Typical illustrations are given of interiors of the various nations under Baroque influence. So vastly do the characteristics of the fixed background of England differ from the others, and such an interesting condition then prevailed, that this may be given first consideration.


Though there had been some earlier manifestations of Baroque tendencies, the restoration of Charles II, the ensuing gaiety, love of display and commercial enterprise let loose this and all other foreign fashions. But at the same time the Classic leanings of the great architects, Wren and Inigo Jones, and the example of their work, held in check these tendencies so far as architecture - exterior and interior - was concerned. Contemporaneously with this, the previous Renaissance style still persisted (Plate 136 B). Notwithstanding these architectural influences the Baroque movement was not restrained in the direction of movable furniture, and we therefore have the unusual combination of a Classical or nearly Classical background in Baroque times accompanied by furniture often very Baroque indeed.

This furniture will be treated in a following section and all the details of the changes in interior architecture will be found in Part I, Chapter I (The Basis Of Successful Decoration The Interior As A Whole).


Across the channel the Baroque influence came in with the reign of Henri IV (1589) and persisted till the death of Louis XIV in 1715.

Beyond the ability and taste always instinctive in the French, even during the vagaries of certain periods, no restraint was there laid upon Baroque tendencies during the earlier reigns of this epoch (Plate 30 A), but, as we shall see, during the times of Louis XIV a marked change of direction became manifest (Plates 34 and 138).

Because of the faults already mentioned the backgrounds of this epoch are not particularly desirable for our houses today, and, notwithstanding the restraint of the latter period, the heavy magnificence of the style of Louis XIV unfits it for anything else than buildings of palatial proportions and hotels, for which it has frequently been used. Even for these we may prefer less grandiose styles, but justice must be done the remarkable work accomplished during the reign of the most famous king of France.

After the regency of his mother, Anne of Austria, he assumed the reins of government in 1661. By 1684 he had so humbled the power of the nobles and assemblies that his power was practically absolute. At court the utmost splendour was maintained, and a ceremonial pompous and burdensome to a degree. In literature it was the Augustan Age in France, the age of Corneille and Racine, Moliere, Boileau, Fenelon, Bossuet and Bourdillon. Under his talented minister, Colbert, all the arts received the most liberal encouragement, workmen being regularly employed by the Crown.

A pruning hand was laid upon the excrescences of the Baroque, and what remained was combined with a structure largely Renaissance, the result being an amalgamation rightly designated as "the grand manner." To sum it in a phrase: the style of Louis Quatorze was the effect of the spirit of Classicism working with material Renaissance and Baroque (Plates 34-36 and 138).

But the latter part of the reign of "Le Grand Monarque" was marked by disastrous wars, consequent exorbitant taxation, the resentment of his subjects; and, leaving an almost ruined country, detested and unmourned, in 1715 he sank into his grave.


Here the Baroque impulse found its way to some extent into the details of interior architecture - cornices, cartouches and carving, mouldings and mantels; but the Classic construction generally remained. Its most evident effect was increasing magnificence (Plate 139). With tesselated floors, carved mantels and doors, every inch of the walls and ceilings often decorated in full colour and gold, or walls encrusted in marbles; with furniture gloriously carved and some pieces painted and gilded; textiles of full bodied colour, often enhanced with applique or needlework; sculpture and Oriental porcelains; accessories of every description - with all these it is marvellous that dignity and repose were at all preserved. Yet this decoration wao successful! Two requisites remained - spaciousness and artistic knowledge.


In conservative Spain the walls remained much as they were under the Renaissance, though the tiling or painting may have grown even more colourful. But the writers would particularly direct the attention of wealthy connoisseurs and their decorators to Spain as a source of interesting elements varied from those of countries decoratively better known. If the upper walls were plain, that plainness was redeemed to the last degree by the textiles which hung thereon. These were of the utmost profusion and of all known materials, light and heavy. Such colourings as crimson and brilliant green were relieved by gold. Armorial bearings were frequent motifs, with all their opportunity for richness of colour and interest of detail.

The leather work of Spain - stamped, engraved and coloured, and with silver or with gold - was particularly characteristic and famous. Porcelains, tiles, pottery, glass and smithwork will afford the discriminating collector of today unending delight The wonderfully decorative chests and cabinets of Spain appeal to all lovers of the unusual and beautiful.

The Italian "domino" paper in small sections was sometimes applied to walls through most of southern Europe.