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The Art Of Decoration | by H. R. Haweis



"Yet Nature is made better by no mean, But Nature makes that mean; so o'er that art Which, yon say, adds to Nature, is an art That Nature makes." - Shakespeare.

TitleThe Art Of Decoration
AuthorH. R. Haweis
PublisherMrs H. R. Haweis
Year1881
Copyright1881, Mrs H. R. Haweis
AmazonThe Art Of Decoration
The Art Of Decoration 1

By Mrs H. R. Haweis, Author Of 'The Art Of Beauty', 'The Art Of Dress', ' Chaucer For Children', 'Chaucer For Schools', Etc.

The Art Of Decoration 2

With Numerous Illustrations

The Art Of Decoration 3
-Art-Designers In England
St. Ethelreda, Abbess of Ely, embroideress of the celebrated Opus Anglicum. Seventh century. Daughters of Edward the Elder, embroideresses of note. Ninth century. St. Dunstan (Archbishop of Canterbury...
-First Book. The Search After Beauty. Chapter I. The Art Revolt
MOST people are now alive to the importance of beauty as a refining influence. The appetite for artistic instruction is even ravenous. We cannot be too thankful that it is so, for the vacuum can be fi...
-The Art Revolt. Part 2
As to the kinds of art which are right and proper, every age has its particular wants and its particular expression, but no age which truly loves beauty will confine its art to very narrow limits; the...
-The Art Revolt. Part 3
Every standard scheme of colour, Egyptian, Greek, or what not, is based upon an intuitive knowledge of the rules of harmony; and such knowledge is best studied at the fountain-head, Nature. Remember, ...
-Exquisite Obstructions
Right and delightful as it is to cultivate beauty, it is no doubt possible to carry the 'lust of the eye' too far like other things Those 'aesthetic' folks who worship Signorelli, and sit among blue c...
-Art Is For The People
Changes must emanate from the public, not from their servant, the producer: for it is they who pay for it, not any elect body. The painter paints for the Royal Academy, but it is the people who buy hi...
-Chapter II. Surroundings
THE importance of surroundings and their effect on personal appearance is very considerable. People certainly look different in different rooms. Some look vulgar in one place and refined in another, j...
-Unintelligent Adoption
If you adopt other people's ideas, you ought to have some better reason than because someone else does it. Tis poor feeding where the flavour of the meat depends on the cruets,' said Mrs. Poyser, and...
-Harmony
The fashionable practice of modelling rooms too severely upon a single period is open to grave objections. It binds fetters of iron on the owner, who can never work-in any new element, however beautif...
-Decorating
The province of a decorator, commonly forgotten, is not to take your house out of your jurisdiction; he might as well control all your possessions and sell everything he did not personally covet. His ...
-Chapter III. Old Queen Anne Style
IF the gaudy red and gold monstrosities of twenty years ago (Louis XV. fashions vulgarised) may be likened to the obstreperous loud laugh, some of the would-be-aesthetic modern rooms, all splinters an...
-Grinling Gibbons
We cannot go farther without a few words on the quality of the carving which distinguished Anne's and her father's reign, and on the genius of the first Englishman who founded a school of art in his n...
-Queen Anne Walls
Among the humbler gentry who could not afford the rich carvings and French marqueteric, the wainscoted rooms, whether whitewashed or no, were Jacobean in their furniture: but papers of a thin poor kin...
-Chippendale
Chippendale the elder was a cabinet-maker who flourished about the middle of the last century, long after Anne's reign. He was no creator, like Boule, but he was a capital workman. His joiner's work w...
-Queen Anne Costumes
The ephemeral 'rages' for certain periods and styles to which the fashionable world has ever been subject may be variously accounted for. Often they seem to be born of air, and changed by a breath wit...
-Chapter IV. New Queen Anne Style
THOSE sated and out of patience with ornament, whether mismanaged or simply superabundant, have been known to fly to simplicity and plain surfaces for repose. Owen Jones so sought refuge from a jaded ...
-Colourless Liveries
All these fashionable rooms resemble each other. The Queen-Anne-mad decorators (some conspicuously) have but one idea and drive it to death. One hears that Mr. Brown or the Misses Smith have decorated...
-Second Book. A Retrospect Of Rooms. Chapter I. Early English Furniture
WHAT does the upholsterer mean by ' Early English'? He sticks it into every advertisement; he attaches it to all objects, bookcases, coalscuttles, lace and duplex lamps; to all periods, but especially...
-A Fourteenth Century Room
They loved colour, the English people, though they were not particular about having it quite clean - which is no doubt an acquired taste; 'l'appetit vient en mangeant.' In the fourteenth century a goo...
-The Development Of Art
Of course, in inferior houses life was still pretty rough; but, in taking the history of furniture as a chronicle of progress, we naturally turn to the castles of the pioneers of luxury - the rich. Ab...
-Chapter II. Noontide
THE Renascence substituted the simple force of uncoloured relief for the artificial brilliancy of gold and colour - a taste which we may-regard as more refined and chaste if we forget that the Greeks ...
-Gothic And Renascence Work
Such terms as 'purity of taste,' 'sound perception,' etc, suggest that opinion on art, like digestion, may be modified by habit and culture, and as we know that in art, as in food, 'likes and dislikes...
-A Tudor Room
We may say that in Elizabeth's time the decorative arts had reached their apogee. The luxury of great houses was unsurpassed, with porphyry chimneypieces, and silver firedogs designed by Cellini; pain...
-Renascence Taste
The Renascence was a glorious branching forth of new thoughts, and new energy. The distinction between beauty and ugliness per se only then began to be thoroughly appreciated, and the admiration of ph...
-The Workship Of Wreck
The Workship of Wreck, - as false a motive as the love of disease and disgust into which it developed - the reaction-from the love of beauty. I may instance some of the furniture, however fine in d...
-Chastly Ornament
The passion for bringing monumental ideas into every domestic detail affected colour with form naturally. It was greatly encouraged by Louis XIII., under whom they sculptured everything - the caskets,...
-Black And White In Its Place
Before quitting the subject of the elaborate ebony work in the seventeenth century, we must confess that black and white in its place certainly adds a touch of elegance to a richly coloured room, like...
-Renascene Influence On Dress
In a series of papers published in the 'Queen'1 in the autumn of 1879, I traced the origin, rise, and progress of costume, and showed how it was influenced by the spirit of the time. Fashion, in all i...
-Renascene Influence On Dress. Continued
Compare the long plaited beards of the chief personages with the short and simple beards of the followers, Roman soldiers; the Gothic ' table dormant,' the little hound gnawing the rejected bones, and...
-Chapter III. The Grotesque And Raphael Ornament
I HAVE before hinted that individual opinion ought to be respected, and I may hope for the indulgence of a few when I say that the grotesqueness of much classic art, notably that which was so popular ...
-A Pompeiian Room
In the best examples of Pompeiian walls, there is a gradation of colour from the ceiling downwards, though this is not by any means a fixed law. The gradation downwards from light to deep colour is pl...
-A Pompeiian Room. Continued
The painting is advanced enough technically to make the old story of Zeuxis deceiving the birds and Parrhasius deceiving Zeuxis quite believable. This sort of illusory painting has been dear to Italia...
-Roman Ornament
What is called Roman ornament, so dear to the sixteenth century architects, is far nobler, broader in conception than Pompeiian, because the acanthus leaf is in itself so splendid a subject, whether s...
-Grotesque Oak Carving
Many people imagine that the merit of old oak is its ugliness, and that if you clap a grinning lion's head upon the corner of your table, or a griffin upon a garden seat, you will render it more valua...
-The Grotesque As A Background
Handwork, small, clever, elaborate, is so costly in this country that it may be called unattainable. Amateur industry, working for love's sake, may provide it; professionals, non credo. Those who cann...
-A Braber Mood
To return to England. The transformation visible in English tastes and habits, when the first force of the Renascence had spent itself, was most extraordinary. The stride forward had been tremendous. ...
-A Charles The First Room
The calmer style of Charles I.'s day, when the national mood was revolving slowly from magnificence to severity, a mood which culminated in Puritanism but which was not wholly Puritanic, has for me a ...
-Chapter IV. The After Glow
BUT as soon as colour came to the fore again the Renascence was said to be in decline, and indeed if the Renascence means the corpse of old Rome stuck up on end, and not the schools which grew out of ...
-Boule And His Work
Afterwards Boule came along, with his splendid conceptions of colour and permanent material; and aided by the munificence of Louis XIV., he brought in a wholly new kind of manufacture in petra dara an...
-A Louis Quatorze Room
Of all known styles of decoration, that called Louis XIV. is perhaps, at its best, the most elegant and the most scientific, though it occurs in a downward career, like the most gorgeous sparkle of th...
-The Garden In The House
Never was such encouragement given to floral ornamentation. Gaston, Due d'Orleans, established hothouses in the Luxembourg, and at Blois a true botanic garden, for the sole purpose of supplying the ne...
-A Scientific Background
Now, a word about the crowning grace in a decorated room - the living inmates. The scheme of colour perfected under Louis XIV. was most ingenious and unlike any previously attained by art. In a roo...
-Chapter V. The Decline (Louis Quinze)
JUST contemporary with our Queen Anne were the fashions in dress and furniture which by the natural process vulgarised the French king's grand conceptions; when skill and knowledge of effect had arriv...
-Lacquer And Porcelain
Evelyn's allusion to Mr. Bohun who used Japan screens for wainscoting has been quoted: and about that time, in Paris at least, the new discovery, Japan lacquer, began to elbow aside the elaborate Boul...
-Orientalism In Dress
As I have ever said, people's dwellings and their clothing follow a like bent, much as cynics sneer at the thought of ' dressing up to one's furniture;' and as all outward decoration is symbolical of ...
-A Louis Seize Room
The prevailing fashion under Marie Antoinette was refinement, avant tout, and if at times this redeemed style was open to the charge of affectation or insipidity, we must not be too censorious conside...
-A Whited Sepulchre
In England the 'mode ' was less extravagant, and ever-cheapening marqueterie ultimately became far more common than painted white wood; but such was the taste which linked Louis Quinze exuberance with...
-Marqueterie
I cannot close my survey of this luxurious period without a few words on the marqueterie which was brought to such perfection after Louis Quatorze, and which is now so often the favourite pursuit of c...
-Artists Who Emancipated Art
Louis Quatorze appears to have been the first to recognise in a substantial manner the fact that if we want firstrate art in our carpets, furniture, plate, etc, we must employ firstrate artists, and m...
-Chapter VI. Psuedo-Classicism
UNDER the bitter regime of Revolutionary times luxury was not only gracefully abnegated for a little while - it was forgotten. They changed all that. There was to be no more affectation, no more stilt...
-An 'Empire' Room
Then again, it is forgotten that the meagreness and bareness of the domestic fashions at that time may have had some foundation in real indigence. The noblesse (stript of their possessions) who escape...
-Empire Dress And Imitation Greeks
People often ask what I think of the costumes of the 'Empire,' and whether I consider that it will 'suit' such and such an one. If they had read one-half what has been written against the 'Imitation G...
-Empire Dress And Imitation Greeks. Part 2
For the spirit of those days, whether in politics, art, or domestic life, was harsh, severe, self-castigating in its desire for truth, simplicity, and justice, and it outlived too long its original ra...
-Empire Dress And Imitation Greeks. Part 3
And just as the saucy quid pro quo annoys on repetition, so the odd, quaint habits which deny or caricature the body annoy the eye after a brief while, and it returns refreshed to feel how much more s...
-Empire Dress And Imitation Greeks. Part 4
This of course can shock no one in these days of eel-skin dresses, which are far more open to criticism than the well-folded Greek costume. Still, I do not see why the features of the form need be con...
-Third Book. General Applications. Chapter I. On Place And Tone. Arrangement Of The Room
THE kind of room you have to decorate is of more importance than many people suppose. A well proportioned room with handsome, not obtrusive, cornices, really well designed mantel-shelves, and walls of...
-I. A Renascence Eclectic Room
The Renascence period offers as wide a choice; but this pseudo-classic time is out of harmony with Gothic work. It is completely distinct, and Renascence designs resent the propinquity of those for wh...
-II. An Eighteenth-Century Eclectic Room
The Louis XIV. fashions are, again, wholly distinct; the mixture of Boule work and pietra dura with pure classic types or Gothic work would be a revolting medley, and this is what an eclectic room sho...
-III. A Modern Eclectic Room
An avowedly modern room (one in which modern upholstery prevails) always seems to .me injured by the introduction of antiquities, which, like peculiar shades of colour, and certain classes of ornament...
-III. A Modern Eclectic Room. Continued
As an explanation of my meaning I may say that, given a vast black armoire at one end of the room, which, besides possessing light and shade of its own, throws a deep shadow on the wall, a slight ebon...
-Chapter II. On Walls. Colour Of The Background
THE colour of the walls is so important an item in the general good or bad impression of a room, that no beauty of minor objects can atone for a bad background; but a good wall-colour may redeem the m...
-Tapestry
Tapestry considered as furniture, both useful and ornamental, might occupy a volume; and those interested in the progress of this beautiful art should study M, Pinchard's long-promised work, or, in En...
-Embroidered Walls
The good old English fashion of embroidery, so fashionable now, ought to inspire artistic idlers to feats of skill. We were ahead of France and Italy in this skill with the needle when we were ahead i...
-Leather
Cordovan leather like some of the old Norwich leather, is a fine background, but difficult to obtain. Many old families have rolls of it rotting in their lofts and lumber-rooms in a style which makes ...
-Silk
Many of the old houses of George III.'s time still wear the silken hangings put up when the houses were built or modernised, in his time, such hangings relegating the old leather to perdition. Sky-blu...
-Paper
Of papers, those which emulate tapestry in a certain harmonious tone of broken colour are the best. Many of Morris's papers, copied from old eighteenth-century ones, themselves copied from damask and ...
-Paint And Stencilling
Painted or distempered and stencilled walls are not sufficiently in use in England. They are clean, and do not, or need not, cost as much as many a dear paper. In old Italian bedrooms one finds the wa...
-Mirroring
If a room is over-narrow one way, it is curious how much the offending wall may be thrown back by little panels of looking-glass united by an oak or ebonised moulding. They look well about fifteen inc...
-Ceiling
The wondrous ceilings of old Rome, mentioned by Seneca, made so as to revolve and show changing colours and decorations, as well as to admit acrobats and other dining-room diversions, are hardly likel...
-Chapter III. On Windows. Transparent Walls
THE windows offer a large and attractive field for decoration, so attractive and so useful that nothing but ignorance of the capacities of glass can be our excuse for overlooking it. It seems singular...
-Modern Painted Glass
Now that we have unlimited command of knowledge and methods, we find that the treatment of windows as oil-paintings, with rounded figures and apparent prominences, is false in motive and bad in effect...
-Coloured Windows At Home
In England, where so much of life is of necessity passed indoors; in London and all large towns, where the outlook is so uninteresting or so ugly as to be commonly outside the question of taste - why ...
-Amateur Efforts
But the windows are a legitimate field for the exercise of original taste - not only the frames and sashes, which may be regarded as distinct from the panels or shutters - but even those broad white p...
-Glass Partitions And Screens
Coloured glass worked after the fashion of old windows is not enough used for door-panels, and even walls of rooms where light is wanted on the staircase. Many modern aesthetic houses follow the affec...
-Chapter IV. On Mirrors. Pallor Not Light
PEOPLE who love light are often shy of the increasing fashion of colouring the walls, ceilings, and floors of rooms. They say not untruly that in London there is too little light for us to dispense wi...
-What Not To Do
One of the fixed laws of the admirers of the false Queen Anne style of room is the enmity to mirrors, only proper and wise if everyone in the house is a fright. One enthusiastic votary of this effete ...
-Old Mirrors
A mirror of black glass, reflecting objects only when it is moistened, has been recently found in a newly-excavated house at Pompeii; therefore we now know that the ancients were not ignorant of somet...
-Painted Mirrors
The practice of painting upon mirrors, common in Italy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, is one which we must allude to in passing. Contrary as it seems to our notions of good taste, this f...
-Mirrors-Frames
A mirror always deserves a good frame, which should be either massive or dispersed in filigree after the manner of the old seams. The frame of so conspicuous an object must be well designed. Avaunt th...
-Picture-Frames
While on the subject of frames a few further suggestions may be useful. The frames that we allot to pictures even of high merit are sometimes most gaudy and destructive. Few persons consider how compl...
-Use Of Convex Mirrors
I may now add, that a convex mirror in its place, i.e. so hung as to reflect distant objects only, and never come in contact with the face, is a pretty ornament. There is something dainty and amusing ...
-Chapter V. On Movables. Principles
BY furniture, or rather movables - for anything that clothes the room in any way is its furniture - we generally understand chairs, sofas, and tables; and a few words must be separately given to these...
-Comfort And Chairs
The desiderata in a chair would not seem to be many, but one thing we might fairly suppose indispensable - comfort. Yet this is the last thing chair-buyers think of. They are so ostentatious, or so 'a...
-Comfort And Beauty
The beauty of a room is largely dependent on its comfort, for remember a room is in reality a picture as much as any painted group, and it should be criticised as such - e.g. a beautiful woman reclini...
-Materials And Framework
It is matter for regret that our ideas are so boniees, and our upholsterers so obstinate, else why are the materials for our chairs limited to wood, iron, and stuffs? . There are many materials beside...
-Colour
I have already given a few new ideas for the ornamenting of the frames, introducing new colours and a higher class of decoration. I may now suggest that the colour of the cover of a sofa or chair be n...
-Weight
The weight of a chair has some bearing upon its comfortableness. Some chairs, for dining-room use, are so heavy that it requires a great effort, or the assistance of another person, to pull them to th...
-Sofas
Sofas ought to be as a rule simply enlarged chairs, they ought not to represent beds. There have been many very ingenious forms invented in modern days, but almost all have been spoilt by the invetera...
-Cables
Tables are too much neglected among us. If we would take hints for tables only from the Greeks, and beautify the furniture constantly meeting oureyes, instead of trying to use their costume, only fit ...
-Carpets
THE English carpets, famous for durability, made fifty years ago, were too hideous to deserve notice as works of art. Whilst the well-spun and wellwoven worsted fully deserved the old English reputati...
-Curtains
The character and grace of a room depend so much upon the hangings, that we cannot be too cautious in our choice of fabric. The kind of folds into which they fall, and the colour, must alike be carefu...
-Bookcases
Books may be considered an ornament by their association with learning and intellectual pleasure; but unless very handsomely bound, modern books are not particularly ornamental in themselves. They may...
-Plate And Cutlery
Modern plate is a sore point with those who have learnt what plate can and ought to be, by collecting old plate. It is extraordinary how ambitious and obtrusive, how elaborate and varied, are the v...
-Plate And Cutlery. Continued
And when we study the ancient gold and silver ornaments of Greece and Rome, and read the long list of names of goldsmiths which have been preserved to us from this remote antiquity - when we hear of t...
-Pianofortes
There is nothing in the whole family of furniture so unmanageable as the modern pianoforte, and yet in every house where all-round culture is appreciated, a piano must be. The grand piano takes up as ...
-Pianofortes. Part 2
Personal experience of the Euphonicon must admit that the iron frame renders it heavier than an ordinary cottage pianoforte, whilst the exposure of the strings probably renders the tone, though sweet,...
-Pianofortes. Part 3
The shape of a pianoforte ought at least to be as mobile as a sideboard, in which the patterns vary greatly, though all founded on the primal ideal of shelves, drawers, and cellarets. If we could u...
-Chapter VII. On Fire-Places And Fires. Mantel-Pieces
STOVES are a problem still. How to obtain the maximum of heat with the minimum of waste; how to make the fire-place an ornament as well as a refuge, it is very difficult to say. The handsomest fire-pl...
-Grates And Stones
The fault of most fires is that they do not warm the room, while they do drain the pocket. Modern science is seeking to provide a thin, vertical fire, about four or five inches from back to front, whi...
-Stone Ornaments
Draperies about that pent-up tiger, the fire, as I have already said, to me seem always a fault in taste. However heavy, however unlikely to catch fire, they always look as though they meant to, and w...
-Wrought- Iron
Before quitting the subject of iron as applied to stoves, I may add a few words upon its merits in other kinds of decoration. In the last century considerable interest revived in iron as well as bronz...
-Chapter VIII. Lighting And Ventilation. Becoming Lights
UNTIL the electric light is more manageable than it now is, there are but two ways of lighting rooms - gas or lamps and candles. Gas is the cheapest and the least trouble, but it is the most destructi...
-Lamp-Forms
May I remind readers that a candlestick, lamp, or any other support, ought to be a pretty and consistent object? That Cleopatra's Needle alight at one end, and streaked with pink and blue, is scarcely...
-Concealed Lights
Concealed lights are not so much in use as they might be. The effect of 'a moon unseen albeit at full' may often be obtained for some faint-coloured picture, hardly visible when a glaring lamp is held...
-Pumps And Pipes
Ventilation can only be considered in connection with art and beauty because there can be no enjoyment of either without health, and health is now seen to be largely dependent on our sanitary conditio...
-Anti-Smuts
Many persons object to windows being much open during the summer on account of the invasions of blacks. Many years ago I tried nailing up a guard of thin strong muslin, coloured green or red, which is...
-Drain Ventilation
The drain-question is too serious to be resigned to the doubtful integrity of builders or the bungling workmanship of ignorant plumbers. It should be studied, and mastered, by every householder on who...
-Chapter IX. On The Beauty Of Freedom. Ars Longa, Bita Brebis
AS I near the end of my book, I am prepared for the inevitable cry: 'We have not been told what to do. There is not a word about the drawing-room - nor the bed-room - nor the kitchen - not a hint what...
-Chords In Colour
I have written so much in my previous book, the 'Art of Beauty,' upon the qualities of colours, and their effect on human faces, that I may well refer my readers to it for hints; for the colours which...
-Becoming Colours
Now, if any woman rather shrewder than her fellows, or any man having a pretty wife, ask me, 'How shall I know which combination best suits my especial needs?! I answer, Try it in a bonnet. No colours...
-Helpers
Of course you cannot yourselves paint your Walls or paper them; I hope you have something better to do! A really thoughtful decorator who can mix paints and respect your likings is invaluable. He will...
-Who Are Our Decoration Helpers?
The artists ought to be: those who have had the energy, the advantages of study and education, and have grown, or are growing, rich upon the popular interest in aesthetics. But who would ever dream of...
-The Old Maasters' Mischief
Probably this stupendous skilfulness has damaged us somewhat. Ever since painting became technically unsurpassable, ever since anatomy became a science, the 'afterborns' have been numbed, petrified by...
-Reform From Below
Probably we shall never get the priests who have developed in the present unhealthy, unhelpful school to do more for us. Still the demand will create the supply. The reform will come from below - from...
-Misuse Of Pictures
After all- when we shake off the fetters of association--what a ridiculous object is a 'picture,' hanging on a wall by a string! What connection has it with the wall-colour, which it hides; or with th...
-Chapter X. On Our Streets. Trees
For many a man that may not stand a pull, Yet liketh it him at the wrestlyng for to be, says Chaucer in his 'Parliament of Birds;' and a dis sertation on street-architecture would be as far from my po...
-Our Chimneys
The chimneys of London are indeed a remarkable outcome of civilisation, and deserve more attention; but the English seldom lift their eyes in walking, being too much afraid of puddles, and hence the o...
-Coloured Houses
The latest product of Art-Protestantism in the way of street ornament is the coloured house. A few years ago, apart from a shop, such a thing was unknown in London. When it came in, landlords wept for...
-Street Nomenclature
Many of the names of streets have a great historic or legendary interest; some, as in France, appear simply quaint, such as Rue da Cherche Midi, Rne du Grand Viable, etc. Great men, and great deeds, a...
-Chapter XL. Conclusion. Indigenous Art
I HUMBLY trust that my strictures on modern English decorations may open the eyes of a few to the remediable flaws in taste, and necessity for founding an English school of design. This must be no poo...
-Help In Amateurs
Nothing will help the reform better than the efforts of art-loving amateurs. Amateur blacksmiths, goldsmiths, carpenters, weavers, inlayers, will do more to force merit into professional quarters than...
-The Court Painter
The revival of the ancient and honourable post, of court painter and artist in ordinary to Her Majesty would be a radical support to the cause of art in England: for it would give prestige to a profes...
-A Word On Architecture
Perhaps one of the reasons why we get no fine, nor even original, modern architecture is because the architect is so completely dissevered from the painter. Good as is much of his work, he has been ed...







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