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   Chapter 16 BRIC-à-BRAC

The Decoration of Houses By Ogden Codman Characters: 46453

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

It may seem inconsequent that an elementary work should include much apparently unimportant detail. To pass in a single chapter from a discussion of abstract architectural laws to the combination of colors in a bedroom carpet seems to show lack of plan; yet the transition is logically justified. In the composition of a whole there is no negligible quantity: if the decoration of a room is planned on certain definite principles, whatever contributes line or color becomes a factor in the composition. The relation of proportion to decorati

on is like that of anatomy to sculpture: underneath are the everlasting laws. It was the recognition of this principle that kept the work of the old architect-decorators (for the two were one) free from the superfluous, free from the intemperate accumulation that marks so many modern rooms. Where each detail had its determinate part, no superficial accessories were needed to make up a whole: a great draughtsman represents with a few strokes what lesser artists can express only by a multiplicity of lines.

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

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

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


Adam, ceiling ornaments of, 93

Andirons, 84

Appliques, in hall and staircase, 119

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

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

Arm-chair, modern, 128

Armoires, old French and Italian, 117

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

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

Ball-room, 137; in Italy, 138;

Louis XIV, 139;

lighting of, 140;

chairs, 140

Barry, Madame du, dining-room of, 156

Bath-room, 172; in Pitti Palace, 172

Bedroom, development of, 162; Renaissance, 162;

Louis XIV, 162;

XVIII-century, 163;

cotton hangings in, 164;

suite, plan of, 169;

children's, 182

Bedstead, history of, 163

Belvédère, at Versailles, frescoes in, 42

Bérain, ceiling arabesques of, 98

Bergère, origin of, 7; design of, 128

Bernini, his staircase in the Vatican, 108

Bindings, decorative value of, 146

Blinds, 73

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

Blondel, on doors, 58; on fireplaces, 74

Book-cases, medieval, 145; in Catherine de' Medici's cabinet, 145;

in France in the XVII century, 146;

built into the wall, 147;

in England, 149;

modern, 148

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

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

Boudoir, 130; modern decoration of, 170

Bramante, his use of the mezzanin floor, 5

Breakfast-room, 160

Bric-à-brac, definition of, 184; knowledge of, 187;

superiority of old over new, 190

Burckhardt, on medieval house-planning, 107, note

Byfield, G., his stairs at Hurlingham, 111

Cabinet, Italian origin of, 123; used in French Renaissance houses, 123;

of Catherine de' Medici, book-cases in, 145

Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus, example of Palladian manner, 4; of English house-planning, 135

Carpets, in general color-scheme, 29; choice of, 100;

Savonnerie, 100;

designs of, 101;

stair-carpets, 102, 118;

hall-carpets, 118

Caserta, staircase in royal palace, 108

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

Casts in vestibule, 105; in hall, 118;

in school-room, 178

Ceilings, 89; timbered, 90;

in France and England, 91;

Elizabethan, 92;

Louis XIII, 92;

Louis XV, 92;

Louis XVI, 93;

Adam, 93, 96;

objections to wooden, 94;

modern treatment of, 95;

frescoed, 97

Chambord, staircase at, 109

Chambre de parade, 123

Chandeliers, 140, 159

Chanteloup, library of, 149

Chantilly, stair-rail at, 113

Chevening, Inigo Jones's stairs at, 111

Cheverny, fireplace at, 74

Chinese art, influence of, on stuff patterns, 166

Chippendale's designs for grates, 81

"Colonial" style, the, 81

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

color-schemes, 29

Cornices, interior, Durand on, 94

Cortile, Italian, modern adaptation of, 117

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

Curtains, medi?val and Renaissance, 69; in XVII and XVIII centuries, 70;

muslin, 72

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

Decoration and furniture, harmony between, 13; individuality in decoration, 17;

graduated scheme of, 24

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

Dining-chairs, medi?val, 156; XVII century, 159;

XVIII century, 159

Dining-room, origin of, 155; in France, 154;

in England, 155;

furniture of, 156;

French, XVIII century, 157;

fountains in, 158;

decoration of modern, 160;

lighting of, 160;

state, 160;

heating of, 161

Dining-table, medi?val, 156; modern, 161

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

Doors, 48; sliding, origin of, 49;

double, 49;

medi?val, 51;

in palace of Urbino, 52;

in Italy, 52-54;

locks and hinges, 55;

in the H?tels de Rohan, de Soubise, and de Toulouse, 56;

glass doors, 57;

treatment in England, 57;

mahogany, 58;

panelling, principles of, 59;

veneering, 61;

concealed doors, 61;

entrance-door, 103

Doorway, proper dimensions of, 51, 60; treatment of, in Italy, 52;

in France, 55;

in England, 57

Drawing-room, in modern town houses, 20; evolution of, in England, 122;

in France, 122;

origin of modern, 124;

treatment of, in England and America, 124;

furniture of, 127

Dressing-room, 171

Duchesse, 130

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

Easton Neston, use of panel-pictures at, 46

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

Fenders, 85

Fire-backs, 80

Fire-boards, 86

Fireplaces, 74; medi?val, construction of, 75;

in Italy, 75;

in France, 76;

lining of, 80;

American, 81;

accessories of, 84

Fire-screens, 86

Floors, 89; of brick or stone, 99;

marble and mosaic, in Italy, 99;

parquet, 99;

of vestibule, 104;

of ball-room, 140

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

Fountains in dining-rooms, 158

Fresco-painting, in wall-decoration, 41; examples of, in Italy and France, 42;

in ceiling-decoration, 97;

in Italy, 97;

in France, 98;

in Italian gala rooms, 139

Furniture, in the middle ages, 7; furniture and decoration, harmony between, 25;

modern English and American, 26;

XVIII century, in France and England, 27; in vestibule, 105;

in hall, 117;

in salon de compagnie, 125;

in drawing-room, 127, 128;

English, XVIII century, 129;

in dining-room, 156;

in bedroom, 171;

in school-room, 180

Gabriel, influence of, on ornamental detail, 56; on ceilings, 93;

on stair-rails, 114

Gala rooms, 134; uses of, 135;

in Italy, 136

Gallery, 137

Genoa, royal palace, doors in, 54

Gibbons, Grinling, carvings for panel-pictures, 46

Gilding, deterioration of, 192

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

Grand'salle, medi?val, 110

Grates, 81

Gwilt, his definition of staircase, 106

Hall, 106; old English, 110;

uses of, 115;

modern treatment of, 115;

decoration of, 117;

furniture, 117;

floor of, 118;

lighting of, 119;

prints and pictures in, 119

Holkham, over-mantels at, 81

H?tel de Rohan, doors in, 56 de Soubise, doors in, 56

de Toulouse, doors in, 56

Houghton Hall, doors in, 57, note

House, Carlton, stair-rail in, 114 Devonshire, stair-rail in, 114

Norfolk, stair-rail in, 114

Individuality in decoration, 17

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

Jones, Inigo, his introduction of Palladian manner in England, 4, note; influence on ceiling-decoration, 92;

on plan of English hall, 110;

his stairs at Castle Ashby, 111;

at Chevening, 111

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

Lambrequin, origin of, 71

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

Lantern in vestibule, 105

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

Lebrun, door-locks in Galerie d'Apollon designed by, 55

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

Library, 145; in the university at Nancy, 149;

of Louis XVI, at Versailles, 149;

of Chanteloup, 149;

modern, decoration of, 150

Lit de parade, 122

Lit de repos, 130

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

Louis XIII, windows, 69; ceilings, 92

Louis XIV, modern house-furnishing dates from his reign, 8; style, characteristics of, 14;

window-shutters, 69;

influence on French, 77;

mantels, 78;

ceilings, 98;

stair-rails, 112;

ball-rooms, 140

Louis XV style, characteristics of, 13; doors, 56;

ceilings, 92;

wrought-iron work, 112;

stair-rails, 113

Louis XVI style, characteristics of, 12; Gabriel's influence on, 56, 93;

doors, 57;

ceilings, 93;

stair-rails, 114

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

Mantegna's ceiling, palace of Mantua, 97

Mantel-pieces, Italian Renaissance, 77; French Renaissance, 77;

Louis XIV, 78;

XVIII century, 79;

American, 82;

facing of, 83

Mantua, doorways in palace, 52, 54; Mantegna's ceiling in, 97;

cabinet of Isabella of Este, 123

Mario dei Fiori, 139

Massimi alle Colonne, palace of, in Rome, 6

Mezzanin, origin of, 5; treatment of, 6

Ministère de la Marine, Paris, door in, 61

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

in ball-rooms, 141

Morelli's staircase in Palazzo Braschi, Rome, 108

Morning-room, 132

Mullions, use of, 66

Music-room, 142; at Remiremont, 143

Music-stand, 144

Music-stool, 144

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

Naples, staircase in royal palace, 108

Niches, in hall and staircase, 117

Nursery, 181

Oberkampf, inventor of color-printing on cotton, 166

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

Openings, placing and proportion of, 23; lines of, carried up to ceiling, 37, 52, 65, 74;

treatment of, in rocaille style, 56

Orders, use of, in wall-decoration, 36; application to doorways in Italy, 53;

in France, 54;

in England, 57;

in ball-rooms, 139

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

Over-doors, medi?val treatment of, 52; in Italy, 53;

in France, 55;

Louis XVI, 57

Over-mantels, Renaissance, 76; use of mirror in, 79;

XVIII-century treatment, 79;

in England, 81

Palais Royal, stair-rail in, 113

Palazzo Borghese, Rome, painted mirrors in, 139 Braschi, Rome, staircase in, 108

Gondi, Florence, stairs in, 108

Labia, Venice, frescoes in, 136

Madama, Turin, staircase in, 108

Massimi alle Colonne, Rome, date of, 6

Piccolomini, at Pienza, staircase in, 108, note

Pitti, Florence, bath-room in, 172

Reale, Caserta, staircase in, 108

Reale, Naples, staircase in, 108

Riccardi, staircase in, 108, note

Sina, Venice, frescoes in, 143

del T, Mantua, frescoes in, 136

Palladian window, 67

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

subdivisions of, 43

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

Pavia, Certosa of, doorways in, 52

Perroquets, 141

Perugia, ceiling in the Sala del Cambio, 97

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

Peruzzi, Baldassare, his use of the mezzanin, 5

Piano, design of, 143

Pictures, proper background for, 45; mode of hanging, 46;

in hall, 119;

in dining-room, 160;

in school-room, 180

Picture-frames, selection of, 45

Plan of house in relation to decoration, 23

Plate-glass in windows, 67

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

Pompeii, wall-frescoes of, 41

Portière, use of, 59

Presses, old English, 117

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

Privacy, modern indifference to, 22

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

Pyne's Royal Residences, examples of pictures set in panels, 46

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

Raphael, ceilings of, 97

Remiremont, music-room at, 143

Renaissance, characteristics of domestic architecture, 4; doors, 52;

window-curtains, 69;

mantels, 76, 77;

ceilings, 90-92;

French architects of, 109

Rennes, Palais de Justice, carved wooden ceilings, 89

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

Salon à l'Italienne, see Saloon

Salon de compagnie, origin and use of, 123, 125; decoration and furniture of, 125;

lighting of, 126

Salon de famille, origin and use of, 123

Saloon, adaptation of, in England by Inigo Jones, 111; introduction in France, 123;

uses in Italy, 136;

at Vaux-le-Vicomte, 137

School-room, 172; decoration of, 178

Screen in Tudor halls, 110

Shobden Court, stairs in, 111

Shutters, interior decoration of, 69; at Vaux-le-Vicomte, 69;

in rooms of Mesdames de France, Versailles, 69;

purpose of, 72

Sideboard, medi?val, 156; in France, 157

Smoking-room, 151

Stairs, 106; development of, in Italy, 107;

in the Palladian period, 108;

in the XVII and XVIII centuries, 108;

spiral, 109;

in hall, in England, 111;

construction of, in Italy, 112;

in France, 112

Stair-carpets, 118

Staircase, meaning of term, 106; walls of, 117;

in simple houses, 119;

lighting of, 119

Stair-rails, in Italy and France, 112; Louis XIV and XV, 113;

Louis XVI and Empire, 113;

Tudor and Elizabethan, 114;

Palladian, in England, 114

Stoves, use of, in hall, 120; examples of old stoves, 121;

in dining-room, 161

Stucco, use of, in decoration, 40; panelling, in Italy, 40;

in ceilings, 90;

in Elizabethan ceilings, 92;

combined with painting, 97

Stuff hangings, 44

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

Styles, essence of, 11; conformity to, 13

Symmetry, definition of, 33; advantages of, 34

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

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

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

Toiles de Jouy, 166

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

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

Urbino, ducal palace of, 6; doors in, 52;

fireplace in, 74;

cabinet of Isabella of Este, 123;

Vanvitelli's staircase at Caserta, 108

Vatican, Bernini's staircase in, 108

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

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

Versailles, frescoes in Belvédère, 42; windows in rooms of Mesdames de France, 68;

shutters in same, 69;

library of Louis XVI, 148

Vestibule, 104; furniture of, 105;

lighting of, 105;

absence of, in English house-planning, 110

Villa, Italian, chief features of, 4, note

Villa Giacomelli, at Maser, over-mantel in, 76; Madama, in Rome, ceiling of loggia, 97;

Rotonda, near Vicenza, saloon in, 136;

Valmarana, near Vicenza, frescoes in, 42;

Vertemati, near Chiavenna, over-mantel in, 76;

carved wooden ceiling in, 89

Viollet-le-Duc, on doorways, 52, note; on medi?val house-planning, 109

Vogu?, H?tel, at Dijon, 7

Wall-decoration, 38

Wall-papers, 44

Walls, 31

Ware, Isaac, on proportion, 32; on sliding doors, 49;

his definition of staircase, 106

West Wycombe, Donowell's stairs at, 111

Windows, decorative value of, 64; dimensions of, 65;

plate-glass in, 67;

French or casement, 68;

sash, 68;

curtains, 69, 70;

shutters, 69, 72;

lambrequin, 71;

muslin curtains, 72;

blinds, 73

Wood-box, 86


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

[2] The plan of the H?tel Vogu? has been greatly modified.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9] A Complete Body of Architecture, Book II, chap. iii.

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

[11] See Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonné de l'Architecture fran?aise, under Porte.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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