This section is from the book "The Practical Book Of Interior Decoration", by Harold Donaldson Eberlein, Abbot Mcclure, Edward Stratton Holloway. See also: The Victorian House Book: A Practical Guide to Home Repair and Decoration.
It is safe to say that there was never a time when interior architectural woodwork was carried to an higher point of development or displayed more admirable characteristics. Even in the simpler houses, where three of the walls of a room would ordinarily be plastered, there was almost invariably some well-proportioned panelling above the fireplace or even covering a greater part of the whole of the wall on that side of the room. For many of the elaborately carved and panelled interiors, the wood used was oak, cedar, deal or pine. The oak and cedar were left unpainted; deal was sometimes merely waxed, or slightly stained and waxed, and sometimes painted; while pine was ordinarily painted, although not invariably, and, when left in its natural state, assumed a mellow golden brown tone from the action of the atmosphere. In at least one instance known to the authors, the panelling of a late seventeenth century house in Pennsylvania, belonging architecturally, however, to the category under discussion, consisted of pine and poplar together. Neither paint nor stain of any kind were ever used upon it and all of the wood took on a rich ginger brown hue of great beauty*
When the panelling was painted, white, which was much favoured in Holland at the time, was sometimes used, but by no means so universally as many people seem to imagine. Grey, grey green, buff, brown, pale yellow, blue, green and green blues of great beauty were in common use and imparted a richness and warmth that strongly commend a wider employment of similar treatments at the present day. These painted interiors were very commonly further embellished with gilding applied to mouldings and carving.*
In the latter part of the seventeenth century, as previously stated, the taste for lacquer became a positive passion. Much lacquer was imported from the East, but the importations could not begin to supply the demand; much furniture was lacquered both by artisans and by amateurs, who regarded skill in this direction as an eligible and polite accomplishment. The vogue for lacquer endured throughout the reign of Queen Anne and even lasted for some time afterwards. What with the universal admiration for lacquer in an especially colour-loving epoch, and the very considerable proficiency in lacquer processes attained by British craftsmen, it is not surprising to find lacquered decoration occasionally extended to the fixed woodwork in rooms and not reserved solely as a method of mobiliary embellishment. It is worth noting that this architectural employment of lacquer has been revived in a few instances and on a limited scale in our own time, with admirable results.
* At Graeme Park, Horsham, Pennsylvania, for instance, the home of Sir William Keith, the first coat of paint given the woodwork was a greenish grey, and no other colour has ever since adorned the panelling and the door and window trims. At Stenton, Northern Liberties, in Philadelphia, the home of James Logan, on the other hand, "the taste of the occupants dictated a change of colour from time to time and we find a good deal of variety in the successive coats" of paint. For these instances and other observations anent the practice in America v. "The Architecture of Colonial America," p. 149: Harold Donaldson Eber-lein; Little, Brown ft Co., Boston, 1915. See also "Architectural Record," passim.
In the more sumptuous interiors of this type, the fireplace surrounds and facings were of carefully chosen marble or stone, while in the simpler interiors the surrounds were of wood and the facings frequently of glazed tiles, sometimes plain, but more usually of Delft make with monochrome blue or rose devices or else with polychrome decorations. The surround commonly consisted of a bold bolection moulding and there was generally no mantel shelf or else only a very narrow one.
The fixed decorations were rich and adequate. There were mirrors empanelled in the walls or set in the doors, decorative paintings set in panels over doorways, in chimney pieces and in central positions on the sides of walls. There were cupboards (Plate 7) built into the woodwork, usually in corners, with coved tops carefully scalloped and enriched with carving and sometimes parcel gilt, or with smooth surfaces in the coving covered with decorative painting. Coves and the flat surfaces of ceilings, likewise, in addition to the rich cast plaster reliefs, were often adorned with paintings.
When the walls were not fully panelled, they were sometimes painted, sometimes covered with wall paper in highly decorative and bright-coloured patterns, and sometimes hung with rich fabrics tacked tightly in place. Occasionally the panels of the doors themselves were embellished with mirrors or with decorative paintings.
Sconces, lanthorns and chandeliers of varied forms in plain brass, in wrought-iron painted and parcel gilt, in wood richly carved and gilt or painted and parcel gilt, and in brass or cut glass profusely hung with crystals added greatly to the rich effect of the permanent background.
Such were the possibilities and characteristics of the fixed architectural interior settings during the reign of Queen Anne and in the years immediately following her demise.
Early in the Georgian period, under the influence of such men as James Gibbs, Sir John Vanbrugh, Sir William Chambers and, above all, Sir William Kent, there was a clearly marked departure from the freedom and flexibility of architectural and decorative interpretation, as practised by Sir Christopher Wren and his immediate school, and a reversion to what was fancied to be a purer and more scholarly presentation of classic principles as set forth by the great architectural exponents of the Italian Renaissance. For this reason the work of Inigo Jones evoked' a renewed measure of praise and admiration but, quite apart from any enthusiasm for the achievements of earlier Engish architects, the men of the day, one and all, placed themselves at the feet of Vitruvius, Vignola and Palladio and followed the precepts of these great men of the past with the most meticulous and sometimes simian precision. To the votaries of the new school Palladio was especially dear and they so generally accepted him as their standard and so glorified his work and precepts that they" raised him in their time almost to the position of a demigod/' Actuated as they were by this narrow and almost fanatical admiration for merely one individual^ explication of classicism, it is scarcely to be wondered at that they were "unreasonably prejudiced against the work of the Wren period by the discovery that, although classic in principle, the rules laid down by the great architects of the Italian Renaissance had by no means been strictly adhered to. "This attitude, quite apart from any other agency, explains in large measure "the prejudice that existed against Sir Christopher at the close of his brilliant career and the exaltation of the earlier work of Inigo Jones." Wren had both displayed a perceptible tinge of French influence and also shown not a little personal independence in his interpretations, and this damned him in the eyes of the early Georgian purists who "accepted so fervently the principles of Italian classicism as the only form of true culture that all buildings which exhibited variations were regarded by them as beneath notice or consideration." In their zeal of archaelogical solicitude - to quote Sir Horace Walpole, architecture had "resumed all her rights" and buildings were designed "in the purest style of antique composition" - they often produced work that savoured of pedantry and missed the spontaneous inspiration and elastic quality necessary to give it the vital significance of an understanding contemporary expression.