The attention now being given in primary schools to brush-work, if wisely directed in its effects, by giving facility to young hands in the use of the brush, with its power of expressing form by direct strokes, ought to be an excellent aid and preparation for such an after training in practical painting and decorating as is here suggested.

Stencilling and the design of stencils (which affords excellent practice in pattern construction of all kinds to the designer and decorator), has been developed of late years to rather a remark-able degree by our art schools, as the National Cleobury competitions bear witness. There has been a tendency to over-elaborate this kind of decoration, however, by complex patterns and the use of blended tints, which its conditions hardly bear. Though a useful and cheap and effective method of decorating large wall spaces, friezes, and even temporary hangings, and for temporary decoration generally, it seems to have its natural limits, and is hardly fitted for positions near the eye. But I have seen it effectively used in the large rooms and rough plastered walls of an Italian villa, associated with bold hanging brocade patterns of a Gothic type.

Painted Decoration, Ranworth Rood Screen, Norfolk

Painted Decoration, Ranworth Rood Screen, Norfolk

Drawn by W. T. Cleobury

The Dwelling 56

Drawn by W. T.

Thoughts on House-Decoration

Thoughts on House Decoration

Drawn by W. T. Cleobury

In deciding on a scheme for the decoration of one's house, one must consider what are to be the chief decorative points, and endeavour to lead up to them. The choice of wall-papers, for instance, would naturally be influenced by various considerations. There is first the purpose and use of the room - dining, drawing-room, library, living-room or bed-room, or what not - there is its aspect and amount of lighting. If the question be the colouring of a whole house, a reasonable scheme would be to be comparatively simple and sparing of colour and ornament in the passages, staircase, and less important rooms, but with some connecting link of colour lead on to the important rooms, which might be much richer, and vary much from each other. At the same time it is not pleasant to jump suddenly from warm to cool tones, and a house or suite of rooms might be reasonably planned in either a warm or a cool key according to its character, situation, and lighting. Much, too, would depend upon the type of furniture, since house construction, decoration, and furniture, are properly all closely related.

The Dwelling 58

Drawn by W. T. Cleobury

There is the question of pictures. It should never be a struggle for ascendancy between the wall-paper and the pictures. Pictures may be considered as central points in the decorative scheme of a room and the colour and pattern of the main field of the wall arranged and care-fully harmonized to suit them. The choice of tint must depend upon the tone and colour of the pictures to some extent, though usually a gray-green or subdued red forms a suitable background, or plain brown paper, which is a very safe one. A white wall, however, has more distinction, and pictures in gold or black frames look remarkably well upon white. One often sees old pictures hanging on white walls in old country houses, and they always have a fine and dignified effect. The little Dutch interior by Van der Meer in the National Gallery, besides being a little gem of painting, shows how beautiful a thing is a white wall, and how suitable for pictures and becoming to persons. One gets a more luminous effect in a white interior, and in our towns, where there is none too much light, it is a good thing to get rid of gloomy corners.

Two other charming interiors, each distinct and characteristic of different races, country, and climate, may be studied in the background of Van Dyck's wonderful portrait picture of Jan Arnolfini and his wife, a Flemish interior of the fifteenth century, and again in the delightful house of the Virgin in Carlo Crivelli's "Annunciation," with all its wealth of decorative detail, which gives one an excellent idea of a well-appointed Venetian citizen's house of the fifteenth century. Both of these are well-known gems of our National Gallery.

The Dwelling 59

Drawn by W. T. Cleobury

Illustrations of these pictures are given in my book on "Line and Form," so that instead of repeating them here I give one from Lucas van Leyden's "Annunciation" at Munich (Pina-cothek) which shows a charming Gothic interior with a wagon-vaulted roof, wheel window, and a rich brocade hanging to the bed, with other interesting details.

Another delightful example is the early renascence Venetian interior which forms the background of Carpaccio's "Dream of St. Ursula" (L'Accademia, Venice).

For photographs or prints a pale yellow wall looks well - a pale lemon or primrose tint - it lights up softly and agreeably at night. Pale yellow may also be recommended for a rather dark room. Even one fleck of sunlight on a pale yellow wall has a marvellous reflecting power and will illuminate the whole room. One can agreeably complete the harmony with brown, or black and white, with a touch of orange in the furniture and texture.