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.
In Plate 89 is a grouping of an excellent Italian cabinet flanked by two Italian chairs of the most rigidly formal type, with runner beneath the feet, and properly upholstered in velvet with gold galons. The upper finials of such chairs are almost always gilded. The candelabra are of iron.
The adaptability to association of nearly all the pieces selected for illustration will be evident. Instead of the cabinet, just mentioned, might be used with good result such a piece as the Italian armoire or the longer credenza in Plate 129, the double cabinet in the same plate, the French cabinet (Plate 131B), the Elizabethan coffer (Plate 132 B) or one of the Spanish Var-guenos (Plate 133 B or Plate 134 A). Even the Italian pillar-base table (Plate 130 F) placed between these chairs and aided by a pair of tall Benaissance candlesticks would do well. Associated with such furniture in imposing rooms might be the large Italian armoire (Plate 129 A), the French armoire (Plate 131 A) or the Spanish armoire showing Moorish influence (Plate 133 C).
It is equally evident that if one of the pieces foreign to Italy were chosen, the result would be more interesting than if the cabinet remained, for of recent years the strictly Italian Renaissance period has been extensively treated and has lost its novelty. Furthermore, if one is the possessor of such a foreign piece of furniture he is by this method enabled to employ it to the greatest advantage, whereas he could not use it if he were adhering to an exclusively Italian Renaissance style of decoration.
On the other hand, should we allow the cabinet to remain, we might, by the present system, appropriately use with it the Italian scroll-arm chairs in the Davanzati room with plain walls (Plate 13) the curule chair in the interiors shown in Plate 15, the English wainscot in the remodelled farm-house (Plate 128), the French Renaissance (Plate 132 A), the chair in wonderful needlework (Plate 130 A), that adjoining it, or those in Plate 134 B, C and D. The Spanish chair, with brass mounts (Plate 134 F), would be of special interest in such surroundings.
Much other interesting Renaissance furniture will be seen in the rooms of the various nationalities under that influence in Part I and in Plates 127 and 135 in this chapter. They excellently illustrate the points of resemblance and difference which make for unity and variety in the furniture of different nations. A comparison of these pieces will be illuminating and will familiarise the reader with national characteristics.
Even during the Renaissance there were smaller or more homelike pieces of furniture than those so far mentioned, and some of these also are illustrated. The English gate table used in the remodelled farmhouse (Plate 128) has proved so universally useful that we may well wonder why there are no reproductions of such pieces as the non-folding but certainly most desirable Italian circular table shown in Plate 130 D. The chair to its right is attractive, and that on the left would make an admirable hall chair. The Spanish chest and small chairs, with tapestry, in Plate 133 are good pieces, and the Spanish table (Plate 134 E), of which there are many variations, would impart decided interest into a Renaissance home.
Bedsteads are not so interchangeable as other furniture. Some of the French and Italian beds resemble each other, but the introduction of one of the well-known bulbous-posted Elizabethan bedsteads in an interior so definitely Italian and restrained as that of the Davanzati bedchamber (Plate 15 A) would be a mistake. It has already been mentioned that not every piece of furniture of Renaissance inspiration will go with every other piece, and it may be added that such discrimination as the above is necessary as regards their use in the interior to be furnished.
It is to be noted as a general principle that the introduction of but one piece of foreign furniture may be a disturbing influence: it is better to "back it up" with one or more additional pieces of the same or a different nationality, for by this procedure the inter tion of a varied furnishing is made evident and the room with all its different elements becomes immediately interesting.
The arrangement characteristic of Renaissance rooms, with the absence of any superfluity and crowding of decorative elements, is well shown in all the original Renaissance interiors illustrated and in the modern interior shown in Plate 135.
While, naturally, original pieces of furniture of the highest type or even of lesser elegance are beyond the reach of all but the wealthy, it is encouraging that good reproductions are being made. "Adaptations" are still more frequent than faithful reproductions, but the latter can be secured of good English and Italian forms, some French and Spanish may be obtained, and more will doubtless be placed upon the market as manufacturers perceive the demand. It is also to be hoped and expected that the practice of adapting will die out with the advance of knowledge on the part of buyers, their insistence upon authentic styles, and their refusal to accept the vagaries of commercial present-day designers in lieu of the forms and proportions provided by the masters of the past. It may here be mentioned that international furnishing in the eighteenth century periods is less expensive than Renaissance furnishing or that of other early epochs.