Pictures

A VOLUME could not contain all the advice that might be offered upon this subject: the present chapter must be concise, but we shall endeavour to make it helpful.

Number And Character

First, then, have few pictures rather than many, and omit everything not really desirable. Avoid the cluttering of walls - if one picture is sufficient for a space do not use two. If the wall surface is highly decorative (as with a Morris or Crane paper or a cretonne effect) use none. Generally speaking, we are not attempting art-galleries: the pictures in a house are part of the decoration, and all decoration should be consistent and proportionate.

The writers already have a sufficient task on hand and have no inclination to take over that of changing human nature. Pictures are not usually purchased as decorative units - the best possible thing for a certain situation - but because they themselves appeal to the buyer. The matter of fitting them in is often left for future consideration or none at all. At least, then, let us appeal for the buying of good pictures only: for good art almost universally will fit in - somewhere. The cultured may browse in many fields: it is difficult to guide those who have paid attention to other things in life and have neglected art, but they are at least safe in buying reproductions of the work of the masters of the past and present, provided the reproductions themselves are worthy and adequate*

Avoid "Calendar art"; avoid the saccharinely sentimental of many Victorians, the harrowingly sentimental of such pictures as "The Doctor," and avoid the "soulful doggie" subject, unless perhaps for the nursery. Shun the hackneyed. Certain pictures have become so staled by over use that they only irritate anyone with individuality.

To those who wish to make their selections accord with environment it may be said: consider first the rooms in which they are to go and then their positions in these rooms. Do not put a dignified Holbein in a Rococp boudoir: do not put a distinctly modern picture in a room patently of the past; do not purchase anything that will be "out of scale" with the space in which it is to go, or out of harmony with the surroundings.

If a room is of definite period character it is naturally wise to choose pictures of that period and frame them in accordance therewith (Plate 114), always remembering the latitude allowed by the principles of International-Interperiod Decoration set forth in Part III. An Italian. Renaissance picture may usually be employed in a Tudor room, and an eighteenth century French print in a Georgian room.

Where a house is not strongly period in character, there is much latitude, but due discrimination should be used.

See things as a whole

Avoid monotony in the choice of pictures as in everything else, but do not hang right pictures in wrong rooms or put together things that are alien in character: as extremes are most quickly apprehended let us say, for illustration, a Madonna and a fox-hunt.

Really good paintings in oil or water-colour are, of course, of the first consideration. Amateurish efforts at once condemn the taste of anyone ill-advised enough to hang them.

The old conventional flower pieces with vases (Plate 58) and the landscape-and-architecture subjects of like period are of excellent decorative value. Some of these are now being reproduced by modern brushes.

Colourful and strongly decorative paintings and panels are appropriate for rooms in the "Modern" vein.