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Title: The Country House - With Designs
Author: Eastlake, Sir Charles Lock, Châteauneuf, Alexis de
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Country House - With Designs" ***

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      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      [oe] represents the oe ligature.

Friendly Contributions for 1842.


Edited by


J. Murray, Albemarle Street.

C. Whittingham, Tooks Court,
Chancery Lane.

      [Heading illustration]


Hitherto the Contributions have appeared in a small volume: but a
friend having furnished me with the Manuscripts of the following
Letters, in order to do justice to the beautiful designs, it has been
necessary to increase the size of the work. I trust that the merit of
the drawings will reconcile my subscribers to the increased price.

The observation on the style fittest for domestic architecture, the
description of the proposed house and the designs, are by Monsieur De
Chateauneuf; to these, Mr. Eastlake kindly added a very valuable Letter
on the Principles of Interior Decoration.

Monsieur De Chateauneuf is already known in this country by his elegant
work, ARCHITECTURA DOMESTICA, and his design for the new Royal
Exchange; all who have visited Hamburg must be well acquainted with the
refined taste which characterizes the buildings erected under his

It is but justice to M. De Chateauneuf to state that his letters were
written merely as matter of amusement, and arose out of a discussion
with a friend, as to which was the best style to be adopted for
domestic architecture; the letters have been translated from the
German, and unfortunately have not had the advantage of being submitted
to the writer for correction.

It is proposed that the next volume should contain a reprint of the
late Mr. Whately's admirable work on Modern Gardening; this it is hoped
will be considered as a fit companion to the "COUNTRY HOUSE." I take
this opportunity of thanking Mr. C. Knight and Mr. Jackson, who kindly
furnished me with the blocks from which the vignettes have been

      MARY FOX.

      [Decorative illustration]

      [Heading illustration]






      MRS. VALPY.

IT is now ten years since the first of these Schools was established,
and instruction is now afforded to nearly _one hundred and fifty_
children of the poorer class, who, but for this aid, would linger on in
idleness and ignorance.

The teaching is not merely confined to reading and writing; the main
object of the Schools is to inculcate habits of industry, and to teach
the principles and practice of the Christian Religion.

On the formation of the Schools, the plan of self-support was adopted,
each child contributing a weekly payment--Infants, 1_d._; Girls who are
taught to work, and the younger Boys, pay 2_d._; and the elder Boys,
who are taught to write, 3_d._ Although these payments go some way
towards the maintenance of the Establishment, yet the funds hitherto
have been found very inadequate, and the deficiency has been supplied
by voluntary contributions, the produce of bazaars, ladies' work, &c.
One of the most successful sources of profit has been a small Volume,
printed under the title of "Friendly Contributions;" the profits from
the sale of this Work have been applied to the support of the Schools:
three Volumes have already appeared, and the present forms the fourth.

It is conceived that it is unnecessary now to urge one word in favour
of the absolute necessity of affording education to all; the question
is narrowed to the consideration of what are the most efficient means
by which this great object is to be accomplished; it is hoped that,
notwithstanding the many excellent charities which claim the attention
of the benevolent, few will be found unwilling to aid an Institution
which, in addition to teaching to read and write, instils habits of
industry and inculcates the principles of Christianity amongst the
children of one of the poorest and most populous districts around


      THE QUEEN (five copies).
      THE QUEEN ADELAIDE (ten copies).
      H. R. H. THE DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER (five copies).
      MRS. BASSET.
      MRS. BLAKE.
      HON. R. CLIVE.
      DR. CHAMBERS (two copies).
      I. G. TIMURAN.
      MESSRS. COUTTS AND CO. (five copies).
      F. D. DANVERS, ESQ.
      HON. MISS FOX (two copies).
      COLONEL FOX (three copies).
      B. FRERE, ESQ.
      MRS. B. FRERE.
      J. B. FREELAND, ESQ.
      LADY E. GOWER.
      J. R. GOWAN, ESQ.
      J. R. GARDINER, ESQ.
      THE COUNTESS OF KERRY (two copies).
      LADY MAYO.
      MR. PANIZZI.
      F. PIGOU, ESQ.
      REV. J. LEWIS PETIT (two copies).
      MRS. V. SMITH.
      J. THOMSON, ESQ. (Clitheroe.)
      W. H. TINNEY, ESQ.
      REV. T. M. TREHERNE.
      R. VALPY, ESQ.
      MRS. VALPY.
      M. VANDE WEYER (two copies).
      R. WHITE, ESQ.
      J. WINTLE, ESQ.

      [Heading illustration]

      LETTER I.


AS I am about to build a new house, I have determined to avail myself
of your assistance, should it be convenient to you to give it. I do not
by so doing intend that it should be supposed I think that the many
very intelligent architects in this country are incapable of giving me
good advice; but independently of my friendship for you, and great
respect for your talents, I wish to consult one who is not likely to be
so much wedded to the routine of modern Italian villas, Elizabethan
houses, and thatched cottages, as is the case with most of our English
professors: not that I mean to say anything in disparagement of a
Palladian villa, always beautiful, though not always best suited to our
climate. I am also fully sensible of many of the beauties of the old
Elizabethan houses, and also of some of the imitations of them; and a
small thatched cottage is very pretty.

I shall begin by stating the sort of house we want, and give a short
description of the ground on which it is proposed to build it, in order
that you may in the first place, give your notions as to the site, and
the style which you would recommend. On the style, perhaps you would
give us your views in detail, pointing out, as far as your leisure and
inclination will permit, the merits of each, and which on the whole you

As regards the ground, we have no park, but sufficient extent of land
to make a large paddock very park-like: it would not suit our views to
have a park: the situation is not romantic; but as the ground is poor
and wild, we shall command more ornament than profit. To the north or
north-west there is a rising terrace, well sheltered with high trees;
this slopes down for about a quarter of a mile into the valley of the
Cray; the aspect is therefore south-east, and this comes best according
to the slope of the ground. If you prefer that the house should stand
high, you may have in front a good terrace of at least two hundred
yards long and eight feet high; if lower down the hill (half way), the
terrace will not be so good, but there will be better shelter from the
north wind, and at the back there will be rising ground, through which
the walks of the pleasure ground may be conducted, and still the house
will be well above the valley. In front, looking over this valley, and
across some fine orchards (for which Kent is celebrated) and some
waving fields of corn, there is a mass of wood on a rising hill, about
equal to the hill on which we are situated; on the right there is a
fine view of Knocholt beeches; in the valley there is the town of
Footscray, seen through the orchard at about half a mile distant, and
by a little dexterous cutting and levelling we shall be able to get a
glimpse of the small winding river.

On the right of the hill on which we are to build, there is a small
spring at present rising in some swampy ground covered with alders;
this we propose to clear, and shall be enabled, if you think it worth
while, to enlarge into a small sheet of water. With this general view,
you will see that we are well off as to aspect, have woods in the
distance, and a valley (of no great beauty indeed, but still a valley)
with a quiet stream, and this is always pleasing. I think it may be
considered as a fair average specimen of English scenery, such as is
met with in the southern counties.

Now as regards the house. There must be a good dining-room, a good
general morning room, which will serve as drawing-room, and a large
library; one or two small rooms, in which to receive persons on
business, &c. As regards bed-rooms, offices, &c. this will be matter of
future consideration, when we have settled the important matter of site
and style. I should, however, mention, that, as circumstances may make
it desirable to add to the size, it will be advisable that there should
be that irregularity in the plan as will admit of this, so that it may
be in the end, a house costing from £10,000 to £12,000.

With respect to the offices, I think we make a great mistake in
England, as we manage to hide them, and lose all the benefit of
increasing the size and importance of the house by these additions. I
know, however, this is a very difficult point to manage, and merely
throw it out for your consideration.

The general building material in this part of the country is brick,
though we are enabled, at no very great cost, to get some stone for
window or door frames, &c.

I have been reading a little about the sites of ancient villas, but
shall not trouble you with my views until I receive your answer:
recollect we have a bad and variable climate, though we go out as much
in the winter as summer; so that there must be at once shelter from the
sun for our short summer, and warmth and shelter during the long
winters and cold springs.

      H. B.

      [Decorative illustration]

      [Heading illustration]

      LETTER II.

FOR your letter, accept my thanks. It is doubly flattering to me, being
a foreigner, to be commissioned to make the designs for the country
house you intend to build. Yet while I derive great satisfaction from
the task, I am impressed with the difficulties attending it, one of
which is, that I am at present prevented by business from discussing
the matter with you in person, and am therefore compelled to put my
ideas upon paper. Simple as the commission appears, it however involves
considerations of some moment, and which render it necessary that I
should previously state to you my opinion in detail in regard to the
style I propose to adopt. I have not forgotten what you once said to
me, namely, that in order to make himself intelligible to others, it is
essential that the artist should be clear as to his own meaning. I even
suspect that opinions once defined, if not clearly and sincerely put
down, may lead to misapprehension, and (inasmuch as they commit the
person who gives them) to the misleading of the artist himself. You
invite me, however, to give my opinion, and having freely stated the
difficulties of the undertaking, I begin with more confidence.

What then, with a view to your individual taste, is the style I would
recommend as most suitable for the intended situation and purpose? And
if such a question is now become not an uncommon one, you must allow
that, sixty years ago, no one would have thought of proposing it to an
architect for his consideration. Every architect would then have at
once answered it by saying, "In that style which is in general use, and
according to my own particular views of it." Or during any of the
various epochs of the art, would any one have thought of suggesting to
a Greek, an Italian, or native of the north of Europe, &c. to build in
any other style than that belonging to their respective countries? It
ought also to be borne in mind, that if we occasionally meet with an
intermixture of styles, it is only in buildings of _transition
periods_, during the change from one mode to another; and such periods
were of only short duration, because the previous style had already
outlived itself. Circumstances are now totally altered. We recognize
and practically adopt various styles indiscriminately: nor is it
difficult to explain how it happens that we now employ one and then
another. For this, two reasons may be assigned: the first (a very
meritorious one) is, that we with a generalizing view, anxiously study
and investigate the most difficult examples of art. The second reason
however, is of a very unsatisfactory nature, which is that in our weak
hands no style has been so naturalized among us as to constitute a
permanent canon by which to regulate the modifications of any and every
architectural purpose. This is the cause of that indecision of style
which manifests itself more or less in modern edifices, and of
that changeableness of taste which has hitherto hindered us from
establishing the art upon fixed principles, regulated according to the
high requisites which our modern cultivation requires.

We seem to be of opinion that variety of character is attainable only
by variety of style: hence our Museums are classically _antique_, our
churches after the mode of the middle ages, and so forth, according as
the buildings happen to belong to the class in which any particular
period was most distinguished for buildings of that class. The
character of such examples strikes us by its expressiveness; nor do we
find it difficult, with models before us that we are now acquainted
with and understand, to produce the same kind of effect and expression
by merely copying their physiognomy and style. He, however, who is well
grounded in the study, is aware that at different periods the art was
treated according to its own principles as resulting from different
modes of culture; and that consequently the adoption of a style
previously discarded, though it may suit the vitiated taste of the
artist, as the _haut gout_ pleases the fastidious palate of the
Epicure, yet it can never be pleasing to a really cultivated taste. You
may think me somewhat fantastical, but it appears to me that we cannot
read Homer with perfect relish in a saloon à la Louis Quatorze, or
Shakespeare beneath the roof of a Grecian impluvium; and that it is
only where the character of the surrounding forms and objects in some
degree accord, at least do not harshly contrast with our mental
occupation, that we can fully abandon ourselves to the imaginings of
genius. I might, however, without impropriety, substitute "_character_"
for "_style_" in the question you put to me, and my answer would then
be: Let it be as noble and as cheerful as possible. Still the making a
distinction between style and character does not entirely get rid of
the difficulty; for a person who is as intelligent as you are in
matters of art will say, "Even if you hit the character, the mere
_desire_ to invent an appropriate style does not of itself satisfy me,
and on this account I wish you to state more explicitly which of former
styles you intend mainly to select." This I will now attempt to do, and
begin by stating it as my opinion, that the most perfect architectural
style is that which admits at the same time of a refined style both of
sculpture and of painting:--that which, while it serves as the vehicle
of graceful embellishment, can maintain an equal excellence in itself.
Such, as it appears to me, is the ideal which an architect of the
present day ought to keep in his mind's eye. Yet before we proceed to
inquire which of the principal styles we are acquainted with possesses
such a quality in the most eminent degree, it will be proper to
consider what is the kind of relationship which the three separate arts
of architecture, painting, and sculpture, bear to each other.

According to the usual metaphor, the consanguinity is that of
sisterhood. Yet in my opinion this is somewhat incorrect. In its origin
and development every organic style of architecture has preceded the
other two arts, consequently the relationship in which it stands to
them may more properly be termed maternal, it being under her fostering
protection that they have afterwards grown up: nor would it be
difficult to exemplify this sort of connexion between the three arts by
instances taken from different styles of architecture; and one who has
applied himself to studying the motives and principles governing the
formation of those different styles, will easily follow me in my

The two daughter arts were unknown to, or did not exist for the
earliest Asiatic architecture; on which account, imposing as its
gigantic remains are, they oppress the mind by the feeling they excite
of stern and monstrous vastness. In the Egyptian style the growth of
the children arts appears to have been stunted and repressed by the
servitude in which they were kept; nor have any later race or nation
attempted to rival the massiveness of its edifices, tattooed over with

It is only in the genuine architecture of ancient Greece itself, and in
the Italian style of the fifteenth century, that we meet with all the
three arts growing up to completeness together, and as is universally
acknowledged, brought to a very high degree of refinement and

Notwithstanding the long continued progressive formation and manifold
development of Gothic architecture, that style failed to attach to, and
as it were to incorporate with itself the two kindred arts, which were
checked both by unfavourableness of climate, and by war and political
disturbances. Architecture was therefore compelled to trust chiefly to
its own power and resources, employing sculpture and painting merely as
subordinate decoration. And who shall say that this style, so full of
creative power, would not have preserved itself more pure, have avoided
falling into the cold and gloomy on the one hand, the bizarre and
overloaded on the other, could it have availed itself of the assistance
of sculpture and painting, so that they should have accompanied it in
all the varieties of its times and developments? This was to an extent
the case with Arabian architecture,[1] which, both in regard to the
dominion it obtained and its organization, has many points of
similarity with the nearly contemporary Gothic style, notwithstanding
the marked distinctions which prevail between them. This reminds me of
the remark of a poetical friend, who once said to me, "Like a rainbow
on the horizon of art, Gothic architecture stretches itself across
Europe from Byzantium to Portugal; while Arabian architecture may be
compared to its reflection, somewhat flattened however, commencing from
the same point, and crossing along the north coast of Africa till it
reaches Spain: or to a reflection in the water, whose wavy surface
occasions some little difference of appearance; and in fact we behold
both styles united together in the amphibious city of Venice." This
simile would be more literally appropriate had the uses to which the
two styles were applied been more nearly alike.

  [1] As regards _Arabian architecture_, the parent art may be said
  to have been entirely childless, depending entirely on its own
  resources, discarding all representation of animal life, whether in
  painting or sculpture.

With respect to modern architecture, it may be said that it has quite
rejected the services of the other two arts, and, as I fear, greatly to
its own detriment; while these latter arts, notwithstanding the
eminence they have attained apart from architecture, are not so solidly
united as they otherwise would be, nor capable of so completely
developing their powers, had the union of the three been complete.

It is well known that, owing to the fetters imposed upon them in Egypt
by the religion of the people and its priesthood, it was only in Europe
that sculpture and painting could at different epochs attain to
maturity. But it is not perhaps so generally known or considered, that
it is one characteristic mark of European architecture, that it has at
all times, whether those of its progress and advancement, or its
decline, availed itself of natural forms, both vegetable and animal,
for purposes of decoration; while the Asiatic styles were confined to
geometrical figures for the ornaments.

The above cursory glance at the history of the art, may at least serve
to shew how incumbent it is upon the architect of the present day to
make himself acquainted with the creative power and processes of his
art, by studying them as they actually manifest themselves at different
epochs, and according to the different views and purposes to which the
art was applied. By so doing, however, he is in some danger of being
worked upon by conflicting impressions, occasioned by the diversity of
styles and the opposite tastes they exhibit. Yet, unless I am greatly
mistaken, the whole system of the art, as developed in the different
styles, must henceforth have considerable influence upon our modern

Limiting our views for the present to those architectural productions
in which a union with the other arts is more directly attainable, we
find Grecian or early Italian architecture the predominating style. The
last grafted on the former, may be said to be more or less complete in
the greater or less proportion in which it derives its nourishment from
the parent stem. If we look, for example, to the progress or course of
painting in Italy, that art flourished there in proportion to the
nourishment it derived from the antique. The works of Mantegna, M.
Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael bear testimony to this; and
those great men would probably have attained to a higher degree of
excellence, had they been as well acquainted with the sculptures of the
Parthenon, and the Greek bronzes, as they were with the works of the
Romans. Most assuredly a knowledge of the architecture of the time of
Pericles, or of that of Pompey, would not have been without its
influence upon such men as Bramante, San Gallo, and Baldassore Peruzzi,
nor have failed of being turned to account by them: observe, however,
that this remark is not intended to depreciate what they actually
accomplished, nor to disparage the style which they formed. These
explorers had unquestionably discovered new veins in the rich mine
which had been opened by the Greeks; as the Romans, who were the
immediate imitators of the Greeks, had already extended the one first
of all worked. In all subsequent operations, as in what the French term
the _Renaissance_ style, nothing more was done than to go on
excavating, seldom, however, with sufficient pains or caution, so as to
separate completely the gold from the dross. When, therefore, I propose
to make a design in the "Greek style," I wish you to observe that I
understand by this term a striving after the purity of this canon, but
at the same time with a reserved right to the free use of those modes
and motives with which later European architecture supplies us. If a
determinate name must be given to the style, I propose I should call
it, "the Renaissance style of the nineteenth century."

But many may say, "How conveniently he contrives to get rid of the
Gothic architecture!" while others will exclaim, "According to such
principles, a very pretty sort of medley is likely to be produced." In
answer to the first set of objections I reply: "If you can introduce
modern sculpture and painting into Gothic architecture without
prejudice to _them_ or _it_, I will say that you have attained a great
end." To the others I should reply: "You misunderstand or pervert my
meaning. I have not spoken of a merely mixing up of different styles,
but of compounding them together; between which two processes there is,
I conceive, a wide difference, the ingredients being merely put
together in the one case, without losing their respective qualities;
while in the other they amalgamate with each other, and produce an
entirely new combination: and it is in accomplishing combinations of
this kind that the power of genuine art manifests itself; and the
distinction may be likened to the difference between a mechanical and a
chemical combination. Nor are some compound styles of architecture less
beautiful than others which are quite unmixed."

I know not whether these remarks will prove of much service to you, but
I trust they will at least enable you, after seeing what are my views
generally on the subject, to make your own suggestions in return for my
further guidance.

      I am, &c.

      A. C.

      [Heading illustration]



THANKS for your letter in answer to mine, or rather in part answer to
it, for you have confined yourself solely to a discussion of the style
to be selected. A subject which has hitherto, I think, not been
sufficiently considered; at least in England. I believe that amateurs
order a Grecian Palladian, or Elizabethan house without having much
speculated on what are the different merits or demerits of each, but
merely with reference to some one example which may be in their
recollection, and which may have pleased them; or what is oftener the
case, they submit to be guided by the bent of their architect, who in
general, are wedded to some particular favourite style. Thus, we have
Mr. ----, all Gothic and Elizabethan; Mr. ----, all Italian, with a
dash of the Byzantine, Renaissance, &c.

I am, I own, much pleased as well as instructed by this discussion, and
I hope you will not consider me as intruding too much upon your time
and patience, if I venture to seek further elucidations of some of the
positions in your letter. I quite agree it is clear that as yet we have
a style to choose, and that in future ages, no architect will be able
to apply any definite character to our present mode of building. I
must, however, premise what indeed my letter will fully prove, that
your partiality has induced you to give me credit for greater knowledge
in matters of art, especially as regards architecture, than I possess.

I agree that the style which best admits of being combined with the
sister arts (or filial if you please) of painting and sculpture, must
be the one to adopt, and that it is clear their union is always a
mutual improvement. It seems you come to the conclusion that the pure
Greek style of architecture is that which best admits of this union.
Now, as regards domestic architecture, I am not sure that I have any
very clear perception of what is pure Greek style. I suspect our notion
as regards a house of pure Greek style, is a cube of building of mock
stone with a portico, if a large house; or if a small one, with some
thin paste-like pilasters, and a certain number of parallelogram holes
cut into the walls for windows, with two smaller cubes for wings; and,
in the inside, a repetition of the outside, in the shape of the rooms;
that is, two oblong rooms for dining and drawing rooms, with an oblong
hall placed the other way: the usual accompaniment of folding doors,
and two or three small and often dark rooms at the back. There are
certainly some changes rung on these forms, but the theme is always the
same. I call Sir R. Smirties' Post Office a gigantic small Grecian
house. I am aware that the Palladian improvements, or additions, (which
ever you will) have multiplied the resources, and have given us much to
delight; namely, the circular dome, pillars, and gallery, and the
consequent change in the disposition of the apartments. I mention these
points to let you see the nakedness of the land, and trust to your
kindness for better instruction.

You assume that the Grecian style is the best adapted to pictorial and
sculptural decoration, but I do not see the reason of this; in fact,
without a more precise definition of what you mean by Greek style, as
adapted to domestic architecture, I do not see how this can be shewn.
You state that the Gothic style is not so well adapted to the union
with the filial arts, and that hitherto when so used they were
subordinate only. I shall be the more ready to agree when I have some
further exposition on this point. Though not so distrustful as our
Royal Society who adopt "_Nullius in verba_" as their motto, yet cling
to an old monkish law maxim of Lord Coke; I may say of your position
what he says of law, "_Lex plus laudatur quando ratione probatur_." I
am aware that the Gothic churches are often overloaded with ornament,
and that the sculpture often seems as if merely stuck on, and the
pictures are hung up as ornaments, not as part and parcel of the
building; and, I believe, that tapestry was often called in aid to
decorate our cathedrals, and with great effect; but is it of necessity
so? Are there no exceptions? at all events, it is not so in the
Byzantine style, which approaches so nearly to the Gothic; and, as
regards the Arabian, (take for instance the Alhambra) the fair
daughters unite in great harmony with their beautiful mother. You have
besides omitted, I think, one point in which Gothic architecture has
been greatly aided by the pictorial art, namely, the painted windows:

    With hues romantic tinged the gorgeous pane,
    To fill with holy light this wondrous fane,
    To aid the builder's model richly rude,
    By no Vitruvian symmetry subdued.

I begin to feel that it is probable I have entirely mistaken what you
mean by Grecian style, and that it does not preclude the use of arches,
groined ceilings, domes, &c. I have been the more diffuse on this point
because I own I have a leaning to what we have called ELIZABETHAN;
conceiving, whether true or not, that there is more fitness in it for
domestic architecture than in the Grecian style; that the regularity
and repetition of form, which in a great building is delightful, in a
small one does not please from the diminutive size of the objects. And,
again, as regards the material and colour, as we use Grecian style in
this country, the material is either white stone or white stucco, which
in our climate appears cold, and does not give half so much the notion
of warmth and comfort as the fine rich-toned red brick; and what refers
to the exterior, is perhaps equally applicable to the interior.
Although in a building on a grand scale the mind is pleased with
symmetry and regularity, "in little" this is irksome, and gives the
notion of poverty, in fact, too soon lets you into the secret of the
whole house; there is no surprise, no discovery to make. Shew me a
Palladian villa a mile off, and I could draw you the plan of the inside
at once. Indeed, I could walk blindfolded into the drawing-room,
dining-room, library, and boudoir, and go up to bed in the best
bed-room, without a guide, or a light. Here are no

    Rich windows that exclude the light,
    And passages that lead to nothing.

A good deal also, I am willing to own, arises from association and
national prejudices; some of our most delightful houses are built in
this style, and they have, at all events within, signs of harmony in
the style of decoration, and in the accessories. The gardens and
out-buildings were often made more appropriate and better suited to the
house than in any other architectural attempts that we have made; and,
I believe, no Englishman ever fancied building a house that did not
have the large bay window and the large fireplace (against all
principles of good grates and Arnott's stoves I admit,) and the low
groined passage and the panelled hall in his mind. But it seems you
think it most difficult

    ----------"To reconcile
    The willing graces to the Gothic pile,"

or rather say coy than willing. I beg you will not suppose I am
opposing your views, all I mean is to canvass and to be sure that I
understand them.

I have to repeat that I agree entirely that the style is best which is
most susceptible of uniting the three arts; but I only wish to know why
the Greek is most susceptible; and what is the kind of sculpture and
painting you wish to unite; in order to see that such a union is
suitable to our climate, and can be obtained at a reasonable cost, for
you must bear in mind that I want to build a country-house, not a

It is a long time since I was in Italy, and when I was there I did not
pay so much attention to architecture as I should do, if I were to go
over the same ground again, now that I have got a house to build; but
there is a strong impression on my mind that the other parts of Europe
may rival or surpass us in palaces and grand architectural monuments,
yet that there is no country which would present so many good hints in
domestic architecture as England; always referring to the great points,
convenience, and comfort; for I own, as _fitness_ is the guiding
principles of all perfection in building, I conceive it essential in
purely domestic architecture, that a character of fitness for
habitation and comfort should always be prominent.

I am a great admirer of Balzac, and I think one of his best
descriptions of still life is the account of the house in his
"Recherche de l'absolu;" it is so good that I should be tempted, if it
were not too long for a letter, to copy and send it to you as a model,
if not of what a house should be, at least of how one should be

      Yours, &c.

      H. B.

  [2] Unfortunately these letters were written long before the
  appearance of Mr. Fonnereau's very intelligent and instructive
  Observations on Architecture were printed.

      [Decorative illustration]

      [Heading illustration]



BUT for the trouble of answering your letter I should have been much
amused by your remarks upon what, at no very distant period, used to
pass for Grecian architecture; but thank heaven we have passed over
that barren tract of human invention. Continuing in the same strain,
you would fain have me believe you are one of those pilgrims to the
shrine of art, who fancy they have now luckily gained a verdant and
flowery oasis; or rather that they have discovered the true Eden
itself, which it seems is no other than the Elizabethan style; and to
complete all, you treat me as the evil spirit, harbouring deadly enmity
against this fair paradise.

It is easy enough for you to give your opinions off-hand on these
matters, but with us the case is different: the architect finds it less
difficult to exhibit his ideas in his design, than to explain all the
motives which lead to it,--how the ideas exactly arose, and how far
they may have been influenced, either by our studies or our fancy. I
must be allowed, therefore, to return to my former examination of the
subject of style, and my deduction from such examination.

You will call to mind that the principal different manners which have
prevailed in Europe, are, first the Greek style, and the additions made
to it by the Roman adaptation of it, then the Gothic in its different
periods, and the different treatments of such periods in the different
countries; and under this period may be added the partial adoption of
the Arabian style in the south. Then this great æra of the revival or
Renaissance style, as it seemingly arose in Italy, France, Germany,
Flanders, and England. This being, as regards England, your boasted
Elizabethan style.

It is only very recently that my attention has been bestowed on that
style which in the north of Europe succeeded to the Gothic; whereas,
till then, it had been all along imagined that the Italians alone had
comprehended the spirit of the antique, and been able to revive it in a
newer form of their own; an error against which we should be upon our
guard. Why should we not recognize the various modes of treating the
antique, as we find them in different countries; and admit them to be
all emanations from one common source and principle. In like manner,
the Gothic principle or style was in common adopted and worked out
through the whole of Europe, and was in common consentaneously
abandoned wherever it had flourished; and the elements of ancient
architecture became as commonly substituted for it. And this
abandonment of the Gothic, it may be remarked, is the first instance in
all history, when the creative power of a people (and, by people, I do
not mean a single nation, but the whole of Christendom, united by one
common religion) has survived the style of architecture, originally
invented and brought to perfection by themselves.

This last subject would be an interesting and fertile one to
investigate, and would throw considerable light on the development of
the human mind throughout Europe. Such consideration, even confined
merely as regards architecture, would be one too far from the present
subject now to discuss. Since, however, the Gothic as well as the
revival of the antique principle have extended over all Europe, in
order to attain a knowledge of either, we should not confine ourselves
to isolated specimens of particular countries. It is only by taking a
survey of the entire field of Gothic architecture, that we can rightly
comprehend its varied powers. Is it possible I would ask, from the mere
acquaintance with English Gothic to imagine, or from its elements to
compose a tower like that of the Minster of Freiburg in Brisgau, or a
loggia of similar character to that called the Loggia da Orcagna, at
Florence? On the other hand an acquaintance with continental Gothic
alone will furnish no idea of the peculiar character of the English
perpendicular class. The Renaissance style which is fraught with so
much plasticity and variety, springs also but from one root. In like
manner as it is impossible for a botanist to understand all the species
of one particular family without tracing all that are found in
different parts of the globe; so too, is it impossible to become
acquainted with the power of any one style of architecture without a
similar comparative study of all its specimens, as exhibited in the
works of different nations which have adopted it. To the north of
Europe must justly be allowed the merit of having exhausted the whole
circuit of Gothic architecture, and the application of its principles;
this was certainly not accomplished in Italy. It is therefore on this
side of the Alps that we observe many of the motives and principles of
the Gothic retained to a very late period not disturbed, as was the
case in Italy, by types from the antique. At the same time it must be
admitted, that when the style founded upon this latter, began to find
its way northwards, the two sister arts, painting and sculpture, though
they followed in the train of architecture, did not strike root very
deeply, but were for the most part treated capriciously and
mechanically as mere handicrafts; and this was especially the case in
England. It is therefore remarked with some truth, that the Renaissance
style is characterized in Italy by greater delicacy and beauty than
elsewhere; in France and the Low countries by greater richness, and in
England by capriciousness and extravagance. Lest, however, the term
itself, Renaissance, should be thought too loose and vague, it may be
proper to define it as used to signify "that style which everywhere
succeeded immediately to the Gothic."

In Italy, this first period of the proper application of the antique
terminates with the tendency of Michael Angelo, to destroy the true
proportions of his buildings by colossal details; on the other parts of
the continent it disappeared in consequence of the diffusion of M.
Angelo's taste by the Jesuits; and in England it terminated at the time
of Wren. Accordingly, this architectural period extends very little
beyond a single century, commencing in other countries about the time
when it was already on the decline in Italy.

In what I have just been stating, I must be understood to allude to one
uniform aim, namely, the free appropriation and adaptation of the
elements of the antique style to modern purposes; consequently it is
evident that the so-called Elizabethan style is only one of the links
of a progressive series of such attempts. You must, therefore, admit
that architecture which is capable of producing independent works out
of its own resources, and from its own principles, is degraded to what
is little better than mere decoration and scene painting, when,
(apprehensive of falling into contradiction and want of harmony, unless
it retains all the individual particulars of extant examples,) it
timidly strives to imitate the dialect of a single province. How short
a time, however, must the impression produced by such mummery last! and
how long the impression of a work of architecture is destined to
remain! It is because we are ashamed of, or mistrust the results of our
own study and conviction, that we venture to exhibit ourselves to
posterity, merely as the copyists of examples; the repute of which is
already established, and which may be learnt and repeated by rote? At
various periods men have shewn themselves either barbarous or puerile
in their notions on art; yet never till now such slavish copyists, such
mere plagiarists, such mocking-birds in style. You may judge by this
sally in what an ill humour I am, at finding that you would shut me up
in a cage and there make me sing. If you examine your Elizabethan
architecture with some little critical attention, you will hardly fail
to perceive that, with all its richness of expression, the elementary
sounds are no more harmonious than the crowing of a cock, or the
braying of an ass.

All this concerns merely the STYLE, as style; for in other respects we
often meet with much that deserves praise; convenient arrangement, and
contrivance, striking effect, and much cleverness of construction and
execution, although so far from being pure or refined, the taste
displayed may be decidedly vulgar and coarse. I freely confess that the
merits I have just mentioned, were retained in the architecture of the
north of Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: I say
retained, because the Gothic style that was then abandoned, had been
treated with masterly and skill, and shewed disciplined artificers in
all that belongs to mechanical execution; consequently, the ability
thus produced had only to employ itself upon a fresh task. At the end
of the last century, on the contrary, so completely had every thing
like a school of the art disappeared, that at the University of
Gottingen, architecture was taught as supplementary to the elementary
course of mathematics. Is it then to be wondered at that we should have
been filled with stupid wonder at the sublime works then newly brought
to light, or that we should have set about copying them for the nonce,
out of the affectation of classical purity, but without bestowing any
study on the peculiar motives to be detected in them, or on the
necessary alterations to be made in consequence of new exigences?

If we allow that as far as it proceeded, Grecian architecture is
stamped by perfect beauty, it is of little moment to our argument
whether it was so comprehensive as it might have been, and had
sufficiently developed itself for those purposes which we now more
especially require; since the perfection it did actually attain in the
direction it took, ought to be sufficient to inspire the artist. It was
not necessary that the latter should surrender up the freedom belonging
to him as such, and confine himself to following Grecian motives and
intentions. In fact, the peculiar charm,--the grace and freshness of
Grecian architecture become withered as soon as we begin to treat it
according to dry systematic rules. The Vitruvius, capable of
legislating for it according to its genius and true spirit perhaps is
not yet born! For indulging at such length in these somewhat abstract
remarks upon style alone, I must again entreat your pardon. You ask for
some more distinct and explicit ideas on the subject; and are
apparently, like many others, of opinion, that the remains of a few
temples, such as we behold in Stuart and Revett, comprise nearly the
whole of Greek architecture. The chief point for our present
consideration is, how far it had accommodated itself to buildings for
domestic purposes: and here I must remind you that Pliny's description
of his villas are still extant. It must, indeed, be confessed that
those two residences do not belong to the epoch of Pericles; yet they
belong nevertheless to that same series of actual Greek plans and
constructions which have been preserved to us at Pompeii and
Herculaneum, and which Sir W. Gell's tasteful delineations have
rendered so familiar to all. Many remains of the same class in the
vicinity of Rome, and more especially in the Golfo di Gaeta, at
Puzzoli, and in the environs of Naples, sufficiently attest the fancy
and variety with which the ancients availed themselves of the
conditions imposed by peculiarities of ground and locality,--contrived
to combine the advantages of coolness and shade on the one hand, with
the glow of sunshine on the other; to provide a frame and foreground
for the prospect from the house; and to produce happily imagined
effects and picturesqueness of character by means of the irregularity
and declivity of the ground.

Each of those ancient villas presents us with a new idea, and may be
taken as an architectural study. Look, for instance, at those examples
of the kind on the Lake of Albano and the Gulf of Gaëta, where the
dwelling itself is connected with grottoes offering cool retreats,
either for sitting in or for the purpose of baths, and upon entering
which the visitor is so fascinated by the magic effect of reflected
light from the water, that he almost fancies the whole scene to be a
visionary and unearthly one. Water, it may be observed, either gushing
in a stream, or exhibiting an expanded mirror-like surface, appears to
have been considered by the ancients indispensable to the charm of a
villa residence. In both the destroyed cities, even the smallest town
houses offered upon entering them the reflection of the sky on the
surface of the water contained in the basin of the impluvium. In larger
dwellings, water was introduced more abundantly, and also in greater
variety of modes; and residences upon the coast were built out quite
into the sea. Besides much else that they have derived from the
ancients, the modern Italians have retained this fondness for the
combination of water and architecture, as many of their villas testify.
For examples of the kind I refer you to the Villa Madama near Rome, and
also to several at Frescati; and yet there the water and the
architecture are not so intimately connected as in the villas and
houses of the ancients. The climate of the north, in a great measure,
prevents our availing ourselves of water as a means of producing
reflection of light in the interior; but we may imitate this principle
in a due arrangement of light and shade, and also in some cases by the
use of mirrors in place of water.

Another very great, though little regarded point of excellence and
architectural effect in the latter consists in the covered ambulatories
and porticoes, which, indeed, were intended chiefly as a defence
against heat and sun, yet recommend themselves equally to us, as
affording protection from rain and wind. Nevertheless it is rarely but
in cloisters that we find this architectural convenience retained.
Great attention seems also to have been paid by the ancients to
planning the internal communication in such a manner, that the
domestics could pass to and fro, and have access to the different
rooms, without incommoding those occupying any of the suite; and in
this sort of arrangement they frequently exhibit so much ingenuity and
contrivance, that we may study for some time ere we shall be able to
surpass them.

For the present, these few hints and suggestions must suffice; but I
could discourse to you for days together of the varied effects of
light, the manifold diversity of form, the richness of play in regard
to decoration, and all the combinations and beauties, both with respect
to circumstances of locality and arrangement, that are to be met with
in the remains of ancient domestic architecture.

Among other questions which you have submitted for my consideration,
is, whether pure Greek architectural forms and details will bear to be
united with such a material as coloured brickwork? And by way of
removing your doubts, I beg to remind you of the highly praised brick
edifices of King Mausolus, described by Vitruvius. Texture and colour
of materials are to be considered merely as the vehicle made use of by
the artist, and may be employed in one style almost equally as well as
in another. Another doubt suggested, is whether arches and vaulting can
properly be admitted into the style above-named? Now, were you to
consult the Delphic oracle, it would probably return you some such
answer as the following: _When the edge of an aperture in a wall forms
a right angle, the archivolt may still descend to the base without
being interrupted by an impost. In vaulting, the diagonal crossing
lines must be considered as secondary ones._

Perhaps this will but ill satisfy you, and you will say that, instead
of solving one enigma, I have merely added another. Yet of one thing
you may be assured, namely, that those difficult problems and mysteries
in art, which have been expounded in formal terms, have been already
actually decyphered, and explained more clearly by the practical
solution of them in productions of art.

It seems you think I have not yet given you any satisfactory reason for
my position, that the present improved state, both of painting and
sculpture, renders it difficult to reconcile them with the conditions
required by Gothic architecture. I admit this would be otherwise were
we to go back to the hard dry style of the Van Eyck school. I can only
say that such an attempt has been made by some of the best artists in
Germany, and that after persisting in the trial for some time, they
have now abandoned the imitation of the early German style, and have
preferred the Italian. At any rate, my opinion is not contradicted by
history, since the latter informs us that the powerful impression
produced by the broad handling and simple masses of the ancient works
of sculpture, then first discovered in various parts of Italy, had the
effect of giving the representation of nature an entirely new
direction. It is also a striking circumstance that, owing to the fresh
impulse which both painting and sculpture hence received, not only the
taste for Gothic architecture declined, but the system itself was
opposed both by painters and sculptors, who attempted to make
architecture subsidiary to their productions. Such being the case, as
they alleged, in regard to ancient art. With what eagerness not only
the learned men of Italy, and the architects who were urged on by them
to the study of classical antiquity, but also both sculptors and
painters, entered the lists against Gothic art, is sufficiently evident
from Ghiberti's journal; and again afterwards, when a decided victory
had been already obtained over it, from Raphael's report to Leo X. on
the ancient edifices and other remains at Rome.

It is perhaps not so generally known, that in more northern countries
it was the painters who set up for reformers in architecture. Holbein,
there is reason to think, erected the first specimen of the antique in
England: the portal of Wilton House, for his patron the Earl of
Pembroke, still existing. About a hundred years later, Rubens, with the
view of giving the death-blow to the still lingering taste for Gothic
architecture in the Netherlands, made drawings of the Palaces of Genoa,
and caused them to be disseminated in engravings. At the present day,
indeed, we may be excused for smiling at the classical zeal of the
worthy Peter Paul, who, in his preface to that collection of designs,
inveighs against Gothic architecture as barbarous, at the same time
that the plates themselves which he gives, are little better than
hideous caricatures of the modern Genoese style, which, at the best is
by no means remarkable for purity of taste.

Should Gothic architecture, which is just now employed upon a liberal
scale, and with more or less of true feeling for it, in your country
ever obtain firm footing there again, depend upon it my professional
brethren who have, I think, adopted it without due consideration of the
present condition of the other fine arts, will have to encounter
serious, and, perhaps, unforeseen difficulties from the painters and
sculptors. Were some gifted sculptor to apply himself to architecture,
I am persuaded he would drive us all out of the field, for the charm
with which that art is capable of investing architecture by a skilful
union of the flesh-like sculpture with the hard bones of architecture,
would produce an irresistibly fascinating effect.

From this long letter you will collect that, whilst on the other hand I
do not mean to be confined either to a servile imitation of a pure
Pompean house; so, on the other, I do not mean to be tied down to
repeat your Elizabethan architecture, or the Gothic of Germany or
England. Nor do I propose to give you a fac-simile of any building of
the Renaissance school. To the best of my power, I propose (as the best
style) that which adopts the pure broad principles of beauty in
building, and which were, I sincerely believe, best propounded by the
Greeks; and which all experience has shewn to be best suited to receive
addition from the highest style of painting and sculpture; and which
are, in fact, parts of architecture. How far I may succeed is another

It is indeed difficult in all cases, even to select what is best; but
with the most lofty aspirations, I am aware that I may indeed fall very
short of the execution of my wishes; perhaps, I have already done
myself some harm in this very discussion of style, by preparing you to
expect too much.

      Yours, &c.

      A. C.

      [Heading illustration]

      LETTER V


THE letter you send in answer to mine, on the question of the most
preferable style, I must allow, contains many good reasons in support
of your opinion and views; and laying aside prejudice and early
associations, I am willing to admit that it is wise to adopt that style
which possesses the most completely the elements of beauty, and which
is most susceptible of being united to painting and sculpture,
essential accessories of architecture, or rather, important branches of
that art. Some of the facts which you mention are very interesting and
striking, indeed, convincing; and the more I have reflected on the
subject, the more I feel the advantage of breadth, and the superior
beauty of the simple and grand lines of Grecian architecture; and my
curiosity to see the mode in which you will follow out your precepts by
your example, is hourly increasing, although I am quite aware that one
specimen of a building will not be sufficient to illustrate the general
positions you have, I think, so well established.

I almost wish that you had been tempted to extend your letter, already
long, for the purpose of entering still further into a subject of such
interest. I should be curious to learn to what extent the arts of
painting and sculpture had been applied, in conjunction with the
Gothic; and where they had most failed, and to ascertain whether those
instances fully corroborate your positions. As regards your oracular
distinction between the two styles, I am not sure I quite understand
you. I shall, however, leave this till the termination of the
discussion of the plan. The merits of the arrangements and contrivances
of the ancient villas, as ascertainable from the descriptions extant,
and the plans of those of Pompeii had not entirely escaped me. In
addition to the published information, I recollect to have received,
many years since, much information and instruction on the subject from
Mr. Cocherell, soon after his return from Italy; he having devoted much
attention to the arrangement of ancient villas, and having selected
some very interesting materials to illustrate the ingenuity of the
contrivances, and the judicious selection of the sites, &c.

Every part of your letter is tantalizing, and makes me regret that you
have merely touched on subjects of such deep interest; whilst reading
it, I forgot that I had commissioned you to give me the plan of a
house, not to write a complete treatise on ancient and modern
architecture. Conceding to you the choice of the style, convinced by
your reasons and arguments in favour of its superior beauty and
capability, I own to you I do so reluctantly, not without a sigh, and
not without much hesitation. Although, abstractedly, a building
constructed on the principles you advocate, may have more beauty than
our own Gothic or Elizabethan, and may be more susceptible of a union
of the three arts; yet there is one part of the subject to which you
have not adverted, and on which, perhaps, you are not likely to feel so
strongly as we do in England, the most aristocratic country in the
world. Some of our most beautiful houses are in this the rejected
style, and with them are connected all the prejudices and associations
of antiquity, of ancestral dignity and greatness; and a house of this
kind carries the mind back to other times, and awakens recollections
that it has been enjoyed by a long line of ancestry, and hence,
perhaps, has in a great degree arisen the desire of many who have built
modern houses, to imitate those of the elder time; not indeed from any
attempt actually to devise and construct a forgery, but to avail
themselves to a certain degree of the associations to be derived from
the recollections associated with the buildings of former ages, and in
the construction of which, at least, the most skill and talent had been
employed; and again perhaps, the very clumsy and unsuccessful
adaptation of the principles of the revived Grecian and Roman, or
Palladian architecture, to our modern houses, (especially in the
smaller ones,) may have tended to keep alive the prejudice in favour of
that style, which even if it were not the best, was at least the best
executed; more especially in its adaptation to the fitness of domestic
arrangements and comfort. Whilst I have been advocating the merits of
our Elizabethan houses, you must not suppose I refer to the multitudes
of grotesque little villas which grow up every summer round London; or
to those alterations and adaptations, by which one sees Gothic spires,
plastered over with stucco, starting up out of one half of an old farm
house; the walls notched into battlements, and uncouth animals set a
grinning against each other over the gate posts, and the hall crammed
and fortified with rusty swords and pikes of all ages and fashions. And
on the other half, Venetian windows slices of pilasters, balustrades,
and other parts of Italian architecture. Although I have not such a
greedy appetite for every thing Gothic, as Horace Walpole had, yet I
own I partake somewhat of his feelings, as expressed in a letter from
Stowe, when he says, "The Grecian Temple is glorious, this, I openly
worship, but in the heretical corner of my heart I adore the Gothic
building." Though I own the character he gives of the Gothic building
he so adores is barbarous enough, for he says, "That some unusual
inspiration of Gibbs has made it _pure_ and venerable, with a
propensity to the Venetian, or Moresque Gothic; and the great column
near it puts me in mind of the Place of St. Mark." Strawberry Hill,
however, is a sufficient proof of his knowledge and taste for pure
Gothic. There is one point on which I entirely agree, which is that the
style of decoration should be consistent with the style of the
architecture. I think we have been more deficient in attention to the
style of decoration, than even to the choice of the style of the
building itself; and nothing is now more common than to plaster the
walls of a modern London house with the Gothic paper of Henry VII.'s
Chapel, and to fill it with a load of old carving of all ages and
times; and to finish with a cartload of Louis XIV.'s clocks, and other
similar ornaments: but of this, more when we come to discuss the
decoration of your rooms.

      [Heading illustration]

      LETTER VI.

BY my first letter you will see I have explained to you the _site_, and
I think the next point which we have to settle will be the advantages
and disadvantages of _aspect_; and whether the house should be placed
at the top of the low hill I have mentioned to you, or half way down,
or at the bottom. I think in general, the modern fashion has been to
seek a lofty spot, without reference to shelter; so that the
architect's work should shew well to the surrounding country. My object
is that the house should be placed in the most convenient spot as to
_shelter_, with the best aspect suitable to our uncertain climate,
always taking care that there be sufficient drainage, an essential,
though often a neglected point.

Having explained the essential, I come next, to the ornamental; I do
not think it is so necessary that the house should form a handsome
feature of the surrounding landscape, as that it should form an
harmonious picture in combination with the grounds in immediate
connexion with it; I must refer you again to a description of the
_locale_. I have nothing to add to this. You will see that the spot I
have chosen has somewhat of an amphitheatrical shape, and that I have
the means of making a terrace; that I am well backed at the north by
trees and hill, and open well to the south-east. You have the choice of
aspect within the range of south-east to south-west; yet the house, for
meteorological reasons, should not be placed too low down in the
valley. I refer you to Mr. Professor Daniell's essays on the subject of
the difference of temperature between the top and bottom of a hill;
this, though it applies principally to the position of a garden, has
some weight even in the site of a house.

It will be necessary that the approach should be from the south-west;
and as regards plantations and protection from wood, I am well defended
on all sides. I had meant to have added some observations on the
_picturesque_, of which we fancy we are the discoverers; but at
present, I have not time. I may, perhaps, (if I find you inclined to
enter into the subject,) send a few remarks on this; particularly, as I
believe it is considered that the ancients did not, in the situations
of their houses or buildings, consult those principles of taste which
we call the picturesque. I think Dr. Copplestone, in his lectures on
ancient poetry, states this, and yet one should judge otherwise, from
seeing the sites of many of the Roman buildings in this country. That
at Bignor in Sussex is particularly beautiful, nay, grand; but yet it
was low: perhaps, the advantage of a running stream was the general
cause in former times of building quite down in the valley.

I think it will be an object to have as much veranda as possible,
closed in and very wide, but not, perhaps, in front of the best
windows; but somewhere so as to have both a shaded and a winter's
sheltered walk.

I must apologize for the indefiniteness of this letter, but I think I
have given enough to serve as a text for the answer. The style and site
settled, I propose we should at once come to materials to be used,
ground plan and elevation. As regards offices, I will mention such as
are essential; as you may, in consideration of the plan, like to know
this; there will be one small lodge at the entrance on the south-west,
and should have no objection to a back entrance at the north; as this
may be used as a labourer's cottage. There will be a double
coach-house, stables for six horses; a small ice-house and gardener's
cottage. The two latter may be arranged so as to form part of the
garden wall. I mean the kitchen garden, which will be at some small
distance from the house, at the back, or north; but I mean it to be
connected with the house by the flower-garden and plantations.

      Yours, &c.

      H. B.

      [Decorative illustration]

      [Heading illustration]



WE come now to fix upon a part of the grounds that shall appear most
healthy, neither too confined nor too exposed; commanding a good
prospect, yet well sheltered. This is a very material point, and not
indeed altogether free from difficulty; nevertheless, proper attention
to the two circumstances just mentioned would perhaps, in the
generality of cases, lead at once to the selection of the most
favourable site for building upon; both as regards prospect from the
house, and the view towards it; so that as regards the latter, it would
display itself to the utmost advantage. With respect to the mode of
combining buildings with the surrounding scenery, the following
principles and directions are laid down by the ablest of our writers
in the German language, on the subject of landscape gardening.[3] "If
due care be taken to distribute the masses of light and shade, so that
they shall judiciously relieve and balance each other, satisfactory
effect, as regards the general grouping and composition of the scenery,
can hardly fail to be secured. Grass, water, and level lawns, which
throw no shadow upon other objects, but merely receive those which the
latter cast upon them, are to be considered as _lights_ in landscape
gardening, while trees, woods, buildings, and rocks, (should there be
any) afford the artist his _shadows_ and darker tints. In making use of
these contrary elements, care must be taken lest breadth of effect be
destroyed, and a disagreeable spottiness substituted for it; in
consequence of there being too many separate and partial effects
independent of each other; or else by there being too great a
proportion of unbroken _light_. On the other hand an equal fault is
committed, if a few dark masses of shadow are allowed so to
predominate, as to overpower all besides; or again, if lawn and water
exhibit naked unbroken surfaces of light too harshly defined; whereas
they ought to be left partially to lose themselves in indistinctness,
or the shadow of deep vegetation; or to detach themselves from a darker
background as brilliant lights opposed to it. With respect to
buildings, these ought never to stand perfectly isolated, because in
that case they become spots, and look as if they had no business there,
nor belonged to any of the rest. Besides, a partial concealment is
always advantageous to every kind of beauty, and it is highly desirable
that the imagination should be interested by there being something for
it to exercise itself upon, and to divine. The eye frequently rests
with more satisfaction upon a chimney peeping out in the distance, and
emitting a gray volume of smoke from amidst the dense foliage of trees
that embower and exclude from sight the building whose presence is so
indicated, than it does upon a large formal mansion standing fully
exposed to view, with no shelter or skreen on any side, with nothing to
break its outline, with nothing to render it an appropriate and
consistent feature in the general scene." From the beginning of what I
have here extracted, you perceive that this writer treats the subject
in a masterly manner, taking a comprehensive view, and is guided by
such sound theoretical principles, as to be able to determine
beforehand, the results of his art with almost as much certainty as an
architect can judge of an intended building from its ground plan.

  [3] Prince Puchler Muskau. Andenkungen über Landshaftgärtnerei.
  Stuttgart, 1834.

Having determined upon the precise site, that which seems most
recommended by considerations of healthiness, convenience, &c.; we have
next to attend to what appertains exclusively to architectural
treatment and character. The general idea of the building, as to its
chief masses and parts, extent and arrangement, being sketched out,
regard must be had to the greater or less space of the immediate site;
to obtaining for it due effect of light and shade, and a background
calculated to set it off, upon all which circumstances, it depends
nearly as much as a work of sculpture does. In like manner as statues
in general have only three sides from which they are calculated to be
seen, so also have buildings; nor can I help being of opinion that much
harm has been done of late years, both in architecture and sculpture by
the attempt at equal display on all sides. The greater part of antique
statues were evidently intended to have a wall or background behind
them; nor is there, perhaps, any thing more at variance with the effect
which statues ought to produce, than the present frequent practice of
erecting them in the centre of large squares.

Nearly all productions of architecture, more especially structures
adapted for habitation, offer one side stamped as the principal or
front, and another, which is its reverse; in which respect they bear a
greater analogy to living beings than to plants; the latter having no
definite foreside, on the contrary, any part becoming the front, that
is towards the spectator. Such being the case, the same rules that are
to be observed for displaying a statue, or representation of a living
figure to advantage, ought to be attended to in regard to the position
of buildings. Agreeing with you that a sheltered situation is the most
desirable for your intended villa, I will attempt to explain it upon
the theory of the following general principles; namely, upon our
beholding any building of the kind, it ought immediately to be evident
wherefore it is so placed, and that by being placed precisely where it
is, it is part and parcel of its immediate vicinity.

But to confine myself to our particular instance. I think I shall be
able to provide an exceedingly agreeable site for your residence, as I
learn that a supply of water may be obtained in the grounds, capable of
floating superficies of about fifty thousand square feet, and depth in
proportion. Accordingly I propose, after the manner shewn in the
accompanying ground sketch, (Plate I.) to avail myself of this
circumstance, in order to give animation to the now comparatively tame
and lifeless character of the place. The reservoir on the upper terrace
would keep the basin constantly filled to the level of the lower
terrace, before the water escapes into the valley below. By this means,
a sheet of water may be provided almost in the centre of the grounds,
and my plan suggests, that the house itself should be erected
immediately on the north shore of this artificial lake. On the spot
where I have placed it, the ground floor would be about fifty feet
above the level of the brook itself, and that part of the grounds
through which it runs, consequently would not be exposed to any
injurious exhalations from the lower grounds.

I need hardly point out to you the unusual agreeableness and even
piquant effect of a residence so situated; and when I send my plans for
the house itself, you will see what are the apartments that will occupy
this side of the building, and what a charming prospect they will
command of the lake immediately below, and the grounds on its opposite
banks. At present I will only remark as regards the increased effect
thus to be gained, that a building immediately on the edge of a piece
of water appears more considerable than in any other situation; and
that the reflected image of the architecture will form a brilliant
contrast to the darker reflections of trees and foliage. Besides which,
the most favourable point of distance for viewing the building itself
on this side, would thus become fixed--being that from the opposite
bank of the lake.

A very cursory examination of the plan of the ground will convince you,
that the whole of the buildings you require are massed together in one
group. Such an arrangement certainly contributes to convenience; and I
agree with you by shewing the various offices, instead of attempting to
mask or screen them, the house itself may be made to possess greater
importance and apparent extent; that is, you will get a large looking
country house at a small cost. It may be further remarked, that by
adopting such treatment of the plan, some kind of architectural
foreground is introduced into the prospects seen from the house itself,
together with much contrast and variety, and that too without incurring
unnecessary or extra expense, since the same accommodation must be
provided. Another advantage is, that the subordinate buildings of this
kind attached to the main structure, may be made use of as a kind of
connecting link between the more artificial and studied regularity of
the latter, and the natural objects in its immediate vicinity; without
which sort of intermediate transition, a house is apt to have the
appearance of a mushroom structure that has over night started up out
of the ground.

From the north east angle of the house, the stables extend northwards,
while the conservatories run in an eastern direction from the same
point. By this means an open avenue is left before the north side of
the house: and on the east side a flower garden, which is screened
towards the north. The piece of ground enclosed on two sides by the
stables and hothouses or conservatories, and therefore not exposed to
view from the house itself, would be occupied as the stable-yards, &c.
Further on, towards the upper terrace, is the fruit and kitchen garden,
stretching out more eastward. At the end of the conservatories is the
gardener's lodge, the upper part of which forms a small dovecot.

[Illustration: Plate I. Drawing of the ground plan and upper story.]

I have not yet said any thing of the west side of the house, although
it forms one of the principal elevations of the external designs, the
carriage entrance porch being placed there; the approach to which
latter is over a bridge, and by the road which runs to the south-west
towards the village. You therefore perceive that, before they actually
arrive, visitors will obtain a distinct view, across the lake, of the
entire range of the buildings from east to west; from the gardener's
lodge and tower along the line of south front and terrace, to the
bridge itself; of which group of architecture, the greater part, would
be reflected in the water, from which it appears immediately to rise

You will observe, I have _not_ carried the approach to the house in a
curved or serpentine direction line, as is generally done, whereby the
object to which the visitor is hastening, is now seen and now again
suddenly lost sight of; but in a _straight line_, so that the building
displays itself more and more plainly to the eye at every step.

From the high road, the approach is on the north-east; and of the
portico lodge and gate at that entrance into the grounds, the sketch
prefixed to this letter will afford you an idea. The direction of the
drives and paths, the arrangement of the plantations and groups of
trees, wherein I have taken care that the greater part of the fine elms
shall remain untouched.

The source of the stream and the weir, from which the superfluous water
finds its way into the lower valley, would almost of course suggest the
propriety of erecting seats at those points of the grounds.

A more detailed description of the house follows by next post, with the
plans and elevations.[4]

      Yours, &c.

      A. C.

  [4] Plate I. shews the ground plan, &c.

      [Heading illustration]


AT length I have sent my notions on the site, and _generally_ as to the
house with which I trust you are satisfied. Now that I come to more
particular description, and to speak of my design in detail, my
confidence is somewhat abated, it being exceedingly problematical how
far my ideas will accord with your own wishes and expectations. To the
best of my ability I have endeavoured to meet both; to fulfil the
conditions belonging to the particular subject and occasion; for be it
remarked, every production of art is like every poem, a composition on
some particular occasion or theme; and if it fails of its purposed aim
as such, it may be said to be a failure altogether, and doomed to
oblivion; or rather, in my case, to be stuck up as a monument of my
ignorance. All that I dare hope as yet, is that the drawings have not
been met with a hasty and decided "It won't do;" but that you at least
suspend your judgment until I explain more fully my ideas and the
motives which have guided me.

The principal sitting-rooms face the south, by which means they will
have not only the most favourable aspect, but as it so happens, the
best prospect also; therefore, so far you are not likely to start any
objection; neither, I presume, will any exception be taken at the
situation and aspect of the dining-room, which is towards the east;
which last circumstance has induced me almost, as a matter of course,
to place the entrance at the west, or opposite end of the house, it
being on many accounts objectionable; (with regard to quiet and
privacy,) to make the corridor, or inner vestibule running behind and
serving as the communication between the principal apartments
immediately connected with, or in continuation of the first entrance
into the house from the open air; for one reason, because it is hardly
possible in such case to prevent a continual current of cold air
through the whole of that part of the building. Another point here
attended to, is to place the dining-room beyond the other sitting
apartments, so that it shall be the last and the most distant from the
entrance. Attention to these circumstances have led to that arrangement
of the space afforded by the plan which I have adopted. In order both
to give some play to that part of the plan, and to avoid all
sky-lights, I have broken the north side of the plan by a small court;
surrounded on three sides by the house, in such manner that from the
corridors, &c. turned towards it, a free prospect of the court and
grounds shall present itself from various points of view; whereby an
architectural foreground, and the natural scenery beyond it are
combined; so that you feel yourself in every part of the house quite in
the country.

Permit me now to receive you at the entrance, and be your _cicerone_
over the building; in which character I must, before we proceed
further, call attention to the exterior of this part, as you will have
perceived by the designs it is carried up loftier than the rest, for
the purpose of breaking the outline, and of providing a conspicuous and
important feature in a distant view of the building. This tower-like
portion of the structure does not carry with it any formidable
appearance; it has neither battlements nor watch-turrets, for which
there exist no historical grounds. On the contrary, crowned by a rich
cupola roof, and ornamented with statues, it serves to announce that
the house belongs to a lover of the arts and muses, who may be supposed
here to enjoy at once, the refinements of literature and art, and the
beauties of cultivated nature. The ground floor of this mass of the
building is occupied by the entrance vestibule, which has a vaulted
ceiling whose arches descend rather low, and which is lighted
directly, by only a single small window at some distance from the
floor, but which receives a strong reflected light through the
doorways. It is highly desirable that a vestibule, entered immediately
from the open air, should be moderately lighted, in order that the eyes
may not be too much strained at first, but accustom themselves to
in-door light; and also that the other rooms may derive additional
effect from the contrast. Most assuredly too, a subdued degree of light
will suffice for a vestibule which is not intended for a sitting-room,
nor for reading, writing, or any other occupation, consequently, it
very properly admits of a kind of Rembrandtish effect, which here
becomes rather a merit than a defect; especially as it tends to set off
all that follows. A group of statues against the wall facing the
entrance, would here produce a good effect on account of the stream of
light which would fall upon it from the window, and would make a
pleasing impression on the visitor as soon as he had crossed the
threshold. Instead of seeing from this vestibule any of the other parts
of the house, the situation of the rooms, or those who may be passing
through the corridors, we have first to turn to the left, where we
perceive the staircase, not however exposed to full view, but merely so
as to allow the upper part of it to be seen through a screen, formed of
columns placed upon a lofty stylobate; which I conceive would produce a
more than ordinary picturesque bit of interior architecture. We do not,
however, enter the staircase, but pass on to the hall or inner
vestibule, which affords immediate access to the sitting-rooms. Perhaps
I may as well mention here, that the servants' hall, &c. for the
men-servants would be in the basement at this end of the house,
consequently would be just by the entrance.

The hall or inner vestibule is a spacious room overlooking the small
flower-court above mentioned, the avenue leading to the stables, and
the larger trees on the north side of the house. A small door opens
into the court, while one of rich architectural character forms the
entrance to the suite of rooms occupying the south or water front of
the building. This last mentioned doorway leads into a small anti-room,
right and left of which are two moderate sized drawing-rooms, capable
of being used as one when the company is numerous. The folding doors
being thrown open, and the smaller intermediate room becoming the
centre-piece of the triple apartment thus formed. In front of these
three rooms is an open loggia on a somewhat lower level, there being a
descent to it of four steps, looking immediately upon the water; this
loggia would form a sheltered terrace immediately connected with the
sitting-rooms which it would also serve to screen from the sun.

The library, which, according to your wishes, is made one of the
principal suite of rooms, is the last of those in this front, it being
on the south-east angle. It has an alcove or deeply recessed bay with a
window in it, which not only affords a very agreeable little snuggery,
bower, or whatever else you may term it, for reading or studying, or
meditating in apart, but also gives additional spaciousness and variety
to the whole apartment. From this room a jib or concealed door opens to
the small private staircase, and another of the same kind leads into
the flower garden. The larger door on the north side of the room, is
that by which we enter the dining-room, to which, as it is upon a lower
level, there is a descent of a few steps. The reason for this
difference of level is that the room being more spacious requires to be
of more height than the others, and also that it may be upon the same
level as the terrace looking out upon the flower garden.

Beyond the dining-room, is the serving room, and behind that the
kitchen, which, however, does not form part of the body of the house,
but is included in the same range of buildings as the stables, being
under the same roof. Attached to it is a kitchen court, and it is
connected with the rest of the house by the servants' staircase, which
last leads both down to the cellars and rooms in the basement, and to
those above for the female domestics, to the childrens' rooms, &c.

The stables and conservatories call for no other explanation than what
the drawings themselves supply; we will therefore now return to the
principal staircase, on one side of which are two rooms not yet
mentioned, one of which may be used as a business room.

On ascending the stairs, we have first two stranger's rooms on the
left, on the right a billiard-room in the tower, and an upper hall or
corridor over that below, and of the same size though not so lofty;
this would serve for the children to play in and exercise themselves in
winter or bad weather. On the south side of this are two sleeping, and
two sitting-rooms, the larger of which might be used as a winter
breakfast-room. The larger of the two sleeping-rooms, namely, that over
the library is the one you would yourself occupy, it being adjoining
the private staircase. On the south side of it is an alcove, raised a
few steps above the rest of the floor; and on the east a small
dressing-room looking out upon the flower garden. The upper part of the
tower contains two other handsome sleeping-rooms, which, as they
command a fine prospect, may be appropriated either to visitors or to
the grown up members of your family.

It has been my endeavour to give an agreeable variety, play and
contrast to the different parts of the interior, which I hope will not
displease you; and I trust that the drawings and descriptions of the
several apartments, their architectural character and decoration, which
will form the subject of my next letter, will shew that while I have
adhered to one uniform style throughout, I have neglected neither the
variety in the individual parts, nor harmony and unity of expression in
the ensemble, but have reconciled together those two, somewhat
contrary, yet highly desirable qualities.[5]

      Yours, &c.

      A. C.

  [5] N.B. The Plates II. III. and IV. shew the south, north, and east

      [Decorative illustration]

      [Heading illustration]

      LETTER IX.


FROM the two letters, and the accompanying plans, I think I fully
understand your views. On the whole I am much pleased with the design,
and own your example has fully supported your precepts; and bating all
pleasure to be derived from associations, as I have before noticed, I
willingly subscribe to your views, as to the beauty of the principles
of Grecian architecture applied as they have been in your pleasing
design. There are only two points on which, perhaps, you have allowed
your imagination to carry you too far: first, you have taken rather a
poetical notion of the means to be applied in building, what will, I
fear be a very expensive structure, and larger than was intended; and
next as regards the lake, on the borders of which you propose to place
the house. I fully subscribe to your notions as to the beauty which
would be gained by the proposed sheet of water, and feel all the
advantages of the broad expanse of light, and the extent and variety to
be derived from the reflection of the building in this natural mirror,
&c.; but there are disadvantages, some of which are not to be overcome,
and others, of which in my opinion, more than counterbalance all that
is to be gained in beauty and variety.

I suspect you have been misinformed as to the possibility of making the
lake as you propose, and next the expense to execute this perfectly and
so as to ensure that it should always be filled with fresh and
transparent water, would be very considerable, and indeed at times it
would be impossible to accomplish this at any cost. But our climate I
think is an insuperable objection to have a house actually bordering on
still water; recollect how few months in the year the notion of the
coolness of water would add pleasure to the prospect from the library
or drawing-room window, and how often one should shudder at the very
notion of it; moreover that according to our apportionment of the
seasons for town and country those very months will be passed in
London,--April, May, June, and generally July, being the time when
"every body is in town." Although I believe the neighbourhood of water
may not always be unwholesome, still there is much prejudice to
overcome on this subject; not a toothache, cold, or rheumatic twinge
would be felt by a person in the family, from the stable to the
drawing-room, but would be attributed to the _pond_, for when angry,
nobody would call it the LAKE; malignant malaria would be discussed in
every variety of tone and phrase, and Dr. Chambers would think it his
duty to enter his protest against any patient of his ever venturing to
make a visit of twenty-four hours to the proscribed spot. I am,
however, not sorry that you had conceived the notion of the lake,
because it has given an opportunity of shewing what a beautiful
accessory water becomes to a house, applied as you have suggested, and
because I believe you will have no difficulty in substituting some
broad expanse either of turf or gravel, which, though it will not give
you the reflections of the buildings and the play of light you require,
will still afford a flat surface for the receiving the shadows, and
will not interrupt the harmony and simplicity of the general lines of
your building. The loggia though it may not look out upon the water as
you propose, will always be delightful as affording shelter in the
winter, and shade in the summer; and the portico is, I think, a
valuable addition. Our unhappy rage for adaptation or rather perversion
of the Grecian portico; hitherto the portico has increased rather than
diminished, the distance which has to be traversed in cold and rainy
weather, from the door to the carriage. The perfection of this
maladaptation is to be seen in our unfortunate National Gallery, where
is annually erected a tarpaulin lean-to in order to prevent people
being drenched in rainy weather in their progress to the entrance door,
the access to which is opposed by an inaccessible portico. I quite
agree with you that there being no historical associations connected
with the site, it is right that the tower should have no battlements,
and should not show any angry front where no defence against invading
enemies, (whether chartists, socialists, or bread-taxing tories), is
intended. I agree in the advantage to be derived from the variety of
line and the grandeur of the tower, and am willing that the ornaments
you propose of statues should indicate (as it will truly) the
propensities of the owner, especially as terra cotta affords the means
at a small cost, of obtaining examples of fine statues. However, as
regards the shape of the tower, and especially the cupola, some doubts
of its beauty have been expressed, more however by others than myself,
though I cannot help feeling that, if this part partook more of the
tall tower of the modern Italian buildings, finishing with the nearly
flat roof and long projecting eaves, the effect would be more
picturesque and less pretending. I mention this merely for your
consideration, and am quite willing that your greater knowledge and
better taste should determine its shape.

As regards the exterior in general, I have little or nothing further to
suggest, except that I may observe that I have remarked in most of the
best modern houses the cornices and ornaments are in my opinion too
thin and minute, and this, I take it, is owing to the too servile
copying from buildings designed for a country where the sun shines
nearly throughout the year, and where the light colour of the material
(unstained by damp or weather) marks more sharply and completely the
light and shade than is the case in our gloomy season, and where the
walls are soon disfigured and weather-stained. Although I assume that
the project of the lake is to be abandoned, yet I should wish still
that the ground floor should be at least raised as much above the level
as it at present is. Although every facility of access to the gardens
and grounds is desirable in a country house, yet I think it is
disagreeable to be on an actual level with the walks; both from the
interior and from the exterior, it gives the notion of the house
springing from the earth as a mushroom, as you have observed. I will
now follow you through the building at your invitation, observing that
I agree as to the choice of aspects and the arrangements of the rooms.
With reference to this, the west is well arranged so as to avoid that
aspect for any of the rooms to be generally inhabited, and I subscribe
to the notion that the entrance should be somewhat gloomy, at least
enough so, as to create a feeling of pleasure on emerging into more
light. As regards the large hall, perhaps for the size and style of the
house there is a little too much sacrificed to it; but as I think it is
an object of importance to obtain an open and airy access to the whole
suit of rooms, and as this will afford ample scope for ornament, and
casts of statues and bas-reliefs, and perhaps fresco ornamental
painting, I am willing that some sacrifice should be made. The two
rooms beyond the staircase will be useful, and indeed are necessary. I
have already appropriated one as a gun room and audience chamber for
those whose shoes may not be clean enough to be admitted to the best

I like the disposition of the two drawing-rooms; perhaps, however, it
may be worth consideration whether it may not be better to make some
sacrifice of symmetry, and convert them into two rooms, one large and
one small; keeping the small one at the end next the staircase, and
making it either octagon or circular; either shape is pleasing, and
admits of variety in decoration. In that case it would be advisable to
make separate entrances to each room for the interior hall: indeed, if
the present arrangement is retained, this may be desirable, so as to
avoid using the middle room entirely as a passage room. As regards the
library, I have no observation to make on its shape or disposition. I
assume that the two windows will sufficiently light it. At first I
thought that it might be advisable to have the means of shutting off
the recess by sliding doors from the large room, making a kind of inner
library or study of it; but I presume, as this would leave but one
window, the large room would be too dark. I think it would be desirable
that there should be an entrance to the dining-room across the hall and
through the corridor, as well as through the library. There might be
occasions where it may be inconvenient to pass through the library to
the dining-room, although this might be considered as the usual and
grand entrance. I do not see where you have placed your fire-place in
the library. I should conceive from its size, that you might want
either two fire-places, or at least one stove and one fireplace to warm
so large a room. The mention of fireplaces reminds me that I see no
chimneys in the drawing, I suppose they are hidden by the balustrade. I
shall be glad if this is so, as it will be well to get rid of so
unsightly an object as chimneys generally are.

As regards the kitchen, it certainly is well placed with reference to
the convenience of access to the dining-room; but though not under the
same roof with the house, I should fear that not only the smell of the
cooking, but the noise of the offices may reach the dining-room. This
is a common evil, and one which it is essential to avoid. When we come
to discuss the offices more in detail, this point must be well
considered. I approve of the dining-room windows opening on the
flower-garden, as this will also (unless when we are alone) be the
breakfast room, and occasionally the morning room in hot weather;
perhaps, however, to avoid any notion of coldness, only _one_ of the
three windows should go down to the floor and open on the garden.

As regards the kitchen, there must be added some additional offices,
such as scullery, out-door's larder, &c. &c. but as I see space
sufficient for these in the direction of the orangery, this will make
no material alteration in your plan. In addition to the wine and beer
cellars, I think the servants' offices may be well included in the
space under the east and south fronts, particularly as I think it will
be necessary that some sleeping rooms for servants should be obtained
in the attics, and I presume your plan will admit of this without
deranging your elevation; though I am aware something must be
sacrificed in the height of the rooms; but though there may, for the
purpose of protection of the lower part of the house, be a sleeping
room for one or two men-servants, yet I think the women's sleeping
apartments will not be conveniently arranged on the basement story. As
it is important to economize, I should suggest to you that it will not
be necessary to continue the basement story on the west front, and
perhaps not under the interior or large hall. As regards the
arrangement of the sleeping-rooms, if the attics are obtained, I think
those you propose sufficient. If any more should be required, perhaps
the large corridor or hall might be abridged, and at all events the
billiard room may be made into another bed-room, and the billiard table
taken down to the hall: increasing moral habits and the spread of
useful knowledge, prevents our employing so much time as formerly in
mere games of amusement, and I observe that the billiard room is
somewhat going out of fashion, and that where it remains, is rarely
used. I should, however, be sorry to give it up altogether. It is a
very useful and innocent assistant with a dull party on a rainy day, or
during a long evening at Christmas; and occasionally is a good "bore
escape." The dressing-room at the east angle is inaccessible except
through the bedroom, but this is an evil which cannot be in all cases

I have thus given you in detail the observations which occur to me on
going over your plan, and except such alterations as occur to you as
necessarily arising out of the rejection of the lake, I would not wish
that any alteration should be made, and I shall be glad to receive
from you the details as to the interior, and your opinion as to the few
alterations I have suggested.

You have not stated to what use you design to put the building at the
top of the north-east end; this, I presume, is to remain open, and so
merely designed as a balance for the tower. Perhaps, however, it may be
put to some use, either as a store or lumber room: I think it adds much
to the picturesque appearance of the whole. Although I have rejected
the lake, I should be sorry to lose the bridge in the approach, but as
the ground in front slopes, a terrace may be well substituted, and
perhaps the bridge may remain as passing over some road, or may form
some part of the arrangement as to the angles of the terrace.

As regards your observations of the position of the house, I agree with
what you state, but when I consult you in detail on the order and
disposition of the grounds, I propose to make some suggestions on the
subject. With respect to the materials, I assume you mean to have light
coloured brick with stone at the angles, and for the moulding. I
presume the additions of painting and sculpture (one of the grounds for
the rejection of the Gothic) will play their proper part in the
interior; as in the exterior, except in respect of the figures in the
tower, no addition is gained from them in the elevation.

      Yours, &c.

      H. B.

      [Decorative illustration]

      [Heading illustration]

      LETTER X.

THANKS for your letter approving of my design in the principal parts of
the interior; I shall now briefly point out the materials which I would
recommend to be employed for the floors, walls, and ceilings.

For the entrance hall, I propose that the doorcases, chimney-piece, and
the socle or dado should be carried up about four feet high, and should
be of yellowish Derbyshire marble, and the walls in stucco, but made to
show the joints of different courses, and marbled in fresco of a
lighter tint than the rest, while the vaulted ceiling should have the
ribs coloured white and brown upon a pale blue ground; for here in the
lower part of the tower it will, I conceive, be most proper to
indicate as forcibly as possible to the eye, solidity of material and

In the second or inner hall, which we enter from the preceding one, and
beyond which is obtained a view of the staircase, as seen through the
columns placed on a stylobate, serving as a screen to the stairs, the
walls might be marbled of a light greenish tint, intermixed in the
socle with brown lines. The columns and entablature should be white;
and the ceiling panelled in wainscot, with coffers or compartments
containing ornaments in relief on a green ground. As regards this part
of the interior, I would remark that should such be deemed preferable,
there would be no objection to filling in the upper part of the screen
(that is, the openings between the columns) with glass. While this
would prevent all draught from the staircase, and in some degree
intercept sound also, it would not in anywise affect the general
design; but rather might be made to conduce to it, by adopting some
ornamental pattern, of course in a corresponding style. Both in this
and the preceding vestibule, the floor should be paved with marble or
coloured stone, as should also that of the corridors; but the large
hall should have a parquetted wood flooring, because that room will
occasionally be made use of for dancing. In this last, the walls should
be wainscoted and panelled with oak, to the height of about seven feet;
and the doorway which forms the entrance to the suite of sitting-rooms
should be distinguished by richness of carved decoration in the same
material. I further recommend the application of embellishment of
inlaid woods or marquetrie of different colours, for the cornice or
upper mouldings of this wainscoting, so as to produce a rich border or
band along the walls, above which there will remain space for pictures
in frames, (inclining forwards) and even if these paintings are of no
very great value in themselves as works of art, they will be of use as
contributing to the general design, and add greatly to its effect. The
upper part of the walls might be painted in fresco in imitation of grey
marble streaked with red, which last mentioned colour should be that of
the coffers in the wainscoted ceiling.

The ante-room or first room of the suite being smaller than the others,
should have a coved ceiling, in order to diminish its apparent height;
and this might be painted with Arabesque ornaments on a white ground,
somewhat after the manner of several of the ceilings of Julio Romano in
the Villa _Lanti_. The walls of this and of the two adjoining rooms
should be hung with silk or other stuff of a quiet sober hue, so as to
give the greatest relief to the pictures, I taking it for granted that
you would be inclined to place here the principal part of such pictures
as you may possess.

Though the ceilings of the two drawing-rooms should not be much
ornamented, yet they may be relieved by the introduction of gilding in
parts. For all these rooms I propose that the doors, &c. should be
white with gilt mouldings. In the library, the ribs or bands of the
vaulted ceiling should be gilt upon a white ground; and as regards the
bookcases or shelves for books, they ought to be of some light coloured
wood, highly polished, and not go higher than the corbels or consoles
from which the vaulting springs, in order that there may be sufficient
space for busts, vases, and other ornaments of that kind upon the
cornices; and this will avoid the inconvenience of having the upper
shelves quite out of reach, except with the help of high library
steps--always inconvenient. For the lunettes or arched spaces between
the corbels, I have not proposed any particular decoration, as they
might be filled up by reliefs and casts let into the wall.

The dining room with the arcs-doubleaux and compartments of its vaulted
ceiling afford scope for fresco painting of a superior style; and the
pencil of our friend Eastlake, who has already shown so much classical
talent in decorating the dining-room in London, might render this one
of the most striking and charming apartments of its kind in England. It
is true that fresco is so little practised in your country, and
consequently its process so imperfectly understood, that he would
probably have to encounter some difficulties at the outset; but I
flatter myself I could be of considerable assistance to him, as regards
the practical details, having already succeeded in introducing that
mode of painting in spite of most unfavourable circumstances. I would
advise that the pictures should be confined to the ceiling and the
lunettes, and that the walls should be merely stuccoed, as being upon
the whole more in accordance with the destination of the room itself,
and affording a quieter background to the company seated around the
dinner-table; at the same time that the frescoes in the upper part of
the room would thereby show to greater advantage. You will observe that
the fresco requires a bold broad style, and has an advantage over oil,
as it is very effective even when not seen by a strong or favourable
light. Should somewhat more of decoration be thought advisable, I would
suggest the adoption of glass-mosaic in narrow upright pannels at
intervals. Of this species of embellishment, which was much used by the
Romans, and after, much in vogue throughout Italy during the middle
ages, for pulpits, monuments, &c. I have lately introduced an
application in a room fitted up by myself, the effect of which is
allowed to be singularly striking and good.

The remaining drawing shows the large corridor on the upper floor.

I need hardly remark that these designs are only intended to convey an
idea of the general character and style of the different rooms, as
submitted to you for consideration. Much yet remains to be definitively
settled, there being a variety of circumstances with which I am at
present but imperfectly acquainted; nor can I possibly say what
modifications of the plan I should advise, until I know wherein you
consider it objectionable, or wherein it fails to meet your precise
wishes. Some objections I may probably be able to combat; others may
possibly, by leading me to consider the points in difference afresh,
enable me to hit upon variations that may not immediately occur to me.
Much will depend upon your collection of works of art, which is as yet
but imperfectly known to me; much also upon my meeting with clever
workmen, capable, not only of entering into my ideas, and executing
without further trouble any piece of decoration that may be required,
but also, as has not seldom happened to me, of suggesting valuable
hints during the progress of the work. So far indeed am I from wishing
you to decide at once in favour of what I propose, I am most of all
solicitous that you should as completely comprehend not only the
general scheme, but the contemplated effect of every part. Undoubtedly
it is very pleasant to an architect to meet with an employer disposed
to give him _carte-blanche_ and permission to follow out his own ideas
unrestrictedly; yet it is still more delightful to meet with one who,
instead of merely passively acquiescing, assents from conviction after
deliberate study of the ideas submitted to him, and from the lively
interest he takes in them.

If I have ventured to propose marble, gilding, fresco painting, and
glass-mosaic, do not be alarmed at the seeming extravagance, or imagine
that any great expense will be incurred. In architecture the most
durable materials are the most economical, and they carry with them a
nobleness of appearance not attainable by even lavish ornaments, costly
at first, yet of a perishable nature. Consider what large sums are
expended in the course of a few years in keeping up houses that have to
be repaired or refitted up from time to time as regards all but their
bare walls, in consequence either of the materials getting soiled and
shabby, or of the changes of fashion, which having been the only
guidance in matters of taste at first, must continue to be consulted
and conformed to, otherwise the whole looks out of date; whereas, that
which is originally beautiful, independently of any particular fashion
of the day, will so remain, let the caprice of fashion change as it
will. I do really believe there are many rooms that would have cost
their owners less, had they been entirely lined with marble, and
otherwise ornamented with fresco painting and mosaic, than they have
done in consequence of being furbished up every now and then by
decorators and paper-hangers, and often in very questionable taste,
while after all, the effect for the time is at the best of an inferior

Besides by economy and a little dexterity of management even materials
may be obtained at a comparatively moderate cost: works in _Carrara_
marble, for instance, may be executed in Italy from designs sent over
for that purpose, at about half the price, including freight and duty,
which they would cost in England. The only inconvenience is that they
cannot be furnished so promptly, it being requisite that the orders for
them should be given some time beforehand. You will perhaps recollect
the circumstance I have stated in respect to this matter in my

As to gilding--oil-gilding is cheaper than water-gilding; which last
has only the advantage of looking more brilliant than the former at
first. Fresco painting, again is less expensive than any mode of
painting in oil; for it necessarily demands far greater rapidity of
execution, and the effect being produced at once, instead of the work
proceeding through all the different stages from dead colouring to the
last finishing. How very poor a succedaneum for fresco painting is
Gobelius tapestry! in which latter the execution is entirely
mechanical, giving a mere soulless plodding transcript of the original,
while as some of the colours fade sooner than the rest, the whole
becomes in a short time quite inharmonious. I am moreover convinced
that there are many able artists now living, who would execute designs
in fresco for the same price that is paid for designs in tapestry; so
that durability being considered, the saving accruing from the former
would be considerable. Nor is it the least important consideration of
all, that art itself would be extensively benefited by the adoption of
such practice. I at least am thoroughly convinced, that a single room
painted in fresco by an able artist would do more for the advancement
of sound art in England than a score of commissions for oil-pictures,
or than a hundred so called illustrated editions of popular works, with
wood cuts. Pre-eminently gifted as is England with a true feeling for
colouring, there is no doubt but that her school would be able to
impart a fresh vigour to fresco painting, and would set a bright
example to the continent in this branch of the art. Yours, &c.

      A. C.

     N.B. Some further observations of M. de Chateauneuf's, in defence
     of his views regarding the fit style of architecture for a modern
     house, and also his design for the interior, have been omitted: I
     regret this, and so, I think, will the reader; the additions,
     however, would have made the work too expensive. The plates at the
     end will give a clear idea of the general plan and the elevation,
     and the last plate contains the proposed alteration of the tower,
     and omitting the lake. _Editor._

      [Heading illustration]

      LETTER XI.



AT length I write to claim the performance of your promise, viz. that
you would give me your advice as regards the decoration of the house
designed by M. de Chateauneuf, the drawings and plans for which you
have seen. After some discussion, and a struggle on my part in favour
of the Elizabethan, the Perpendicular-gothic, or whatever the style is
to be designated, M. de Chateauneuf has triumphed, and the Italian, or
revived antique, (essentially the Grecian,) has been finally agreed on.

You are aware how strongly I feel that one of the best modes of
advancing the fine arts, is by paying greater attention to the interior
decorations of our houses, than has hitherto been the fashion in
England. The best proof of your own opinion on this subject, is the
kindness with which you devoted much time and labour to the designing
and executing for me the Pompeian room so deservedly admired.
Entertaining this view on the subject of ornament, makes me the more
anxious to take all possible pains in selecting the style of
decoration, so as the house should prove that its owner is a lover of
art, and that it should, as far as is compatible with a reasonable
economy, be considered in some degree as a pattern of what might be
accomplished in the matter of decoration. I never think on the subject
without calling to mind the principles laid down for the ornamenting a
country house, in Mr. Rogers's "Invitation to a Friend:" indeed,
looking to his intimate knowledge of the whole circle of fine arts, and
lastly, the specimen of refined taste which his own town house
exhibits, my _beau ideal_ is a house decorated under his direction; but
as this cannot be obtained, I trust that you, who possess so much of
his spirit and refinement, will, as far as may be compatible with your
engagements, afford me the benefit of your assistance. Although the
subject of decoration, both as regards houses and public buildings, has
been hitherto much neglected in this country, I think now every one is
becoming fully alive to its importance. The establishment of the
Government School of Design, in which, for the first time in England,
the art of design, as applied to decoration, is systematically
taught;--the opportunity afforded by the building of the Houses of
Parliament;--the Committee of the House of Commons, which has already
reported on the subject of their decoration;--and the Royal commission
entrusted with the further consideration of the subject,--cannot fail
to produce within a few years a great alteration in the views and taste
of the public. I may here observe, that the School of Design, and the
training of young workmen, will mainly tend to assist those who may be
inclined to give up the ornamenting their saloons and halls with cheap
printed papers, by producing persons who will be able, at a moderate
cost, to execute the original designs of eminent artists, or to copy
the great works of antiquity. Hitherto, except when foreigners were
introduced, it has been scarcely possible to obtain the assistance of
workmen capable of executing anything beyond the commonest and simplest
scrolls or straight lines; or if such assistance were obtained, it
could only be procured at a cost which put any extensive scale of
decoration beyond the reach of any but the affluent.

As regards the style and mode of execution of the proposed decorations,
I should, of course, wish to be guided by your judgment. Whether it may
be expedient merely to copy or adapt from known examples, such as the
baths of Titus, and the paintings of Pompeii, or from the great masters
of modern times, such as the designs of Raphael and Giulio Romano;--or
whether an entirely new style, founded on a study of the general
principles of art as applied to decoration, should be attempted, is for
you to determine. Again, it may be a question, whether in different
rooms a different course should be pursued, for the sake of variety.
Respecting the vehicle, whether encaustic, fresco, or oil, or all
three, should be used, must be determined by you.

You will observe there is the outer hall, and staircase, the inner
hall, the library, the two drawing rooms, and the dining room, all
requiring your attention.

The library, I should wish to be devoted as far as possible to art,
especially as the books it will contain relate principally to painting
and sculpture.

      I remain yours very sincerely,

      H. B.

       *       *       *       *       *

P. S.--I should state that this application is made to you, with the
perfect assent, nay, indeed, at the request of M. de Chateauneuf, who
is desirous that his design should have the benefit of your advice, as
regards its ornament: the specimen given in M. de Chateauneuf's work on
Domestic Architecture, of the embellishment of the house executed by
him at Hamburgh, and indeed some observations he has sent to me,
sufficiently prove that he is in nowise deficient in this important
branch of an architect's duty.

      [Decorative illustration]

      [Decorative illustration along left margin]



I SHOULD willingly refer you to abler advisers if M. de Chateauneuf's
house were as real as it deserves to be; but although the conditions
which you and the architect have proposed to yourselves have led to
very definite arrangements in the structure itself, a pleasing
uncertainty may be assumed to exist with regard to the decorations: in
a word, I can scarcely shrink from a responsibility as ideal as the
subject of our speculation.

I am sorry you have again referred to a certain "Pompeian" room;
believe me, too much has been said of what you know was a rough
experiment, to see the effect of a particular kind of decoration for
small rooms, and which, as regards its details, can only deserve
attention from the skill with which Mr. Harvey executed the animals
that are introduced.

The word "decoration," however appropriate to fantastic ornaments, and
in some degree to insulated figures, has, as you know, been considered
vilifying when applied to works that are addressed to the mind. But, as
we have no other term, we must consent to use it in both meanings. It
is, indeed, important to remember, that no works of art, however
elevated, can dispense with the appeal, the impressive or winning
appeal, to the eye. Thus much for our definition of terms.

As a general principle in decoration, I would recommend that the eye
should be solely or chiefly addressed where a passing glance only can
be given to the work, and that the attention should be more taxed where
leisure and surrounding circumstances permit or invite contemplation.
The reverse of this would be manifestly wrong; but the recommendation
itself is not to be understood too literally. Every display has its
legitimate exuberance: the "over and above" in decoration can only be
that of quality, for mere taste is supposed to define all that relates
to quantity. As common poetic description sometimes exalts its subject
less by accumulation than by supposing costly materials where mean ones
would do, so in art the augmenting excellence ascends from sense to
thought. If, therefore, the intention to afford mental pleasure is very
apparent even in situations where this may appear superfluous and in a
manner thrown away, the impression must of itself be elevating. But the
indispensable condition is, that a gradation should still be
maintained; that higher excellence should still be in reserve. What
must be the character of works of art to which Raphael's Corridor in
the Vatican forms the mere approach? The answer is given by the
perfection of the works in the Stanze. All that is to be insisted on,
therefore, is a due gradation in conformity with the principle first
proposed. In the remarks that follow, I cannot strictly follow the plan
of the house, but must often generalize; the observations submitted, if
tenable at all, will, however, be easily applicable to your purpose.

The pavement of the halls might be enriched, but I can hardly approve
the occasional practice of the ancients in placing mosaic "histories"
under their feet:[6] the objections are sufficiently obvious. The forms
and hues employed should be merely calculated to gratify the sight.
Among other preliminary considerations, I would also include the nature
of the mere surface, as well as the distinction of every apartment.
Thus a pavement, however decorated, should still express the character
of firmness and solidity. For this reason I would banish even the
lowest kind of life, (that of plants,) and every approach to
perspective. Geometrical forms would thus be alone admissible: the
variety is infinite; but even here I would again exclude abrupt and
irregular contrasts of colour, which have sometimes the effect of
making the evenness of the surface doubtful: the last consideration is
even applicable to carpets. With respect to the classic fashion of
inscriptions on the threshold,[7] I merely remark, that letters are
only ornamental in architecture when disposed symmetrically, and
enclosed in a regular frame-work.

  [6] The passion for this kind of decoration was carried so far that
  the ornamented floor of the dining-room sometimes represented the
  scattered fragments of a repast. _Plin._ I. xxxvi. c. 25.

  [7] Even the Mosaic floor at the entrance to bed-rooms, had
  inscriptions; a pavement of this kind was found at Brindisi, wit
  the words BENE DORMIO.

In approving the common practice of placing statues and bas-reliefs in
the principal hall, I do not depart from the spirit of our first
principles. A statue has generally the advantage of being seen in
various points of view, and thus commands attention in situations where
paintings could not. The rich effect of bas-reliefs is sufficient to
recommend them; associations of classic taste are naturally connected
with the classic materials of marble or bronze; and architecture, when
displayed as such, seems to acquire additional solidity by the presence
of sculpture. But works of sculpture of the first excellence should be
admitted to the library or drawing room, and even fragments of rare
beauty should be enshrined with like distinction. For the present,
however, we are in the hall. I do not recommend mixing mural painting
and sculpture: no painted devices should compete injudiciously with the
bas-reliefs. But let us suppose that your bas-reliefs are in the outer
hall, and that you have only some sculptured vases on detached
pedestals in the inner hall or corridor, then by all means decorate the
walls of the latter with arabesques: to these we shall return. In the
staircase, also, it will be necessary to make your election between the
two arts. I will assume that you decide for painting. Few people linger
in a staircase; still fewer break their necks to look at a painted
ceiling. If the scene affects the eye and the imagination agreeably,
this may be considered sufficient. When we see the whole Pantheon on
the ceiling and walls of great staircases, this undoubtedly might be
defended on the ground that a mere passing impression of magnificence
is intended: but the exuberance of quantity rather than of quality is
here obvious. In whatever mode the walls of the staircase are adorned,
the decoration should be entirely subservient to the architectural
effect. This involves a more radical objection to the mythologic crowds
before alluded to, because they have frequently the effect (and
intentionally so) of destroying all idea of the angles of the building.
I am of opinion, on the contrary, that the decorator should dispose his
paintings in shapes which shall appear to grow out of and complete the
architecture. The inclination of the panelling of the wall to agree
with the line of the stairs, may be considered incompatible with
paintings: a horizontal termination, perhaps level with the chief
landing-place, is essential, and the triangular spaces, or sections of
such spaces, between this and the stairs, had better be left nearly
plain, and not very light in colour. Of all mistakes, that of
introducing painted figures, sometimes the size of life, where living
figures must so often come in contact with them, is the worst.

The compartment or compartments above the horizontal line might be
painted in fresco, certainly not in oil on the wall, nor in the newly
revived encaustic, at least not till it has been further tried. The
figures should not extend to the angles of the walls where the
staircase turns; the pseudo or real compartments which form the frames
might finish at a little distance from the angle; the real wall is, in
short, never to be lost sight of; and whatever merits ocular illusion
may have in paintings generally, it would be injudicious to attempt it
here. Where the light is unfavourable for painting, the flattest style
of bas-relief is still admissible. But as you are especially desirous
of having your staircase coloured, I really can propose nothing fitter
to gratify the eye and imagination merely, than the more refined and at
the same time familiar subjects of the Greek mythology; such as the
personifications of Poetry, the progress of the Hours and of Light, and
so forth. Such subjects afford the best materials for mere beauty of
line and drapery, for composition generally, and, if not too
statue-like, for colour; and even when they suggest no profounder range
of thought, (not that their import is necessarily thus superficial,)
they leave an elegant impression on the mind. The objection is, that
they are old; but there would be some novelty in treating them as
detached compositions, instead of beclouding and peopling the whole
space in the style of the seventeenth century. It is to be remarked,
that Raphael and Michael Angelo bounded their compositions of this kind
by definite forms, especially on ceilings. Pietro da Cortona and the
machinists generally, were as intent on destroying the connection
between painting and architecture as the great masters were to preserve

But this separation of the compositions into compartments supposes at
once a great latitude in the choice of subjects. Milton's smaller
poems, and many other English sources, might be preferred to classic
inventions; only it should be remembered, that fresco, from the nature
of its means, is privileged to aim at the ideal rather than the actual
world, and that the character of the decorations required for the place
must necessarily influence the selection and treatment of the subjects.
Dark effects are equally unfit for the situation and for the powers of
fresco. In the ornamented divisions of the compartments, perhaps
partial gilding might be employed with better effect than colours; on
the ceiling both might be introduced, (in merely decorative forms,)
unless your staircase ends in light, in which case your glass must of
course be ornamented, even if colourless.

Dining rooms, strictly so called and employed, are generally unadorned
with pictures: this hardly seems necessary. In theory we may admit that
subjects requiring some contemplation would be out of place in a room
exclusively devoted to "the table;" but portraits of celebrated
individuals, and landscapes, although they cannot be duly examined in
such moments, may convey associations, to which the spectator, even if
not particularly conversant in pictures, is supposed to be alive at all
times. Portraits of the class alluded to, as historic texts, are
connected with _time_; and landscape, especially if founded on actual
scenes, suggests the conditions of _place_. A room used for the purpose
in question, and for _nothing else_, is, however, not the place where
fine works of art should be bestowed; and I incline to think that this
is the fittest field for small frescos and arabesques. This, in short,
is one of the occasions to please the eye and the imagination merely.
Accordingly, in the mode proposed, no definite idea is presented to the
mind, but an air of elegant and festive splendour surrounds the guests.
There should, however, be endless variety; scarcely a form should be
repeated in the details, although an architectural symmetry is, as
usual, to be preserved in the masses.

A dining room _per se_ is not uncommon; but a professed and exclusive
breakfast room supposes a degree of order in the family migrations, to
which the muses could hardly be expected to accommodate themselves.
Nevertheless, to complete my catalogue, I will suppose one; or rather I
will suppose that one of your drawing rooms is used chiefly as a
morning room. Indeed, without condemning a family to betake themselves
to particular rooms at stated hours, it may be allowable to decorate
and furnish apartments on such a supposition, by way of ensuring a
marked and agreeable variety of character. Lucullus had even a series
of dining rooms from the "Apollo" downwards; and we learn from
Vitruvius,[8] that the opulent Romans changed the scene of their
banquets according to the season of the year. The morning has its own
feelings even for those whom affluence frees from any kind of labour.
The purposes of the day are unfinished--every thing is contingent.
Under such circumstances the character or subject of pictures is to be
adapted to the mind--not the mind to the subject. The open face of
nature by sea and land may here enliven the walls, and agree with the
excursive feelings of the hour. The chase and its incidents may here
triumph. The English pastoral is here strictly in its place. Solemn
themes, solemn effects, should not be admitted; while all that responds
to buoyancy of spirit would, on the contrary, be appropriate. It need
not be gravely objected, that accidental or even average states of
feeling may be little in unison with the impressions which the arts
profess to give; for the same objection is frequently applicable to all
of the accompaniments of civilized life, nay, to the beauties of
nature, which so often appeal even to cultivated human sympathies in
vain. The occasional contradiction is unavoidable, where, of two
conditions, one is permanent, the other mutable.

  [8] De Architect, 1. vi. c. 7.

Corridors on the ground-floor, or even upstairs in houses where
pictures do not abound, may be fitly decorated with arabesques. The
same kind of ornament might be applied to garden pavilions, and, in the
present instance, even to your portico next the lake, if there are no
statues there, but not to conservatories, where the conventional forms
and tints of art would contend injudiciously with nature. In these
decorations it is absolutely necessary to set out with an architectural
scheme, and subdivide the spaces with some attention to congruity and
subordination. In the details, pleasing masses and forms are essential,
because here nothing can be concealed; there is, strictly speaking, no
chiaro-scuro, no perspective: form and colour are the chief means. The
possibility of approaching and even coming in contact with the painted
wall, suggests the necessity of a small scale in the objects, and of
precision and delicacy of outline; yet, from the circumstance of the
forms and hues being relieved on a light ground, they are at the same
time effective at a considerable distance.[9] Stucco ornaments in very
low relief, mixed with the painting, are admissible, (as they can
hardly be said to come under the head of sculpture,) but they require a
strong light to display them.

  [9] The best examples of decorations of this kind are now accessible
  to all, in a recently published work by Thurmer and Gutensohn,
  containing the arabesques of the Vatican, the Farnesina, the Villa
  Lanti, and the Villa Madama: edited by Ludwig Gruner, to be had of
  Mr. Murray, Albemarle Street: with this work may be classed the
  publications of Zahn, on the ornamental inventions of Giulio Romano
  at Mantua, and on the decorations of Pompeii.

I cannot recommend frescos for the sitting rooms of dwelling houses.
The sum of enjoyment to be derived from one or two large paintings is
not to be compared to that which the contributions of various schools
can afford, even assuming the highest merit. It is true, frescos like
those of the Villa Madama near Rome, from the school of Raphael, may be
beautifully executed in a small size, but they still seem fitter for
open galleries than for rooms. (I have only ventured to except the
dining room.) The impossibility of change in such situations is an
unpleasant feeling; in a public building, on the contrary, it is
satisfactory, and a staircase approaches this character. I may here
observe, that a staircase covered with ancient family portraits is
seldom agreeable to the eye; indeed if it were a desirable kind of
decoration, centuries must often elapse before the materials would be
ready. The first impression on seeing a quantity of portraits in a
staircase is, that it is an accidental if not a troublesome
accumulation, and that there is no room for the pictures in better
situations. Far be it from me to speak with any disrespect of the taste
for family portraits so peculiar to the English. The domestic
"charities," it has been often observed, are pleasingly fostered by
them; but I hold it not always necessary to place the portraits of the
household in prominent situations. The interest such works inspire is
in most cases strictly domestic and private. The portrait has, in
short, no pretension to be conspicuous to all eyes till the individual
is celebrated, or till the work of art is canonized. These conditions,
I admit, may often exist from the first; but then, _à fortiori_, a
staircase is not the place for such a production. The Romans
appropriated one of the most public rooms of the house (the _tablinum_)
to genealogies, records, and inscriptions relating to the family
history, and covered the remaining space--often the _atrium_ as
well--with the portraits and busts of their ancestors.[10] This does
not appear to have been the custom with the Athenians.

  [10] Juv. Sat. 8; Plin. 1. xxxv. c. 2.

We have decided against frescos in what are called sitting rooms: your
oil pictures are, however, to be selected. I shall consider the library
as distinct from the drawing rooms; but it is quite possible to blend
their character. The library in the ducal palace at Urbino, had a room
or study adjoining it, decorated with portraits (in this case, by the
way, they appear to have been frescos) of learned men of all ages. In a
library, literally to be used as such, pictures of extensive interest
seem to be inappropriate. They may be said to divert the attention from
the business or amusement of the place. But the portrait of the poet,
or the sage, is a source of pleasing and elevating associations, and
may sometimes command a deep interest. The library may contain the
cabinets of gems and medals, the collections of engravings, the terra
cottas, &c.; or if the drawing room is ample enough, all these
treasures of virtù may be deposited there. I prefer a library without
coloured decorations; the wood-work may be carved in flat relief, even
to the panels of the walls; a mode of decoration now beautifully
supplied by embossed leather, which need not be dark in colour.
Whatever colour appears, except in the portraits, miniatures, or
illuminations hung around, should be in the books; these should strike
the eye, and be, so to speak, in the foreground of the picture. Vases,
or busts, may surmount the cases. The ancients preferred the latter;
and many, like Asinius Pollio, collected in their libraries the
authentic, and even imaginary, portraits of great men. Among the latter
was the bust of Homer.[11] The light is generally so unfavourable in
the upper part of modern rooms, that busts when placed so high, are
reduced to mere ornaments, and require the addition of names. This,
indeed, is not objectionable in any case, for the interest of a
portrait commonly depends on historical associations. I see no
objection even to inscribing both the subject and the name of the
master under works of art generally: a volume bears its title and
author's name; and pictures, to many, are as sealed books till inquiry
is stimulated or interest quickened by similar means. When the
description is too long to admit of this, the words "see Catalogue, No.
--" might be added.

  [11] Plin. 1. xxxv. c. 2.

If colour is admitted any where in the library, it might be in subjects
on the ceiling, allowable here, if at all, in the region of easy chairs
and occasional meditation; perhaps too, to a certain extent, in the
windows. The introduction of subjects on ceilings has not been
recommended generally, but in the system of arabesque painting the
universal decoration of the walls requires to be carried into the
ceiling. Sculpture, from the reasons already given, or rather in
accordance with the same taste, is quite admissible in the library.
Cicero frequently writes to his friend at Athens, to send him any good
works in sculpture, fit to adorn the library and residence of a man of

  [12] Epist. ad Attic. 1. i. c. 3, 8, 9, 10, &c. It is remarkable that
  a bas-relief, in the finest Greek style, representing a philosopher
  reading, was found in the ruins of Cicero's Tusculan villa. Some
  English sculptors and myself, during an excursion from Rome, first, I
  may almost say, discovered this marble, walled into the staircase of
  the Episcopal palace at Grotta Ferrata. A mould was afterwards taken
  from it, through the exertions of Mr. Gibson, and the cast is now
  common in Rome. The marble was, I think, afterwards removed to the

But the choicest works of taste should unquestionably be in the room
most occupied in hours of calm seclusion and leisure; and in order to
find wall enough for the pictures, this may be assumed to be the
principal drawing room. Here, therefore, may be the best specimens of
painting, and even of sculpture, if the space permits: here, the
chimney-piece may be by Flaxman, and the doors of the print-case by
Stothard. The pictures cannot be very large, on account of their number
and the size of the room. This, the objection which in a great measure
excludes the grandest works from our dwelling houses, was met by the
Italians, and by Nicolo Poussin, by reducing the grand to domestic
conditions. If you have only small pictures, however, you cannot cover
the upper part of the walls, for you are not supposed to have any work
of art _here_ which can be sacrificed.

Enlightened connoisseurs see excellence both in the Dutch and Italian
schools, but they are often embarrassed in arranging them together. I
am convinced, however, from instances I have seen, that this is to be
accomplished satisfactorily. It is sometimes argued, that no one reads
Milton and Crabbe alternately; but this is hardly a parallel case. Many
go to a gallery to look at a particular picture, and see nothing else;
the eye is blind when the attention is not actively exerted. So in a
room, the spectator selects his favourites--his favourites at least for
the time, and scarcely looks beyond them. At another moment, he will
perhaps direct his undivided attention to works which he passed over on
a former occasion. A certain congruity is sometimes to be accomplished,
by attending to impressions rather than names and schools. Many an
Italian picture would not be out of place with the Flemish and Dutch
school; while Vandyck, Rembrandt, Cuyp, and others, might sometimes
harmonize in many respects with the genius of the south. The
arrangement of pictures comprehends some of the difficulties which the
artist experiences in the production of _one_; for a certain balance
and repose are as essential for the eye, as an harmonious impression
for the mind. Much must, therefore, depend on the nature of the
materials; and the (assumed) different character of your two drawing
rooms may here be an advantage.

You, I know, will not ask whether the productions of the English school
are admissible in this "Tribune" as well as elsewhere. Such is the
variety of English art, that the more refined Dutch, the Flemish, and
the Italian taste, may be recognized in it by turns, and no modern
pictures harmonize with the scheme of colour and effect which
characterize the master-works of former ages so well as the English of
the last century. Thus much of schools, and those we have not mentioned
may be tried by the same tests.

With regard to subjects, the mind as well as the eye must be respected:
the _ethos_ of painting is quite compatible with familiar and homely
subjects; and, on the other hand, the greatest Italian masters have
sometimes sought for poetic impressions in regions where it would be
unsafe to follow them. But, with this reservation, you must not be
exclusive: various minds, or the same mind in various moods, will like
variety of aliment. In other situations, which we have had occasion to
consider, the subject has been in a great degree calculated on the
probable feelings of the spectator; here, the subject is independent,
because the attention is free, and the whole art appeals by turns to
the whole range of thought. The leisure of cultivated human beings
should be so far complimented as to assume that all the strivings of
the mind are worthy to be ministered to. It is a mistake to suppose
that solemn or even terrible themes are always objectionable; I believe
it will be found that the grander efforts of invention (I speak of
works by the ancient masters) are very generally appreciated by the
gentler sex. On the other hand, the fondness for humbler subjects is
not always referable to the homeliness of the incident represented. The
subject often acquires elevation, and commands respect, by the evidence
of mental labour and power in the artist. To a true connoisseur, this
skilful application of principles derived from universal nature,
supersedes the mere subject; and the idea which he recognizes, whatever
may be its vehicle, is grand and poetical. Less experienced observers
are often deceived by the title of pictures: "A Court Yard" (de Hooghe)
sounds unpromising enough; but when it is seen that the painter has
represented _daylight_ with magical truth, and that all is subservient
to this, his aim must be acknowledged to be dignified. It is to be
observed too, that the influence of this high aim on the part of the
artist, often extends itself to the treatment of the materials which
constitute his ostensible subject. It is easy to see from the
unaffected feeling, as well as from the _relative_ character of the
execution in some (though not all) of the Dutch masters, that the real
subject of their meditation was noble. I should like to see a
_catalogue raisonné_ on the principle to which I have alluded,
distinguishing the title of a picture from the real intention of the
artist. Many frequenters of the National Gallery criticise Reynolds's
Three Graces, whence it appears they are not sufficiently aware that
the personages in question are portraits of three fashionable ladies of
the day, under the name of the Graces, &c. If some titles were
translated, what a contrast the real import of the work would present
to the actual name! What a change, for instance, from the modesty of
some of ----'s titles, "Crossing the Brook,"--"Coal-barges in the
Thames: Night," to the beauty and grandeur that would have to be
clothed in language! But what language would be adequate?

With respect to the colour of the walls on which pictures are hung, my
opinion is singular without being novel. I am quite aware that it is
necessary to consider wall, pictures, gold frames, and all, in relation
to general effect: the gold, especially, is to be treated as part of
the coup d'[oe]il. But, though I remember examples of light walls hung
with pictures, producing an agreeable effect, I prefer a colour which
displays the pictures more, and must also maintain, that living
pictures are seldom seen to the best advantage against a bright ground;
the quantity of actual light (it may always be assumed) making
reflected light unnecessary: my idea, in one word, is, that the wall
should not be so light as the lights of the pictures; and this supposes
a sufficiently low tint. Of such colours, the most agreeable is the
long established rich red, which might be sufficiently allied to
purple, to give value to the gold frames and the warm colour of the
pictures. I need not recommend you to avoid too much unbroken polish in
the frames, since this is now very generally disapproved of.

I have, as you see, exercised, apparently without scruple, the
dictatorial authority with which you have invested me; but the frequent
recurrence of "my opinion" becomes painful even to the arbiter who has
a _carte blanche_ to lay down the law. As a relief, I intended to have
given you some extracts from an Italian ethical work (printed about the
middle of the 16th century[13]) in which there is a chapter on the
"ornamenti della casa;" but they would have been, perhaps, little
suited to your purpose, and I have already far exceeded the space I
ought to occupy. As I may not, however, again have an opportunity of
alluding to this work, which is not unimportant in the history of
Italian art, I wish briefly to advert to one or two points.

  [13] Castiglione Saba, Ricordi ovvero Ammaestramenti, &c. Milano,

The list of pictures given seems to prove that the Italians long
remained faithful to the older masters. The names of Titian and
Coreggio do not appear! (I hope you will not follow the Catalogue in
such defects.) This is not to be explained, by supposing that the
writer speaks for himself only; for he repeatedly says, "Some like to
ornament their rooms with the works of ----, others, with those of
----," and so on, as if professing to give a variety of tastes. I can
only account for this in one way: the author lived in Milan, and it
would appear that the taste of Leonardo, closely allied as it was to
that of the schools of Central Italy, long continued to influence the
Milanese amateurs as well as the Milanese painters.

I pass over the musical instruments, which, beside their chief use,
"piacciono assai al'occhio," especially when made by Lorenzo da Pavia,
or Bastiano da Verona. Donatello, Michael Angelo, Alfonso Lombardi, and
Cristoforo Romano, are the sculptors he enumerates. The terra cottas
are by Pagaino da Modena; the bronzes by Verocchio and Pollaiuolo.
Beside antique medals, he admires those of Giovanni Corona of Venice,
together with the chasings of Caradosso. Among the works of the latter,
he mentions a silver inkstand in basso rilievo, "fatica d'anni venti
sei! ma certo divina." Cameos and intaglios should be, he thinks, by
the hand of Pietro Maria, Tagliacarne, &c. but above all by Giovanni di

Now for his list of painters: Filippo Lippi, Mantegna, Giovanni
Bellini, Leonardo da Vinci, although, he adds, he left but few
works.[14] Then follow the younger Lippi, and Perugino, and, heralded
with appropriate honours, Raphael, accompanied by Giulio Romano. Pietro
della Francesca, and Melozzo da Forlì, are characterized well, as
indeed are all the painters. He next mentions some artists, all monks,
who wrought in inlaid wood; (commesso, tarsia;) but his highest praises
in this department are reserved for Fra Damiano da Bergamo, the artist
of the choir of S. Domenico at Bologna. The engravings he speaks of are
by Albert Durer and Lucas van Leyden.

  [14] The author says he was an eye-witness of the Gascon crossbowmen
  making a target of Leonardo's model for the equestrian statue of
  Francesco Sforza.

Tapestries from Flanders, carpets from Syria, Turkey, and Barbary,
figured leather from Spain, are all admitted to be desirable ornaments:
"Tutti questi ornamenti ancora commendo perchè arguiscono ingegno,
politezza, civilità e cortegiania." The author next describes his own
treasures; but, except a head by Donatello and some rare books, he has
nothing to boast of. His tastes are characteristic of the age: though a
priest, his ambition is to have a collection of arms and armour, if
wrought by a good Italian or German armourer; and above all, he aspires
to the possession of a large steel mirror, of the kind made by Giovanni
della Barba, a German: the mirrors of glass then in use, were, it
appears, very small and imperfect. The author's judicious observations
(to which I refer you) on the chief use of mirrors, may reconcile you
to their occasional introduction over chimney pieces, which, for the
rest, are by no means the best places for pictures.

The chapter ends with a pleasing story about a mirror and a lady, and
Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, a story not unworthy to be a
_pendant_ for "Collalto,"[15] and which might have furnished a subject
for the graceful pencil of Stothard; but it is time to make an end.

      I am yours faithfully,

      C. L. EASTLAKE.

  [15] See Rogers's Italy.


      [Illustration: _Maistre, il sembleroit que ne fussiez grandement sage
      de nous escrire ces balivernes!_]


[Illustration: Plate II. South elevation.]

[Illustration: Plate III. North elevation.]

[Illustration: Plate IV. East elevation.]

[Illustration: Plate V. Proposed alteration of the tower.]

Transcriber's note:

Text in small capitals was transformed to all capitals.

The following corrections have been made:

p. 22: "expect too much" Period added after much; "pure Pompean house"
Pompean changed to Pompeian;

p. 36: "into a small anti-room" anti-room changed to ante-room;

p. 40: "not a toothach" toothach changed to toothache;

p. 42: "statues and bas reliefs" bas reliefs changed to bas-reliefs;

p. 48: "particlar fashion of the day" particlar changed to particular;

p. 50: "LOCK EASTLAKE, ESQ," Comma after ESQ replaced with period;

p. 55: A misplaced line. The original text is [relevant part enclosed
by number signs (#)]: "In approving the common practice of placing
statues and bas-reliefs in statue has generally the advantage of
being seen in various points of view, and thus commands attention in
situations where paintings could not. The rich effect of bas-reliefs
is sufficient to recommend them; associations of classic taste are
naturally connected with the classic materials of marble or #the
principal hall, I do not depart from the spirit of our first
principles. A# bronze; and architecture, when displayed as such,
seems to acquire additional" This part was moved to after "In
approving the common practice of placing statues and bas-reliefs in"

Footnote 8: "De Architect." Period replaced with comma;

Everything else retained as printed.

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