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Title: Colour Decoration of Architecture
Author: Ward, James
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.

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                         COLOUR DECORATION OF

[Illustration: _Frontispiece._]



                         COLOUR DECORATION OF

                       IN ITALY, FRANCE, GERMANY
                         AND ENGLAND. FOR THE
                           USE OF DECORATORS
                             AND STUDENTS


                              JAMES WARD


                       TWENTY-TWO IN HALF-TONE_

                               NEW YORK
                        E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
                           681 FIFTH AVENUE

                     RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED,
                         AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.


This book is written with the view that it may be of practical service
to the decorator, student and craftsman, who may be engaged in the
practice and art of colour decoration, as applied to the interiors and
exteriors of public buildings, churches, and private dwellings. I trust
also it will be of some value to all who take an interest in the
decoration of their own houses. The people of our own countries have
been so unaccustomed to coloured buildings for the last three or four
hundred years that a strong prejudice against the use of colour in
architecture has been developed and is maintained even at the present
day. Though we may all love colour, there are very few amongst us who
have the courage to advocate its use in the decoration of buildings. We
visit Italy, France, Germany, and the East, and admire the many and
beautifully decorated churches, palaces, city halls and other public and
private buildings, but the lessons we may have learned are lost to us,
for we come back to our country to still hug our ancient prejudice
against the use of colour, and are contented with the greyness of life,
and with the dreariness and drab of our great manufacturing cities.

It is fashionable just now for many of our educated classes to talk
largely on art and decoration on public platforms, and to air their
artistic views in newspapers and magazines, but when it comes to a
question of the practical application of their preaching and writing,
they are found wanting, their courage seems to evaporate, as they think
they have done their duty in the advancement of art by simply talking
about it. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in England there was
a school of living art, and five or six centuries previous there was one
in Ireland. Is it too much to expect these golden ages of art to return
to us? We hope not, but before they do, art must become a common thought
with the people, which can hardly be said to be the case at present.

I have included in this work some brief historical reviews of colour
decoration in Italy, France, Germany and England, not so much on
historical lines, but in order to offer to the decorator and student
some account of the styles, methods and practice of the art under
consideration in the countries named, and in hopes that what I have
written in respect to these matters may prove of practical value to the
readers of this book.

I desire to thank the Authorities of the Victoria and Albert Museum, The
Dublin National Museum, the Dean of St. Alban’s Cathedral, and Mr.
William Davidson, L.R.I.B.A., Architect, Edinburgh, for their kind
permission to use the illustrations acknowledged to them in this work.

                                                               J. WARD.








THE DECORATIVE COLOURING OF INTERIORS                                 18


THE COLOURING OF EXTERIORS                                            34




ITALIAN DECORATION AND ORNAMENT                                       58


COLOURED ARCHITECTURE IN FRANCE                                       74


COLOUR DECORATION IN GERMANY                                          91


COLOUR DECORATION IN ENGLAND                                         113


PLATE                                                       _Facing page_

      By Author                                            _Frontispiece_

      OF ST. EUSTORGIO, MILAN                                          9

      CHURCH, MACCLESFIELD. By Author                                 10

      RANWORTH CHURCH, NORFOLK. English, Early Sixteenth
      Century. From Water-colour by W. Davidson                       14

      HALL, MACCLESFIELD. By Author                                   18


      PICTURES                                                        23

      ROOM CEILING AT QUEEN’S GATE, LONDON. By Author                 27

      CHURCH, NORFOLK. English, Early Sixteenth
      Century. Drawn by W. Davidson                                   28

      Author                                                          30


      BLESSING ABRAHAM. By Sir W. B. Richmond, K.C.B.,
      R.A.                                                            52

      IN ARTIFICIAL LIGHT                                             57

      ST. MAURIZO, MILAN. Victoria and Albert Museum                  58

      ROME. By Jacopo Torriti. 1287-1292                              60

      REVEALS: CHURCH OF ST. JOHN LATERAN, ROME                       61

      ANASTASIA AT VERONA                                             62

      the Victoria and Albert Museum                                  63

      Century                                                         65

      By Giulio Romano. Sixteenth Century                             68

      VATICAN. By Raffaelle. Sixteenth Century                        71

      Eighteenth Century                                              76


      CHURCH OF ST. JACQUES, LIÉGE, 1522-1588                        100

      CENTURY                                                        104



      CHURCH, NORFOLK. From a Water-colour by W.
      Davidson, Architect                                            121

      CHURCH, NORFOLK. Drawn by W. Davidson                          122

      CHURCH, NORFOLK. Drawn by W. Davidson                          123

      ABBEY                                                          125

      NORFOLK. Drawn by W. Davidson                                  126

      SHEEN HOUSE, SURREY. Eighteenth Century                        130

      ALBERT MUSEUM. By F. W. Moody                                  131




“I cannot consider Architecture as in anywise perfect without Colour.”

                             Ruskin: _Seven Lamps of Architecture_.

The History of Art testifies, in all its great periods, to the keen
delight that artists, decorators, and architects have taken in the study
of colour, and its expression in certain harmonious proportions and
arrangements for the decoration of buildings. Colour was obtained for
the adornment of a building by the use of marbles, metals, enamelled
bricks and floor mosaics, which may be classed as permanent colouring,
and structural in character, or it was applied, as in painting, wall
mosaics, and stained glass. Architects were not content with leaving
their buildings in grey and drab, for in such periods of the past, no
building was considered complete without its final application of colour

Nature, for the solace of mankind, has made most of her works beautiful,
by dressing them in coloured garments. Birds, insects, stones, gems,
trees, flowers and “weeds of glorious feature”; the countless phases of
the earth, the sea, and the sky with its clouds, when rosy-fingered at
the dawn, when sunlit in noon-day beauty, or when fringed with the gold
and crimsoned fires of the dying day, afford the clearest evidence that
nature delights in rich and bright, as well as in quiet schemes of
colour harmony. Therefore, if true art is built on the solid ground of
nature, colour cannot well be divorced from it, for although certain
uncoloured artistic creations are legitimate enough, they come under the
head of illustrations, or are portions of coloured schemes of
decoration, for colourless art, like colourless nature, is almost a
contradiction in terms.

Even a whitewashed wall, when left some time to the weather, will be
eventually changed into a variegated surface having delicate tints or
suggestions of almost every colour. We might also illustrate nature’s
dislike to monotonous uniformity of tone if we select any other colour,
however brilliant or intense, instead of white. The doors and windows of
a house may be painted, for example, in a uniform colour of the rankest
and crudest green imaginable, but if left long enough to the effects of
the weather, this harsh colour will be transformed to a beautiful and
variegated harmony of numerous and closely related tones, varying
perhaps from greys to emerald greens and peacock blues, or in other
words the rank and uniform harshness of the original colour will be
eventually oxidised and bleached into a colour harmony of variegated

From our knowledge of the changes in colour made by sunshine and storm
on outside painting and on whitewash, it might be suggested that a
country cottage with white walls should have the doors and other
woodwork, such as window shutters and frames, painted in a strong and
rich green, and the window sashes in vermilion. Such a cottage should
have a roof of thatch, or failing that, a red-tiled roof. In a few
months after the cottage was painted it would lose any supposed
harshness of colour that it might have had when first done, and would
afterwards present a pleasant note of subdued richness of colour, that
would be in complete harmony with the country or landscape around it.
But if the cottage must have a slate roof, and if its walls are of red
brick, then the doors, window shutters and frames should still be
painted green, slightly inclining to yellow, but the window sashes
should be painted white.

As regards the outside painting of the modern “concrete” cottages and
villas, which are now contributing so much to the deepening of the grey
and gloom of town and country, nothing short of the addition of inlaid
panels of mosaic, or tile decoration, and the most brilliant colours
imaginable on the woodwork will serve to relieve the dreary and
leaden-hued monotony of the Portland cement walls.

If we love to see colours in nature and in pictures, why should we not
also love to see a beautiful, a commonplace, or even any badly designed
building decorated in pleasant schemes of harmonious colouring? We are
quite prepared to hear the modern critic, as well as the modern
“cubist,” reply to this, that “art is art because it is not nature,”
that “it is absurd for an artist to worship, or to represent Beauty,” or
they may use any other convenient shibboleth, to protest against the
representation of nature in art either in form or colour.

The question may be asked, “Why are the outsides of our modern buildings
practically colourless?” when we know that during the ancient, medieval,
and the early Renaissance periods the exteriors, as well as the
interiors of all buildings were strongly coloured, either by the means
of using natural marbles, metal-work, tiles, mosaics, or by painted
decorations. Many notable examples of colour decoration, both exterior
and interior, it is true, have been executed in modern times, but modern
nations are still very timid in the use of colour, especially in regard
to its application to the exterior of buildings. We are not yet quite
emancipated from the white, grey, or drab effects, but we must at least
be thankful for the note of colour in the red brick, and occasional
red-tiled roof of the modern dwelling-house.

Our lack of colour appreciation has generally been laid to the charge of
Puritanism, but this has been hitherto chiefly associated with the
white-washing of church interiors. Cromwell, or rather his fanatical
followers, have had a deal to answer for as iconoclasts, but at the same
time it must be remembered that Cromwell was a friend of artists, and a
patron of the arts in his day, and we certainly are indebted to him for
the preservation of Raffaelle’s Cartoons, the masterpieces of that great
painter, which he hid in safety in the cellars of Hampton Court Palace
during the troubles of the Civil War. Since Cromwell’s time, however,
colour decoration has crept into many of our public buildings, and some
buildings in England were treated in colour thirty or forty years ago;
but to-day, and we can hardly blame Cromwell for this, figuratively
speaking, it may be said that a fresh colour-destroying wave of
whitewash is sweeping over the country, which is now blotting out the
former efforts of our old decorators.

The interiors of most of our public buildings are generally of an
indescribable drab colour, if they are not painted white. It requires
some courage to decorate properly in colour, as well as experience and
ability, but it is very humiliating to find that notwithstanding our
plentiful supply of decorative artists, the majority of our public
buildings are painted in the style which we find frequent in bathrooms.
The white of the bathroom has certainly something to recommend it. It
looks decidedly clean, when it is freshly done, and has an air of great
humility. Many people advocate white because, they say, it is safe, that
is, because it relieves them of the solving of a colour problem; some
museum authorities recommend it because they say that it is the best
contrasting background for the objects and examples. The palace and the
ballroom people advocate it because they think that ladies’ dresses and
Court uniforms look best against it, but all these reasons are just the
ones that an artist would put forward to prove that white is not the
best background for museum objects, and should not be used for the walls
of a state assembly-room.

Dark, or strongly coloured objects in a museum look doubly darker
against white walls, so that often you cannot see the beauty of their
forms or the modelling and colour value of their surface details unless
you get your eye quite close to them, which is sometimes impossible. On
the other hand, suitably coloured and decorated walls often bestow a
certain charm on the objects and examples by enhancing their beauty and
preciousness, and by linking them together with the decoration, avoiding
that mechanical and cold effect of isolation which many objects present
on the colourless and undecorated walls of some museums.

As regards ballrooms, or state assembly-rooms, white walls make the
worst kind of backgrounds for dresses and uniforms, as they afford too
great a contrast with brightly coloured ones, and in the case of white
dresses no contrast at all.

There is evidently a strong objection to the use of colour for the
decoration of our public buildings; it is avoided as if it were an
unholy thing, something desperately wicked, like the “scarlet and
purple” trappings of the unhallowed lady of Babylon. Yet we see that the
Almighty has clothed His glorious creation in thousands of tints of
lovely colours, and on the other hand we find that Nature uses white
very sparingly indeed. We moderns, however, live an artificial life, we
are always in such a hurry that we have neither time nor inclination to
learn the lessons we should learn from Nature; and besides, we are more
or less obsessed with a puritanical pride, like the pride which apes
humility, so in our indifference to the beauty of colour we seek for
salvation in whitewash and plenty of it.

Perhaps, however, the Italian architect, Palladio, who flourished in the
sixteenth century, was really more responsible than Puritanism for the
fashion of colourless buildings, for he was one of the first who
regarded colour as an evil thing, as he has said that “white was more
acceptable to the Gods,” an absurd statement, if he believed that the
Gods were responsible for the colouring of Nature. It may be safely
stated that the fashion of colourless buildings had its inception in
Europe in Palladio’s time, for previous to this date, which ushered in
the decadence of the Renaissance, all the interiors and exteriors of
buildings were decorated in colour from the earliest historic times. Any
ancient building that had any architectural pretensions was not only
coloured, but treated in the richest and brightest colours known to the
decorator, and such colours were applied in their full strength. In the
present day we have got so much accustomed to the absence of colour in
architecture that when we do see the rare example of a richly coloured
interior--exterior colouring is out of the question--which is not often,
we must admit, we may be shocked by the novelty of it, and though we may
secretly admire the daring of the decorator, we should be accused of our
bad taste if we ventured to give it our unqualified approval.

Much as we all love colour, we seem to be afraid to get too far away
from white, or very pale and neutral tints, in decoration. We appear to
be too timid, or anxious not to offend the Palladian taste of the
public. On the other hand, in the matter, for example, of church
decoration, we are extraordinarily inconsistent, for we tolerate and
encourage the employment of the most daring combinations of colour in
stained-glass windows, and yet, as a rule, leave the rest of the
architecture colourless and cold, so that in the majority of our
churches the walls and ceilings look more chilly and cheerless in
contrast with the brilliant glories of their stained-glass windows. The
majority of our churches are a kind


_To face p. 9._]      [_National Museum, Dublin._


(From portion of the model in the National Museum, Dublin.)]

of reflex of the present general aspect of many medieval ones that have
had their former decoration sacrilegiously scraped off their piers,
walls, ribs, and ceiling vaults, and so deprived of their former beauty
and comeliness.

Architecture is the mother of the arts and crafts, and she certainly
looks all the happier when accompanied by her children, Sculpture and
Painting, but when they are absent from her, her dignity is not
augmented or enhanced by her saddened expression of loneliness that
accentuates the coldness of her isolation.

We suppose that no one objects to the fashion of filling church windows
with coloured glass; on the contrary, we should be thankful that in
these modern times this reminiscence of ancient colour expression still
remains to us, but why do we draw the line at coloured windows? Why are
we not more consistent, and colour also the rest of our churches,
interiors and exteriors as well, with coloured marbles, mosaic, or
painted decoration? Seeing that we tolerate and admire colour decoration
in stained-glass windows, there seems to be no legitimate reason why we
should not have panels of coloured mosaic, enamelled terra-cotta or
tiles, fresco, or coloured marbles as vehicles of colour decoration in
churches as well as stained glass. Any of these materials or methods of
decorative colour expression might well be used in the carrying out of
designs for memorials of our departed friends, and would be quite as
effective for such purposes as stained glass. But who has ever seen or
heard of a fine mosaic, or a fresco executed or painted on the walls of
a church to the memory of somebody in particular? If we adopted and
employed mosaics or frescoes as memorials of the dead, as well as
stained-glass windows, we would still be exercising a pious duty to our
departed friends, and at the same time would be assisting to make the
Temple of the Living God more comely and beautiful by adding some of the
necessary colour finish to the walls of the church.

In a church at Birmingham there are a series of most beautiful windows
in the chancel-end of the building, designed by Burne-Jones, that are
magnificent in their glory of flaming crimson hues, and are superb
examples of the artist’s composition and design. One regrets, however,
to find that the decoration of this church is typical of the usual
embellishment of the modern House of Prayer, which generally begins and
ends in the chancel windows.






It has been said that Architecture may be compared to a book, and that
Sculpture and Painting are the illustrations which serve to explain the
text and decorate the volume. It might be argued, however, that the text
of the written book may be in itself a work of art, and therefore not
require any explanatory illustrations or decorations. To a certain
extent this may be quite true, but on the other hand a book will be more
valuable, more useful, and more complete, as well as being more
beautiful, by having the additional interest of a well-designed and
appropriate setting of artistic and explanatory illustrations to
embellish the text. And just as the written matter of the book should
not be regarded as a mere background for the illustrations and
decoration, neither should the architecture be so designed as to appear
only as a background for the sculpture and painting, for the building is
the important thing, but sculpture, painting, and ornamental decoration
should be certainly employed to explain the architecture, to symbolise
the use of the building, and to give additional interest and beauty to
the fabric.

Colour in architecture ought to be employed in a structural sense, that
is, it ought to be so used that it may help out, or confirm, the logical
and indispensable features of a building that give to it the essential
qualities of repose and stability, and the tones of colour, if
judiciously selected and applied, will explain at a glance the various
forms, features, divisions and sub-divisions of the architecture more
rapidly and better than could possibly be hoped for in, say, a
colourless or undecorated building. Therefore, in the diffused and
somewhat darkened light of interiors the proper application of colour is
of inestimable value, as an explanatory help in revealing the structural
lines, the profiling of the mouldings, and the proportions of the

It is quite possible to decorate interiors in colour schemes of austere
and extreme simplicity, in delicacy, in brilliancy, or in rich and
full-toned splendour, in accordance with the nature and uses of the
building, provided that we do not interfere with the essential quality
of repose. In order that this important attribute of good architecture
may be secured and maintained it is evident that neither sculptural nor
coloured decoration should occur in isolated spots of interiors; they
should not be dotted about, or applied here and there on walls,
ceilings, pillars, mouldings, or other places, but should appear as
essential and integral parts of the natural growth of a broad
decorative scheme. It does not follow from this that certain parts of a
building, such as the ceiling, the frieze, capitals of columns and the
chancel-end or sanctuary of a church should not be more honoured by
having a richer application of colour and ornament than the other parts
of the building, but the inference is, that the latter should also be
intelligently treated in colour and decoration, in a subordinate way, so
that they will assist in the gradual leading up to the richer wealth of
the more honoured and salient parts, and so become indispensable factors
in promoting the unity of the entire scheme of decoration.

Coloured decoration which is only applied here and there in the interior
of a building gives a spotty effect that is more than often futile and
artificial. In the matter of church decoration it appears in our own
country that just now it is more or less the custom to decorate the
chancel-end of a church with a wealth of carving, stained glass, and
richly-coloured ornamentation, and to leave the rest of the interior
plain and colourless. We may be grateful, however, to find that the
universal delight in colour, one of those things which we had “loved
long since and lost awhile,” is now revealing itself in modern days
after centuries of absence, and is expressing itself, timidly, and in
isolated spots, but perhaps as time goes on it will spread again slowly,
and let us hope surely, from one end of the building to the other.

We must admit that a fine eye for colour is a natural gift as much as a
fine perception for form and proportion, or as a fine ear for music, but
a love for all these things may be inspired in us from the work and
teachings of the great masters of former ages, and certainly a love for
colour from the teachings of nature and the great schools of painting
and decorative art. That there was a golden age of decorative painting
in England in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries we know from the
remaining fragments of colour and decoration on the rood-screens and
other parts of our old churches, and though the wall decorations have
almost disappeared, the examples of painting which still remain on some
of this old woodwork clearly testify to the importance of the English
school of painting of the period mentioned.

We are more fortunate in our remaining possession of some of the finest
stained glass in the world, which was designed and set up during the
Middle Ages and early Renaissance times in England, and these rich and
splendid “jewels set in silver setting” are a further proof of the keen
delight of our early English decorators and craftsmen in the production
of refined and beautiful colour.

Many people ridicule the colouring of the Middle Ages as inharmonious
and barbarous. Such absurd ideas in respect to the use of colour by the
old decorators may have been derived from the knowledge that in early
times the artist’s palette was limited to three or four colours, besides
black and white, and


_To face p. 14._]      [_From a Water-colour by W. Davidson._


(From a Painting on the Rood Screen, Ranworth Church: English, Early
Sixteenth Century.)]

that these colours, such as red, blue, green and yellow, were applied,
in decoration, in their full strength, as undoubtedly they generally
were. But it ought to be remembered that, however crude the colours may
be, it is their arrangement, quantity, and proportion as to surface area
in the scheme of decoration, that makes, or mars, the harmony, and not
their individual strength, purity or crudeness. The early decorators
hardly ever used broken tones or half-tones in their colour
arrangements, and perhaps this largely accounts for the mistaken views
that some hold in regard to the decorative colouring of the Middle Ages.
There is of course a great beauty in broken-toned colouring, which is in
much favour in modern decoration, but it is not a matter of much
difficulty to harmonise such broken tones and tints. A greater
difficulty is to harmonise an arrangement of colours in their full
strength of hue, a task for a great colourist; but this we know has
often been done successfully in all the best periods of art, and it
certainly was done by the old decorators of the Middle Ages in painting,
mosaic, enamels, and stained glass, in spite of the limitation of their
palette, or, shall we say, because of it?

In all the great periods of art there was certainly the keenest delight
in colour. It is difficult for some of us to believe that the Parthenon
and other Greek temples, and also all of our old cathedrals were at one
time highly coloured, but they certainly were so shortly after they
were built. The modern prejudice against the use of colour in
architecture set in about the same time that sculpture also became, like
painting, an independent art, which was about the beginning of the
decadence of the Renaissance, at the end of the sixteenth century.

The architect, sculptor and painter should confer together, and if
possible work in harmony with each other, so that when a cathedral, a
church, a city hall, or any other public building is about to be
erected, the complete scheme of the finished decoration should be
formulated when the plans are being made. At any rate, the architect
should always determine and keep in mind the style and nature of the
subsequent colour effect and decoration, and so design his building in
accordance with such preconceived ideas. That would be the ideal way to
plan a building, after the uses of the structure were clearly defined,
but unfortunately we are aware that the cases are few and rare in which
the architect is enabled to do this, or that he lives long enough to see
his ideas carried out. We might point out one notable instance of modern
work where the architect’s original ideas of the decoration are now
being carried out, namely, in the new cathedral at Westminster. When
planning this important building the architect thought out, very
carefully, what the methods and nature of the colour finish were to be,
and it is interesting and gratifying to find that the decoration of the
brick shell of the building, including the main walls, the chapel, the
crypt, and the sanctuary, are now being finished with a coloured marble
sheathing, and with splendid mosaics, all of which he had made provision
for in his original design.



When treating any building in colour, importance should be given
obviously to the emphasising, and not to the effacement of the
structural features, but when the building is deficient in such
features, or very poor in this respect, it is the duty of the decorator
to provide, in some measure, for this deficiency by dividing, for
example, the large plain surfaces into panels, friezes, dadoes,
spandrels, or other subdivisions, by the use of painted bands and lines,
which may take the place of mouldings, but these painted bands and
fillets should be treated flatly, and not in imitation of relief
mouldings. These enclosing bands around panels, or large wall and
ceiling subdivisions, may in certain cases be decorated with simple
repeating patterns of ornament, and in others, if necessary, left in
plain tints of colour. If, however, there should happen to be some
permanent structural features, such as marble columns and entablatures,
or woodwork in oak or mahogany, etc., already in the interior, and whose
natural surfaces must be preserved, it follows then




that the decorator must arrange his scheme of colour, not only to
harmonise with the natural colour of these permanent structural
features, but he must modify his colouring so that it will in no way
overpower the colour of the permanent material, and so weaken the
appearance of its structural character. On the other hand, great care
should be taken to use only such tones in the colours as will prevent
these permanent architectural features from having the undesirable
effect of an extreme isolation in the building.

Whatever scale of colour is used in a building there should be a strict
maintenance of its relationship between all the great divisions and
subdivisions. The colourings of the latter may be treated as a sort of
echo, in lower tones, of those of the former, but not so subdued as to
give sharp contrasts. Every feature of the architecture, major or minor,
should be well defined and balanced in colour harmony, so as to keep the
general effect free from any startling abruptness or discordance, in
order that they may all contribute to, and so preserve, the necessary
breadth of treatment.

The principal or broad contrast in the colour scheme should be between
the structural and non-structural parts, or the active parts such as
columns, piers, ribs and cornices, and the inert surfaces, such as
panels, ceilings, walls, vaults, and spandrels. The more intense and
forcible expressions of colour relief ought to be used on selected
portions of the structural forms, if they are not already of natural
coloured materials, in order to unite them together, to give them a
vigorous expression of life, and to emphasise their importance in the


There are no parts of a building that lend themselves to a more varied
treatment in colour and decoration than the main walls of an interior,
and this diversity depends on the character, architectural style and
uses of the building. It is obvious that the same treatment cannot well
be given to the walls of a church, a theatre, a concert or an assembly
room, and a private residence, though it often is done. Nor can an
interior, like that of a public hall or palace, that may have such
architectural features as columns, pilasters, and well-marked
panellings, either of marble, stone, or of wood construction, be treated
in a similar manner to that which may be proper for the walls of a room
which may be devoid of any architectural features.

Then, again, we have to consider, before we set about the planning of
the colour or decoration of a wall, whether it is to be partly covered
with pictures in frames, or if great surfaces are to be coloured which
will have nothing placed or hung upon them, or if the large surfaces are
already divided into panels, or if the wall is to have a dado and a
frieze, if there are already hangings or window curtains of




a certain colour, and the carpet and furniture likewise. We may also
have to decide whether our wall colouring is to be a harmony of analogy,
or closely related colour tones, in accordance with the above objects in
the room--that would be the simplest and safest method of colour
treatment for the walls--or if it is to be a harmony of contrast in
colour, which offers a more difficult problem, but if well done, would
be more effective and interesting.

There are two other questions regarding the colour treatment of walls,
or rather of interior colouring generally, which for the sake of
argument we might consider, though they are of very little importance,
and certainly have nothing like the importance which some decorators
attach to them. We are told that before we begin the colouring of a room
we are to ask ourselves “What is the aspect?” and also, “Is the room to
be used mostly in the day, or mostly at night?” The questions seem
logical enough, but we might well say in reply, that as regards the
aspect of a room, what does it really matter whether the colouring is in
a harmony of cool or warm, light or dark, arrangements of colour,
provided we do obtain a harmony? Again, in our own countries, where we
get so few days of long sunshine, is it really a matter of importance to
decorate a room with a southern aspect in any way different from one
with a northern aspect? The greatest decorators of the finest periods
never seemed to trouble themselves much about aspects. They were more
interested in producing good decoration, and in the planning of fine
colour schemes. As regards the decoration and colouring of a room for
day, or for night uses, we may say at once, that if we except the
interiors of theatres, there are hardly any rooms, in either public or
private buildings and residences, that are not used both in the day and
at night, so we may safely disregard the problem of colouring that is to
be viewed by artificial light, for in nine cases out of ten, at least,
ordinary interiors are seen, and ordinary rooms used, both in the day
and night. It is best, therefore, to arrange our colour schemes so that
they will look harmonious in the daylight, and such colouring will not
suffer much by artificial light, provided the room is well lighted by
electric or incandescent gas lamps, and is not in a state of low
illumination, or semi-darkness.

We shall say something later on in reference to the changes which some
colours undergo when seen in artificial light. (Plate 13.)

We offer a few suggestions for the general colouring of walls in rooms
of an ordinary residence or in public buildings, namely:--If a red is
decided upon it should be of a deep pink slightly broken or toned with a
very little blue and yellow; if the colour is to be of a yellowish tone,
it ought to be pale and golden inclining to a light brown; if blue it
should be of a pale greenish blue, or of any tint between that and a
greyish ultramarine; a deep blue tone should never be used for large
wall spaces.




If greens are to be used in large spaces they should be, if pale, more
pure in colour than in the case of deep greens; the latter tones should
be less pure and more grey, in order to avoid rankness of hue.

These suggestions apply to the colours of either painted walls, or to
the tints of paperhangings, if the latter be used as wall-coverings.
Large expanses of wall surfaces when painted in a single tint have
usually a dry and uninteresting appearance; to avoid this, and at the
same time to give the wall the effect of being treated in a single tone
of colour, the surface, after being painted in the chosen colour, should
have another thin application of a tint, slightly lighter, or darker
than the previous coating, stippled over the latter, or the thin, and
different, shade of colour may be applied with the brush, and
immediately after the application it should be partially wiped off with
clean rags. This operation will give the wall surface a slightly mottled
and lively appearance, and will remove the dead and monotonous
uniformity usually seen on painted walls when the work is finished in
the more solid and flat methods of execution. (See Plate 7.)

We give as suggestions of colours the three examples on Plate 7, which
we think suitable as background tints for the walls of rooms on which
pictures would be hung. Any of these colours might be used on the walls
of a picture gallery or in rooms that contained pictures in gold or in
black frames, either for the colour tints of paint, if used, or for the
tints of paperhangings, but for choice we think the brownish
tinted--middle illustration--would be on the whole the most satisfactory
of the three. If the walls are to be painted they should be finished in
a stippled manner, as described above, but if a paperhanging is used the
stippled effect would be obtained by a very small self-coloured, lighter
or darker pattern, or by some other method of superimposed lines or dots
on the red, brown, or grey-green ground.


When decorating curved surfaces, such as vaulted ceilings, domes, or the
semi-dome of an apse, when they are not sectionally divided by
mouldings, or archivolts, it is extremely difficult to preserve the
proper appearance of their sections or surfaces, especially when they
are treated pictorially, or with a diaper, or all-over-pattern of
ornament. In such cases it is necessary, as the custom was with the
majority of the old mosaic artists and fresco painters, to subdivide
these vaulted or domed ceilings into proportionate parts, running either
in a vertical or in a horizontal direction, by bands, or lines, thus
supplying the needed substitute for mouldings or relief divisional
lines. Even if these bands and lines were left out, and the decoration
designed in a series of horizontal, vertical, or arched divisions,
forming rows of figures or ornament, an appearance of constructive
stability would be given to the scheme of decoration and so prevent any
confusion as to the true section of the vaulted surface.

When a ceiling of a large hall or of a church is to be decorated,
whether the surface be flat or curved, it is generally necessary to
interpose a band of colour, either plain, or with a pattern on it,
between the cornice, ribs, or archivolts and the field or panel, so that
the structural abruptness between these features may be modified and
softened, and that an artistical alliance may be created between the
colouring of the panel and that of the cornice under the flat ceiling,
or between the ribs and the vaulted surface, respectively.

The ceilings of interiors, whether flat or vaulted, provide admirable
fields for colour and decoration. The greatest attention was given to
them by the artists of the Italian Renaissance. Even when the rest of
the interiors were simple or almost plain, in regard to decorative
treatment, the ceiling was hardly ever neglected. (Plate 21.) Some of
the finest Italian art is found on the ceilings of the churches and
palaces. For example, Michel Angelo’s masterpiece in painting was the
ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; there are also Raffaelle’s ceiling
decorations in the Stanze of the Vatican; Pinturrichio’s richly-coloured
ceilings in the Borgia Apartments, and those of his in the “Sala
Piccolomini” at Siena, in the choir of Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome, in
Santa Maria Maggiore at Spello, and in the Chapel of the Sala di Cambio
at Perugia, where he worked with Perugino. Many important ceiling
decorations were painted by Raffaelle’s pupils, Giulio Romano, Perino
del Vaga and Giovanni da Udine, in the palaces at Mantua, the Villa
Madama, some in Venice and Genoa, others in the Vatican and in the
Castel Angelo, at Rome, etc. There is also the ceiling of elaborate
panelling, in which figure subjects alternate with arabesques in the
Chapel of the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence, painted by Ridolfo
Ghirlandaio. Ceilings of a later date, heavy in their mouldings and
ornamentation, exist in the churches and palaces of Venice, and other
places, which were painted with pictorial subjects by Paul Veronese and
Tintoretto. The list of Italian painted ceilings would be almost
endless, and we have only mentioned a few to point out the importance
attached to ceiling decoration in Italy. The Italian ceilings were
usually moulded, and were divided into a series of panels,
lozenged-shaped, square, oblong, and circular, and where the relief
mouldings did not exist, the decorator supplied their place by bands and
enclosing lines, or even in some cases by feigned mouldings in colour,
and sometimes by low relief stucco. Most of the ceilings were coloured
in the brightest possible tints, and gold was also freely used, not only
for heightening the salient parts of mouldings and carved enrichments,
but often as backgrounds to the pictorial work and ornamental
patterns. The gold backgrounds were in most cases




slightly toned with a glaze of warm transparent brown, or were treated
with a fine mesh-like pattern of crossed lines, to enrich and also to
modify the raw brilliancy of the gold. Another effective way of using
gold was the common employment of gold stars and spots over bright red
or blue backgrounds. This was usually done in cases where gold was used
in the bands, or in ornament on the bands, which surrounded the panels
having the bright-coloured backgrounds.

If one may be permitted to criticise the splendid Italian painted
ceilings, it might be pointed out that, generally speaking, the rich and
deep colouring was in many cases too dark, which often produced a
lowering effect in this architectural feature of the room, especially in
cases where the ceiling was only of a moderate height. It is only very
lofty ceilings that can safely be treated in strong and moderately dark
colours, and in proportion to the lowness of a ceiling the colouring
should tend to become lighter in scale. The greatest weight or strength
of colour on a flat ceiling should be kept in the corners, and near the
cornice. This will help to give a more raised appearance to the centre,
or at least it will determine, in an effective manner, the more perfect
flatness of the surface, as all flat ceilings have a tendency to appear
lower in the centre than at the sides. The general colour scheme of a
ceiling should be arranged with due regard to even distribution, not
only of the colour values, but of the tints and hues, and if gold is
used great care must be taken that it is also evenly distributed, so as
to prevent any spottiness that would be due to the inequality of its
application; in short a perfect balance of the colours and gold must be
maintained respectively, although it may not be necessary to have a
mechanical symmetry either in the colouring, ornamental patterns, or in
the infilling of the panels, or other subdivisions.


One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the architectural
styles are the mouldings, so much so, that a building having no
mouldings is almost, if not entirely, devoid of architectural
expression; it may be classed as a structure, but hardly as true
architecture, for the style, and even the date of a building may be
often determined by the design of its mouldings alone. Ruskin has said,
“Never give mouldings separate colours,” but he adds that “he knows this
is heresy.” He is right if he means that the individual members of a
group of mouldings should not be “picked out” in too decided or separate
colours. What should be avoided is the possible danger of detaching them
too much from each other. Contrasting colours should be used sparingly,
and only to distinguish the larger and more structural members from
those of the smaller ones. Simple explanation of their contours only is


_To face p. 28._]      [_From a Drawing by W. Davidson._


(From the Rood Screen, Ranworth Church: English. Early Sixteenth

wanted, and not any appearance of detachment. As a rule, the more
numerous and elaborate the group of mouldings the less contrast in their
colour treatment is required. But, on the other hand, if a well-balanced
colour harmony is obtained by treating a group of mouldings in separate
colours, provided there is no appearance of detachment, and that the
effect of harmonious unity of colour as a leading motive is secured,
then we should say that this particular treatment would be justified.
There are many instances where groups of mouldings have been treated in
strong contrasting colours, in work of the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries, which are examples of successful colouring.


The cornice in an ordinary room should be treated in colour as part of
the wall, and not as belonging to the ceiling, for the cornice is the
crown of the wall, and is not part of the ceiling. The value of a
cornice in a room, as an architectural feature, is to soften the harsh
divisional line between the ceiling and the wall, but this effect is
destroyed if the cornice is left white or coloured like the ceiling, and
not treated in colour to show that it belongs to the wall. As a general
rule, the deep and recessed hollows in the cornice should be coloured
fairly strong, as weak tints are lost or become grey when they are in
shadow, but large spaces, such as coved hollows, that happen to be well
lighted, should not be treated so strongly in colour. Prominent edges
and fillets of the cornice mouldings should be either light in colour or


The frieze of a public hall, assembly-room, or of a room in an ordinary
house, is an architectural feature which always forms a fine field for
colour and decoration, in sculpture or in painting. In the earliest, and
in all great periods of art, the frieze was that part of the building
which received the richest treatment. The best art of the ancient
Mesopotamian nations was lavished on the coloured enamelled friezes, and
the chief glory of the Parthenon was its sculptured frieze. The
treatment, where pictorial or ornamental, admits of more elaboration in
design and a richer application of colour than any other part of the
room. (Plate 10.) If an interior has an important frieze decoration, it
is not so necessary to have much colour or decoration on the ceiling.
When tinting the cornice mouldings over the frieze it is extremely
important that the dominant colours in the frieze should be “echoed” in
some of the members of the cornice.

A frieze is of more architectural value in a room than a dado, for it is
sufficient of itself to give an architectural aspect to a room; but if
there is a dado it would obviously be coloured somewhat darker




than the walls, whether it was in wood, or only as a painted feature,
and its moulding or “chair rail” would be coloured so as to harmonise
with the dado, because it is also the crown or cornice of that feature.

As regards the debatable question of the imitation of relief mouldings
and other architectural features on painted walls and ceilings, there
are many precedents for doing so, some of which we will speak of further
on, but this can only be successfully done when the decorator has a good
knowledge of architecture and knows exactly what to do, like Michel
Angelo when he divided the plain surface of the ceiling of the Sistine
Chapel into panels and niches by means of imitative structural forms and
mouldings, in order to separate and enclose his magnificent painted
series of scriptural subjects, prophets and sibyls. The imitation of
architectural features in painted light and shade may not be logical,
but when a great artist does such things, we are obliged to accept them
without much criticism, as we accept the work of a great poet who makes
his own grammar.


The question of whether to paint in colour the woodwork such as doors,
window-frames and wainscoting of interiors, or to leave them in the
natural colour of the wood, depends chiefly on the kind of wood
employed in their construction. It would be wrong, for example, to
advise the painting or colouring of the more valuable kinds of wood such
as oak, mahogany, walnut, ebony, or any rare kind of wood, in any way
other than that which would deepen or make richer the natural tone of
the material by the application of a varnish, and of such a varnish as
would only intensify the natural beauty of the wood, but not produce
anything like a polished surface. It would be better to accept the
natural colour of such woods, and to scheme the colouring of walls and
ceiling to harmonise with the colour of the woodwork in such cases,
especially if in addition to the door and window-framing there happened
to be a considerable amount of wainscoting or wood panelling in the

In the medieval and earlier periods, however, whether in churches,
palaces, or in smaller houses, even the more valuable woods, especially
oak, were always painted and decorated in colours. The natural colour,
or the rarity of valuable woods, did not as a rule prevent them from
being treated in colour like the other parts of the buildings.
Romanesque and Gothic wooden ceilings and rood-screens, though
constructed of oak or other hard woods, were invariably treated in
colour and partly gilt.

The simplest and perhaps the more satisfactory way of treating the
woodwork of an ordinary room in colour would be in selected tones of the
colour which appears on the larger wall spaces, but whatever




the hue that may be used on the woodwork it should be of two or three
shades of the selected colour, forming a harmony of closely related
tones. (See Plates 6 and 11.) The woodwork may be in some cases of a
different scheme of colouring from the walls, as in such instances where
there is a dado of wood or a wainscot of wood panelling, but where the
doors or windows appear as isolated features in large wall spaces, the
most satisfactory way of treating them in colour is to paint them in
analogous tones of the wall colour. If gold occurs in the frieze or on
the cornice mouldings, the fillets, or smaller members of the door
frames and panel mouldings should also be gilt.



The colouring of the exteriors of important buildings should be, if
possible, effected by the use of the constructive materials, such as
stone, marble, granite and coloured terra-cotta in conjunction with
panels and friezes, etc., of enamelled tiles or mosaic, and even in the
case of less pretentious buildings a good deal might be done by ordinary
painting. Stucco plastered exteriors, however, should not necessarily be
painted in a uniform stone colour. Stone and soft bricks get black in
cities, but hard bricks retain their colour much better. A highly
polished material, such as granite or marble, does not go well with
freestone, owing to the violent contrast between the polished and dull
surfaces; also, any highly polished surface reflects light in such a way
that to the sight the form is often altered. Granite polished with emery
brings out the natural colour without giving a glaze to it, and is
therefore better for an outdoor effect. Bronze sheathing on doors and
bronze window and door framing, when it is not too dark in tone, goes
well with a grey granite building, and when such a building has some
panels of mosaic, or of coloured marble, such as “opus Sectile,” the
colour scheme is very effective. These materials are now being used very
much in some important buildings in the continental cities.

In using coloured marbles, the best effects, as a rule, are obtained
when two kinds only are used together, or merely one colour with white,
such as black and white, red and white, green and white or purple and
white. The finest early Italian marble altars, pulpits, and monuments
generally conform to one of these simple colour arrangements. The
principal parts of these works are executed in white marble and have
only one coloured marble introduced for columns, pilasters, friezes, and
panels at the bases and pediments. It may be mentioned that the white
marble of these monuments is yellowish in tone, and the black somewhat
greenish, thus producing a soft and mellow effect. At Palermo and Naples
there is a great deal of marble work of the later Renaissance and modern
times which has inlaid floral arabesques in various coloured marbles,
such as black, brown, orange and red, all in combination, the greater
part of which is unsatisfactory as it lacks repose, owing to the
harshness of the contrasting colours.

A notable exception to the use of two, or at most three, kinds of marble
in combination is seen in the magnificent “opus Alexandrinum” floor
pavements, and in other marble work of the Byzantine buildings, where
three kinds have been used, namely, porphyry, serpentine and white, with
sometimes little portions of yellow, but the purple of the porphyry and
the green of the serpentine, with their variegated tints, are colours
which are in complete accordance with each other, and the effect of this
arrangement is always pleasant and harmonious.

There is every reason why public buildings should be erected in natural
or artificially coloured materials. Such coloured materials would not be
more expensive than the grey, drab, and white stone and marble which is
now used so much for exterior elevations. If we cannot have rich
colouring on the outsides of our public buildings, we might at least be
permitted to have schemes of colour that would present quiet and
restrained harmonies, so that, even in a modest degree, they would
contribute to our pleasure by counteracting some of the greyness and
gloom that overshadows and often conceals the architectural beauty of
many buildings in our large towns and cities.

Architects and sculptors, as a rule, are responsible for the appearance
of the exteriors of buildings, and they only in exceptional cases appear
to have a love for colour, but they should remember that colour appeals,
if not to everybody, to a considerably large section of the public,
which includes both cultured and uncultured people, who can appreciate
a coloured building, but are not much interested in seeing a colourless

Some of the simplest and inexpensive examples of exterior structural
colouring may be obtained by the use of red brick, and common stone
dressings on the façade of a building, if to this could be added some
notes of grey-blue in terra-cotta, or tiles, in bands, borders, or in
panels. Mosaic in panels would be better still, but we leave that out on
the score of expense. Such an example as this colour arrangement may be
seen in many buildings in Florence, Milan, and in the northern towns of
Italy. We might mention one, that of the front of the Hospital of the
Innocents, in Florence, which is a yellow-red brick elevation with
severe columns and arches of a warm-coloured stone, and in the spandrels
between the arches are the grey-blue and white roundels of Delia Robbia
glazed earthenware, the whole effect being a pleasant and warm colour
arrangement, and besides being extremely simple, it is certainly very
effective, and an admirable example of structural colouring.

At Verona, Venice, and many other places in Italy there are fine
examples of this style of exterior colouring where the red bricks give
the dominant tone, whether terra-cotta or stone be used for the
dressings, or glazed earthenware heraldic panels, mosaic, or fresco are
added to give the balance of blue, or other sharper notes of pure
colour, that may be required to complete the harmony.

It is a matter well known that in Northern Germany, Belgium, Holland,
and in England red brick buildings with stone and terra-cotta dressings
and sculptured work were erected as manor houses, palaces, and every
kind of public building, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, most
of which were fine examples, not only of architecture, but of exterior

The front of the Doge’s Palace at Venice is an example of suitable
application of colour to public buildings. The sculpture and mouldings
are in white marble, and the wall surface has a chequered pattern of
marble slabs of a pale rose colour and white Istrian stone.

Fresco paintings and mosaic have often been employed in Italy on the
exteriors of churches and palaces. There is a beautiful bit of heraldic
painting, alternating with cardinals’ hats placed in squares, on a wall
behind the Duomo of Verona. This, however, and nearly all exterior wall
paintings have suffered very much by the weather in course of time, and
such decoration has no chance of lasting compared with the colour of the
more permanent materials of stone, marble, tiles, or mosaic.

In Germany, much more than other countries, exterior colour-painting and
decoration has always found great favour. Even to-day the exteriors of
many buildings, especially hostelries and restaurants, are painted as
they were in the sixteenth century. A great revival of colour
decoration took place in Germany, as it did also in France, about the
middle of the last century. We shall consider this at more length when
making an historical survey of the subject in later chapters, and
endeavour to describe some of the methods and principles of colour
decoration adopted and carried out by the old decorators of England and
the continental nations. Before leaving, however, this portion of our
subject it may be useful and interesting to notice an important example
of Venetian exterior polychromy of the late medieval period.

The building in question is known as the Ca’ D’Oro, or “Golden House,”
so called on account of the great quantity of gilding that it formerly
had on its façade. This building must have been erected on the site of a
former medieval palace, for the rebuilding of it was begun in 1424,
contemporary with that of the Piazzeta façade of the Ducal Palace at
Venice. The architect or “stone-mason” was Giovanni Buon, who was
assisted by his son, Bartolomeo, the palace being erected for a nobleman
named Marino Contarini, at St. Sophia on the Grand Canal. The existing
documents, which consist of the original memoranda of Contarini, dated
1431-2, and preserved among the papers of the Procurators of St. Mark’s,
give in detail the orders for the gold and colours, and how they were to
be used in the decoration of the façade. From these and also from the
traces of the colour and gold which Signor G. Boni found on parts of
the building in 1885, we are enabled to form an estimate of the
polychromatic decorations of this medieval palace, which may serve as an
illustration of the external colour-decoration of the period.

From these evidences we find that the balls of Istrian stone which
decorated the embattlements were gilt, also the carved mouldings, the
abacus of each capital, lions, shields, dentels, rose-flowers, and other
salient points of the carvings. The backgrounds of capitals, soffits,
some shields and bands were painted ultramarine blue, “fine azure
ultramarine, in such a manner that it may last longer” (that is, twice
coated). The blue ground of the soffits was studded with small golden
stars. It is interesting to note how all the stonework was painted in
the early times, when it is mentioned that all the red stones of the
façade and the red dentels were to be painted with oil and varnish in
still deeper tones of red, “so that they will look red.” It appears that
this was done in order to give a look of uniformity to the red Verona
_Broccatello_ marble, which, being composed of the detritus of
ammonites, had a variegated, or patchy-like appearance when newly cut,
and therefore its effect, when new, did not find favour in the eyes of
the decorator, as perhaps he thought that in its virgin state its
appearance disturbed the broad colour effect he was aiming for. The
crowning cornice was painted with white lead and oil, and also in a like
manner the roses and vines on the façade. The backgrounds of the latter
carved decoration, and that of the fields of the cusps of the window
tracery and of the cornice foliage were painted black, in order to give
the effect of penetration.

The parts of the façade which were painted white were those of bluish or
yellowish Istrian stone, the natural colour of which the Venetians did
not like, so they generally obliterated it with a coating of white
paint. In the memoranda it is also stated that the stone battlements
were to be “painted and veined, to make them look like marble.”

The imitation of marbles and woods by painting the commoner stone, or
inferior wood in simulation of the more costly materials, though rightly
condemned as a common practice by purists has, however, been largely
practised by the decorators of primitive Greece, Pompeii, Rome, and of
the East, as well as of the Renaissance and later periods. The old
decorators had no scruples in regard to the painting of plaster or
common stone to make it look like marble; but generally in such examples
the imitation was more strictly confined to objects and surfaces where
the more costly materials would have been used if sufficient means had
been available to procure them.

The modern practice of imitating a costly wood by graining an inferior
one hardly ever obtained in the earlier periods; the old decorators
often enough painted all kinds of wood in any arbitrary way or colour,
but they did not grain them to simulate other woods. Although the
imitation of wood by graining is not practised so much to-day as it was
in the Victorian time, there is still a good deal of it done. Even worse
than this is the modern practice of erecting wooden columns and
entablatures as shop fronts, especially those of public-houses and
gin-palaces, in simulation of a stone construction, which may be an
excusable sham, but there is no reason why this stone construction in
wood should be painted to imitate costly marble, which only makes a
double sham. We can call to mind the instance of some large and heavy
doors in a Government building of this country, which are, of course,
made in panelled wood, but have been painted to imitate grey granite!
The reader can think that the limit of imitative painting is here
reached, if he can imagine the deception that is presented of two slabs
of heavy granite swinging on hinges.

In the case of the Ca’ D’Oro battlements, and of similar imitations of
marble in the painted decoration of late medieval buildings in Venice,
we can see the expression of a striving after the rich effects of colour
that were obtained in the earlier Byzantine architecture by the use of
the real marbles, which were employed to give the structural and
permanent colour to edifices built in that style. It ought to be
remembered that the Venetian Gothic architecture, more especially in
colouring--and we might safely say all Venetian art of later periods
with its rich and beautiful colour--was strongly influenced by the
splendour of Byzantine and Eastern colouring, as expressed in the
mosaics, enamels, and richly-coloured marbles that were used so much to
line the walls inside and outside of the Byzantine churches and palaces.

Although such coloured decoration as that of the façade of the Ca’ D’Oro
might be classed as a decadent and artificial system, in so far as it
was an imitation, or an attempt in applied colour at the survival of the
more permanent Byzantine coloured architecture, still the general effect
of the colour scheme, where full-toned blues, reds, black, white, and
gold were frankly employed, must have been extremely rich and
interesting, when seen in the radiant sunshine, and reflected in the
waters of the Grand Canal. We might add that the colouring of this
medieval palace, in common with that employed on all Venetian buildings
of that time, was also in a great measure a reflex of the powerful and
sensuous colouring of the East, which strongly influenced, if it was not
indeed the chief source of the distinctive colour harmony that was the
crown and glory of Venetian art.



Just as the aims of the painter of pictures are quite divergent from
those of the decorator, so is the use of colour in the representation of
natural objects and of natural phenomena divergent from that of the
latter’s in his employment of tints in coloured decoration. The painter
of pictures is at liberty to use unlimited tints and shades of one
colour, or of any number of colours, to represent the facts or effects
of nature in realistic or in imaginative art, that is to say, he can
make the greatest possible use of gradation both in colour and in light
and shade, but the decorator is limited in the matter of colour
gradation, and still more limited in the matter of light and shade, to
the use of a few tints of closely related tones, and, as a rule, he must
use them in a series of flat tints, with little or no light and shade,
and which may or may not be separated from each other by contours or
outlines of neutral or different colours.

The aim of the decorator is to beautify surfaces by the use of colour,
so he selects or creates his tints and shades, which may be of extremely
rich and deeply saturated hues, heightened perhaps with the addition of
silver or gold, or he may use schemes of sober tints of broken colours;
but the aim of the picture painter is to respect the colouring of nature
and to produce another kind of beauty, which if not always strictly
imitative of natural forms and facts in colour and drawing, must at
least show that its foundations are laid on the solid ground of nature.
Colour is therefore used by the artist-painter in a limited sense, in so
far as it is imitative of any particular scene or natural effect which
he may desire to record, but the choice of the decorator is unlimited,
for he can always invent his own colour schemes. And as the latter is
justified in disregarding shadows and gradation in the rendering of his
decorative forms, even when they are derived from nature, he is equally
free to use any colour in an arbitrary way on such forms instead of
their natural or local colour, provided that it does not interfere with
the harmony and balance of his colour scheme. The old Gothic glass
painters, for example, who produced some of the finest coloured glass,
did not hesitate to colour the feet or the hands of their figures a
vivid green, a crimson, or a brilliant blue, though the other flesh
portions of the same figure would be in the natural colour, if they
found it necessary to have any of those colours in such parts of the
design where the feet or hands happened to be. Although we should not
agree with this arbitrary colour treatment of natural forms, it only
emphasises the fact that the old designers looked upon their figure
compositions as simply units or integral parts of the general colour
scheme, and nothing more or less than legitimate decoration.

The decorator may design his ornamental forms on the bases of natural
ones, and may, by colouring them in tints suggested by nature, produce a
beautiful decorative work, which indeed has often been done. Still, he
is free to frankly disregard the natural or local colour of such forms
if the latter does not suit his purpose, and may use any other colours
that will enable him to produce the best effect and most satisfactory
decoration. In any case there should be no attempt to imitate either the
colouring or forms of nature in a realistic sense, however much he may
make use of suggestions from natural forms and objects. If purely
natural forms, such as those of birds, animals, or the human figure are
introduced into decoration, they should be firmly outlined in some
neutral colour in order to show that they are only intended as portions
of the decorative scheme and not in the sense of realistic
representations. Accurate representations of natural forms and
photographic realism should be avoided in decoration. If the Byzantine
mosaicists had drawn, or could have drawn, their figures better, they
might have produced worse decoration, and might have failed to express
the essentials of decorative art.

The greater part of modern polychrome decoration, not only on buildings
but on nearly every description of handmade objects or manufactured
goods that have pretensions to artistic claims, is only misapplied
painting which has usurped the place of true decoration. This kind of
semi-pictorial work came into vogue about the beginning of the
seventeenth century in Italy and France, and gradually spread and
developed in other European countries, so to-day there is still a great
demand for this kind of art which is neither genuine decoration nor
painting. Interior surfaces of buildings, textile hangings, carpets, all
kinds of pottery, and almost every kind of object that presents a
surface for decoration is treated with naturalistic transcripts of
flowers, birds, animals, the human figure, as well as copies of
landscapes and architectural views, all represented in a pictorial
manner with more or less merit, but all misapplied work. Such
meretricious merchandise is welcomed and purchased by a very large
section of the public, who are unable to distinguish between true and
false decoration.

_Decoration in Monochrome._--The simplest form of coloured decoration is
monochromatic, that is, where one colour is used or where several tints
of any one colour are used. This kind of colour treatment is often very
satisfactory for the walls, ceilings, and woodwork of any ordinary room,
where the pictures on the walls, the carpet, hangings, furniture and
ornamental objects all combine to furnish the sharper and more
contrasting colour notes that may be required. In such monochromatic
decoration lighter and darker shades of the selected colour are used,
the lighter and less intense tints being spread over the larger spaces,
while the more intense and purer shades would be on the mouldings and on
the smaller subdivisions of the architecture. The choice of the
particular colour selected for any monochromatic scheme will in a
measure depend on the uses of the room as well as on the decorative
taste and feeling for colour. Monochromatic colouring may be enlivened
by the use of gold in narrow lines or in small quantities, such as in
the gilding of the fillets of door mouldings and cornices, etc.

_Use of gold in decoration._--Gold should not be used in large
quantities in any scheme of decoration, except in backgrounds where it
would be partially covered with ornamentation, or else it will be liable
to lose its precious quality, and so look vulgar and common. Where gold
is used in great quantities, such as we see in the gaudy gold and white
decoration of some state assembly-rooms, it completely loses its quality
of preciousness, and in proportion to the increase of the quantity used,
it becomes cheap-looking and appears more like brass than gold. If gold
must be used lavishly in the decoration of state rooms it ought to be
toned down with some transparent brown colour which would tend to make
it still richer, and would destroy the tinselly or brassy appearance
which large masses of gilding always present to the eye. Where gold was
used in backgrounds of figure or ornamental compositions by the Italian
artists, its natural glare was usually toned down either by having a
net-work of lines, or a fine tracery pattern, or sometimes a fine diaper
or checker pattern painted on it in black or dark brown. Also the
surface, previous to the gilding of it, was sometimes prepared with a
rough texture, in order to prevent it from having the objectionable
shine that is common to the gilding of smooth surfaces, and to enable
the spectator to see the real colour of the precious metal. Gold grounds
look better when the surface is slightly curved, for all gilded flat
surfaces, unless modified by one of the methods we have mentioned above,
will either appear glaringly bright or very dark according to the
position from which they are seen. It may also be mentioned that gold
has in common with white, or very pale colours, the effect of spreading,
so that thin lines, or delicate tracery patterns in gold, on a dark, or
moderately dark coloured ground, always appear to look broader than they
really are, this being due to the spreading effect of light which is
reflected to the eye by the brilliancy of gold, or white.

Coloured decoration on gold grounds ought to be outlined in black, or
some very dark colour, in order to prevent the gold from overpowering
the colour and making it look ineffective. When highly relieved
enrichments are gilt, the ground behind them may be “picked out” in
strong colour, such as vermilion, deep cobalt blue, or black in cases
where an effect of penetration is desired, but in proportion to the
lowness of the relief the background colouring may be lessened in
strength or intensity. It must be pointed out, however, that ornament in
very low relief, if gilded, will require a more strongly coloured
background than in the case of ornament that may be simply coloured, but
not gilt.

_The small interval, or concord of closely related tones._--It might be
suggested that the natural development, or sequence of purely
monochromatic colouring to a full and rich polychromy would be of that
kind of colour harmony which is known as _the small interval_, which, in
decoration, is expressed by the concord of closely related colour tones.
It may be also defined as a harmony of colour analogy, a kind of
gradation where colours and their tints are separated by a little
distance or interval from each other in the chromatic circle. The
colouring of natural objects and phenomena afford endless examples of
the small interval. The plumage of birds, wings of insects, foliage of
trees and plants, flowers, shells, some minerals, and the sunset sky may
be mentioned as some of the illustrations of this kind of harmonious
colour gradation, where the various tints and shades of closely related
colours are cunningly arranged by nature in delicate, yet decided
contrasts, not of hue, but of analogous tones. For example, a
green-blue may pass into a violet-blue, by a gradual series of separated
tints, but the latter colour must be kept at the shade of violet just
before it is overcome by red, and the former must not be overpowered by
yellow. The colour of a peacock’s neck-plumage affords a good
illustration of this kind of green-blue to violet-blue colouring by
gradation of shades. A similar gradation is where an orange-red passes
gradually into a crimson-red, but neither yellow in the first-named
colour nor blue in the crimson must be permitted to overcome them. The
decorator being concerned with the use of broken colours--that is, pure
colours modified by mixture of black, white or grey--for the covering of
large spaces such as walls, ceilings and woodwork panels, can therefore
adopt the principle of the small interval in architectural colouring
with advantage and success, by using any group of closely related
colours for his scheme; and further, if he desires to intensify or
enliven the latter, he can do so by the use of small quantities of other
contrasting colours introduced in the cornice, frieze or mouldings, or
in lines, bands and other forms of painted ornamentation, and, if
necessary, the whole of the decoration might be heightened by gilding.

_Coloured decoration on coloured grounds._--The use of coloured grounds,
and especially those of contrasting colours, postulates the more complex
forms of polychromatic decoration, where a good number of widely
separated tints and shades of various colours are employed in any one

In polychromatic schemes of colouring there are certain laws which must
be respected, regarding the relation of one colour to another, their
modification of tint or shade, as affected by their position, and the
strength or weakness of the light which illuminates them, however much
may be left to the good taste and feeling for colour which the decorator
may possess. All these essentials have to be considered, for it is not
so much a question of rich and glowing colour schemes, or sober, quiet
and subdued arrangements, but to obtain a harmonious colour finish in
either. The decorator must aim for, and if possible obtain, a proper
balance of colour, not so much for the achievement of uniformity, as for
that of unity and repose. In order to obtain unity he must therefore see
that even in the most complex polychromy a perfect balance of the
colours is the first consideration, and of the utmost importance. In
decoration we have both colour and form, but colour in decorative art is
the more important of the two. A certain balance is looked for in
ornamental or pictorial fillings of panels, for example, or even in the
secondary ornamentation of painted bands, stiles, and other minor
surfaces, but the repetition of exactly similar forms on such surfaces
is by no means essential, but on the contrary produces monotony. In the
matter of colour the case is reversed, for it is very important that
there should be a decided repetition of


_To face p. 52_]      [_Victoria and Albert Museum._


(Melchizedek Blessing Abraham. By Sir W. B. Richmond, K.C.B., R.A.)]

colour, even to the point of symmetry, in architectural colouring, if
the balance is to be maintained. There must be “echoes” or “recalls” of
the same, or very similar, tints and shades in ceilings, walls,
woodwork, and other parts of interior colouring if the qualities of good
decoration, such as breadth, repose, and rhythm are to be secured. The
rhythm of colour in decoration is of far more importance than that of
the ornamental forms.

These laws and principles apply to all kinds of architectural decoration
and their colour schemes, but if possible with more force to the richer
and more complex polychromy, where pure and intense colours are employed
with others of lesser intensity, together with gold, silver, white and

_Contours, or outlines._--Coloured ornament or pictorial decoration on
coloured grounds ought to be outlined, especially so if the ornament or
decoration does not differ much in colour from that of the ground. Even
colours that greatly contrast with each other ought to be outlined to
prevent them from having the appearance of mixing with each other, for
most colours will not show their true value unless they are outlined
with a neutral one such as black, white or gold, or with some lighter or
darker colour than their own. The general rule is, that if the
superimposed ornament is of a lighter colour than the ground, provided
that it is not excessively light, it should be outlined with a still
lighter colour, but if darker than the ground, the outline should be
still darker.

Certain ornamental compositions, such as arabesques that are painted in
light and shade on a coloured or gold ground, may not require decided
contours. The absence of outlines on such ornament is not so detrimental
to them as it would be to decoration that is painted in flat tints,
because such arabesques or tracery are sufficiently relieved by their
light and shade treatment, and are usually painted in dark and intense
colours, if the background is white or light in tint, and on
dark-coloured grounds they are generally executed in lighter and
brighter colours on the dark ground.

Light or pale-coloured grounds are made to appear deeper in hue by
painting a fine tracery of a similar but deeper and purer colour on
them, or by “powdering” small patterns or spots of such colour on these
light surfaces, and a deeply-coloured ground may have its colour
considerably lightened by superimposing on it a fine tracery pattern in
white. Also, a fine pattern painted in two distinct colours, or a series
of small dots in two colours, evenly distributed on a brightly-coloured
ground, will change the colour scheme by causing another, and a new
colour to appear, when the work is viewed from a distance. All these
changes and effects are produced in an optical sense, for the new
colours are those which are due to the mixtures of the painted ones on
the retina of the eye, as they are not the inherent colours of the
decoration. Though these optical colours are not, as a rule, purposely
sought for, yet a consideration of them is valuable to the decorator.
Much of the beauty of certain kinds of decoration is due to them; for
example, that of the strongly coloured Moorish schemes, where red and
gold, which supplies the yellow, combine to produce an optical orange
colour, and where blue and gold mingle to produce a violet, when seen at
some distance away. In the same way when white is introduced into these
colour arrangements, as in the outlining of the patterns, or in numerous
small touches, paler tints of the new colours are optically produced.
Other illustrations of new colours that are produced in an optical sense
may be noticed in the old glass of the Romanesque and early Gothic
periods, where the magnificent purple and violet hues are more than
often obtained by the juxtaposition of deeply saturated reds and
crimsons with intense and rich blues, that notwithstanding their
separation by the leading of the stained glass, which acts as black
outlines, mingle together and produce rich purples and violets when seen
at a distance. It has been noticed that even the negative shades of
greys, which are made from mixtures of black and white, if surrounded
by, or in juxtaposition with, warm shades of yellowish-red, or red
ochres, will appear as refined tones of blue when seen from a distance,
as in the case of ceiling decoration.

There are certain colours which “carry” or “read” well at a distance,
and others which, however brilliant they may be near at hand, become
obscured or indefinite when they are viewed from afar. For example, deep
reds, dark blues and greens, intense purples and violets, all become
either much darker, or are changed into dirty browns when seen far off,
though they may all appear very brilliant when seen near to. Such
colours have all low degrees of luminosity, and therefore do not reflect
sufficient white light to enable them to carry well. It follows from
this that if they were made lighter by the addition of white their
carrying powers would be considerably increased, though at a loss of
their intensity. The colours that carry, or tell at a distance, in
addition to the pale shades of the above-mentioned ones, are the yellows
and red ochres, white, buff, emerald green, and cerulean blue.

_Coloured surfaces under artificial light._--We have already mentioned
that it is only very rarely that the decorator is asked to arrange his
colour schemes for rooms that are only used when artificially lighted,
and also if his colouring has been planned to be seen in daylight, it
will almost invariably look well under artificial light, provided that
the room is well lighted. It may, however, be of some advantage to
consider some of the more important changes and modifications of colour
when viewed by artificial light. Such light would be in ordinary cases
that of gas or electric




lighting, and although the latter is not so deficient in violet and
bluish rays as the former, still it has a considerable amount of yellow
rays, though not so much of orange-yellow as gaslight. All kinds of
artificial light impart some of their yellow to all colours, and while
this kind of illumination improves the brilliancy of yellow and
yellowish-reds, or of such colours as lie closely to yellow in the
chromatic circle, it dulls and saddens blues, bluish-greens, and
violet-blues, or in other words, the colours that are more distantly
removed from the orange-yellow in the chromatic circle. Blues and
bluish-greens suffer most change in artificial light, as they become
degraded to duller and greyer shades. Greens become bluish-greens,
yellow-greens are not much changed, bluish-greens become more yellowish.
Indigo blue changes to greenish grey. Violet becomes purple, and purple
much redder. Yellow becomes paler in artificial light, but, on the
contrary, orange becomes redder, and all bright reds from vermilion to
carmine become still brighter in hue. Brilliant blues, like cobalt and
ultramarine, appear more purplish in gaslight. If we wish, therefore, to
obtain a tint of blue that will look blue by gaslight, it must appear as
a slightly greenish shade of blue by daylight, and must not be dark in
tone. On Plate 13 there are shown a few colours on the left of the
diagram, at A, and the approximate changes in these colours, at B, when
seen in artificial light.



From the twelfth to the end of the sixteenth century was a long period
of artistic activity in Italy, when nearly every building, public and
private, sacred and secular, was decorated in colour, with paintings and
ornament on walls, ceilings and other surfaces, and further enriched
with sculpture, and carving in wood, stone or metal. Italian decorative
art has in the past so influenced and modified the native art of France,
Germany and England, and its influence being still felt and expressed in
much of our modern decoration, that an apology is hardly needed if we
devote the present chapter to some consideration of the architectural
colouring and ornament of the Italian Renaissance.

Apart from the great frescoes and mosaics of the Italian churches and
palaces, where pictorial compositions, or decorative pictures, with or
without architectural or landscape backgrounds, give the required colour
finish to buildings, there exists the very important class of carved,
painted, or inlaid ornamentation; though in a measure secondary in


_To face p. 58._]      [_Victoria and Albert Museum._


the scale of art to the best examples of figure composition, it is in no
way, when appropriately designed and applied, inferior as legitimate
material for the proper decoration of a building.

The Italians made great use of both carved and painted ornament, which
was usually well designed, and in their best work it was employed in a
restrained sense as to quantity; the colour and distribution of it,
whether in the flat, or in relief, enhanced the beauty of their
architecture by assisting, but in no way disturbing, the architectural
repose of the building.

The Italian artists of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries used
coloured ornament, both of the geometrical and floral varieties, largely
in friezes, bands and borders, as a rich kind of framing to enclose, and
also to separate, panels which contained their figure compositions, and
these ornamental framings were extremely valuable as contrasting foils
to the more pictorial compositions which they enclosed. In some cases
the ornament itself occupied even as much, and sometimes more, space on
the curved and flat surfaces, such as domes, spandrels, panels, and
walls, as the figures themselves. A good example of this may be seen in
the mosaics of the semi-dome of San Clemente at Rome and also on that of
the Church of St. Maria Maggiore, both of which are examples of
decoration which are in singular and good harmony with the architecture
of the respective churches. We see in this ornament of the twelfth
century on the semi-dome of San Clemente a specimen of that variety
which was developed, with some modifications, by Cimabue, Torriti,
Giotto, and other Italian artists in the thirteenth and fourteenth

The particular class of ornament we have now to examine was mainly
founded on Roman work, but in addition it was mixed with some
geometrical forms, which in the painted variety were copied from the
inlaid marble decorations and mosaic patterns of earlier times, and in
these geometrical patterns, as well as in some of the floriated
scroll-work, derived from early Roman sources, there may be detected a
strong influence of Persian or Eastern design. (Plate 16.) It may be
said that in all flat ornament used in the decoration of buildings of
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in Italy, either in painting,
mosaic, or inlaid work, Byzantine, Saracenic, or Persian influences may
be noticed. This is apparent in the geometrical interlacings, and also
in the more natural floral and foliage forms of Western design, where we
see strong reflections of certain types of the flat variety of ornament,
which is common in the decoration of tiles, pottery, carpets, and other
textiles of Asiatic countries.

The Romanesque variety of ornament may be seen in the bands, friezes and
borders which frame the paintings attributed to Cimabue in the upper
church of St. Francesco at Assisi, and


_To face p. 60._]


(By Jacopo Torriti, 1287-1292.)]


_To face p. 61._]

LATERAN, ROME: 1287-1292.]

around most of the frescoes by Giotto in the same church.

The drawings on Plate 16, from the mosaics of the window reveals in the
Church of St. John, Lateran, by Torriti, illustrate the type of ornament
that was common in the thirteenth and first half of the fourteenth
centuries. Plate 15 shows the position this ornament occupied in the
window reveals, below the semi-dome, and how well it serves as a
contrasting division between the figures of the Apostles on the wall
spaces between the windows. Here the ornament plays a most effective
decorative rôle in combination with the figure subjects of the tribune,
and goes to prove that Torriti was fully sensible of the value of
ornamental contrast in decorative mosaic, and that he was further aided
in obtaining the desired unity of effect by his proper use of colour and
simplicity of execution. This work testifies that Torriti was a master
in the science of decoration, as he applied the true principles of his
art with a correct and profound judgment, and is therefore worthy to be
classed among the great forerunners of the Renaissance, and of modern

About the beginning of the fourteenth century, when Italy was in a
highly prosperous condition, numerous churches, civic and private
palaces, guild houses and merchants’ houses were erected, most of which
were of magnificent proportions, and were richly decorated with
sculptured marbles, frescoes, and other ornamentation. The civic
palaces and merchants’ houses generally presented a solid and massive
appearance, the style of architecture, especially in Florence and
Central Italy, being a sort of mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles,
the latter being expressed in the window-heads, doorways, lower
arcading, and in other details. The massive appearance of the façades
were somewhat lightened by the battlements of the top storey and by the
boldly projecting cornices and string-courses under them, and under the
windows. These projecting features sometimes took the form of a gallery
carried on brackets or corbels, between which the machicolations
appeared. Types of these civic palaces with their elegant and lofty
towers are seen in the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence, and the Palazzo
Publico at Siena. Many castle-like guild houses of the fourteenth
century are still in existence in Florence and in other cities of Italy,
and representations of such may be seen pictured in the frescoes of
Giotto at Assisi, and in paintings by other artists in Florence and
Siena, where the interiors, with their furniture and decorations, as
well as the exteriors are represented. The ceilings of the rooms in
these houses were generally flat, or coffered between the beams, or the
flat ceiling was often painted to represent coffered panelling. The
walls were sometimes painted from the floor up to the dividing line of
the deep frieze with imitations of textile hangings, decorated with
geometrical patterns of a severe design, heraldic devices, or


     _To face p. 62._]



     _To face p. 63._]


(From a model in the Victoria and Albert Museum.)]

flowers and foliage. These imitation hangings were represented as
suspending from a horizontal rod, hanging perfectly straight, or in some
cases from fixed points at regular intervals so as to give them a
festoon-like appearance. This was a common method of decorating the
lower wall space of house and palace interiors, as well as of churches
and chapels. A good illustration of this method of decoration is seen in
the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, where the lower walls under the
frescoes of Pinturrichio, Botticelli, C. Rosselli, Perugino, and others
are decorated with painted imitations of tapestry hangings. The friezes
of the old houses under notice were very important features in the
decoration, and were as a rule extremely beautiful in design and colour,
the designs usually consisting of a row of fruit trees, such as the
orange, lemon, pomegranate, apple, etc., alternating, and placed behind
and above a net-work fence, which usually divided the lower wall
decoration from the frieze proper, while between the trees, and at the
bottom appeared groups of gay flowers, and singing birds at intervals
helped to enliven the scene. The friezes often represented stately
gardens or orchards, painted in the lively colours of nature, with the
backgrounds behind the trees and flowers in black, and the spaces
between a deep vermilion red. In some cases the garden frieze was
continuous, and complete in itself, and other examples, as in the wall
decoration from an old house formerly in the Mercato Vecchio, and now in
the monastery of San Marco at Florence, the trees were placed under
Gothic canopies, with little towers between, or in arcading supported by
pillars, above which were triangular panels filled with heraldic
devices. Some of the wall decorations of these old houses had other
schemes of diaper-like ornamentation, consisting of lozenge-shaped and
foiled figures interlacing at the angles, some spaces being occupied by
figures of ladies on horseback, and others by various kinds of birds
grouped in landscapes, while the alternating spaces were occupied by
circles containing shields with heraldic devices, and around these
foliated ornament. The general colour scheme of the walls, frieze, and
ceiling was daring, yet delightful. It consisted of a warm harmony of
strong reds, black, various greens, golden yellows and russets, modified
here and there by the introduction of pearly greys, umber tones, and
mellowed white. Rooms decorated in this fashion would be very sumptuous
and rich, and would not require the aid of pictures to help out the
colour scheme. (Plate 18.) A satisfactory finish to such apartments was
admirably achieved by the furniture of the period, which consisted of
beautiful Cassoni, in carved or inlaid woods, or decorated in
gesso-work, painted and gilded, with representations of lively scenes of
the tournament, of hunting and hawking parties, and other romantic
subjects. The chairs, the seats against the walls, and the table were of
carved walnut, chestnut or cypress wood. If we add to these such
accessories as Majolica dishes of


     _PLATE XIX_


lustred pottery, copper and brass vessels, Venetian glass and Oriental
carpets, we may conceive some idea of the magnificent effect that a
reception-room must have presented in one of these old Florentine houses
in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

In the charming medley of forms and colour which the wall decorations of
these houses presented we may clearly see the development of Giotto’s
Italian Gothic ornament, still mixed with some of the older Romanesque
forms that Torriti loved to use, and while Saracenic influences are not
absent, the chief element of beauty in the mixture is the definite
expression of natural form and colour, obtained by the trees, flowers,
and birds which are introduced in such a dignified manner that they
harmonise perfectly with the severer forms of the ornament to which they
are allied.

It is to be regretted that this interesting class of ornament was not
more fully developed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries alongside,
if not instead of, the less virile but more classical type which was
adopted and developed by Raffaelle and his pupils, Giovanni da Udine,
Giulio Romano, and Perina del Vaga, when they came to decorate the
Loggie of the Vatican, the interiors of the “Villa Madama,” Palazzo del
Tè, the Ducal Palace at Mantua (Plates 19 and 20), and the Castello
Sant’ Angelo at Rome.

In the early years of the sixteenth century excavations were being made
at San Pietro in Vincoli and among the ruins of the Palace of Titus, in
hopes, as Vasari states, of finding antique statues, when certain
subterranean chambers were discovered that were decorated with small
“grottesche,” so called because they were found in these grottos, or
underground chambers; some of the latter were evidently the bathrooms of
the palace. Other examples of this kind of decoration were found in the
Coliseum, and in the Baths of Diocletian at Rome. Some of these ancient
Roman grotesques were modelled in stucco in very low relief, and others
were painted, having subjects of mythological figures, amorini, stories,
and ornament. (Plate 21.) Raffaelle and his pupil Giovanni da Udine went
to see these works, and were so astonished with their novelty, freshness
and beauty that they resolved to imitate or adapt them for the
decoration of the Loggie of the Vatican. Thus Raffaelle and Giovanni
first conceived the idea of a _risorgimento_, a resurrection as well as
a revival of these antique forms of decoration, and adopted the scheme
and style of ornamentation for the piers, pilasters, arches and friezes
of the Vatican Loggie. The painted portion of the pilasters have
elaborate scroll-work, based on acanthus foliage, with designs
consisting of fruit, flowers, trees, birds, quadrupeds, human figures,
and enlarged copies of antique gems and bas-reliefs in panels surrounded
by decorated mouldings, all in a rich scheme of polychromy on
cream-coloured grounds. The vaulted ceilings of the Loggie are divided
into compartments having stucco mouldings, some of which contain painted
figure subjects, and others are executed in low-relief stucco work. The
decorations of the lower parts are now, however, in a bad state, being
mostly perished or rubbed off, but those of the ceilings and arches are
in a fairly good condition.

In some of the apartments of the Popes, in the Castello Sant’ Angelo at
Rome, there are many examples of this kind of decoration, executed by Da
Udine, Giulio Romano and Perina del Vaga, among which may be mentioned
the beautiful little bathroom, the walls and ceiling of which are
entirely covered with arabesques and grotesques, in colour on a white
ground, which Giovanni da Udine painted for Pope Leo.

The “Villa Madama,” near Rome, was built, or finished about 1521, from
designs by Raffaelle, a year or so after his death, and the interior was
decorated by Giovanni da Udine, chiefly in stucco, or _gesso duro_, in
the same manner as the work in the Vatican Loggie. The decorated portion
of this villa is chiefly confined to the great Loggia and its vestibule,
and the two square recesses between them. The Loggia is divided into
three bays, the centre one having a domed roof, while the other two have
vaulted roofs, each roof being divided into four segments. The designs
on the piers are executed in _gesso duro_, and consist of conventional
renderings of the vine, maple, and other plants, admirable in
conception and skilful in technique. This work, together with the relief
decorations of the circular vaulting of the recesses, and soffits of the
arches, is left uncoloured. Colour is used sparingly amongst the high
reliefs which cover the greater part of the central dome. There are four
panels in this dome with paintings of the figures of Neptune, Jupiter,
Juno and Plato which are attributed to Giulio Romano. The groin
ceiling-ribs of the right and left bays are painted with bands of
arabesques and foliage designs, and the surfaces of the vaults are
richly decorated with coloured ornaments. In the centre of each of these
four vault divisions there is a large oval panel, one set of four having
groups of sporting amorini, and the other four have mythological
subjects. The three recesses have similar decorations. Much of the
painting has suffered from damp, and wet from the roof, but in the
better preserved remains of the painted work, and of the stucco
decorations, there is sufficient evidence left to justify the great
praise that Vasari has bestowed upon it, for on the whole it is more
refined in design and execution than Giovanni’s early work in the Loggie
of the Vatican. Similar kind of stucco decoration may be seen on the
richly ornamented columns of the courtyard in the Palazzo Vecchio, at
Florence, and similar painted arabesques on the vaulted ceilings and
arch soffits of the same courtyard, though now much decayed and darkened
by age and weather.

In the Ducal Palace at Mantua are three


     _To face p. 68._]


(By Giulio Romano: Sixteenth Century)]

celebrated “Camerini,” or apartments of Isabella d’Este, who became
Marchioness of Mantua by her marriage in 1490 with the Marquis Giovanni
Francesco Gonzaga. These rooms are in the part of the palace known as
the “Paradiso,” and were beautifully decorated by the best known artists
of the period to the orders of the Marchioness. The first of the three
apartments was the music-room, the walls of which were lined with
“intarsia” of different coloured woods representing views of towns. The
ceiling was panelled and decorated with ornament and heraldic devices in
low relief, and the frieze was formed of musical instruments carved in
the wood. The second apartment was the painting-room, which from the
point of decorative beauty was the most important of the three. Its
chief interest consisted in the six pictures which Isabella had painted
to her orders by Mantegna, Lorenzo Costa, Perugino, and Bellini. These
famous pictures, with the exception of the one painted by the last-named
artist, which cannot be traced, were taken from their places on the
walls of the room, and sold by Prince Vincenzo Gonzaga in 1627 to
Cardinal Richelieu, and were afterwards bought from the heirs of the
Cardinal by the French Government, and are now in the Louvre at Paris. A
model of one side of this beautiful “Camerino,” two-thirds of its actual
size, with copies of the three allegorical pictures which once adorned
its walls, together with the richly carved candelabra-like pillars that
separated the pictures, a portion of the frieze and panelled ceiling in
gold and blue, with the marble doorway by Cristoforo Romano is now in
the Victoria and Albert Museum, and another copy is in the Dublin
National Museum. The third apartment was reserved for receptions and was
decorated with delicately carved devices, mottoes, and the heraldic arms
of the family, executed in wood-carving and stucco finished in gold and
having a blue background. The celebrated pictures that originally
adorned the walls of the painting-room are elaborately finished and
highly imaginative works, and are therefore to be regarded more as easel
paintings than decorative compositions. This small room, which measures
only seventeen feet by ten feet, must have appeared, in its original
state, a veritable cabinet of the finest art and craftsmanship of the
Renaissance period.

Mantua is very rich in the work of Giulio Romano (1492-1546) and of his
pupils, Primaticcio and Niccolo dell’ Abbate; the two latter with
Serlio, the architect, were chiefest among the many Italian artists and
craftsmen who were summoned to Fontainebleau by the French King,
François I, and were in a great measure responsible for the spread of
the Italian influences which were so apparent in the art of the early
French Renaissance.


     _PLATE XXI_


Giulio Romano settled in Mantua in 1524, when he was employed by
Federico II to alter and decorate some of the rooms in the Ducal Palace.
He was also the architect and decorator of the Palazza del Tè, the
country house of Federico, near Mantua. The paintings executed on the
walls of these palaces by Giulio Romano and his pupils, Primaticcio,
Francesco Penni, Rinaldo of Mantua, and Niccolo dell’ Abbate, consist
chiefly of mythological subjects, and historical events from classic
literature, battles of giants, gladiatorial combats, market-place,
seaside and fishing scenes, with occasional subjects from the Old
Testament, all of which were painted in the vigorous style and strong
colouring so characteristic of Romano’s work. On the other hand, there
were many cabinets and apartments in these palaces that were richly
decorated with beautiful designs in stucco-work and fanciful arabesques,
painted in colours and in monochrome, with great brilliancy and freedom,
refined in conception, with lightness of touch in the execution, and not
wanting in the frank gaiety of colour expression. This kind of relief
and painted decoration occurs mostly on the vaulted and coved ceilings,
on soffits of the arches, in spandrels, and on numerous borders, friezes
and pilasters. (Plate 21.) The purely arabesque ornamentation usually
occupied the large spaces on ceilings and elsewhere that surround the
central oval, circular or rectangular panels which often contained
figure-subjects of a mythological character, or sometimes heads, busts,
or devices of various kinds, and usually consists of scroll-like foliage
of vines and other plants, interspersed with sporting amorini, birds,
and other creatures (Fig. 21), precisely a reflex of the grottesche
decorations of the Roman Imperial times, except that such painted
Italian arabesques of Raffaelle’s time, and later, would be more often,
in the earlier Roman period, modelled in very low stucco-relief, for the
ancients used their magnificent stucco composition to a far greater
extent in decoration than the Renaissance artists, whether it was
afterwards coloured or not.

It will be seen that all this kind of decoration, whether ancient or
modern, painted or modelled, was entirely an applied decoration, and
therefore non-constructional; that is to say, the ornamentation was
applied to large surfaces of walls, ceilings, piers and pilasters, etc.,
after the building was completed. The decoration was added, and did not
grow out of the structure, and was therefore unlike the Egyptian, Greek,
Persian, Arabian, Medieval Gothic, and much of the Byzantine decoration,
which grew out of the structure, as an inevitable growth, and which
would be illogical and incongruous if applied to any other style of
architecture than the particular style that had given birth to it.

The case is different in the applied decoration of the Roman and
Pompeian houses, baths and grottos, and in the Renaissance adaptation
of this kind of adornment, which does not appear to be strictly
connected with the architecture. Similarly shaped spaces, for example,
are found to be decorated in many different ways, some vaulted ceilings
are covered with elaborate scroll-work, others are divided into panels
of various shapes having stucco mouldings planted on the walls
surrounding them, or dividing all forms of space divisions. Wall spaces
are decorated in the Roman examples, but more especially in Pompeian
decoration, without much regard to the wall as an architectural feature,
for we find superimposed forms of thin columns, supporting fantastical
and impossible entablatures, curtains, festoons, scroll-work,
landscapes, figure subjects, animals, and all kinds of arbitrary
spacings. It must be said, however, that if this applied decoration is
unconnected with the building, it is very interesting and often charming
in its spontaneity of colour and form, while the beauty and refined
technique of the low-relief figure and animal forms go a long way to
counterbalance the illogical nature of the general surface adornment.



In France the traditional custom of colouring as applied to the
exteriors of buildings was continued and maintained throughout the
Middle Ages and the Renaissance period, but it had gradually declined in
the reign of Louis XIII (1610-42), and was practically non-existent in
the time of Louis XIV. In the Gallo-Roman era public buildings and
monuments in France were coloured inside and out. Gregory of Tours
(539-93), and Frodoard (894-966) make mention of churches and palaces
that were decorated with paintings in their time. The Church of
Saint-Savin, near Poitiers, dating from 1023, has the oldest monumental
paintings in France, which were executed a little after the church was
built. The façade of Notre Dame in Paris still bears slight traces of
painting. According to Viollet-le-Duc’s researches the three doors with
their arches and tympana were painted and gilded, also the niches, the
“galerie-des-Rois,” the arcades under the tower, and the great central
rose of the façade were all “radiant with bright colour and gilding.”
This colouring occurred principally on the mouldings, columns,
sculptured ornament and figure work. The outside colouring was much more
vivid than the inside work. There were bright reds, crude greens,
orange, yellow ochre, blacks and pure whites, but rarely blues, outside,
the brilliancy of light allowing a harshness of colouring that would not
be tolerable under the diffused light of the interior. The large gables
of the transept also bear traces of old painting. There is also evidence
that the greater portion of similar edifices of the thirteenth,
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in France, were decorated in colour.

Enamelled tiles, pottery plaques and gilded leadwork were largely used
at the beginning of the Renaissance. Enamelled pottery and terra-cotta
decoration were introduced into France by Girolamo della Robbia, who was
invited in company with Primaticcio, Serlio and many other Italian
artists by François I. Girolamo decorated the Château-de-Boulogne with
glazed earthenware; this building was demolished in 1792, and some of
the earthenware plaques are now in the Cluny Museum at Paris. During the
reigns of François I and Henri II, in the sixteenth century, the
architectural colouring was mostly a development of that of the Middle
Ages, but towards the end of the century the taste for colour decoration
rapidly declined, and from the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV the
marble, and cold white stone style of building, introduced from Italy,
became the fashion in France. This applies more particularly to the
exteriors of French edifices, for during the reign of the Grand Roi the
interiors continued to have a goodly share of coloured decorative

In the “Louis-Quinze” period (1715-74) colour was still used, but more
sparingly, on the exterior and interior of buildings. Some ceilings and
doorhead panels were painted in colours, but as a rule white relieved
with gold was the common scheme of decoration, or sometimes pale and
weak tints of colour were used.

In the period of the “Louis-Seize” style (1774-92), the schemes of
decoration were almost as colourless as in the former period, although
some exceptions must be noted, as in the case of some exquisitely
decorated boudoirs painted for Marie Antoinette and her ladies of the
court, examples of which are the Queen’s boudoir at Fontainebleau, and
one which was formerly that of one of her maids-of-honour, a beautiful
specimen of its kind, which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum at
South Kensington. (Plates 22 and 23.) From the days of the Republic to
the end of Napoleon’s reign, 1792-1814, the architecture and decoration
became still more cold and austere, and except in isolated instances
there was not much employment of colour to relieve the conventional
formality of the so-called “Empire” style.

The Romantic School of artists, poets, and


_To face p. 76._]      [_Victoria and Albert Museum._



_To face p. 77._]      [_Victoria and Albert Museum._


historians was ushered in after the Revolution of 1830, when greater
attention was paid to the interesting works in art and literature of the
Middle Ages and of the Renaissance, and one of the consequences of this
great movement was the revival of colour decoration on buildings. Many
old frescoes which had been covered with whitewash, not only in France,
but in Germany, in the Rhine valley, and in England also, were once more
brought to light, after the whitewash of previous centuries had been
removed. Many French architects, artists, and archæologists, among whom
were Prosper Merimée, Didron, and Viollet-le-Duc, advocated a more
generous use of colour, not only in the interiors, but on the exteriors
of buildings. Many works on ancient art were published about this time,
which also contributed to the education of the public taste, and French
architects and students were becoming enthusiasts for the application of
deep colouring to architecture, being led in this direction by the
discoveries of Hittorf, in 1823, and subsequently by others, who went
out to Greece and Sicily and found traces of strong colouring on the
ancient Greek temples at Segesta and Selinus in Sicily. Hittorf was the
first to discover and make known the ancient polychromy of the Greeks.
The traces of colouring which he found on the three temples near the
Acropolis of Selinus, and those on the small temple of Empedocles at the
same place, enabled him to restore the colouring of these buildings,
and in 1851 he published his work, entitled _L’Architecture Polychrôme
chez les Grecs_, and also a view of the great Temple of Jupiter. About
the same time the sculptor Thorwaldsen also found numerous traces of
blue, red, and gold on the Temple of Ægina. Hittorf’s discoveries of
Greek colouring were at first received in France with a good deal of
scepticism and violent opposition, as he was told that the colouring of
the Sicilian temples was only the remains of “the vulgar daubing of
Byzantine, Norman, or Arab origin.” It is now, however, clearly proved
by the light of subsequent investigations that Greek polychromy was a
tradition of the colouring of still older temples, and that the latter
was only a development of the archaic polychromy of the primitive
Mycenian decorators, who in their turn derived it from Egyptian sources.

About the middle of the nineteenth century the art of colour decoration
on buildings was greatly advanced, as the public were becoming
familiarised with ancient work by means of copies made of it,
illustrated books, and photographs of Pompeian, Roman, Greek, Byzantine,
Persian, Egyptian, Eastern and Italian Renaissance work. The decoration
of buildings in France in the nineteenth century in respect to the
revival of polychromy may therefore be looked upon as a veritable colour
renaissance, for a reaction had set in against the almost colourless
buildings of the two former centuries. Not only was colour extensively
employed in the interiors of French buildings, but on the exteriors it
was used in a structural sense by the employment of natural coloured
materials, such as marbles, bronze, terra-cotta and enamelled
earthenware, and by the applied decoration of mosaic.

The architects, Duban and Labrouste, were among the first to assist in
the creation of this new taste for colour, they having thoroughly
studied the remains of Greek and Roman architecture, and especially the
colour decoration of Pompeii. Duban set about the work of restoring the
colour decorations of the Sainte Chapelle, in Paris, and those of the
Chateau-de-Blois, where in the latter he used ceramic tiles successfully
in the decoration, taking his models from the tile work of the Middle
Ages. Other works done by Duban, or under his directions, were the
restoration of the Galerie-du-Louvre in the painted “loge” and decorated
ceiling, and at the École des Beaux-Arts, the “Loggie-di-Rafaele,” in
the galleries of the first storey, and the porticoes in the
Cour-du-Murier, which he decorated in the Pompeian style. Duban employed
marble, enamelled pottery, terra-cotta and iron, as well as paint, for
his decorative colour schemes.

Many architects and artists were very enthusiastic about this time in
advocating the extended use of colour on buildings, and numerous old
churches and chateaux were restored to their former colouring, but those
who undertook such work were not all gifted as colourists, and
consequently some mistakes and failures happened; but at the same time
a considerable amount of good work was accomplished where refined
excellence and harmonious expression of colour were by no means wanting.
Alfred Norman and Louis Duc were successful decorators of this period.
Among the works of the former was the beautifully decorated house in the
Pompeian style, painted for Louis Napoleon, and the latter architect
used glazed tiles in combination with painting in some successful
schemes of decoration in the oriental method of colouring. The Church of
Saint Germain-des-Prés, in Paris, which contains the frescoes of
Hippolyte Flandrin, was admirably decorated by Denuelle under the
direction of the architect, Victor Baltard. In connection with the
colour revival in France, Viollet-le-Duc makes this reflection: “Why do
we deprive ourselves of all these resources of art? Why does the classic
school pretend that coldness and monotony are the inseparable
accompaniments of beauty, when the Greeks, whom they present to us as
artists _par excellence_, always coloured their buildings inside and
out, not timidly, but by putting on colours of extreme brilliancy?”

The use of coloured terra-cotta, ceramic tiles and mosaic, rapidly
spread in France about this time, for the architects and the public had
become acquainted with the coloured tile decoration of Moorish palaces
in Spain, the tile facings of mosques in Persia, Cairo, and of the
Mohammedan palaces and mosques of India. In conjunction with this kind
of decoration, mosaic work also reappeared in France. Charles Garnier,
the eminent architect, designed and built the new Opera House in Paris,
in the years 1871 and 1872, where he introduced mosaic on a large scale,
both inside and outside this important building. He also used mosaics
and enamels in the decoration of the Casino at Monte Carlo. The
polychromy of the Opera House in Paris is of a refined and dignified
character, which, on the exterior of the building, is obtained by
marble, bronze, mosaic, enamelled earthenware and gilding, and in the
interior by mosaics and the painted decorations of Paul Baudry and other
artists. Garnier was an enthusiast in the colouring of architecture, and
especially for the use of mosaic in the decoration of buildings. In his
dream of the future of Paris, he predicts that “The grounds of the
cornices will shine with eternal colours, the piers will be enriched
with sparkling panels, gilded friezes will run along the buildings. The
monuments will be clothed with marbles and enamels, and mosaics will
make all love movement and colour.” Garnier brought over to Paris many
Italian mosaic workers, and it was largely due to his influence that the
Government established the French École de Mosaïque at Sèvres, which has
achieved excellent results under the direction of the late M. Gerspach.

Glazed tiles, enamelled earthenware, coloured wood, bronze and mosaic
were from this time forward employed as decorative materials in public
and private buildings in Paris and throughout the provinces. The great
International Exhibitions were in some degree decorated with these
materials, and the exhibits of these coloured building materials from
England, France itself, and other countries, gave a great impetus to the
production of such, especially to those of the potter’s art. In France
the large decorative panels in coloured tile work by M. Deck created an
epoch in this kind of work.

Foremost among the many architects and artists in the advocacy of colour
in buildings was the late M. Paul Sédille, whose work in the effective
use of enamelled terra-cotta and glass mosaic in decoration is well
known in Paris. He designed, among other work, the beautiful monumental
doorway as the entrance to the Salle des Beaux-Arts in the
Exposition-Universelle of 1878 at Paris, which was composed exclusively
of coloured terra-cotta and glazed tiles, similar to that of the Italian
“Della Robbia” variety. This enamelled doorway was modelled in relief
and painted in contrasting colours of green, red, natural colours, black
and white, on pale yellow and azure grounds. The wreaths, stars, palms,
and other salient portions of the design were in gold. Another work of
his is that of the decoration of the ceiling of the vestibule of the
Magazin-du-Printemps in Paris, where he has used enamelled glass mosaic
with variegated marbles in an ornamental design, enclosed with plain
and gilt bronze mouldings. The colouring of this effective design is
very simple but rich, the ground being gold, the foliage pale greens,
and the flowers white, slightly shaded with rose colour.

The most important mosaic decoration in France is perhaps that of the
apse of the Panthéon at Paris, by the artist M. E. Hébert. The subject
of the composition is “Christ revealing to the Angel of France the
Destinies of her People.” The figure of Christ occupies the centre of
the hemispherical vault, and stands before a throne; the right hand is
uplifted, and in the left is the rolled volume--the book of the
future--sealed with the seven seals. On His right the Virgin presents
Joan of Arc with her standard banner, and on the left the Angel of
France, whose red wings are heightened with gold, and with sword in
hand, presents Sainte Geneviève, of Paris. The ground of the composition
is gold. The figure of Christ is clothed in a robe of purple, and has a
border of gold, and that of the Virgin is white with a gold fringe. The
Angel of France is robed in a rose-coloured garment, and has a
bluish-green coloured mantle. St. Geneviève has a blue robe and a grey
mantle. All the personages stand on a verdured meadow, which is
enamelled with flowers. Elaborate borders of vine leafage and grapes,
with fillets of precious stones, surround the composition, which are
from the designs of M. Galland, one of the finest decorative artists of
France. The composition, character and colouring of this important
mosaic, as well as the technique, are based on the best traditions of
the Ravenna mosaics of the fifth and sixth centuries.

In the French provinces many examples of colour decoration and mosaic
work have been executed in recent years, notably the mosaic decorations
of the new cathedrals at Marseilles and Lyons. The municipal buildings
of Paris and of the provincial cities of France, together with churches,
universities, and other public and private buildings, contain numerous
examples of important wall paintings, which though of great interest
individually, are rather to be regarded as isolated efforts of
decorative or pictorial value than complete schemes of the colour
decoration of the buildings which they adorn.

In regard to what we have just said, it will be necessary to make a very
important exception in the case of at least one great French master of
decorative art, namely, Puvis de Chavannes, for he was perhaps the
greatest decorator that France has produced. No one understood so well
as he did the laws and principles of architectural decoration and
colouring. He was almost alone among the artists of France in his proper
treatment of the wall surface as an architectural feature, for on
looking at his work one always feels that the wall is in evidence as a
solid and flat surface, and that his great pictorial decorations, as far
as the design and colouring of them go, and so full of beauty and
interest as they are, in no way interfere with the architectural
function of the wall. A comparison of his work in the Panthéon at Paris
with that of the other artists whose works occupy other wall spaces in
that building clearly proves this contention, for, as a rule, the
surrounding wall paintings, executed by about ten other artists, though
excellent as illustrative works of art, are really out of place as wall
decorations in their composition, treatment of design, and more
particularly in their violent colouring. They do not harmonise with the
dignity of the architecture, they are not legitimate decorations, but
rather great pictures fastened to the walls, making a lively and gay
picture-gallery in a solemn and dignified building, and lacking that
monumental fitness in their design and colouring which is so well
expressed in the work of Puvis de Chavannes.

All the painters of these wall pictures in the Panthéon, with the
exception of Chavannes, seem to have been influenced by the works of
Paul Veronese, Tintoretto, Titian and Rubens, who produced large, and
even colossal-sized oil paintings, which were designed to fit wall and
ceiling spaces as decorative pictures, and were glorious things in
themselves with all their richness of colour, perspective, composition
and vigour of brush-work in the execution, but none of them can be
considered as suitable decoration of the spaces they occupy on ceilings
and walls. The Italian Primitive School, and the great frescanti of
Italy, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, understood the
requirements of wall decoration much better than the later, though
great, Italian and Flemish masters, who painted their pictures chiefly
in the oil medium. Chavannes, however, apparently founded his style and
methods on the work of the early Italians, and, though he painted in an
oil and wax medium on canvas which was “marouflée,” or cemented, on to
the wall, and not painted on the wall direct, as in fresco or tempera,
his work shows strong decorative influences derived from the study of
these early Italian masters.

It would not be difficult to point out some of the many instances where
the majority of the Panthéon wall pictures fail as decoration, where
violent contrasts of colour and extreme perspective effects are, as it
would appear, almost aimed for, as if the object was to destroy the
plane of the wall as a flat surface, by making it look as if it had
holes or windows, rather than any striving for the preservation of its
natural solidity.

The wall picture, “Vers La Gloire,” by the clever artist, Detaille, may
be mentioned as an example of work that has reached the limits of
misplaced decoration. This work, though no doubt very popular, is really
a crowded and complex miniature painting enlarged and transferred to the
wall. In this painting there are represented hundreds of soldiers and
horses all in the most violent action, with banners flying, and a
plethora of swords, spears and trumpets; the horses are madly galloping
on and through the clouds, there is plenty of movement, and great
cleverness is displayed in the grouping of the horsemen, but at a few
yards’ distance the work appears to be a merely glittering and spotty
achievement, and when examined closely represents a perfect museum of
soldiers’ uniforms. Clever as this work is, it is, however, entirely out
of place on the walls of the Panthéon, for, apart from the unsuitability
of the subject, it cramps and destroys the amplitude, as well as the
flatness and solidity of the wall, which should be the first care of the
artist to preserve.

The wall paintings in this building by Puvis de Chavannes, in contrast
to the works above-mentioned, are designed and executed in a truly
decorative sense. Here he has painted a magnificent series of panels
illustrating incidents in the life of St. Geneviève, the patron saint of
Paris. The general colour of these pastoral works is a combination of
grey greens, pale yellows, and pale purples, which produces an
atmosphere that is silvery and tender. The compositions are dignified
and impressive, and there is no crowding or complexity in the almost
even distribution of the figures; the keynote is simplicity, which gives
the monumental clearness of design that decorative painting demands. In
this respect the work of Chavannes has much in common with the charm and
_naïveté_ of the work of the Italian Primitives.

At the Hôtel de Ville he has painted the subjects of “L’Hiver,” “L’Eté,”
and “Victor Hugo offrant son Lyre à la Ville de Paris,” but perhaps his
greatest achievement is his celebrated painting of the “Lettres, Arts et
Muses” which decorates the hemicycle of the vast Amphitheatre of the
Sorbonne at Paris. The subject was one that was entirely in harmony with
the painter’s genius and powers. The composition contains forty-four
life-sized figures, which are arranged in a series of cleverly designed
groups, all connected with each other, and arranged symmetrically, but
not with a dry symmetry, on either side of a central group of three
figures--Mnemosyne, the mother of the Muses, seated, with boys on either
side, who are evidently meant to personify Love and Fame. The other
figures symbolise Literature, Art, and Poetry. The background scene is a
sacred wood, where the graceful tree trunks are kept rather thin and
slender, so as not to interfere with the figures, but these serried rows
of trees give the requisite upright lines that steady and strengthen the
composition, which is also helped immensely by a dark hedge, extending
the whole length of the picture, above which a little sky is shown.

The colour scheme is a beautiful harmony of fairly strong half-tones of
such colours as greens, reds, yellows, blues, orange, grey and purple,
but as a whole the dominant harmony is that of green and purple,
although neither of these colours appears in its full or positive hue.
The general colour scheme of this work is unusually intense in
comparison with the paler and more tender colouring of the other works
of this painter. His figures are types or embodiments of his poetic
ideas, for, like Blake and Botticelli, he used the human form in his
designs, not in any realistic sense, but as a medium for the expression
of his ideas and inward vision; in short, he subordinated form to his

The staircase walls in the Museum at Lyons have been decorated with
paintings by Puvis de Chavannes; he is also well represented in his
important wall paintings in the museums of Rouen, Marseilles, and
Amiens, and his latest work was the decorative paintings in the Library
at Boston, in America. Some of his earliest works, and other later ones,
are those that form the important wall decorations in the Picardy Museum
at Amiens, and this museum affords an excellent opportunity for the
student who wishes to study the art of Puvis de Chavannes, for it
contains many and typical examples of his design, drawing, composition,
and colour. There are some very large paintings of his which decorate
the main staircase walls, and there is also here a special gallery
devoted to his work, the walls of which are covered by his paintings,
all of which are surrounded by richly coloured Pompeian borders and
panels of ornament. The architectural mouldings and other features are
also richly coloured, and this surrounding colour and ornament does not
in any way interfere with the pictorial composition, but, on the other
hand, unites the paintings with the architecture, the whole effect
providing a fine example of colour finish to the gallery.

Generally speaking, the majority of painters who are called upon to
execute wall paintings in public buildings are afraid to use colour or
coloured ornament close to, or surrounding, their pictorial
compositions; but the best Italian artists, and the Greeks also,
invariably did surround their decorative pictures with coloured
geometric patterns, and coloured the architectural mouldings as well. So
when we find such a great decorator as Chavannes adopting the principle
of using colour to aid the effect of his decorative picture, and thus
following the practice of the old masters, we may be assured that
ornamental bands, lines, and mouldings, if coloured in harmony with the
pictorial compositions, will effectively assist the latter in their
function of providing a true decoration of the building, and prevent
them from having the isolated appearance of pictures fastened on the



There was little, if any, art or architecture in Germany before the days
of Charlemagne, except that which found expression in the various
articles and objects of personal adornment, such as in brooches, rings,
in the costume of the warriors and chiefs, and in some objects of
general utility, where the lesser arts--_die Kleinkünste_--were
developed and attained to high degrees of perfection, in the Romanesque
period and Middle Ages. Charlemagne, who reigned from 768 to 814, was a
great art-loving prince, and gave the first impulse to art in Germany
when he built his stately church, which he also intended for his tomb,
at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle). Here he had also his chief palace, but of
this, and of the many others he possessed on the banks of the Rhine, no
definite traces remain but his palace-chapel, now the cathedral, or the
round portion of the latter, which still exists in good preservation,
and is a fitting monument to his greatness, and to his zeal for the
promotion of art in Germany. This church is said to be a copy in plan
of the Byzantine Church of St. Vitale at Ravenna, except that the latter
is an octagon in the ground plan, and the former is a polygon of sixteen
sides. This round type of building was used in Rome and the south not
only for churches, but for baptisteries, and after Charlemagne’s Chapel
was erected in Aachen it became the prototype of circular churches that
were built in the Romanesque period and style in Germany. The church at
Aix-la-Chapelle was decorated with mosaics, similar to those of St.
Vitale at Ravenna, but the original mosaics have all perished, and the
ones which now adorn the dome and pendentives of the church are
modern works by Salviati of Venice, and were executed from a
seventeenth-century copy of the old mosaic. The subject of the dome
mosaic, on a gold ground, represents Christ and the twenty-four Elders
of the Apocalypse. The rest of the central part of the church,
ambulatory walls, etc., are adorned with mosaics within the last ten
years. The choir of this interesting church is an addition, and is a
Gothic building of the fifteenth century. Its walls and vaulted ceiling
are richly adorned with ornamentation in colours and gold, the patterns
of the ornament being similar to, or derived from, the silk tapestries
of that period.

Mosaic as church decoration, except for floor pavements, was not much in
use in Germany after the time of Charlemagne; in the northern countries
of Europe wall painting in tempera became the characteristic method of
decoration for the Romanesque churches, just as mosaic was the chief
kind of decoration for churches in Italy and southern Europe in the same

In the Romanesque epoch in Germany, the period which is generally
understood to extend from A.D. 1000 till about 1200, or a little later,
no church was without its painted decoration. The subjects were similar
to, and the general design and style of drawing were not unlike the
mosaic decoration of churches in Italy and Sicily. Single figures, and
scenes from the Old and New Testaments were enclosed in panels, having
borders designed in elaborate ornamental forms, derived chiefly from
conventional leafage. The figures were usually painted in flat tints, or
almost so; very little shading or modelling of the forms were attempted,
and the whole work was strongly outlined, so that the finished
decoration appeared as an enlarged kind of illumination. The ribs or
groups of mouldings of the vaulted ceilings and the soffits of the
arches were decorated with conventional flowers, garlands and ribbon
work. The apse usually contained a large figure of Christ, or the
Madonna enthroned, surrounded with figures of the Apostles and Saints,
and often on the other parts of the church, such as the triumphal arch,
the ceilings and walls, there were paintings representing the visions of
the Prophets, and the imaginative imagery of the Apocalypse.

The Romanesque churches of the Rhineland afford many examples of
interior colour decoration, for it was in the region watered by the
Rhine that German art was cradled, where it was carefully nursed, and
where it developed to an early maturity. Mural painting as a handmaid,
or as an auxiliary to Romanesque architecture, can still be studied in
many of the old churches in the valley of the Rhine, where it was an
important art as early as the eleventh century. The secular buildings
also, such as the castles, guild-houses, town-halls, chateaux and
private houses were all at this time decorated in colour, but nearly all
of their colour decorations and paintings have been destroyed in the
course of time, except some remaining fragments which have been removed
to local museums. There are, however, a few churches of the Romanesque
period that still have a considerable amount of the eleventh and twelfth
century paintings on their walls, and though much of this work is
greatly faded and has now very little of its former colour and beauty,
yet the composition and outlines are still in evidence, and although we
cannot well judge of their original colouring there are still much
quaintness and charm attached to those examples which have not yet been

There are four Romanesque churches of the Rhine valley which still have
their wall paintings of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, namely, the
double church at Schwarz Rheindorf, near Bonn, with paintings that were
originally executed about 1150, the chapter-house of the Abbey-church at
Brauweiler, near Cologne, and the crypt of St. Maria im Capitol at
Cologne. The baptistery of the Church of St. Gereon has some wall
paintings of the thirteenth century, and still older work in the crypt.

Perhaps the most important and most interesting of these old
wall-paintings are those that adorn the lower church at Schwarz
Rheindorf, although they have been completely repainted recently, but it
must be admitted the present colouring of them is characteristic of the
Romanesque colour, and can hardly be very far wrong. The subjects appear
to be highly imaginative and poetical conceptions of Biblical scenes,
and there are large figures of the Apostles and Hebrew prophets. The
treatment is in the usual flat method of colouring with strong outlines.
The original paintings were discovered under coats of whitewash in 1853.
The Chapter-house at Brauweiler has some examples of wall-paintings,
dating from the end of the twelfth century, the subjects being scenes
from the Epistle to the Hebrews. In the apse of the church there are
other paintings of the later Gothic period.

In the crypt of the Church of St. Maria im Capitol, at Cologne, there
are some interesting wall paintings of the twelfth century, but they are
in a faded state. This church, however, is remarkable for its rich
modern colouring, and furnishes one of the best examples of the revival
of Romanesque decoration in Germany. It may be said that every inch of
the surfaces of the interior is covered with richly-coloured
ornamentation and figure-paintings, which includes the columns and
piers. The east end is in plan trefoil-like, having three semicircles
with their diameters touching, and the three semi-domes above have
figure subjects that were designed, and the painting begun, by Steinle,
but finished by other artists.

In the crypt of the Church of St. Gereon at Cologne there is a very
interesting series of wall paintings, consisting of single figures of a
colossal size, each painted in curved recesses in the walls. The figures
are noble in design, but the colouring is much faded. They date from
about the twelfth century, and appear to be examples of the original
work, that have not been restored. It may be mentioned here that the
floor of the crypt is a mosaic pavement of the eleventh century. It is
Roman in character, though of German workmanship. The design consists of
figure subjects, where David, Samson, and Delilah are represented, and
also the signs of the Zodiac. These mosaic pavements were discontinued
after the eleventh century, when encaustic and glazed tiles of brown,
red or green colours were used instead of mosaic for floor pavements.
The walls of the baptistery of this church are decorated with painted
figures, of thirteenth-century work. Full length figures of saints and
warriors are arranged in pairs, two of them occupying the upper half of
each arched bay between engaged pillars, and between each two figures is
a small painted column. The lower halves of the bays have each an
ornamental border immediately under each pair of figures, and the rest
of the space below the border is painted in imitation of suspended
tapestries. Altogether this makes a very satisfactory and interesting
scheme of decoration. Such schemes were very common in the decoration of
the Gothic period in Germany and other countries. The rest of the
interior of this church, like that of St. Maria im Capitol, is lavishly
decorated in richly-coloured and gold ornamentation being a modern
revival of Romanesque colouring. The profuse surface decoration used so
much in the Romanesque period was of Byzantine origin, and consisted of
an almost endless variety of forms and motives, such as conventional
vine leafage, fruit and tendrils, flowers of various kinds, scale
patterns, interlacings, frets, geometrical combinations, chevrons,
zigzag patterns, ribbons, garlands, and various representations of
carved Byzantine ornament, and other architectural features, such as
arcading, all treated flatly in colour.

There are other numerous examples of Romanesque painting, colouring and
ornamental decoration still found in other parts of Germany, besides the
examples we have just noticed. The walls and ceilings of the choir and
transepts of Brunswick Cathedral have a complete series of Romanesque
wall paintings of the twelfth century. The finest example of this style
of painting in Germany is the magnificent ceiling of the great nave of
St. Michael’s Church in Hildesheim. It is a flat ceiling of wooden
construction. Running the whole length of the central portion of the
ceiling the space is subdivided into a series of square panels; on each
side of this central space the bands are divided into a great many small
oblong panels, and outside these is a broad enclosing border of
scroll-work containing in circular spaces in this border half-length
figures of saints. The adjoining border has its oblong panels filled
with small full-length figures of Apostles and Prophets. The larger
square panels of the central part have lozenges and quatrefoil forms
inside each square, in alternation. The latter forms contain the seated
figures of kings and other personages that illustrate the genealogy of
Christ, or the Root of Jesse. The Fall is also represented, and the
corner spaces outside the lozenges and quatrefoils are filled with
ornament and small medallions that add great richness to the design
without giving to it any appearance of confusion. The colour is very
strong and rich, and the whole of the decoration is painted on a blue

The small stained-glass windows of the Romanesque period add a further
note of colour to the interiors, although coloured glass was quite
secondary to the painted decoration of this time. The only figure-work
attempted in the glass was that in the small circular medallions and
lozenge-shaped panels, containing scriptural subjects, which were placed
at intervals amidst a rich setting of leaf patterns and other ornamental

In the Gothic period, from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries, when
the walls of churches became less in extent and area, and the windows
became larger and more numerous, glass painting gradually became the
chief factor in providing the colour of church interiors, and
consequently the art and craft of the glass painter or “glazier,” as he
was called in the old documents, became a more important one than that
of the painter and decorator. When the Gothic builders perfected the rib
vaulting system, their greatest discovery, and the keynote of the style,
they found that walls were not necessary as active agents of the
construction, but of use only in filling up the spaces between the
voids, and were therefore more or less inert masses. They found that
they had no use for walls except to close in the building from the
weather, and so we find that walls began to disappear in Gothic
buildings, and the windows being more numerous and larger, the Gothic
churches were becoming great glasshouses. To prevent this look it was
necessary to fill the windows with coloured glass, which subdued the
otherwise great glare of white light that would come through clear
glass, and would give the interiors a more comfortable appearance, at
the same time adding colour decoration to the buildings. Many Gothic
churches have more area of glass than of walls; the clerestory of the
choir in Amiens Cathedral, for example, has forty times more area of the
void or window space than of the solid stone, and in some cases there
are no walls, as in the highly scientific construction of the upper
portion of the choir in the Cathedral of Prague, where all is glass set
in the stone vaulting shafts. Other large churches or cathedrals built
in the Gothic style might be given as illustrations where the proportion
of void to solid is very great and consequently the windows are very
large, such as Chartres, Cologne, Canterbury, Lincoln and York. In the
smaller Gothic churches of England, or on the Continent, this proportion
of void to solid was generally reversed, and owing to this, and also to
the greater use of wood in the roofs and screens, the smaller churches
everywhere were at this time more richly treated in colour than the
larger ones. The painter and decorator also found more employment in the
treatment of secular buildings with coloured decoration in the Gothic
period than he did on the cathedrals. It was only in rare instances that
important wall paintings have been found in churches of this period; the
colour and decoration, apart from the stained glass, was, especially in
the case of the cathedrals, confined to mouldings, vault ribs, capitals,
piers; and sometimes the webs, or ceilings of the vaults, were wholly
filled with arabesque decoration, but often only partially so, around
the bosses that marked the intersection of





the ribs. (Plate 24.) It was in the smaller churches, and in the
chambers and chapels attached to larger churches and cathedrals, in the
crypts, sacristies, baptisteries, and sanctuaries, that complete schemes
of colour decoration were carried out, or attempted in the Gothic
period. It might be mentioned that some effective colour notes were
obtained by the richly-coloured and gilt carvings and sculpture in wood
and stone screens, altar-pieces, and the carved and painted tabernacles,
which have been found in great numbers in the Gothic churches of

The stained-glass windows of the Gothic period, especially of the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, were the finest and best understood
colour decoration in the glass material that has ever been done. Though
many fine windows belonging to this time are found throughout Germany,
Flanders, Bohemia, and Austria, the best examples are found in France,
as at Chartres, and in England at York. The colouring of the glass of
this period has never been surpassed for its splendour and beauty, and
the figure-work and general ornamentation are designed and drawn in a
suitably flat and architectonic style, in harmony with the material. The
flat tapestry-like effect of the designs gives the work an appearance of
mosaic in glass, and the result is what it should be, namely, a
decorative work in “stained” glass, not “painted.” In the fifteenth
century and later, stained glass became degraded to the imitation of
pictures, or light and shade paintings in glass, and consequently lost
its legitimate character as a mosaic in glass. In a word, it became
eventually pictorial in character, and ceased to have the true quality
of stained glass. This later degradation of coloured glass was common to
Germany, France, Italy and England.

The love for colour decoration, as applied to the interiors and
exteriors of secular buildings and private dwellings, was more marked in
Germany than in other European countries during the Middle Ages, and, as
we would expect, Germany, with a tenacious and faithful conservatism,
has clung more closely to her old traditional love for colour and
decoration, and still takes a greater pride in all the circumstance of
civic processions and pageantry, than any other nation in Europe. If we
seek for an explanation of this we shall find that it is an inherited
love from their ancestors, the old Germanic warriors and chiefs, who
ruled the country before the days of Charlemagne, and who took a
passionate delight in colour and in personal adornment. We may take one
illustration of this artistic conservatism, among many others, by
pointing out that the Germans paint and decorate their restaurants
to-day, for example, in the same way as they did in the days of the
fifteenth century.

The museums of Cologne and Munich especially, contain many fragments of
interior decorative painting that were taken from the old houses in
their neighbourhoods. Such specimens of the old work are generally
treated very flatly and only in a few colours, resembling tapestry
designs, all of them having strong outlines that mark out the forms,
like the constructive outline leads of window glass. We may point to one
of the many fragments of this work which is now in the museum at
Cologne: it consists of a portion of a deep and battlemented frieze,
having three panels painted with scenes from the story of the Prodigal
Son (_der lieblose Sohn_), and is executed in tempera in flat tints of
reds, blues, pale yellows and greys, outlined in black. This frieze once
formed a part of the decoration of the dining-hall _des Hauses Glesch
auf der Hochstrasse_, Cologne.

Wooden panelled ceilings of private dwellings in the Gothic and
Renaissance periods were strongly coloured, and the deep friezes on the
walls were painted with figure subjects, heraldry, foliage, flowers and
birds, or sometimes with conventional ornament alone, all the work being
usually painted in tempera, while the walls below were either panelled
with inlaid woods, or carved in wood or stone. In some cases the lower
portion of the wall was painted on the wood or plaster, or hung with
figured tapestries. It may be mentioned that the Germans have always
made the greatest possible use of decorative heraldry, which was
designed with great skill, in an elaborate and sumptuous manner, and
used by them in every form and material of decorative art.

The adornment of the exteriors and interiors of their public buildings,
and also of the better class of private houses, has always been a
passion with the Germans. Many of the old houses in such cities as
Lübeck, a northern German town of the Renaissance, Brunswick,
Hildesheim, Frankfort, Strasburg, Nuremberg, Rothenburg, and the Swabian
city of Augsburg are enriched with a wealth of carving and painting, of
one or of both, on their façades, and in the interiors of their
principal rooms, many examples of which are still in existence. The
carving and painting in and on the houses of the Germans were in most
cases designed and executed by native artists and craftsmen, but in some
instances there are records of foreigners being employed, as in the case
of the Fuggerhaus at Augsburg, where Hans Fugger, a member of that
powerful and wealthy family, had his house decorated in the Italian
Renaissance style, in 1570, the work being done by Italian artists.

The native love for decoration and colour has always been respected in
Germany by the ruling powers, by the municipalities and wealthy
citizens, who have always encouraged and fostered the decorative arts.
The Germans take a civic pride in not only having handsome town-halls,
theatres, railway stations, art galleries, museums, colleges,
universities, and other public buildings, erected as the best possible
examples of fine architecture, but in the adornment of such buildings
with sculpture, fresco, mosaic and other colour decoration.


     _To face p. 104._]


We might extend these observations on the colouring of architecture in
Germany with a brief description of a few examples of modern work of the
art which has engaged our attention.

The Teutonic love for the Gothic style and for its auxiliary colour and
ornamentation is manifested in the decoration of almost every public
building in modern Germany. This is even apparent in the fittings and
decorations of the luxurious saloons of their great and latest-built
passenger ships, where the dining-rooms and drawing-rooms of the modern
liners are often, as in the case of the _Imperator_, designed and
decorated in the style and true spirit of Medieval Gothic, so that the
passengers might almost imagine that they were living in some castle or
baronial hall of the fifteenth century instead of being on board the

The staircase walls and ceiling of the Museum at Cologne present a
fairly good scheme of modern German decoration. The walls have fresco
paintings by Steinle, which are important examples of this modern German
painter. The ornamentation that surrounds the frescoes, and that on the
lower parts of the walls are not so good in colour or form as that of
the vaulted ceiling. The work on the latter is good in colour and
successfully carried out. The vaults have crimson-red, and blue
background alternating, on which are painted a well-designed scroll-like
ornamentation in lighter shades with some gold introduced on the
mouldings and other parts, the whole effect being rich and pleasing.

Richly coloured carved wood ceilings, in low relief, which contain
numerous heraldic shields arranged in panels, and set in suitable
ornamentation of foliage forms and ribbon-work, are found in nearly all
of the more important rooms in the German town-halls. One of the finest
examples of a coloured and carved ceiling is the one which adorns the
Kaiserhalle in the Römer, or town-hall, of Frankfort-on-the-Maine. This
magnificent ceiling is carved in low-relief which gives it a suitable
flat appearance. The rich tinctures of the charges on the shields,
combined with the gold and silver that is used, produce, with the dark
background of the natural brown colour of the wood, an extremely
satisfactory example of refined decoration. This ceiling is certainly
the best of its kind that we can remember to have seen in any German
city. The walls of this magnificent chamber are decorated with good
full-length portraits of the German and Prussian kings and emperors. At
the entrance end of the hall there is a seated figure of Charlemagne, by
Veit, and in the panel above is a wall painting by Steinle with the
subject of “The Judgment of Solomon.” The full-length portrait of
Frederick I (1152-90), is an unusually fine work by Lessing.

Another example of a finely carved and painted ceiling, is that of the
Council Chamber in the Rathaus, or town-hall at Hildesheim. Here also
are seen the heraldic devices, with figures and elaborate scroll-work
which compose the design of this ceiling. The general scheme of the
colouring is rich and deep in tones of red, blue, gold, on the
background of dark brown wood. The walls of this Gothic chamber are
decorated with fine paintings in fresco by H. Prell, begun in 1892. With
the exception of there being too much darkness in some parts, they are
otherwise brilliant and luminous in colour, and may be said to be among
the best examples of fresco technique in Germany.

The interior of the town-hall at Aix-la-Chapelle is admirably decorated,
and in a similar manner to those of Hildesheim and Frankfort. The
Coronation Chamber in this building contains the celebrated historical
fresco paintings by Alfred Rethel, four of which were painted by this
artist, and the other four were designed by Rethel, but painted by
Professor Kehren. The vaulted ceilings and piers are richly decorated in
colour, and windows with stained glass.

The principal staircase walls of the New Museum in Berlin are decorated
with six great frescoes by Kaulbach, representing certain epochs in the
history of mankind. These wall paintings are executed in the water-glass
method of fresco. As wall decorations they are too pictorial in design,
and the treatment, in the matter of colouring and technique, lacks
simplicity. They are over-modelled in their light and shade, and the
colouring presents too many violent contrasts, which greatly injures
their value as monumental examples of legitimate wall decoration.
Wherever white or light yellows occur in the work, these parts of the
painting have evidently become disintegrated, and at present show a
disagreeable chalkiness or bloom. This, together with the presence of
many black and heavy shadows, which appear to have gone darker, if
possible, with age, combine to throw the painting out of tone. In
composition and drawing they are not without grandeur of style, but if
they had been more simple in treatment, and less violent in colour and
light and shade effects, they would be more pleasing as wall

In the Hall of the Gods, and in the two adjoining rooms on either side
of the small vestibule in the Glyptothek at Munich there are some
important frescoes by Cornelius, painted in 1820-30. The subjects of
these paintings are classical, and represent the Abode of the Gods, the
Legend of Prometheus, and the Trojan wars, all painted in rich and
brilliant schemes of colour, but bordering on harshness. There is a
great deal of auxiliary decoration in these rooms consisting of good
examples of ornamentation in the Greco-Roman style of Grottesche in
painting and in stucco-reliefs. The new Town-hall of Munich is well
decorated with wall paintings, ornament, and heraldic work. The Council
Chamber has a very large wall painting executed in oil on canvas by
Piloty. The subject is an Allegorical History of Munich, and the
magistrates’ room has paintings by Lindenschmit and is also adorned with
a finely carved and painted ceiling.

One of the finest schemes of modern German decoration is that of the
great staircase of the Albertinum Sculpture Gallery at Dresden. The
frescoes, by H. Prell, on the ceiling and walls have subjects of Greek
mythology and are painted in bright and light schemes of colour, the
general effect being very luminous, and the work is vigorous in
execution. The dado and lower stonework has panels of bronze with
low-relief decoration, and in the corridor of the landing there are some
fine panels in mosaic.

Fresco, mosaic, tiles, and coloured marble have frequently been used, as
the means of obtaining colour decoration on the exteriors of many public
buildings in Germany, in modern times. On the upper part of the façade
of the Kunst-Gewerbe Museum at Berlin there are a fine series of
square-shaped panels containing mosaics in colour on gold grounds,
designed by Professor Ewald, and by Geselchap.

The exterior wall of the Royal Historical Museum at Dresden has an
important decoration, consisting of a long and deep frieze, executed in
a light yellow stone-colour and black on a gold-coloured ground. The
material is a kind of porcelain or tile composition, having a
sgraffito-like treatment. The work was made in the Royal Porcelain
Manufactory at Meissen. The subject of this frieze is a procession of
kings and warriors of Saxony on horseback who ruled from 1170 to 1873,
and who are represented in chronological order.

There are many buildings in Germany that have had their exteriors
decorated with paintings in fresco, but much of this work is now in a
decayed condition. Many modern houses, such as restaurants and shops,
have exterior decorations painted in oil. The outside walls of the Old
(Alt) Museum at Berlin have an extensive arrangement of panels painted
in fresco, having mythological subjects, such as the Labours of
Hercules, etc., but they are now in a dirty and faded condition. As an
example of exterior colouring we might mention the beautiful Gothic
fountain, the Schöne Brunnen, erected about 1360, in the market place of
Nuremberg. This fountain is built in the shape of a pyramid, in a rich
Gothic style; it has, however, been restored several times. It is
decorated with many figures of kings, prophets, apostles, and other
worthies, and is always kept painted in its original colouring of blue,
red, and gold.

We may conclude this review of German coloured decoration of buildings
by a brief notice of some of the painted wood and stone carvings which
are found plentifully in old German churches, and more particularly in
those of Nuremberg. The Church of St. Lawrence at Nuremberg contains
several examples of carved wood altar-pieces in the form of triptychs,
the centre panels of which are carved with scriptural subjects, the
figures being in high relief and painted in rich colours, in order to
harmonise with the colour of the two painted leaves on either side of
it. Hanging from the roof in the centre of this church is the celebrated
circular wood carving by Veit Stoss, all richly coloured and gilt. It
consists of a representation of the Annunciation, and the surrounding
circular frame is of a beautiful design of open work ornamented with
roses, and with seven medallions with representations of the Seven Joys
of the Virgin. In this church there is also a very interesting
fourteenth-century altar-piece in Gothic stone-carving which is erected
in a bay on the left of the east end of the church. It is a good example
of the colouring of the period, and is painted in tints of yellowish-red
and warm green, with a soft dull blue in the background parts, and the
salient points and narrow mouldings are gilt. On many of the structural
parts and mouldings of this Church there are still remains of the
fourteenth and fifteenth century colouring. Remains of similar colouring
are found in many parts of the Church of St. Sebaldus, at Nuremberg,
more particularly on the ribs of the vaults, piers, and ceilings, etc.
In this church may be seen the celebrated Crucifixion with the figures
of the Saviour, the Virgin, and St. John, in carved wood and richly
coloured, which is the work of Veit Stoss (1520). Another example of
painted and gilded wood carving in this church is the statue of the
Madonna (1450) under a canopy of Gothic design.


_To face p. 112._]



     _To face p. 113._]




The polychromatic decoration of buildings in England, like the
architecture, was in a great measure a development of, or at least was
strongly influenced in its inception by, Italian and French art; we
might add, also by German and Flemish decorative art of the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries.

It may be said that English decorative art and colouring has, and always
had, a certain style and character of its own which has distinguished it
from that of other countries, but we must admit that the seeds from
whence it sprang were not all of native origin. The English tree of art
was not indigenous to the country, but rather an exotic that grew
extremely well after it became deeply rooted in the receptive and
fertile soil of England. If this be true of the historical beginnings of
British art, it must also be said, on the other hand, that the original
features and complexion of the adopted art have been completely changed
to an aspect of British nativeness.

The brief outlines, given in the previous chapters, of the practice of
coloured decoration in Italy, France, and Germany may throw some light
on the styles and methods of ornamental design and colouring as
practised in our own countries, especially in medieval times.

In the pre-Norman days English churches were decorated in colour, though
in a rude manner. The Venerable Bede relates that in the year 678 the
Monastery of Weremouth was decorated with paintings done by French
artists. Paintings and tapestry hangings were the usual adornment of the
pre-Norman churches. As early as 674 Wilfrid, Bishop of York, had the
walls, the sacrium arch, and capitals of the columns of his church
decorated with sacred subjects, and otherwise richly coloured.

Nothing, however, except a few traces of colour on some very old
edifices now exists that dates from the period anterior to Norman times,
and even only a little of the colouring on mouldings, carvings, and
other portions of the Norman architecture of our great cathedrals and
smaller churches, but such portions of colouring as still remain are
sufficient to prove that the buildings of the Norman period, in common
with all pre-Reformation churches, must have been decorated and coloured
from floor to ceiling.

The colours used were very few and simple, such as red, black, and
yellow only in some schemes, but in others, blues and greens were

Mural paintings and sacred subjects, together with the subordinate
ornamental decoration, once covered the interiors of Norman churches,
but little traces are now left of such. Decorative patterns in
simulation of Norman mouldings and diapers were still used in the
decoration of later churches up to the end of the first quarter of the
thirteenth century.

Frequent mention of colour decoration in England is made in the records,
or Close Rolls, of Henry III, dating from the first decade of the
thirteenth century. In these documents we find references to the
painting of the king’s chambers in his palaces at Westminster, Guilford,
Windsor, Winchester, and Clarendon, and mention is made of certain
colours and gold, as well as of oil and varnish. References are also
made to the making of stained-glass windows; and we know that miniature
painting was practised in England at that period. The subject-pictures
and ornamentation of the illuminated manuscripts were often copied on
the walls of churches and palaces, and also in stained-glass windows of
this time.

This English king had a great passion for adorning his numerous palaces
and chapels with painted decoration and stained-glass. He also
encouraged the art of miniature painting, and, to mention one instance
of this, he ordered a large book of miniatures, which contained the
illustrations and record of the exploits of his heroic uncle, King
Richard I, at the siege of Antioch during the Crusade. It is also
mentioned that he “ordered that the exploits should be the subjects of
paintings on the wainscot of a room in the royal palace at Clarendon.”
These “exploits” also formed the subjects of other paintings that were
executed fourteen years later in the Tower of London, and also in the
Antioch (Jews’) Chamber at Westminster. One curious and intimate
connection with the painting of miniatures, as book-illustrations and
mural painting, is shown by the circumstance of the king’s librarian
being also the custodian of the colours, which he supplied to the
decorators by order of the king. It is evident from this that colours
used for the illumination of books and for wall-paintings were possibly
of the same kind, and perhaps of the same value.

In some old illuminated manuscripts there are frequently representations
of interiors of rooms having various decorative patterns on the painted
walls and ceilings, and in some cases they are painted as “Stellari
Aureo,” set with stars of gold, on a blue or green ground. In connection
with this it is interesting to find that the first mention of a Star
Chamber occurs in the Roll of Liveries of Henry III, in these words:
“Precept to the Sheriff of Southampton that he cause the Chamber at
Winchester to be painted of a green colour, and with stars of gold (_and
compartments or panels_) in which may be painted histories from the Old
and New Testaments.”

That the colour decoration of interiors was common, even before the
time of Henry III, appears so from another precept issued by the king to
the effect that the wainscot in the king’s chamber in the castle at
Winchester is “to be painted with the same pictures as formerly.”

Some native painters were employed by Henry III, as the names of at
least two are mentioned--Edward of Westminster and Master Walter--but
the Italian, “William of Florence,” the monk of Westminster, seems to
have been the principal painter and decorator-in-chief to the king, for,
as a rule, the native artists and decorators carried out the work under
his direction and supervision.

At this time, and even later, up to the end of the seventeenth century,
many Italian, French, and Flemish artists were invited to this country
by the English king, and many others were attracted to England owing to
the demand for decorated work. Although there were a good number of
native artists and decorators working throughout the country, there were
also a considerable number of foreign artists who, generally speaking,
belonged to some of the religious orders, and who travelled about and
decorated many churches and secular edifices in England. It may be
mentioned that much of the artistic decoration, painted by the foreign
artist-monks, consisted of copies of miniature paintings from
illuminated manuscripts.

The great immigration of these foreign painters, decorators, and
stained-glass craftsmen, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,
served to arouse a healthy competition between themselves and the native
English decorators and craftsmen, and a great improvement took place in
the work of the native artists, although the best work has generally
been ascribed to the foreign painters.

It is difficult to realise to what extent the churches and secular
buildings were coloured and decorated in the centuries named in England;
but we have sufficient proofs from the remains of the colouring that
still exists, as well as from documentary evidence, that the walls,
ceilings, piers, arches, capitals and mouldings of church interiors,
whether the materials were of stone, wood, or plaster, were all richly
coloured and gilt, so that from floor to roof the churches of medieval
England glowed in schemes of solemn splendour of colour and gold, the
whole effect being assisted by the additional colour harmony of the
stained glass windows.

At the present time the interiors of most of these old churches are
bereft of their former glory of colour, this being due to centuries of
neglect, and perhaps vandalism. Some of them have, certainly, a spotty
bit of colour and decoration at the east end, and occasionally a few
coloured glass windows. It is only in a rare instance that one of these
old churches is treated anew in a full and finished scheme of decorated
colouring; the majority still keep to their fashionable whitewash, with
a few spots of colour dotted about; their former beauty has ceased to
remain to them, and nobody at present seems interested enough to make a
serious attempt to bring it back.

Some critics strongly assert and argue that these old churches and other
ancient edifices should not be restored, either to the former glory of
coloured decoration or in their structural features. One critic follows
another by repeating the arguments of his predecessor in art criticism,
namely, that old buildings should be permitted to crumble slowly into
decay, ruin, and nothingness, and also, that you cannot restore anything
that does not exist. These arguments would appear logical enough when
applied to the case of structures that are already so far ruined that
they cannot be used for the purposes for which they were built, but if
an edifice, though hoary with age and weather-worn by stress and storm,
is yet sufficiently solid and sound to be used, as in the early days of
its prime and beauty, there is absolutely no reason why it should not be
carefully and lovingly restored, or repaired where necessary, both in
its structural parts and in its colour decoration, so long as it can
still be used for the performance of the duties or the fulfilment of
such functions as those to which it was originally dedicated.

The best examples of coloured decoration in England, of the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries, is found in the East Anglian churches, chiefly
in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, though in the west and southern
midland counties the decoration of churches received great attention at
this time, but it was inferior to the work done in East Anglia. Several
reasons to account for this superiority of the East Anglian art have
been given, the principal one being that at the time of the greatest
activity in church decoration in the eastern counties, these parts of
the country were in a very prosperous condition, owing to the
flourishing state of their cloth and wool trade, and the close
connection of East Anglia in intercourse and trade with Flanders. In the
fourteenth century Edward III, in 1328, brought over many Flemish
weavers to Norfolk, and during the following century and afterwards many
Flemish and German painters and decorators doubtless came across to this
part of England, and obtained employment in the decoration of churches.

It has also been suggested that the superior quality and quantity of
decorative painting in East Anglia was due to the greater use of wood
for church fittings, especially oak, in this part of the country, and
the scarcity of stone. There was a cheap and plentiful supply of wood in
Norfolk and Suffolk, but the only kind of stone was flint, of which the
churches were mostly built. Wood, therefore, and the plastered walls,
suggested painting, more so than stone, which was more used in the
building of churches in other parts of England. Accordingly we find that
the rood-screens, and other



_From a Water-Colour by W. Davidson_


timber fittings of the East Anglian churches, were all elaborately
coloured, and painted with figures and decorative patterns. (Plates 4,
25, 27, 28.)

Flemish painting at that time had attained to great excellence, and
there is no doubt that it strongly influenced the English art of the
fifteenth century, and especially the decorative school of art which
about that time rose to great eminence in East Anglia. Flemish methods
and styles of church colouring and painting, and especially that of the
rood-screens, roofs and reredoses, were freely adopted by the English
decorative artists, and the types of the painted figures of saints,
prophets and apostles, as well as the style and character of the floral
and geometric ornamentation, which has been found in the existing
decoration of the old English churches, had all their counterparts in
Flemish church decoration (Plate 24). The best examples of the English
work of this period that are still in existence are the rood-screens of
Norfolk, particularly those of Ranworth (Plates 4 and 28), Barton Turf,
Aylsham, and Cawston, and the screens of Southwold church in Suffolk.
The painting on these screens is decidedly English in character and
technique, however much the designs of the single figures may be Flemish
or German in style.

The interior wall surfaces of the smaller English churches were usually
coated with plaster, while the walls of the large ones and those of the
cathedrals were of smooth-faced stone. The plaster surface was prepared
for painting by simply coating it with a light, cream coloured, or pale
grey wash of distemper. The decorative patterns and emblematic devices
were painted on these grounds, or on similarly prepared grounds of
soft-coloured tints of red, blue, or green. The patterns were sometimes
painted in one colour only, but often in two or three, one of which
being gold, or yellow, to imitate the colour of gold. On white, grey, or
cream-coloured grounds the tints were usually dark grey, red, black, or
green, and on the brighter colored grounds the pattern colours were
generally in grey or black, or in a darker tint of the colour of the

Although the early English decorators were good colorists, the range of
the colour was limited, but they made good use of the small number of
the colours they employed by often cleverly transposing and alternating
the grouping or arrangements, so that although the same colour on the
same pattern might be used, the transposition by alternation of the
pattern gave great interest and variety to the general scheme of colour.
Reds, yellows, black and white were the principal colours used in the
early Gothic decoration; blues, greens and gold were added to these in
the later periods, especially in the decoration and figure paintings on
the rood-screens and ceilings, and on the woodwork generally.

Mouldings, whether of wood or stone were always coloured, as well as the
piers, capitals and


_To face p. 122._]      [_From a Drawing by W. Davidson._



_To face p. 123._]      [_From a Drawing by W. Davidson._


columns; the oak woodwork was invariably painted, as oak was cheap and
common in those days, and the natural grain of the wood was evidently
not much prized.

Mistakes were, of course, sometimes made by the early English decorators
in their over-zealous application of colour, when, for example, they
painted over some of the finest workmanship in carved stone as well as
some of the costly materials. As instances of such mistakes, it may be
mentioned that the black marble shafts in the choir of Rochester
Cathedral showed traces of their having been at one time painted red;
the beautiful white marble monument of Archbishop Walter Gray in York
Minster was at one time painted in various colours, and the shrine of
St. Alban, in St. Alban’s Cathedral, though of Purbeck marble, is
painted blue and green, the traceries and mullions being gilded.

The character and motives of the decorative patterns were interesting
and diversified. A common treatment of the wall spaces between bands,
and panels which contained pictorial decoration, consisted in the
painting of a simple masonry pattern where double lines of red or yellow
were drawn horizontally and vertically, so as to form rectangular spaces
which corresponded to the joints of the wall, and in the centre of each
oblong there was usually placed a circular flower form. Diapers and
checkered patterns were used very much to fill wall spaces and
panelling. The diapers were sometimes sparsely arranged, when they
would then appear as sprig-like forms, “powdered,” or “sprinkled” at
regulated intervals: these were known as “open” diapers; but when the
diaper forms were more elaborate and important, and fitted closer
together, they were called “close” diapers. The latter variety of diaper
pattern was generally copied from the elaborate designs which decorated
the rich Florentine and Sicilian silks of woven damask. These damask
silks were used as hangings and for sumptuous dress materials, and may
be seen represented as such in many of the Italian and Flemish paintings
of the fourteenth and fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Examples of the
open diapers or powderings may be seen on the backgrounds of the panel
paintings on the East Anglian screens, and the more elaborate, close
diapers appear on the richly decorated dresses of the figures (Plates 4,
25-27, 28).

In the latter important class of diaper the pattern is often made up of
such details as conventional animals, birds, flowers, foliage, ornament
and fruit, such as the pomegranate and pine-apple, all cleverly arranged
to make repeating patterns, these patterns being later developments of
those found in the older Siculo-Arabian silks and Byzantine silk
tapestries (Plates 25-27), hence the oriental character of this class of

Various devices, heraldic and otherwise, and emblems, were sometimes
superimposed over the central parts of diapered walls and ceilings,


_To face p. 125._]      [_By permission._


painted in different colours or in gold. Mottoes, texts in ornamental
lettering on scrolls, and monograms, very much repeated, were all used
as decorative motives, and also flat representations of architectural
forms, especially of Gothic tracery. Lead stars, wavy-rayed, and gilded,
were fastened to ceilings that were painted blue, thus giving a
conventional representation of the firmament.

Projecting mouldings of windows and doorways, and arches, and the ribs
of groined ceilings of the old churches, were all painted in
parti-colours, and the fillets were usually gilded. It was a common
practice to colour the groined and flat ceiling ribs and mouldings only
a short distance from the bosses which decorated their intersections,
and also a similar portion of the web, or ceiling portion around the
bosses, but often the whole of the ribs and ceiling panels were richly
decorated in colours, and with elaborate patterns of diapered work or
arabesques. Stone and carved wood bosses were usually gilded, and the
interstices behind the carved foliage, masks, or figures on them, were
painted in some very strong colour, usually red, in order to relieve the
carving. As a rule carved enrichments were either gilded or painted
yellow to represent gold.

In this period of great activity in church decoration in England special
attention was given to the painting of roofs with their rafters and
beams. St. Alban’s Abbey (Plate 31), Blythburgh in Suffolk, Sall Church
in Norfolk, Plymouth Cathedral, Ufford Church, near Ipswich, and
numerous others had all richly-painted roofs, although the generality of
roofs were simple in colouring, most of them having red, black and grey
decorations painted on a white or a blue ground. Sometimes, however, the
ceiling decoration was more elaborate, as we have already seen, when it
consisted of rich scroll-work, interspersed with emblems, monograms and
various devices. Tracery patterns, flower and leaf designs decorated the
rafters, and the round bead mouldings were often treated in spiral
twistings of lines or patterns, like strips of ribbon round a rod, this
kind of treatment being known as “barber-poling.”

Much of the pattern decoration of the old churches had somewhat the
appearance of stencilling, which might be accounted for by the flat
character of the designs. The painted decoration was, however, not
stencilled, but was first applied to the surfaces by the method known as
“pouncing,” by means of the pricked holes made in the original tracing
or drawing, and the pattern work afterwards executed with the brush.
That this method was adopted is proved by the slight variation in the
drawing of the painted patterns, and by the characteristic freedom in
the execution which brushwork can only give, and further by the absence
of the effect which is due to “ties” of the stencil-plate. In some
instances the oft-recurring rosettes and diaper powderings may have been
stencilled as an easy and preliminary method of placing them in


_To face p. 126._]      [_From a Drawing by W. Davidson._


their regular positions, but if so, they were afterwards finished with
the brush, by hand, as they have nothing of the appearance of patterns
produced by stencil printing.

The materials and mediums used in the painting of walls, ceilings, or
woodwork, were the dry colours ground in water, and mixed with parchment
or egg size. The latter size, with or without the addition of fig-tree
juice, was chiefly used in the painting of the figure subjects and
pictorial work, while size made from cuttings of parchment, by boiling
them, or from ordinary glue, was used for the larger surface colouring.
The general medium of the work was therefore tempera, or distemper,
though sometimes, but rarely, oil was mixed with the colours. Pictorial
and ornamental paintings on the screens were varnished with an oil
varnish over the tempera painting, but in many instances such paintings
were left unvarnished. Most, if not all, of the decoration on the
screens, pulpits, and the woodwork generally, in the English medieval
churches, was certainly executed in tempera, with the egg-size medium,
which was the common method of picture or panel painting on the
Continent at that time, and most of the pictorial decorations were
varnished afterwards, so that those which remain to this day have the
appearance of oil paintings, and this has led many to class them wrongly
as such.

The subjects on the screens, pulpits and reredoses were generally
representations of saints, apostles, prophets, kings, queens, knights
and angels, etc. The figures were usually placed on alternate red and
green grounds, the latter being diapered over in small patterns in
white, purple, or gold. In some cases a raised gesso diapered ground of
gold has been prepared, as in the Southwold screens. The robes of the
figures were also richly decorated with elaborate patterns, in colours
heightened with gold.

There are still some remains of decorative painting on the screens of
many medieval churches in Devon and Cornwall, but as a rule the work on
these screens does not possess so high an artistic value as that of the
East Anglian painting. In Devon most of the screens are found in
churches between Totnes and Exeter. The best examples are those at
Ashton, Plymtree, Buckland-in-the-Moor, Wellcombe, and the
miniature-like paintings at Hennock on the hill above the Teign valley.
Some painted screens in Devon of a later date, at Southpool, Blackawton,
and Chivelston, are the only ones, according to Father Camm, out of
forty in Devonshire that contain fillings of arabesque ornament, all the
rest having painted figures. The ornament on these is in the Italian
Renaissance style, with the Elizabethan English influence. The colouring
of these arabesques is white, on grounds of red and green.

We have treated the subject of medieval colour decoration in England at
some length, but our excuse for this must be that the period it embraces
was one of the greatest activity in the history of decorative art in
this country. Further, it may be said, it was in this time that churches
and other buildings were coloured completely throughout, and not as in
the more modern custom, where, with a few exceptions, churches and
secular buildings are treated with a few isolated bits of colour, which
being also done at different times, and by different hands, cannot
possibly have any sort of homogeneity or unity as a suitable colour
finish for the building. When any of us are fortunate enough to be
trusted, or favoured with an opportunity to decorate the interior of a
building completely throughout, we might do worse--we cannot do
better--than take some lessons from the practice and methods adopted and
followed out so successfully by the early English decorators.

Though little now remains of this old coloured decoration, that little
enables us to construct from the fragments the scheme and colour of the
entire work, as the anatomist is able to construct a prehistoric
creation from the skeleton, or even from a portion of it.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries colour decoration of
buildings was almost non-existent in England, for interiors that showed
any pretension to decoration were finished, or unfinished, in schemes of
white and gold. Sometimes, however, the decorator was permitted to revel
in pale shades of pea-green, “French grey,” very pale blues and still
paler pinks, so that many interiors of the Adam and Georgian styles,
though famous for their delicate ornamentation in stucco plaster work,
were either left white, like brides’ cake decoration, or in the pale
tints of other kinds of sugar confectionery, a dainty, but timid type of
colour decoration which we borrowed from France (Plate 33).

About the latter half of the eighteenth century, after the discovery of
Pompeii, in 1753, with its richly-coloured wall decoration, colour began
to show itself on the interior walls and ceilings of some English
buildings, both of a public and private nature, but not in churches, for
it was not until about the middle of the nineteenth century that there
was a partial revival of church decoration, a sort of renaissance of the
fourteenth and fifteenth century work, that was brought about chiefly by
Pugin, Sir Gilbert Scott, and other neo-Gothic architects. Many churches
were decorated in England about this time in schemes of rich and strong
colouring, and with similar types of ornament to those used by the early
English decorators. Two very elaborately-coloured and decorated examples
may be mentioned, namely, the chapel or crypt at Westminster Houses of
Parliament, and that of the Catholic Church at Cheadle, in
Staffordshire, after Pugin’s designs. The colour decorations of these
two churches are among the rare examples of Gothic colour revival, where
the interiors have been finished in complete schemes of strong

During the last fifty years there have been many


     _To face p. 130._]



     _To face p. 131._]

MUSEUM. By F. W. Moody.]

fine examples of hall decoration painted in fresco in England, as well
as important pictorial and ornamental schemes of decoration in coloured
plaster, mosaic, and in oil painting. We might mention the Houses of
Parliament frescoes, those at South Kensington, the Royal Exchange wall
pictures, the mosaics in St. Paul’s Cathedral, and in the new Cathedral
at Westminster, as well as a good deal of coloured decoration in private
houses and civic buildings throughout the country, but in the British
Isles the advancement of this interesting and fascinating art is
severely handicapped by the indifference, prejudice and obstinacy, even
of many people who profess to have a love for art.

As a nation, we are a long way behind the French, Germans and Americans
in the encouragement of decorative art. The Governments and
municipalities of Germany and France decorate their civic and public
buildings thoroughly, and with no niggard hand, but in our own countries
such work, however good it may be, is commissioned for in a partial and
piecemeal way, when it is decided to be done at all.


Ægina, Temple of, 78

Aix-la-Chapelle, tomb of Charlemagne, 91, 92

----, town-hall, 107

Amiens, museum, 89

----, cathedral, 100

Arabesques, 67, 68, 71

Arabian decoration, 72

Ashton Church, screen of, 128

Assisi, upper church of San Francesco, 60, 61

----, frescoes of Giotto, 62

Augsburg, Fuggerhaus, 104

Aylsham Church, screen of, 121

Backgrounds for pictures, 23

----, treatment of coloured, 51-53

Baltard, Victor, 80

Bartolomeo, 39

Barton Turf Church, screen of, 121

Baudry, Paul, 81

Belgium, fifteenth and sixteenth century buildings, 38

Bellini, 69

Berlin, Alt Museum, 110

----, Kunstgewerbe Museum, 109

----, New Museum, 107

Blackawton Church, screen of, 128

Blake, 89

Blythburgh Church, screen of, 125

Boni, G., 40

Borgia Apartments, 25

Boston Library, 89

Botticelli, 63, 89

Brauweiler Abbey Church, 95

Brunswick Cathedral, 97

Buckland-in-the-Moor Church, screen of, 128

Buon, Giovanni, 39

Burne-Jones, 10

Byzantine decoration, 72

---- marblework, 36

---- mosaicists, 46

Ca d’Oro, Venice, 39-41

Cairo, decoration of mosques, 80

Camerini, Ducal Palace, Mantua, 69

Canterbury Cathedral, 100

Cassoni, 64

Cawston Church, screen of, 121

Ceilings of halls, churches, etc., 25

----, flat, 27

----, Italian painted, 26, 27

----, of ordinary rooms, 47

----, wooden, Romanesque and Gothic, 32

Charlemagne, 91, 92

Chartres Cathedral, 100, 101

Château de Blois, 79

Château de Boulogne, 75

Chavannes, Puvis de, 84-87, 89

Cheadle Church, Staffordshire, 130

Chivelston Church, screen of, 128

Cimabue, 60

Close Rolls of Henry III, 115

Cluny Museum, Paris, 75

Coliseum, 66

Cologne Cathedral, 100

----, church of St. Gereon, 95-97

----, church of Santa Maria im Capitol, 95, 96

----, museum, 102, 105

Contours, 53

Cornelius, 108

Cornices, 29

Costa, 69

Cottages, colour decoration of, 3

Cour-du-Murier, 79

Cristoforo Romano, 70

Cromwell, 5

Dado, 18, 30, 31, 33

Deck, 82

Decorators, foreign, in England, 117, 118

Delia Robbia ware, 37, 82

Denuelle, 80

Detaille, 86

Didron, 77

Diocletian, Baths of, 66

Doge’s Palace, 38

Dresden, Albertinum Sculpture Gallery, 109

----, Royal Historical Museum, 109

Duban, 79

École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 79

Edward of Westminster, 117

Egyptian decoration, 72

---- polychromy, 78

Empedocles, Temple of, 77

Empire style, 76

Ewald, Professor, 109

Exchange, the Royal, 131

Exhibitions, international, 82

Flandrin, Hippolyte, 80

Flemish influence in East Anglia, 120, 121

Florence, exteriors of buildings at, 37

----, Monastery of San Marco, 63

----, Palazzo Vecchio, 26, 62, 68

Fontainebleau, 70, 76

France, revival of colour decoration in nineteenth century, 39, 77-79

François I, 70, 75

Frankfort, the Römer, 105

Frederico II, 71

Fresco paintings, 38, 58, 77, 107-110

Frieze decoration, 30

Frodoard, 74

Fuggerhaus, Augsburg, 104

Galerie-du-Louvre, restoration of, 79

Galland, 83

Gallo-Roman era in France, 74

Garnier, Charles, 81

Genoa, painted ceilings at, 26

Germany, exterior colouring of fifteenth and sixteenth century buildings, 38

----, Gothic period (twelfth to fourteenth century), 99

----, Romanesque period, 91

Gerspach, 81

Geselchap, 109

Ghirlandaio, 26

Giotto, 60-62, 65

Giovanni Buon, 39

Giovanni da Udine, 26, 65-68

Girolamo delta Robbia, 75

Giulio Romano, 26, 65-68, 70, 71

Glass, stained, 8, 9

---- ----, English, 14

---- ----, Gothic, 45, 55, 99-101

---- ----, Romanesque, 55

---- ----, Venetian, 65

Gold, use of, in decoration, 48-50

Gonzaga, Marquis Giovanni Francesco, 69

----, Prince Vincenzo, 69

Gothic or medieval decoration, 72, 99

Greece, decorators of primitive, 41, 72

Greek temples, 15, 77

---- polychromy, 77, 78

Gregory of Tours, 74

Grottesche, 66, 108

Hampton Court, 5

Half-tones in painting, 15

Hébert, E., 83

Hennock Church, 128

Henri II, 75

Henry III of England, 115-117

Hildesheim, St. Michael’s Church, 98

----, the Rathaus, 107

Hittorf, 77, 78

Holland, fifteenth and sixteenth century buildings, 38

Hospital of the Innocents, Florence, 37

Hôtel de Ville, Paris, 88

Interiors, colour treatment of structural and non-structural parts, 19

Interval, the small, 50, 51

Isabella d’Este, 69

Italian architecture in fourteenth century, 62, 63

---- decorative art, 58

---- Primitive School, 85, 87

Jupiter, Temple of, 78

Kaulbach, 107

Kehren, 107

Kleinkünste, 91

Labrouste, 79

Lateran, church of St. John, 61

Leo, Pope, 67

Lessing, 106

Light, artificial, effect on colours, 56

Lincoln Cathedral, 100

Lindenschmit, 109

Loggie of Vatican, 65-67, 79

Lorenzo, 69

Louis XIII, 74

---- XIV, 74, 75

---- XV period, 76

---- XVI period, 76

Louvre, 69

Lübeck, decorated houses, 104

Lyons Cathedral, 84

---- Museum, 89

Majolica dishes, 64

Magazin du Printemps, Paris, 82

Mantegna, 69

Mantua, palaces at, 26, 65, 68-71

Marbles, coloured, 35

Marie-Antoinette, 76

Marino Contarini, 39

Marseilles Cathedral, 84

---- Museum, 89

Materials, and mediums (medieval English), 127

----, coloured, in buildings, 34-38

Meissen Royal Porcelain manufactory, 110

Mercato Vecchio, Florence, old house in, 63

Mesopotamian friezes, 30

Michel Angelo, 25-31

Middle Ages, decoration in England during, 14, 15

---- ---- in France, 74, 77

Milan, exteriors of buildings, 37

Mohammedan palaces, decoration of, 80

Monochrome decoration, 47, 48

Monte Carlo Casino, 81

Moorish colour schemes, 55

---- coloured tiles, 80

Mosaics, 38, 58, 81, 84, 93

Mosaic workers in Paris, 81

Mosaïque, École de, 81

Mouldings, 28, 31

Munich, museum and town-hall, 102, 108

Museums, decoration of, 6

Mycenian polychromy, 78

Naples marblework, 35

Napoleon, 76

Nature, colouring and forms of, 2, 46, 50

Niccolo dell’ Abbate, 70, 71

Norfolk churches, 119-121

Norman, Alfred, 80

Norman period in England, 114, 115

Notre Dame, Paris, 74, 75

Nuremberg--Schöne Brunnen, 110

----, Church of St. Lawrence, 111

----, Church of St. Sebaldus, 111

“Opus Alexandrinum,” 35

“Opus Sectile,” 35

Palace of Titus, 66

Palazza del Tè, 65, 71

---- Publico, Siena, 62

---- Vecchio, 26, 62, 68

Palermo marblework, 35

Palladio, 7

Paperhangings, 23, 24

Paradiso in Ducal Palace, Mantua, 69

Paris--Notre Dame, 74, 75

----, Hôtel de Ville, 88

----, Magazin du Printemps, 82

----, Opera House, 81

----, Panthéon, 83, 85-87

----, Sainte Chapelle, 79

----, Saint Germain des Près, 80

----, Sorbonne frescoes, 88

Parliament, Houses of, 130, 131

Parthenon, 15, 130

Penni, Francesca, 71

Perino del Vaga, 26, 65, 67

Persian decoration, 72, 80

Perugino, 26, 63

Picture galleries, 23

Piloty, 109

Pinturrichio, 25, 63

Plymouth Cathedral, 125

Plymtree Church, screen of, 128

Poitiers, church of St. Savin, 74

Pompeii, 41, 72, 73

“Pouncing,” 126

Prague Cathedral, 100

Prell, H., 107, 109

Pre-Norman period in England, 114

Primaticcio, 70, 71, 75

Prodigal Son frieze, Cologne Museum, 103

Prosper Merimée, 77

Public buildings, 5

---- ----, planning of, 16

---- ----, interiors of, etc., 30

Pugin, 130

Raffaelle and pupils, 26, 36, 65-67, 72

----, cartoons of, 5

----, Vatican ceiling, 25

Ranworth Church, screen of, 121

Ravenna, San Vitale, 92

Renaissance decoration in England 4, 8

----, applied decoration of, 73

----, Italian, 25, 41, 58

---- marblework, 35

---- period in France, 74, 75, 77

Republic, French, 76

Rethel, Alfred, 107

Richard I, 115

Richelieu, Cardinal, 69

Rinaldo of Mantua, 71

Rochester Cathedral, 121

Roman decoration, 41, 60, 72, 73

---- ----, Eastern influence on, 60

Romanesque epoch in Germany, 93, 94

Romantic School in France, 76

Rome, Baths of Diocletian, 66

----, Castello S. Angelo, 26, 65, 67

----, Loggie of Vatican, 65-68

----, painted ceilings, 26

----, San Clemente mosaics, 59, 60

----, Santa Maria Maggiore, 59

Römer, Frankfort, 106

Rood-screens, 121, 125, 128

Rosselli, C., Sistine frescoes, 63

Rouen Museum, 89

Rubens, 85

Ruskin, 1, 28

Saint Alban’s Abbey, 123, 125

Saint Gereon’s Church, Cologne, 95-97

Saint Germain-des-Près, Paris, 80

Saint Lawrence’s Church, Nuremberg, 111

Saint Michael’s Church, Hildesheim, 98

Saint Paul’s Cathedral, 131

Sainte Chapelle, Paris, 79

Sainte Geneviève, 83, 87

Sala di Cambio, Perugia, 26

---- Piccolomini, Siena, 25

Sall Church, Norfolk, screen of, 125

Salle des Beaux-Arts, Paris Exhibition, 82

Salviati, 92

San Clemente, Rome, 59, 60

San Pietro, excavations at Vincolo, 65

San Vitale, Ravenna, 92

Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome, 25

---- ---- im Capitol, Cologne, 95, 96

---- ---- Maggiore, Spello, 25

---- ---- ----, Rome, 59

Saracenic influence in Florentine decoration, 60, 65

Schwarz-Rheindorf Church, 94, 95

Scott, Sir Gilbert, 130

Sédille, Paul, 82

Segesta, Temples of, 77

Selinus, Temple of, 77

Serlio, 70

Siena, Palazzo Publico, 62

Sistine Chapel, 25, 31, 63

Sorbonne frescoes, 88

Southpool Church, screen of, 128

Southwold Church, 121, 128

Steinle, 105, 106

Stoss, Veit, 111, 112

Suffolk churches, 119-121

Surfaces, treatment of curved, 24

----, treatment of plain, 18

Tempera wall-painting in churches, 92

Theatres, 22

Thorwaldsen’s discoveries at Ægina, 78

Tile decoration, 80-82

Tintoretto, 26, 85

Titian, 85

Torriti, 60, 61, 65

Tower of London frescoes, 116

Udine, Giovanni da, 26, 65-68

Ufford Church, Ipswich, 126

Vasari, 66, 68

Vatican ceilings, 25, 26, 63

Vatican Loggie, 65-68

Veit, 106

Venerable Bede, 114

Venice, Ca d’Oro, 39-41

----, Doge’s Palace, 38, 39

----, exterior colouring, 37, 41

----, painted ceilings, 26

Verona, exterior colouring, 37

---- Cathedral, 38

Veronese, Paul, 26, 85

Victoria and Albert Museum, 70, 76, 131

Villa Madama, 26, 65, 67, 68

Vincolo excavations, 66

Viollet-le-Duc, 74, 77, 80

Wainscoting, 31, 33

Walls, treatment of, 20-23, 47

Walter, Master, 117

Wellcombe, church screen, 128

Weremouth, monastery of, 114

Westminster, Antioch Chamber, 116

----, Edward of, 117

----, New Cathedral, 16, 17, 131

Wilfrid, Bishop of York, 114

William of Florence, 117

Window frames, 31, 33

York Cathedral, 100, 111

---- ----, monument of Archbishop Walter Gray, 123

_Richard Clay & Sons, Ltd., London and Bungay_

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Colour Decoration of Architecture" ***

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