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.
The use of these seems greatly to have disturbed some minds. The simple truth is that many pictures of all types other than oils look well either with mats (of not too great contrast) or without them, and those that do not are usually so clear in their indication of what should be done that there is no difficulty in deciding.
Engravings and etchings are usually printed with a margin of paper and this obviously should be preserved. Apart from the artistic point of view it is to be remembered that the trimming off of such margins destroys the money-value of rare prints. Reproductions of portraits with dark backgrounds, whether rectangular or oval, frequently look better framed *' close up." Perhaps, with caution, one may say that dark pictures are less likely to need mats than lighter and slighter ones, but most do so well either way that it is useless to legislate. The proper course is to consider the picture itself in connexion with the situation where it is to go. The objection that some - may we call them "hard-and-f asters?" - urge against mats and mounts is that it cuts up the decorative unit Sometimes it does not; sometimes it does; and sometimes that is the very best thing that could happen. Suppose we consider each in order: a rather spotty water-colour will be simplified by a mat; a dark picture in a dark frame will be cut up by the introduction of a light mat between; and we recall a hall of such extreme repose that this very thing was absolutely needed to give relief.
Mats and mounts should not be of dead white, but of ivory, cream or grey, and sometimes of darker tones. A gold mat inside a narrow gold edging gives practically the same effect as a wide, flat gold frame.
Margin naturally enlarges a picture and this may often be the determining factor as to its use or omission.