already referred to,
was a magnificent example of the great dining-saloon. The ceiling was
a painted Olympus; the white marble walls were subdivided by
Corinthian pilasters with plinths and capitals of gilt bronze,
surmounted by a frieze of bas-reliefs framed in gold; four marble
niches contained statues by Pajou, Lecomte, and Moineau; and the
general brilliancy of effect was increased by crystal chandeliers,
hung in the intercolumniations against a background of looking-glass.

Such a room, the banqueting-hall of the official mistress, represents
the _courtisane's_ ideal of magnificence: decorations as splendid, but
more sober and less theatrical, marked the dining-rooms of the
aristocracy, as at Choisy, Gaillon and Rambouillet.

The state dining-rooms of the eighteenth century were often treated
with an order, niches with statues being placed between the pilasters.
Sometimes one of these niches contained a fountain serving as a
wine-cooler--a survival of the stone or metal wall-fountains in which
dishes were washed in the mediæval dining-room. Many of these earlier
fountains had been merely fixed to the wall; but those of the
eighteenth century, though varying greatly in design, were almost
always an organic part of the wall-decoration (see Plate LI).
Sometimes, in apartments of importance, they formed the pedestal of a
life-size group or statue, as in the dining-room of Madame de
Pompadour; while in smaller rooms they consisted of a semicircular
basin of marble projecting from the wall and surmounted by groups of
cupids, dolphins or classic attributes. The banqueting-gallery of
Trianon-sous-Bois contains in one of its longitudinal walls two wide
niches with long marble basins; and Mariette's edition of d'Aviler's
_Cours d'Architecture_ gives the elevation of a recessed buffet
flanked by small niches containing fountains. The following
description, accompanying d'Aviler's plate, is quoted here as an
instance of the manner in which elaborate compositions were worked out
by the old decorators: "The second antechamber, being sometimes used
as a dining-room, is a suitable place for the buffet represented. This
buffet, which may be incrusted with marble or stone, or panelled with
wood-work, consists in a recess occupying one of the side walls of the
room. The recess contains a shelf of marble or stone, supported on
brackets and surmounting a small stone basin which serves as a
wine-cooler. Above the shelf is an attic flanked by volutes, and over
this attic may be placed a picture, generally a flower or fruit-piece,
or the representation of a concert, or some such agreeable scene;
while in the accompanying plate the attic is crowned by a bust of
Comus, wreathed with vines by two little satyrs--the group detaching
itself against a trellised background enlivened with birds. The
composition is completed by two lateral niches for fountains,
adorned with masks, tritons and dolphins of gilded lead."

  [Illustration: _PLATE LII._

     DINING-CHAIR, LOUIS XIV PERIOD.]

These built-in sideboards and fountains were practically the only
feature distinguishing the old dining-rooms from other gala
apartments. At a period when all rooms were painted, panelled, or hung
with tapestry, no special style of decoration was thought needful for
the dining-room; though tapestry was seldom used, for the practical
reason that stuff hangings are always objectionable in a room intended
for eating.

  [Illustration: _PLATE LIII._

     DINING-CHAIR, LOUIS XVI PERIOD.]

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, when comfortable seats
began to be made, an admirably designed dining-room chair replaced the
earlier benches and _perroquets_. The eighteenth century dining-chair
is now often confounded with the light _chaise volante_ used in
drawing-rooms, and cabinet-makers frequently sell the latter as copies
of old dining-chairs. These were in fact much heavier and more
comfortable, and whether cane-seated or upholstered, were invariably
made with wide deep seats, so that the long banquets of the day might
be endured without constraint or fatigue; while the backs were low and
narrow, in order not to interfere with the service of the table. (See
Plates LII and LIII. Plates XLVI and L also contain good examples of
dining-chairs.) In England the state dining-room was decorated much as
it was in France: the family dining-room was simply a plain parlor,
with wide mahogany sideboards or tall glazed cupboards for the display
of plate and china. The solid English dining-chairs of mahogany, if
less graceful than those used on the Continent, are equally well
adapted to their purpose.

The foregoing indications may serve to suggest the lines upon which
dining-room decoration might be carried out in the present day. The
avoidance of all stuff hangings and heavy curtains is of great
importance: it will be observed that even window-curtains were seldom
used in old dining-rooms, such care being given to the decorative
detail of window and embrasure that they needed no additional ornament
in the way of drapery. A bare floor of stone or marble is best suited
to the dining-room; but where the floor is covered, it should be with
a rug, not with a nailed-down carpet.

The dining-room should be lit by wax candles in side _appliques_ or in
a chandelier; and since anything tending to produce heat and to
exhaust air is especially objectionable in a room used for eating, the
walls should be sufficiently light in color to make little artificial
light necessary. In the dining-rooms of the last century, in England
as well as on the Continent, the color-scheme was usually regulated by
this principle: the dark dining-room panelled with mahogany or hung
with sombre leather is an invention of our own times. It has already
been said that the old family dining-room was merely a panelled
parlor. Sometimes the panels were of light unvarnished oak, but
oftener they were painted in white or in some pale tint easily lit by
wax candles. The walls were often hung with fruit or flower-pieces, or
with pictures of fish and game: a somewhat obvious form of adornment
which it has long been the fashion to ridicule, but which was not
without decorative value and appropriateness. Pictures representing
life and action often grow tiresome when looked at over and over
again, day after day: a fact which the old decorators probably had in
mind when they hung what the French call _natures mortes_ in the
dining-room.

Concerning the state dining-room that forms a part of many modern houses
little remains to be said beyond the descriptions already given of the
various gala apartments. It is obvious that the banqueting-hall
should be less brilliant than a ball-room and less fanciful in
decoration than a music-room: a severer and more restful treatment
naturally suggests itself, but beyond this no special indications are
required.

The old dining-rooms were usually heated by porcelain stoves. Such a
stove, of fine architectural design, set in a niche corresponding with
that which contains the fountain, is of great decorative value in the
composition of the room; and as it has the advantage of giving out
less concentrated heat than an open fire, it is specially well suited
to a small or narrow dining-room, where some of the guests must
necessarily sit close to the hearth.

Most houses which have banquet-halls contain also a smaller apartment
called a breakfast-room; but as this generally corresponds in size and
usage with the ordinary family dining-room, the same style of
decoration is applicable to both. However ornate the banquet-hall may
be, the breakfast-room must of course be simple and free from gilding:
the more elaborate the decorations of the larger room, the more
restful such a contrast will be found.

Of the dinner-table, as we now know it, little need be said. The
ingenious but ugly extension-table with a central support, now used
all over the world, is an English invention. There seems no reason why
the general design should not be improved without interfering with the
mechanism of this table; but of course it can never be so satisfactory
to the eye as one of the old round or square tables, with four or six
tapering legs, such as were used in eighteenth-century dining-rooms
before the introduction of the "extension."



XIV

BEDROOMS


The history of the bedroom has been incidentally touched upon in
tracing the development of the drawing-room from the mediæval hall. It
was shown that early in the middle ages the sleeping-chamber, which
had been one of the first outgrowths of the hall, was divided into the
_chambre de parade_, or incipient drawing-room, and the _chambre au
giste_, or actual sleeping-room.

The increasing development of social life in the sixteenth century
brought about a further change; the state bedroom being set aside for
entertainments of ceremony, while the sleeping-chamber was used as the
family living-room and as the scene of suppers, card-parties, and
informal receptions--or sometimes actually as the kitchen. Indeed, so
varied were the uses to which the _chambre au giste_ was put, that in
France especially it can hardly be said to have offered a refuge from
the promiscuity of the hall.

  [Illustration: _PLATE LIV._

     BEDROOM. PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAU. LOUIS XIV PERIOD.
     (LOUIS XVI BED AND CHAIR, MODERN SOFA.)]

As a rule, the bedrooms of the Renaissance and of the seventeenth
century were very richly furnished. The fashion of raising the bed on
a dais separated from the rest of the room by columns and a balustrade
was introduced in France in the time of Louis XIV. This innovation
gave rise to the habit of dividing the decoration of the room into two
parts; the walls being usually panelled or painted, while the
"alcove," as it was called, was hung in tapestry, velvet, or some
rich stuff in keeping with the heavy curtains that completely
enveloped the bedstead. This use of stuff hangings about the bed, so
contrary to our ideas of bedroom hygiene, was due to the difficulty of
heating the large high-studded rooms of the period, and also, it must
be owned, to the prevalent dread of fresh air as of something
essentially unwholesome and pernicious.

In the early middle ages people usually slept on the floor; though it
would seem that occasionally, to avoid cold or dampness, the mattress
was laid on cords stretched upon a low wooden framework. In the
fourteenth century the use of such frameworks became more general, and
the bed was often enclosed in curtains hung from a tester resting on
four posts. Bed-hangings and coverlet were often magnificently
embroidered; but in order that it might not be necessary to transport
from place to place the unwieldy bedstead and tester, these were made
in the rudest manner, without attempt at carving or adornment. In
course of time this primitive framework developed into the sumptuous
four-post bedstead of the Renaissance, with elaborately carved cornice
and _colonnes torses_ enriched with gilding. Thenceforward more wealth
and skill were expended upon the bedstead than upon any other article
of furniture. Gilding, carving, and inlaying of silver, ivory or
mother-of-pearl, combined to adorn the framework, and embroidery made
the coverlet and hangings resplendent as church vestments. This
magnificence is explained by the fact that it was customary for the
lady of the house to lie in bed while receiving company. In many old
prints representing suppers, card-parties, or afternoon visits, the
hostess is thus seen, with elaborately dressed head and stiff brocade
gown, while her friends are grouped about the bedside in equally rich
attire. This curious custom persisted until late in the eighteenth
century; and under such conditions it was natural that the old
cabinet-makers should vie with each other in producing a variety of
ornate and fanciful bedsteads. It would be useless to enumerate here
the modifications in design marking the different periods of
decoration: those who are interested in the subject will find it
treated in detail in the various French works on furniture.

It was natural that while the bedroom was used as a _salon_ it should
be decorated with more elaboration than would otherwise have been
fitting; but two causes combined to simplify its treatment in the
eighteenth century. One of these was the new fashion of _petits
appartements_. With artists so keenly alive to proportion as the old
French designers, it was inevitable that such a change in dimensions
should bring about a corresponding change in decoration. The bedrooms
of the eighteenth century, though sometimes elaborate in detail, had
none of the pompous richness of the great Renaissance or Louis XIV
room (see Plate LIV). The pretentious dais with its screen of columns
was replaced by a niche containing the bed; plain wood-panelling
succeeded to tapestry and embroidered hangings; and the heavy carved
ceiling with its mythological centre-picture made way for light
traceries on plaster.

The other change in the decoration of French bedrooms was due to the
substitution of linen or cotton bed and window-hangings for the
sumptuous velvets and brocades of the seventeenth century. This change
has usually been ascribed to the importation of linens and cottons
from the East; and no doubt the novelty of these gay _indiennes_
stimulated the taste for simple hangings. The old inventories,
however, show that, in addition to the imported India hangings, plain
white linen curtains with a colored border were much used; and it is
probably the change in the size of rooms that first led to the
adoption of thin washable hangings. The curtains and bed-draperies of
damask or brocatelle, so well suited to the high-studded rooms of the
seventeenth century, would have been out of place in the small
apartments of the Regency. In studying the history of decoration, it
will generally be found that the supposed vagaries of house-furnishing
were actually based on some practical requirement; and in this
instance the old decorators were doubtless guided rather by common
sense than by caprice. The adoption of these washable materials
certainly introduced a style of bedroom-furnishing answering to all
the requirements of recent hygiene; for not only were windows and
bedsteads hung with unlined cotton or linen, but chairs and sofas were
covered with removable _housses_, or slip-covers; while the painted
wall-panelling and bare brick or parquet floors came far nearer to the
modern sanitary ideal than do the papered walls and nailed-down
carpets still seen in many bedrooms. This simple form of decoration
had the additional charm of variety; for it was not unusual to have
several complete sets of curtains and slip-covers, embroidered to
match, and changed with the seasons. The hangings and covers of the
queen's bedroom at Versailles were changed four times a year.

Although bedrooms are still "done" in chintz, and though of late
especially there has been a reaction from the satin-damask bedroom
with its dust-collecting upholstery and knick-knacks, the modern habit
of lining chintz curtains and of tufting chairs has done away with the
chief advantages of the simpler style of treatment. There is something
illogical in using washable stuffs in such a way that they cannot be
washed, especially in view of the fact that the heavily lined
curtains, which might be useful to exclude light and cold, are in nine
cases out of ten so hung by the upholsterer that they cannot possibly
be drawn at night. Besides, the patterns of modern chintzes have so
little in common with the _toiles imprimées_ of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries that they scarcely serve the same decorative
purpose; and it is therefore needful to give some account of the old
French bedroom hangings, as well as of the manner in which they were
employed.

The liking for _cotonnades_ showed itself in France early in the
seventeenth century. Before this, cotton materials had been imported
from the East; but in the seventeenth century a manufactory was
established in France, and until about 1800 cotton and linen curtains
and furniture-coverings remained in fashion. This taste was encouraged
by the importation of the _toiles des Indes_, printed cottons of gay
color and fanciful design, much sought after in France, especially
after the government, in order to protect native industry, had
restricted the privilege of importing them to the _Compagnie des
Indes_. It was not until Oberkampf established his manufactory at Jouy
in 1760 that the French _toiles_ began to replace those of foreign
manufacture. Hitherto the cottons made in France had been stamped
merely in outline, the colors being filled in by hand; but Oberkampf
invented a method of printing in colors, thereby making France the
leading market for such stuffs.

The earliest printed cottons having been imported from India and
China, it was natural that the style of the Oriental designers should
influence their European imitators. Europe had, in fact, been prompt
to recognize the singular beauty of Chinese art, and in France the
passion for _chinoiseries_, first aroused by Mazarin's collection of
Oriental objects of art, continued unabated until the general decline
of taste at the end of the eighteenth century. Nowhere, perhaps, was
the influence of Chinese art more beneficial to European designers
than in the composition of stuff-patterns. The fantastic gaiety and
variety of Chinese designs, in which the human figure so largely
predominates, gave fresh animation to European compositions, while the
absence of perspective and modelling preserved that conventionalism so
essential in pattern-designing. The voluminous acanthus-leaves, the
fleur-de-lys, arabesques and massive scroll-work so suitable to the
Genoese velvets and Lyons silks of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, would have been far too magnificent for the cotton stuffs
that were beginning to replace those splendid tissues. On a thin
material a heavy architectural pattern was obviously inappropriate;
besides, it would have been out of scale with the smaller rooms and
lighter style of decoration then coming into fashion.

The French designer, while influenced by Chinese compositions, was too
artistic to be satisfied with literal reproductions of his Oriental
models. Absorbing the spirit of the Chinese designs, he either blent
mandarins and pagodas with Italian grottoes, French landscapes, and
classical masks and trophies, in one of those delightful inventions
which are the fairy-tales of decorative art, or applied the principles
of Oriental design to purely European subjects. In comparing the
printed cottons of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with
modern chintzes, it will be seen that the latter are either covered
with monotonous repetitions of a geometrical figure, or with realistic
reproductions of some natural object. Many wall-papers and chintzes of
the present day represent loose branches of flowers scattered on a
plain surface, with no more relation to each other or to their
background than so many real flowers fixed at random against the wall.
This literal rendering of natural objects with deceptive accuracy,
always condemned by the best artists, is especially inappropriate when
brought in close contact with the highly conventionalized forms of
architectural composition. In this respect, the endlessly repeated
geometrical figure is obviously less objectionable; yet the
geometrical design, as produced to-day, has one defect in common with
the other--that is, lack of imagination. Modern draughtsmen, in
eliminating from their work that fanciful element (always strictly
subordinated to some general scheme of composition) which marked the
designs of the last two centuries, have deprived themselves of the
individuality and freshness that might have saved their patterns from
monotony.

This rejection of the fanciful in composition is probably due to the
excessive use of pattern in modern decoration. Where much pattern is
used, it must be as monotonous as possible, or it will become
unbearable. The old decorators used few lines, and permitted
themselves more freedom in design; or rather they remembered, what is
now too often forgotten, that in the decoration of a room furniture
and objects of art help to make design, and in consequence they were
chiefly concerned with providing plain spaces of background to throw
into relief the contents of the room. Of late there has been so marked
a return to plain panelled or painted walls that the pattern-designer
will soon be encouraged to give freer rein to his fancy. In a room
where walls and floor are of uniform tint, there is no reason why the
design of curtains and chair-coverings should consist of long straight
rows of buttercups or crocuses, endlessly repeated.

  [Illustration: _PLATE LV._

     BATH-ROOM, PITTI PALACE, FLORENCE.
     LATE XVIII CENTURY. DECORATED BY CACIALLI.]

It must not be thought that the old designs were unconventional.
Nature, in passing through the medium of the imagination, is
necessarily transposed and in a manner conventionalized; and it is
this transposition, this deliberate selection of certain
characteristics to the exclusion of others, that distinguishes the
work of art from a cast or a photograph. But the reduction of natural
objects to geometrical forms is only one of the results of artistic
selection. The Italian fresco-painters--the recognized masters of
wall-decoration in the flat--always used the naturalistic method, but
subject to certain restrictions in composition or color. This applies
also to the Chinese designers, and to the humbler European
pattern-makers who on more modest lines followed the same sound
artistic traditions. In studying the _toiles peintes_ manufactured in
Europe previous to the present century, it will be seen that where the
design included the human figure or landscape naturalistically treated
(as in the fables of Æsop and La Fontaine, or the history of Don
Quixote), the pattern was either printed entirely in one color, or so
fantastically colored that by no possibility could it pass for an
attempt at a literal rendering of nature. Besides, in all such
compositions (and here the Chinese influence is seen) perspective was
studiously avoided, and the little superimposed groups or scenes were
either connected by some decorative arabesque, or so designed that by
their outline they formed a recurring pattern. On the other hand, when
the design was obviously conventional a variety of colors was freely
used. The introduction of the human figure, animals, architecture and
landscape into stuff-patterns undoubtedly gave to the old designs an
animation lacking in those of the present day; and a return to the
_pays bleu_ of the Chinese artist would be a gain to modern
decoration.

Of the various ways in which a bedroom may be planned, none is so
luxurious and practical as the French method of subdividing it into a
suite composed of two or more small rooms. Where space is not
restricted there should in fact be four rooms, preceded by an
antechamber separating the suite from the main corridor of the house.
The small sitting-room or boudoir opens into this antechamber; and
next comes the bedroom, beyond which are the dressing and bath rooms.
In French suites of this kind there are usually but two means of
entrance from the main corridor: one for the use of the occupant,
leading into the antechamber, the other opening into the bath-room, to
give access to the servants. This arrangement, besides giving greater
privacy, preserves much valuable wall-space, which would be sacrificed
in America to the supposed necessity of making every room in a house
open upon one of the main passageways.

The plan of the bedroom suite can of course be carried out only in
large houses; but even where there is no lack of space, such an
arrangement is seldom adopted by American architects, and most of the
more important houses recently built contain immense bedrooms, instead
of a series of suites. To enumerate the practical advantages of the
suite over the single large room hardly comes within the scope of this
book; but as the uses to which a bedroom is put fall into certain
natural subdivisions, it will be more convenient to consider it as a
suite.

Since bedrooms are no longer used as _salons_, there is no reason for
decorating them in an elaborate manner; and, however magnificent the
other apartments, it is evident that in this part of the house
simplicity is most fitting. Now that people have been taught the
unhealthiness of sleeping in a room with stuff hangings, heavy
window-draperies and tufted furniture, the old fashion of painted
walls and bare floors naturally commends itself; and as the bedroom
suite is but the subdivision of one large room, it is obviously better
that the same style of decoration should be used throughout.

For this reason, plain panelled walls and chintz or cotton hangings
are more appropriate to the boudoir than silk and gilding. If the
walls are without pattern, a figured chintz may be chosen for curtains
and furniture; while those who prefer plain tints should use
unbleached cotton, trimmed with bands of color, or some colored linen
with applications of gimp or embroidery. It is a good plan to cover
all the chairs and sofas in the bedroom suite with slips matching the
window-curtains; but where this is done, the furniture should, if
possible, be designed for the purpose, since the lines of modern
upholstered chairs are not suited to slips. The habit of designing
furniture for slip-covers originated in the middle ages. At a time
when the necessity of transporting furniture was added to the other
difficulties of travel, it was usual to have common carpenter-built
benches and tables, that might be left behind without risk, and to
cover these with richly embroidered slips. The custom persisted long
after furniture had ceased to be a part of luggage, and the benches
and _tabourets_ now seen in many European palaces are covered merely
with embroidered slips. Even when a set of furniture was upholstered
with silk, it was usual, in the eighteenth century, to provide
embroidered cotton covers for use in summer, while curtains of the
same stuff were substituted for the heavier hangings used in winter.
Old inventories frequently mention these _tentures d'été_, which are
well adapted to our hot summer climate.

The boudoir should contain a writing-table, a lounge or _lit de
repos_, and one or two comfortable arm-chairs, while in a bedroom
forming part of a suite only the bedstead and its accessories should
be placed.

The pieces of furniture needed in a well-appointed dressing-room are
the toilet-table, wash-stand, clothes-press and cheval-glass, with the
addition, if space permits, of one or two commodes or chiffonniers.
The designing of modern furniture of this kind is seldom satisfactory;
yet many who are careful to choose simple, substantial pieces for the
other rooms of the house, submit to the pretentious "bedroom suit" of
bird's-eye maple or mahogany, with its wearisome irrelevance of line
and its excess of cheap ornament. Any study of old bedroom furniture
will make clear the inferiority of the modern manufacturer's designs.
Nowhere is the old sense of proportion and fitness seen to better
advantage than in the simple, admirably composed commodes and
clothes-presses of the eighteenth-century bedroom.

The bath-room walls and floor should, of course, be water-proof. In
the average bath-room, a tiled floor and a high wainscoting of tiles
are now usually seen; and the detached enamel or porcelain bath has in
most cases replaced the built-in metal tub. The bath-rooms in the
larger houses recently built are, in general, lined with marble; but
though the use of this substance gives opportunity for fine
architectural effects, few modern bath-rooms can in this respect be
compared with those seen in the great houses of Europe. The chief
fault of the American bath-room is that, however splendid the
materials used, the treatment is seldom architectural. A glance at the
beautiful bath-room in the Pitti Palace at Florence (see Plate LV)
will show how much effect may be produced in a small space by
carefully studied composition. A mere closet is here transformed into
a stately room, by that regard for harmony of parts which
distinguishes interior architecture from mere decoration. A bath-room
lined with precious marbles, with bath and wash-stand ranged along the
wall, regardless of their relation to the composition of the whole, is
no better architecturally than the tiled bath-room seen in ordinary
houses: design, not substance, is needed to make the one superior to
the other.



XV

THE SCHOOL-ROOM AND NURSERIES


One of the most important and interesting problems in the planning and
decoration of a house is that which has to do with the arrangement of
the children's rooms.

There is, of course, little opportunity for actual decoration in
school-room or nursery; and it is only by stretching a point that a
book dealing merely with the practical application of æsthetics may be
made to include a chapter bordering on pedagogy. It must be
remembered, however, that any application of principles presupposes
some acquaintance with the principles themselves; and from this
standpoint there is a certain relevance in studying the means by which
the child's surroundings may be made to develop his sense of beauty.

The room where the child's lessons are studied is, in more senses than
one, that in which he receives his education. His whole view of what
he is set to learn, and of the necessity and advantage of learning
anything at all, is tinged, more often than people think, by the
appearance of the room in which his studying is done. The æsthetic
sensibilities wake early in some children, and these, if able to
analyze their emotions, could testify to what suffering they have been
subjected by the habit of sending to school-room and nurseries
whatever furniture is too ugly or threadbare to be used in any other
part of the house.

In the minds of such children, curious and lasting associations are
early established between the appearance of certain rooms and the
daily occupations connected with them; and the aspect of the
school-room too often aggravates instead of mitigating the weariness
of lesson-learning.

There are, of course, many children not naturally sensitive to
artistic influences, and the parents of such children often think that
no special care need be spent on their surroundings--a curious
misconception of the purpose of all æsthetic training. To teach a
child to appreciate any form of beauty is to develop his intelligence,
and thereby to enlarge his capacity for wholesome enjoyment. It is,
therefore, never idle to cultivate a child's taste; and those who have
no pronounced natural bent toward the beautiful in any form need more
guidance and encouragement than the child born with a sense of beauty.
The latter will at most be momentarily offended by the sight of ugly
objects; while they may forever blunt the taste and narrow the views
of the child whose sluggish imagination needs the constant stimulus of
beautiful surroundings.

If art is really a factor in civilization, it seems obvious that the
feeling for beauty needs as careful cultivation as the other civic
virtues. To teach a child to distinguish between a good and a bad
painting, a well or an ill-modelled statue, need not hinder his growth
in other directions, and will at least develop those habits of
observation and comparison that are the base of all sound judgments.
It is in this sense that the study of art is of service to those who
have no special aptitude for any of its forms: its indirect action in
shaping æsthetic criteria constitutes its chief value as an element of
culture.

The habit of regarding "art" as a thing apart from life is fatal to
the development of taste. Parents may conscientiously send their
children to galleries and museums, but unless the child can find some
point of contact between its own surroundings and the contents of the
galleries, the interest excited by the pictures and statues will be
short-lived and ineffectual. Children are not reached by abstract
ideas, and a picture hanging on a museum wall is little better than an
abstraction to the child's vivid but restricted imagination. Besides,
if the home surroundings are tasteless, the unawakened sense of form
will not be roused by a hurried walk through a museum. The child's
mind must be prepared by daily lessons in beauty to understand the
masterpieces of art. A child brought up on foolish story-books could
hardly be expected to enjoy _The Knight's Tale_ or the _Morte
d'Arthur_ without some slight initiation into the nature and meaning
of good literature; and to pass from a house full of ugly furniture,
badly designed wall-papers and worthless knick-knacks to a hurried
contemplation of the Venus of Milo or of a model of the Parthenon is
not likely to produce the desired results.

The daily intercourse with poor pictures, trashy "ornaments," and
badly designed furniture may, indeed, be fittingly compared with a
mental diet of silly and ungrammatical story-books. Most parents
nowadays recognize the harmfulness of such a _régime_, and are careful
to feed their children on more stimulating fare. Skilful compilers
have placed Mallory and Chaucer, Cervantes and Froissart, within reach
of the childish understanding, thus laying the foundations for a
lasting appreciation of good literature. No greater service can be
rendered to children than in teaching them to know the best and to
want it; but while this is now generally conceded with regard to
books, the child's eager eyes are left to fare as best they may on
chromos from the illustrated papers and on carefully hoarded rubbish
from the Christmas tree.

The mention of the Christmas tree suggests another obstacle to the
early development of taste. Many children, besides being surrounded by
ugly furniture and bad pictures, are overwhelmed at Christmas, and on
every other anniversary, by presents not always selected with a view
to the formation of taste. The question of presents is one of the most
embarrassing problems in the artistic education of children. As long
as they are in the toy age no great harm is done: it is when they are
considered old enough to appreciate "something pretty for their rooms"
that the season of danger begins. Parents themselves are often the
worst offenders in this respect, and the sooner they begin to give
their children presents which, if not beautiful, are at least useful,
the sooner will the example be followed by relatives and friends. The
selection of such presents, while it might necessitate a little more
trouble, need not lead to greater expense. Good things do not always
cost more than bad. A good print may often be bought for the same
price as a poor one, and the money spent on a china "ornament," in the
shape of a yellow Leghorn hat with a kitten climbing out of it, would
probably purchase a good reproduction of one of the Tanagra
statuettes, a plaster cast of some French or Italian bust, or one of
Cantagalli's copies of the Robbia bas-reliefs--any of which would
reveal a world of unsuspected beauty to many a child imprisoned in a
circle of _articles de Paris_.

The children of the rich are usually the worst sufferers in such
cases, since the presents received by those whose parents and
relations are not "well off" have the saving merit of usefulness. It
is the superfluous gimcrack--the "ornament"--which is most
objectionable, and the more expensive such articles are the more
likely are they to do harm. Rich children suffer from the quantity as
well as the quality of the presents they receive. Appetite is
surfeited, curiosity blunted, by the mass of offerings poured in with
every anniversary. It would be better if, in such cases, friends and
family could unite in giving to each child one thing worth having--a
good edition, a first-state etching or engraving, or some like object
fitted to give pleasure at the time and lasting enjoyment through
life. Parents often make the mistake of thinking that such presents
are too "serious"--that children do not care for good bindings, fine
engravings, or reproductions of sculpture. As a matter of fact,
children are quick to appreciate beauty when pointed out and explained
to them, and an intelligent child feels peculiar pride in being the
owner of some object which grown-up people would be glad to possess.
If the selection of such presents is made with a reasonable regard for
the child's tastes and understanding--if the book chosen is a good
edition, well bound, of the _Morte d'Arthur_ or of _Chaucer_--if the
print represents some Tuscan Nativity, with a joyous dance of angels
on the thatched roof, or a group of splendid horsemen and strange
animals from the wondrous fairy-tale of the Riccardi chapel--the
present will give as much immediate pleasure as a "juvenile" book or
picture, while its intrinsic beauty and significance may become
important factors in the child's æsthetic development. The possession
of something valuable, that may not be knocked about, but must be
handled with care and restored to its place after being looked at,
will also cultivate in the child that habit of carefulness and order
which may be defined as good manners toward inanimate objects.

Children suffer not only from the number of presents they receive, but
from that over-crowding of modern rooms that so often makes it
necessary to use the school-room and nurseries as an outlet for the
overflow of the house. To the children's quarters come one by one the
countless objects "too good to throw away" but too ugly to be
tolerated by grown-up eyes--the bead-work cushions that have
"associations," the mildewed Landseer prints of foaming, dying
animals, the sheep-faced Madonna and Apostles in bituminous draperies,
commemorating a paternal visit to Rome in the days when people bought
copies of the "Old Masters."

Those who wish to train their children's taste must resolutely clear
the school-room of all such stumbling-blocks. Ugly furniture cannot
always be replaced; but it is at least possible to remove unsuitable
pictures and knick-knacks.

It is essential that the school-room should be cheerful. Dark colors,
besides necessitating the use of much artificial light, are depressing
to children and consequently out of place in the school-room: white
woodwork, and walls tinted in some bright color, form the best
background for both work and play.

Perhaps the most interesting way of decorating the school-room is that
which might be described as the rotation system. To carry out this
plan--which requires the coöperation of the children's teacher--the
walls must be tinted in some light color, such as turquoise-blue or
pale green, and cleared of all miscellaneous adornments. These should
then be replaced by a few carefully-chosen prints, photographs and
plaster casts, representing objects connected with the children's
studies. Let it, for instance, be supposed that the studies in hand
include natural history, botany, and the history of France and England
during the sixteenth century. These subjects might be respectively
illustrated by some of the clever Japanese outline drawings of plants
and animals, by Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII, Clouet's of Charles
IX and of Elizabeth of Austria, Dürer's etchings of Luther and
Erasmus, and views of some of the principal buildings erected in
France and England during the sixteenth century.

The prints and casts shown at one time should be sufficiently
inexpensive and few in number to be changed as the child's lessons
proceed, thus forming a kind of continuous commentary upon the various
branches of study.

This plan of course necessitates more trouble and expense than the
ordinary one of giving to the walls of the school-room a permanent
decoration: an arrangement which may also be made interesting and
suggestive, if the child's requirements are considered. When casts and
pictures are intended to remain in place, it is a good idea to choose
them at the outset with a view to the course of studies likely to be
followed. In this way, each object may serve in turn to illustrate
some phase of history or art: even this plan will be found to have a
vivifying effect upon the dry bones of "lessons."

In a room decorated in this fashion, the prints or photographs
selected might represent the foremost examples of Greek, Gothic,
Renaissance and eighteenth-century architecture, together with several
famous paintings of different periods and schools; sculpture being
illustrated by casts of the Disk-thrower, of one of Robbia's friezes
of child-musicians, of Donatello's Saint George, and Pigalle's "Child
with the Bird."

Parents who do not care to plan the adornment of the school-room on
such definite lines should at least be careful to choose appropriate
casts and pictures. It is generally conceded that nothing painful
should be put before a child's eyes; but the deleterious effects of
namby-pamby prettiness are too often disregarded. Anything "sweet" is
considered appropriate for the school-room or nursery; whereas it is
essential to the child's artistic training that only the sweetness
which proceeds _de forte_ should be held up for admiration. It is easy
to find among the world's masterpieces many pictures interesting to
children. Vandyck's "Children of Charles I"; Bronzino's solemn
portraits of Medici babies; Drouais' picture of the Comte d'Artois
holding his little sister on the back of a goat; the wan little
princes of Velasquez; the ruddy beggar-boys of Murillo--these are but
a few of the subjects that at once suggest themselves. Then, again,
there are the wonder-books of those greatest of all story-tellers, the
Italian fresco-painters--Benozzo Gozzoli, Pinturicchio,
Carpaccio--incorrigible gossips every one, lingering over the minor
episodes and trivial details of their stories with the desultory
slowness dear to childish listeners. In sculpture, the range of choice
is no less extended. The choristers of Robbia, the lean little St.
Johns of Donatello and his school--Verrocchio's fierce young David,
and the Capitol "Boy with the Goose"--these may alternate with
fragments of the Parthenon frieze, busts of great men, and studies of
animals, from the Assyrian lions to those of Canova and Barye.

Above all, the walls should not be overcrowded. The importance of
preserving in the school-room bare wall-spaces of uniform tint has
hitherto been little considered; but teachers are beginning to
understand the value of these spaces in communicating to the child's
brain a sense of repose which diminishes mental and physical
restlessness.

The furniture of the school-room should of course be plain and
substantial. Well-designed furniture of this kind is seldom made by
modern manufacturers, and those who can afford the slight extra
expense should commission a good cabinet-maker to reproduce some of
the simple models which may be found in the manuals of old French and
English designers. It is of special importance to provide a large,
solid writing-table: children are too often subjected to the needless
constraint and fatigue of writing at narrow unsteady desks, too small
to hold even the books in use during the lesson.

A well-designed bookcase with glass doors is a valuable factor in the
training of children. It teaches a respect for books by showing that
they are thought worthy of care; and a child is less likely to knock
about and damage a book which must be taken from and restored to such
a bookcase, than one which, after being used, is thrust back on an
open shelf. Children's books, if they have any literary value, should
be bound in some bright-colored morocco: dingy backs of calf or black
cloth are not likely to attract the youthful eye, and the better a
book is bound the more carefully it will be handled. Even
lesson-books, when they become shabby, should have a covering of some
bright-colored cloth stitched over the boards.

The general rules laid down for the decoration of the school-room may,
with some obvious modifications, be applied to the treatment of
nursery and of children's rooms. These, like the school-room, should
have painted walls and a floor of hard wood with a removable rug or a
square of matting. In a house containing both school-room and nursery,
the decoration of the latter room will of course be adapted to the
tastes of the younger children. Mothers often say, in answer to
suggestions as to the decoration of the nursery, that little children
"like something bright"--as though this precluded every form of art
above the newspaper chromo and the Christmas card! It is easy to
produce an effect of brightness by means of white wood-work and walls
hung with good colored prints, with large photographs of old Flemish
or Italian pictures,--say, for example, Bellini's baby-angels playing
on musical instruments,--and with a few of the Japanese plant and
animal drawings already referred to. All these subjects would interest
and amuse even very young children; and there is no reason why a gay
Japanese screen, with boldly drawn birds and flowers, should not
afford as much entertainment as one composed of a heterogeneous
collection of Christmas cards, chromos, and story-book pictures, put
together without any attempt at color-harmony or composition.

Children's rooms should be as free as possible from all superfluous
draperies. The windows may be hung with either shades or curtains: it
is needless to have both. If curtains are preferred, they should be of
chintz, or of some washable cotton or linen. The reproductions of the
old _toiles de Jouy_, with pictures from Æsop and La Fontaine, or from
some familiar myth or story, are specially suited to children's rooms;
while another source of interest and amusement may be provided by
facing the fireplace with blue and white Dutch tiles representing the
finding of Moses, the story of David and Goliath, or some such
familiar episode.

As children grow older, and are allotted separate bedrooms, these
should be furnished and decorated on the same principles and with the
same care as the school-room. Pieces of furniture for these bedrooms
would make far more suitable and interesting presents than the costly
odds and ends so often given without definite intention. In the
arrangement of the child's own room the expression of individual taste
should be encouraged and the child allowed to choose the pictures and
casts with which the walls are hung. The responsibility of such
selection will do much to develop the incipient faculties of
observation and comparison.

To sum up, then: the child's visible surroundings form the basis of
the best, because of the most unconscious, cultivation: and not of
æsthetic cultivation only, since, as has been pointed out, the
development of any artistic taste, if the child's general training is
of the right sort, indirectly broadens the whole view of life.



XVI

BRIC-À-BRAC


It is perhaps not uninstructive to note that we have no English word
to describe the class of household ornaments which French speech has
provided with at least three designations, each indicating a delicate
and almost imperceptible gradation of quality. In place of bric-à-brac,
bibelots, _objets d'art_, we have only knick-knacks--defined by
Stormonth as "articles of small value."

This definition of the knick-knack fairly indicates the general level
of our artistic competence. It has already been said that cheapness is
not necessarily synonymous with trashiness; but hitherto this
assertion has been made with regard to furniture and to the other
necessary appointments of the house. With knick-knacks the case is
different. An artistic age will of course produce any number of
inexpensive trifles fit to become, like the Tanagra figurines, the
museum treasures of later centuries; but it is hardly necessary to
point out that modern shop-windows are not overflowing with such
immortal toys. The few objects of art produced in the present day are
the work of distinguished artists. Even allowing for what Symonds
calls the "vicissitudes of taste," it seems improbable that our
commercial knick-knack will ever be classed as a work of art.

  [Illustration: _PLATE LVI._

     BRONZE ANDIRON. VENETIAN SCHOOL.
     XVI CENTURY.]

It is clear that the weary man must have a chair to sit on, the
hungry man a table to dine at; nor would the most sensitive judgment
condemn him for buying ugly ones, were no others to be had; but
objects of art are a counsel of perfection. It is quite possible to go
without them; and the proof is that many do go without them who
honestly think to possess them in abundance. This is said, not with
any intention of turning to ridicule the natural desire to "make a
room look pretty," but merely with the purpose of inquiring whether
such an object is ever furthered by the indiscriminate amassing of
"ornaments." Decorators know how much the simplicity and dignity of a
good room are diminished by crowding it with useless trifles. Their
absence improves even bad rooms, or makes them at least less
multitudinously bad. It is surprising to note how the removal of an
accumulation of knick-knacks will free the architectural lines and
restore the furniture to its rightful relation with the walls.

Though a room must depend for its main beauty on design and furniture,
it is obvious that there are many details of luxurious living not
included in these essentials. In what, then, shall the ornamentation
of rooms consist? Supposing walls and furniture to be satisfactory,
how put the minor touches that give to a room the charm of
completeness? To arrive at an answer, one must first consider the
different kinds of minor embellishment. These may be divided into two
classes: the object of art _per se_, such as the bust, the picture, or
the vase; and, on the other hand, those articles, useful in
themselves,--lamps, clocks, fire-screens, bookbindings,
candelabra,--which art has only to touch to make them the best
ornaments any room can contain. In past times such articles took the
place of bibelots. Few purely ornamental objects were to be seen, save
in the cabinets of collectors; but when Botticelli decorated the
panels of linen chests, and Cellini chiselled book-clasps and
drinking-cups, there could be no thought of the vicious distinction
between the useful and the beautiful. One of the first obligations of
art is to make all useful things beautiful: were this neglected
principle applied to the manufacture of household accessories, the
modern room would have no need of knick-knacks.

Before proceeding further, it is necessary to know what constitutes an
object of art. It was said at the outset that, though cheapness and
trashiness are not always synonymous, they are apt to be so in the
case of the modern knick-knack. To buy, and even to make, it may cost
a great deal of money; but artistically it is cheap, if not worthless;
and too often its artistic value is in inverse ratio to its price. The
one-dollar china pug is less harmful than an expensive onyx lamp-stand
with moulded bronze mountings dipped in liquid gilding. It is one of
the misfortunes of the present time that the most preposterously bad
things often possess the powerful allurement of being expensive. One
might think it an advantage that they are not within every one's
reach; but, as a matter of fact, it is their very unattainableness
which, by making them more desirable, leads to the production of that
worst curse of modern civilization--cheap copies of costly horrors.

An ornament is of course not an object of art because it is
expensive--though it must be owned that objects of art are seldom
cheap. Good workmanship, as distinct from designing, almost always
commands a higher price than bad; and good artistic workmanship having
become so rare that there is practically no increase in the existing
quantity of objects of art, it is evident that these are more likely
to grow than to diminish in value. Still, as has been said, costliness
is no test of merit in an age when large prices are paid for bad
things. Perhaps the most convenient way of defining the real object of
art is to describe it as _any ornamental object which adequately
expresses an artistic conception_. This definition at least clears the
ground of the mass of showy rubbish forming the stock-in-trade of the
average "antiquity" dealer.

Good objects of art give to a room its crowning touch of distinction.
Their intrinsic beauty is hardly more valuable than their suggestion
of a mellower civilization--of days when rich men were patrons of "the
arts of elegance," and when collecting beautiful objects was one of
the obligations of a noble leisure. The qualities implied in the
ownership of such bibelots are the mark of their unattainableness. The
man who wishes to possess objects of art must have not only the means
to acquire them, but the skill to choose them--a skill made up of
cultivation and judgment, combined with that feeling for beauty that
no amount of study can give, but that study alone can quicken and
render profitable.

Only time and experience can acquaint one with those minor
peculiarities marking the successive "manners" of a master, or even
with the technical _nuances_ which at once enable the collector to
affix a date to his Sèvres or to his maiolica. Such knowledge is
acquired at the cost of great pains and of frequent mistakes; but no
one should venture to buy works of art who cannot at least draw such
obvious distinctions as those between old and new Saxe, between an old
Italian and a modern French bronze, or between Chinese peach-bloom
porcelain of the Khang-hi period and the Japanese imitations to be
found in every "Oriental emporium."

Supposing the amateur to have acquired this proficiency, he is still
apt to buy too many things, or things out of proportion with the rooms
for which they are intended. The scoffers at style--those who assume
that to conform to any known laws of decoration is to sink one's
individuality--often justify their view by the assertion that it is
ridiculous to be tied down, in the choice of bibelots, to any given
period or manner--as though Mazarin's great collection had comprised
only seventeenth-century works of art, or the Colonnas, the Gonzagas,
and the Malatestas had drawn all their treasures from contemporary
sources! As a matter of fact, the great amateurs of the past were
never fettered by such absurd restrictions. All famous patrons of art
have encouraged the talent of their day; but the passion for
collecting antiquities is at least as old as the Roman Empire, and
Græco-Roman sculptors had to make archaistic statues to please the
popular fancy, just as our artists paint pre-Raphaelite pictures to
attract the disciples of Ruskin and William Morris. Since the Roman
Empire, there has probably been no period when a taste for the best of
all ages did not exist.[36] Julius II, while Michel Angelo and Raphael
worked under his orders, was gathering antiques for the Belvedere
_cortile_; under Louis XIV, Greek marbles, Roman bronzes, cabinets of
Chinese lacquer and tables of Florentine mosaic were mingled without
thought of discord against Lebrun's tapestries or Bérain's arabesques;
and Marie-Antoinette's collection united Oriental porcelains with
goldsmiths' work of the Italian Renaissance.

Taste attaches but two conditions to the use of objects of art: that
they shall be in scale with the room, and that the room shall not be
overcrowded with them. There are two ways of being in scale: there is
the scale of proportion, and what might be called the scale of
appropriateness. The former is a matter of actual measurement, while
the latter is regulated solely by the nicer standard of good taste.
Even in the matter of actual measurement, the niceties of proportion
are not always clear to an unpractised eye. It is easy to see that the
Ludovisi Juno would be out of scale in a boudoir, but the discrepancy,
in diminishing, naturally becomes less obvious. Again, a vase or a
bust may not be out of scale with the wall-space behind it, but may
appear to crush the furniture upon which it stands; and since
everything a room contains should be regarded as a factor in its
general composition, the relation of bric-à-brac to furniture is no
less to be studied than the relation of bric-à-brac to wall-spaces.
Much of course depends upon the effect intended; and this can be
greatly modified by careful adjustment of the contents of the room. A
ceiling may be made to look less high by the use of wide, low pieces
of furniture, with massive busts and vases; while a low-studded room
may be heightened by tall, narrow commodes and cabinets, with objects
of art upon the same general lines.

It is of no less importance to observe the scale of appropriateness. A
bronze Pallas Athene or a cowled mediæval _pleureur_ would be
obviously out of harmony with the spirit of a boudoir; while the
delicate graces of old Saxe or Chelsea would become futile in library
or study.

Another kind of appropriateness must be considered in the relation of
objects of art to each other: not only must they be in scale as
regards character and dimensions, but also--and this, though more
important, is perhaps less often considered--as regards quality. The
habit of mixing good, bad, and indifferent in furniture is often
excused by necessity: people must use what they have. But there is no
necessity for having bad bric-à-brac. Trashy "ornaments" do not make a
room more comfortable; as a general rule, they distinctly diminish its
comfort; and they have the further disadvantage of destroying the
effect of any good piece of work. Vulgarity is always noisier than
good breeding, and it is instructive to note how a modern commercial
bronze will "talk down" a delicate Renaissance statuette or bust, and
a piece of Deck or Minton china efface the color-values of
blue-and-white or the soft tints of old Sèvres. Even those who set
down a preference for old furniture as an affectation will hardly
maintain that new knick-knacks are as good as old bibelots; but only
those who have some slight acquaintance with the subject know how wide
is the distance, in conception and execution, between the old object
of art and its unworthy successor. Yet the explanation is simple. In
former times, as the greatest painters occupied themselves with
wall-decoration, so the greatest sculptors and modellers produced the
delicate statuettes and the incomparable bronze mountings for vases
and furniture adorning the apartments of their day. A glance into the
window of the average furniture-shop probably convinces the most
unobservant that modern bronze mountings are not usually designed by
great artists; and there is the same change in the methods of
execution. The bronze formerly chiselled is now moulded; the iron once
wrought is cast; the patina given to bronze by a chemical process
making it a part of the texture of the metal is now simply applied as
a surface wash; and this deterioration in processes has done more than
anything else to vulgarize modern ornament.

It may be argued that even in the golden age of art few could have
walls decorated by great painters, or furniture-mountings modelled by
great sculptors; but it is here that the superiority of the old method
is shown. Below the great painter and sculptor came the trained
designer who, formed in the same school as his superiors, did not
attempt a poor copy of their masterpieces, but did the same kind of
work on simpler lines; just as below the skilled artificer stood the
plain artisan whose work was executed more rudely, but by the same
genuine processes. This explains the supposed affectation of those who
"like things just because they are old." Old bric-à-brac and furniture
are, indeed, almost always worthy of liking, since they are made on
good lines by a good process.

Two causes connected with the change in processes have contributed to
the debasement of bibelots: the substitution of machine for hand-work
has made possible the unlimited reproduction of works of art; and the
resulting demand for cheap knick-knacks has given employment to a
multitude of untrained designers having nothing in common with the
_virtuoso_ of former times.

It is an open question how much the mere possibility of unlimited
reproduction detracts from the intrinsic value of an object of art. To
the art-lover, as distinguished from the collector, uniqueness _per
se_ can give no value to an inartistic object; but the distinction,
the personal quality, of a beautiful object is certainly enhanced when
it is known to be alone of its kind--as in the case of the old bronzes
made _à cire perdue_. It must, however, be noted that in some
cases--as in that of bronze-casting--the method which permits
reproduction is distinctly inferior to that used when but one object
is to be produced.

In writing on objects of art, it is difficult to escape the charge of
saying on one page that reproductions are objectionable, and on the
next that they are better than poor "originals." The United States
customs laws have drawn a rough distinction between an original work
and its reproductions, defining the former as a work of art and the
latter as articles of commerce; but it does not follow that an article
of commerce may not be an adequate representation of a work of art.
The technical differences incidental to the various forms of
reproduction make any general conclusion impossible. In the case of
bronzes, for instance, it has been pointed out that the _cire perdue_
process is superior to that by means of which reproductions may be
made; nor is this the only cause of inferiority in bronze
reproductions. The nature of bronze-casting makes it needful that the
final touches should be given to bust or statue after it emerges from
the mould. Upon these touches, given by the master's chisel, the
expressiveness and significance of the work chiefly depend; and
multiplied reproductions, in lacking this individual stamp, must lack
precisely that which distinguishes the work of art from the commercial
article.

Perhaps the safest general rule is to say that the less the
reproduction suggests an attempt at artistic interpretation,--the more
literal and mechanical is its rendering of the original,--the better
it fulfils its purpose. Thus, plaster-casts of sculpture are more
satisfactory than bronze or marble copies; and a good photograph of a
painting is superior to the average reproduction in oils or
water-color.

The deterioration in gilding is one of the most striking examples of
the modern disregard of quality and execution. In former times gilding
was regarded as one of the crowning touches of magnificence in
decoration, was little used except where great splendor of effect was
desired, and was then applied by means of a difficult and costly
process. To-day, after a period of reaction during which all gilding
was avoided, it is again unsparingly used, under the mistaken
impression that it is one of the chief characteristics of the French
styles now once more in demand. The result is a plague of liquid
gilding. Even in France, where good gilding is still done, the great
demand for cheap gilt furniture and ornaments has led to the general
use of the inferior process. The prevalence of liquid gilding, and the
application of gold to furniture and decoration not adapted to such
treatment, doubtless explain the aversion of many persons to any use
of gilding in decoration.

In former times the expense of good gilding was no obstacle to its
use, since it was employed only in gala rooms, where the whole
treatment was on the same scale of costliness: it would never have
occurred to the owner of an average-sized house to drench his walls
and furniture in gilding, since the excessive use of gold in
decoration was held to be quite unsuited to such a purpose. Nothing
more surely preserves any form of ornament from vulgarization than a
general sense of fitness.

Much of the beauty and propriety of old decoration was due to the fact
that the merit of a work of art was held to consist, not in substance,
but in design and execution. It was never thought that a badly
designed bust or vase could be saved from mediocrity by being made of
an expensive material. Suitability of substance always enhances a work
of art; mere costliness never. The chryselephantine Zeus of Olympia
was doubtless admirably suited to the splendor of its surroundings;
but in a different setting it would have been as beautiful in marble.
In plastic art everything depends on form and execution, and the
skilful handling of a substance deliberately chosen for its
resistance (where another might have been used with equal fitness) is
rather a _tour de force_ than an artistic achievement.

These last generalizations are intended to show, not only that there
is an intrinsic value in almost all old bibelots, but also that the
general excellence of design and execution in past times has handed
down to us many unimportant trifles in the way of furniture and
household appliances worthy of being regarded as minor objects of art.
In Italy especially, where every artisan seems to have had the gift of
the _plasticatore_ in his finger-tips, and no substance was thought
too poor to express a good design, there are still to be found many
bits of old workmanship--clocks, _appliques_, terra-cottas, and carved
picture-frames with touches of gilding--that may be characterized in
the terms applied by the builder of Buckingham House to his collection
of pictures:--"Some good, _none disagreeable_." Still, no accumulation
of such trifles, even where none is disagreeable, will give to a room
the same distinction as the presence of a few really fine works of
art. Any one who has the patience to put up with that look of bareness
so displeasing to some will do better to buy each year one superior
piece rather than a dozen of middling quality.

Even the buyer who need consult only his own pleasure must remember
that his very freedom from the ordinary restrictions lays him open to
temptation. It is no longer likely that any collector will be
embarrassed by a superfluity of treasures; but he may put too many
things into one room, and no amount of individual merit in the objects
themselves will, from the decorator's standpoint, quite warrant this
mistake. Any work of art, regardless of its intrinsic merit, must
justify its presence in a room by being _more valuable than the space
it occupies_--more valuable, that is, to the general scheme of
decoration.

Those who call this view arbitrary or pedantic should consider, first,
the importance of plain surfaces in decoration, and secondly the
tendency of overcrowding to minimize the effect of each separate
object, however striking in itself. Eye and mind are limited in their
receptivity to a certain number of simultaneous impressions, and the
Oriental habit of displaying only one or two objects of art at a time
shows a more delicate sense of these limitations than the Western
passion for multiplying effects.

To sum up, then, a room should depend for its adornment on general
harmony of parts, and on the artistic quality of such necessities as
lamps, screens, bindings, and furniture. Whoever goes beyond these
essentials should limit himself in the choice of ornaments to the
"labors of the master-artist's hand."

FOOTNOTE:

[36] "A little study would probably show that the Ptolemaic era in
Egypt was a renaissance of the Theban age, in architecture as in other
respects, while the golden period of Augustus in Rome was largely a
Greek revival. Perhaps it would even be discovered that all ages of
healthy human prosperity are more or less revivals, and have been
marked by a retrospective tendency." _The Architecture of the
Renaissance in Italy_, by W. J. Anderson. London, Batsford, 1896.



CONCLUSION


In the preceding pages an attempt has been made to show that in the
treatment of rooms we have passed from the golden age of architecture
to the gilded age of decoration.

Any argument in support of a special claim necessitates certain
apparent injustices, sets up certain provisional limitations, and can
therefore be judged with fairness only by those who make due allowance
for these conditions. In the discussion of æsthetics such impartiality
can seldom be expected. Not unnaturally, people resent any attempt to
dogmatize on matters so generally thought to lie within the domain of
individual judgment. Many hold that in questions of taste _Gefühl ist
alles_; while those who believe that beyond the oscillations of
fashion certain fixed laws may be discerned have as yet agreed upon no
formula defining their belief. In short, our civilization has not yet
developed any artistic creed so generally recognized that it may be
invoked on both sides of an argument without risk of misunderstanding.

This is true at least of those forms of art that minister only to the
æsthetic sense. With architecture and its allied branches the case is
different. Here beauty depends on fitness, and the practical
requirements of life are the ultimate test of fitness.

If, therefore, it can be proved that the old practice was based upon a
clearer perception of these requirements than is shown by modern
decorators, it may be claimed not unreasonably that the old methods
are better than the new. It seems, however, that the distinction
between the various offices of art is no longer clearly recognized.
The merit of house-decoration is now seldom measured by the standard
of practical fitness; and those who would set up such a standard are
suspected of proclaiming individual preferences under the guise of
general principles.

In this book, an endeavor has been made to draw no conclusion
unwarranted by the premises; but whatever may be thought of the
soundness of some of the deductions, they must be regarded, not as a
criticism of individual work, but simply of certain tendencies in
modern architecture. It must be remembered, too, that the book is
merely a sketch, intended to indicate the lines along which further
study may profitably advance.

It may seem inconsequent that an elementary work should include much
apparently unimportant detail. To pass in a single chapter from a
discussion of abstract architectural laws to the combination of colors
in a bedroom carpet seems to show lack of plan; yet the transition is
logically justified. In the composition of a whole there is no
negligible quantity: if the decoration of a room is planned on certain
definite principles, whatever contributes line or color becomes a
factor in the composition. The relation of proportion to decoration is
like that of anatomy to sculpture: underneath are the everlasting
laws. It was the recognition of this principle that kept the work of
the old architect-decorators (for the two were one) free from the
superfluous, free from the intemperate accumulation that marks so many
modern rooms. Where each detail had its determinate part, no
superficial accessories were needed to make up a whole: a great
draughtsman represents with a few strokes what lesser artists can
express only by a multiplicity of lines.

The supreme excellence is simplicity. Moderation, fitness,
relevance--these are the qualities that give permanence to the work of
the great architects. _Tout ce qui n'est pas nécessaire est nuisible._
There is a sense in which works of art may be said to endure by virtue
of that which is left out of them, and it is this "tact of omission"
that characterizes the master-hand.

Modern civilization has been called a varnished barbarism: a
definition that might well be applied to the superficial graces of
much modern decoration. Only a return to architectural principles can
raise the decoration of houses to the level of the past. Vasari said
of the Farnesina palace that it was not built, but really born--_non
murato ma veramente nato_; and this phrase is but the expression of an
ever-present sense--the sense of interrelation of parts, of unity of
the whole.

There is no absolute perfection, there is no communicable ideal; but
much that is empiric, much that is confused and extravagant, will give
way before the application of principles based on common sense and
regulated by the laws of harmony and proportion.



INDEX


     Adam, ceiling ornaments of, 93

     Andirons, 84

     _Appliques_, in hall and staircase, 119

     Araldi's ceiling in the convent of St. Paul, Parma, 97

     Architrave of door, see Doorway;
       of mantel-piece, 82

     Arm-chair, modern, 128

     _Armoires_, old French and Italian, 117

     Ashby, Castle, Inigo Jones's stairs in, 111

     Aviler, d', his description of dining-room fountain, 158


     Ball-room, 137;
       in Italy, 138;
       Louis XIV, 139;
       lighting of, 140;
       chairs, 140

     Barry, Madame du, dining-room of, 156

     Bath-room, 172;
       in Pitti Palace, 172

     Bedroom, development of, 162;
       Renaissance, 162;
       Louis XIV, 162;
       XVIII-century, 163;
       cotton hangings in, 164;
       suite, plan of, 169;
       children's, 182

     Bedstead, history of, 163

     Belvédère, at Versailles, frescoes in, 42

     Bérain, ceiling arabesques of, 98

     _Bergère_, origin of, 7;
       design of, 128

     Bernini, his staircase in the Vatican, 108

     Bindings, decorative value of, 146

     Blinds, 73

     Blois, spiral stairs in court-yard of château, 109;
       _cabinet_ of Catherine de' Medici, 123

     Blondel, on doors, 58;
       on fireplaces, 74

     Book-cases, medieval, 145;
       in Catherine de' Medici's _cabinet_, 145;
       in France in the XVII century, 146;
       built into the wall, 147;
       in England, 149;
       modern, 148

     Books in the middle ages, 145;
       in the Renaissance, 146

     Bosse, Abraham, engravings of Louis XIII interiors, 69;
       examples of state bedrooms, 123

     Boudoir, 130;
       modern decoration of, 170

     Bramante, his use of the mezzanin floor, 5

     Breakfast-room, 160

     Bric-à-brac, definition of, 184;
       knowledge of, 187;
       superiority of old over new, 190

     Burckhardt, on medieval house-planning, 107, note

     Byfield, G., his stairs at Hurlingham, 111


     _Cabinet_, Italian origin of, 123;
       used in French Renaissance houses, 123;
       of Catherine de' Medici, book-cases in, 145

     Campbell's _Vitruvius Britannicus_, example of Palladian manner, 4;
       of English house-planning, 135

     Carpets, in general color-scheme, 29;
       choice of, 100;
       _Savonnerie_, 100;
       designs of, 101;
       stair-carpets, 102, 118;
       hall-carpets, 118

     Caserta, staircase in royal palace, 108

     Casino del Grotto, near Mantua, frescoes in, 42;
       ceilings in, 98

     Casts in vestibule, 105;
       in hall, 118;
       in school-room, 178

     Ceilings, 89;
       timbered, 90;
       in France and England, 91;
       Elizabethan, 92;
       Louis XIII, 92;
       Louis XV, 92;
       Louis XVI, 93;
       Adam, 93, 96;
       objections to wooden, 94;
       modern treatment of, 95;
       frescoed, 97

     Chambord, staircase at, 109

     _Chambre de parade_, 123

     Chandeliers, 140, 159

     Chanteloup, library of, 149

     Chantilly, stair-rail at, 113

     Chevening, Inigo Jones's stairs at, 111

     Cheverny, fireplace at, 74

     Chinese art, influence of, on stuff patterns, 166

     Chippendale's designs for grates, 81

     "Colonial" style, the, 81

     Color, use of, in decoration, 28;
       predominance of one color in each room, 28;
       color-schemes, 29

     Cornices, interior, Durand on, 94

     Cortile, Italian, modern adaptation of, 117

     Coutant d'Ivry's stair-rail in the Palais Royal, 113

     Curtains, mediæval and Renaissance, 69;
       in XVII and XVIII centuries, 70;
       muslin, 72


     Dado, the, 37;
       sometimes omitted in lobbies and corridors, 38

     Decoration and furniture, harmony between, 13;
       individuality in decoration, 17;
       graduated scheme of, 24

     "Den," furniture of, 152;
       decoration of, 153

     Dining-chairs, mediæval, 156;
       XVII century, 159;
       XVIII century, 159

     Dining-room, origin of, 155;
       in France, 154;
       in England, 155;
       furniture of, 156;
       French, XVIII century, 157;
       fountains in, 158;
       decoration of modern, 160;
       lighting of, 160;
       state, 160;
       heating of, 161

     Dining-table, mediæval, 156;
       modern, 161

     Donowell, J., his stairs at West Wycombe, 111

     Doors, 48;
       sliding, origin of, 49;
       double, 49;
       mediæval, 51;
       in palace of Urbino, 52;
       in Italy, 52-54;
       locks and hinges, 55;
       in the Hôtels de Rohan, de Soubise, and de Toulouse, 56;
       glass doors, 57;
       treatment in England, 57;
       mahogany, 58;
       panelling, principles of, 59;
       veneering, 61;
       concealed doors, 61;
       entrance-door, 103

     Doorway, proper dimensions of, 51, 60;
       treatment of, in Italy, 52;
       in France, 55;
       in England, 57

     Drawing-room, in modern town houses, 20;
       evolution of, in England, 122;
       in France, 122;
       origin of modern, 124;
       treatment of, in England and America, 124;
       furniture of, 127

     Dressing-room, 171

     _Duchesse_, 130

     Durand, J. L. N., on originality in architecture, 10;
       on interior cornices, 94


     Easton Neston, use of panel-pictures at, 46

     Entrance, treatment of, 103;
       entrance-door, 103


     Fenders, 85

     Fire-backs, 80

     Fire-boards, 86

     Fireplaces, 74;
       mediæval, construction of, 75;
       in Italy, 75;
       in France, 76;
       lining of, 80;
       American, 81;
       accessories of, 84

     Fire-screens, 86

     Floors, 89;
       of brick or stone, 99;
       marble and mosaic, in Italy, 99;
       parquet, 99;
       of vestibule, 104;
       of ball-room, 140

     Fontana, his staircase in the royal palace, Naples, 108

     Fountains in dining-rooms, 158

     Fresco-painting, in wall-decoration, 41;
       examples of, in Italy and France, 42;
       in ceiling-decoration, 97;
       in Italy, 97;
       in France, 98;
       in Italian gala rooms, 139

     Furniture, in the middle ages, 7;
       furniture and decoration, harmony between, 25;
       modern English and American, 26;

     XVIII century, in France and England, 27;
       in vestibule, 105;
       in hall, 117;
       in _salon de compagnie_, 125;
       in drawing-room, 127, 128;
       English, XVIII century, 129;
       in dining-room, 156;
       in bedroom, 171;
       in school-room, 180


     Gabriel, influence of, on ornamental detail, 56;
       on ceilings, 93;
       on stair-rails, 114

     Gala rooms, 134;
       uses of, 135;
       in Italy, 136

     Gallery, 137

     Genoa, royal palace, doors in, 54

     Gibbons, Grinling, carvings for panel-pictures, 46

     Gilding, deterioration of, 192

     Giulio Romano's frescoes in the Palazzo del T, 136

     _Grand'salle_, mediæval, 110

     Grates, 81

     Gwilt, his definition of _staircase_, 106


     Hall, 106;
       old English, 110;
       uses of, 115;
       modern treatment of, 115;
       decoration of, 117;
       furniture, 117;
       floor of, 118;
       lighting of, 119;
       prints and pictures in, 119

     Holkham, over-mantels at, 81

     Hôtel de Rohan, doors in, 56

           de Soubise, doors in, 56

           de Toulouse, doors in, 56

     Houghton Hall, doors in, 57, note

     House, Carlton, stair-rail in, 114

            Devonshire, stair-rail in, 114

            Norfolk, stair-rail in, 114


     Individuality in decoration, 17

     Isabella of Este's apartment at Mantua, doorways in, 52


     Jones, Inigo, his introduction of Palladian manner in England, 4,
         note;
       influence on ceiling-decoration, 92;
       on plan of English hall, 110;
       his stairs at Castle Ashby, 111;
       at Chevening, 111

     Juvara, his staircase in the Palazzo Madama, Turin, 108


     Lambrequin, origin of, 71

     Lamour, Jean, his wrought-iron work at Nancy, 112

     Lantern in vestibule, 105

     Laurano, Luciano da, palace of Urbino built by, 6

     Lebrun, door-locks in _Galerie d'Apollon_ designed by, 55

     Le Riche, frescoes of, in Belvédère, Versailles, 42

     Library, 145;
       in the university at Nancy, 149;
       of Louis XVI, at Versailles, 149;
       of Chanteloup, 149;
       modern, decoration of, 150

     _Lit de parade_, 122

     _Lit de repos_, 130

     Longhi, frescoes of, in Palazzo Sina, Venice, 143

     Louis XIII, windows, 69;
       ceilings, 92

     Louis XIV, modern house-furnishing dates from his reign, 8;
       style, characteristics of, 14;
       window-shutters, 69;
       influence on French, 77;
       mantels, 78;
       ceilings, 98;
       stair-rails, 112;
       ball-rooms, 140

     Louis XV style, characteristics of, 13;
       doors, 56;
       ceilings, 92;
       wrought-iron work, 112;
       stair-rails, 113

     Louis XVI style, characteristics of, 12;
       Gabriel's influence on, 56, 93;
       doors, 57;
       ceilings, 93;
       stair-rails, 114

     Luciennes, Madame du Barry's dining-room at, 157


     Mantegna's ceiling, palace of Mantua, 97

     Mantel-pieces, Italian Renaissance, 77;
       French Renaissance, 77;
       Louis XIV, 78;
       XVIII century, 79;
       American, 82;
       facing of, 83

     Mantua, doorways in palace, 52, 54;
       Mantegna's ceiling in, 97;
       _cabinet_ of Isabella of Este, 123

     Mario dei Fiori, 139

     Massimi alle Colonne, palace of, in Rome, 6

     Mezzanin, origin of, 5; treatment of, 6

     Ministère de la Marine, Paris, door in, 61

     Mirrors, use of, in over-mantel, 79;
       painted, in Borghese Palace, Rome, 139;
       in ball-rooms, 141

     Morelli's staircase in Palazzo Braschi, Rome, 108

     Morning-room, 132

     Mullions, use of, 66

     Music-room, 142;
       at Remiremont, 143

     Music-stand, 144

     Music-stool, 144


     Nancy, wrought-iron work at, 112;
       library in the university, 149

     Naples, staircase in royal palace, 108

     Niches, in hall and staircase, 117

     Nursery, 181


     Oberkampf, inventor of color-printing on cotton, 166

     Object of art, definition of, 187;
       reproductions of, 191

     Openings, placing and proportion of, 23;
       lines of, carried up to ceiling, 37, 52, 65, 74;
       treatment of, in rocaille style, 56

     Orders, use of, in wall-decoration, 36;
       application to doorways in Italy, 53;
       in France, 54;
       in England, 57;
       in ball-rooms, 139

     Originality in art, 9;
       J. L. N. Durand on, 10

     Over-doors, mediæval treatment of, 52;
       in Italy, 53;
       in France, 55;
       Louis XVI, 57

     Over-mantels, Renaissance, 76;
       use of mirror in, 79;
       XVIII-century treatment, 79;
       in England, 81


     Palais Royal, stair-rail in, 113

     Palazzo Borghese, Rome, painted mirrors in, 139

             Braschi, Rome, staircase in, 108

             Gondi, Florence, stairs in, 108

             Labia, Venice, frescoes in, 136

             Madama, Turin, staircase in, 108

             Massimi alle Colonne, Rome, date of, 6

             Piccolomini, at Pienza, staircase in, 108, note

             Pitti, Florence, bath-room in, 172

             Reale, Caserta, staircase in, 108

             Reale, Naples, staircase in, 108

             Riccardi, staircase in, 108, note

             Sina, Venice, frescoes in, 143

             del T, Mantua, frescoes in, 136

     Palladian window, 67

     Panelling, in Italy and north of the Alps, 40;
       wood, stone and stucco, 40, 42;
       subdivisions of, 43

     Parma, Araldi's ceiling in convent of St. Paul, 97;
       rocaille stoves in museum, 121

     Pavia, Certosa of, doorways in, 52

     _Perroquets_, 141

     Perugia, ceiling in the Sala del Cambio, 97

     Perugino's ceiling in the Sala del Cambio, Perugia, 97

     Peruzzi, Baldassare, his use of the mezzanin, 5

     Piano, design of, 143

     Pictures, proper background for, 45;
       mode of hanging, 46;
       in hall, 119;
       in dining-room, 160;
       in school-room, 180

     Picture-frames, selection of, 45

     Plan of house in relation to decoration, 23

     Plate-glass in windows, 67

     Pompadour, Madame de, dining-room fountain of, 158

     Pompeii, wall-frescoes of, 41

     Portière, use of, 59

     Presses, old English, 117

     Prints in hall, 120;
       in school-room, 180

     Privacy, modern indifference to, 22

     Proportion, definition of, 31;
       Isaac Ware on, 32

     Pyne's _Royal Residences_, examples of pictures set in panels, 46


     Rambouillet, Madame de, her influence on house-planning, 8

     Raphael, ceilings of, 97

     Remiremont, music-room at, 143

     Renaissance, characteristics of domestic architecture, 4;
       doors, 52;
       window-curtains, 69;
       mantels, 76, 77;
       ceilings, 90-92;
       French architects of, 109

     Rennes, Palais de Justice, carved wooden ceilings, 89

     Rugs, Oriental, 29, 100;
       modern European, 101


     _Salon à l'Italienne_, see Saloon

     _Salon de compagnie_, origin and use of, 123, 125;
       decoration and furniture of, 125;
       lighting of, 126

     _Salon de famille_, origin and use of, 123

     Saloon, adaptation of, in England by Inigo Jones, 111;
       introduction in France, 123;
       uses in Italy, 136;
       at Vaux-le-Vicomte, 137

     School-room, 172;
       decoration of, 178

     Screen in Tudor halls, 110

     Shobden Court, stairs in, 111

     Shutters, interior decoration of, 69;
       at Vaux-le-Vicomte, 69;
       in rooms of Mesdames de France, Versailles, 69;
       purpose of, 72

     Sideboard, mediæval, 156;
       in France, 157

     Smoking-room, 151

     Stairs, 106;
       development of, in Italy, 107;
       in the Palladian period, 108;
       in the XVII and XVIII centuries, 108;
       spiral, 109;
       in hall, in England, 111;
       construction of, in Italy, 112;
       in France, 112

     Stair-carpets, 118

     Staircase, meaning of term, 106;
       walls of, 117;
       in simple houses, 119;
       lighting of, 119

     Stair-rails, in Italy and France, 112;
       Louis XIV and XV, 113;
       Louis XVI and Empire, 113;
       Tudor and Elizabethan, 114;
       Palladian, in England, 114

     Stoves, use of, in hall, 120;
       examples of old stoves, 121;
       in dining-room, 161

     Stucco, use of, in decoration, 40;
       panelling, in Italy, 40;
       in ceilings, 90;
       in Elizabethan ceilings, 92;
       combined with painting, 97

     Stuff hangings, 44

     Stupinigi, frescoes at, 42;
       over-mantels at, 80

     Styles, essence of, 11;
       conformity to, 13

     Symmetry, definition of, 33;
       advantages of, 34


     Tapestry, use of, in northern Europe, 39;
       its subordination to architectural lines of room, 39

     Tiepolo, frescoes of, in the Villa Valmarana, 42;
       in the Palazzo Labia, 136

     Titian's "Presentation of the Virgin," doorway in, 53

     _Toiles de Jouy_, 166

     Trianon-sous-Bois, fountains in banqueting-gallery, 158


     Udine, Giovanni da, ceilings of, in collaboration with Raphael, 97

     Urbino, ducal palace of, 6;
       doors in, 52;
       fireplace in, 74;
       _cabinet_ of Isabella of Este, 123


     Vanvitelli's staircase at Caserta, 108

     Vatican, Bernini's staircase in, 108

     Vault, the Roman, influence of, on ceilings, 191

     Vaux-le-Vicomte, interior shutters at, 69;
       saloon at, 137

     Versailles, frescoes in Belvédère, 42;
       windows in rooms of Mesdames de France, 68;
       shutters in same, 69;
       library of Louis XVI, 148

     Vestibule, 104;
       furniture of, 105;
       lighting of, 105;
       absence of, in English house-planning, 110

     Villa, Italian, chief features of, 4, note

     Villa Giacomelli, at Maser, over-mantel in, 76
           Madama, in Rome, ceiling of loggia, 97
           Rotonda, near Vicenza, saloon in, 136
           Valmarana, near Vicenza, frescoes in, 42
           Vertemati, near Chiavenna, over-mantel in, 76;
             carved wooden ceiling in, 89

     Viollet-le-Duc, on doorways, 52, note;
       on mediæval house-planning, 109

     Voguë, Hôtel, at Dijon, 7


     Wall-decoration, 38

     Wall-papers, 44

     Walls, 31

     Ware, Isaac, on proportion, 32;
       on sliding doors, 49;
       his definition of staircase, 106

     West Wycombe, Donowell's stairs at, 111

     Windows, decorative value of, 64;
       dimensions of, 65;
       plate-glass in, 67;
       French or casement, 68;
       sash, 68;
       curtains, 69, 70;
       shutters, 69, 72;
       lambrequin, 71;
       muslin curtains, 72;
       blinds, 73

     Wood-box, 86





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