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 principles of placing pictures on the wall are, of course, those of balance generally. The natural height is usually that of the eye or but little above; but, as there is nearly always some piece of furniture below, the picture should be in due relation to, and form one group with, that object and those others that may rest upon it. The accessories of vases, candlesticks and kindred objects that may stand upon a console, cabinet or highboy are of great usefulness in tying together the picture and the furniture.
An evil genius seems to prompt some people to hang pictures too high; the setting down of the picture-rail, when the ceiling is disproportionally high, advocated by the writers in the chapter on Walls will not only aid in overcoming this tendency but renders unnecessary the great length of wire required when the rail is at the cornice. It also makes picture-hanging much more convenient and less laborious.
The proper relation of picture to the furniture or mantel below it and the best arrangement of groups are easiest learned by the study of good examples.
As will be seen by some of these illustrations it is quite permissible to hang one or a very few pictures upon panelling, but they must be absolutely appropriate in character, colour, scale, framing and placing (Plate 8 is a good example). It is also permissible to hang appropriate pictures upon a wall of such restrained decorative character as that in Plate 70 B, but they should never appear upon so ornamental a surface as the cretonne paper shown in Plate 75.
As the reason for avoiding diagonal lines has several times been referred to, it should now hardly be necessary to point out that the triangular wire frequently seen (and seen sometimes in our own illustrations here) should not be used and that the tops of pictures should not hang out from the wall. An exception to the rule regarding triangular wires is in the hanging of oval frames, where the converging lines of the frame make it the obvious arrangement.
Silken cords are sometimes used to decorative advantage in the hanging of eighteenth century colour-prints in drawing-rooms and boudoirs. The heavy cord used with the old portrait in Plate 79 A adds to its quaintness and is in place in the attractive atmosphere of this room. When the frame is obviously heavy it is often a good device to make the hanging apparatus a deliberately decorative feature, employing silken cords and tassels as a means to suspend the frames.
The hanging of pictures with two perpendicular wires is of the simplest: the wire is passed through both screw-eyes on the back of the frame; one end of the wire is twisted into a loop over one picture hook, which is then hung upon the rail. By then placing the other hook on the rail and looping the wire over it (twisting but slightly for the moment) a picture of moderate weight can be tried at greater or less height until precisely the right altitude for appearance is determined. The second loop can then properly be made and the surplus wire cut off. The screw-eyes should be placed very near the top of the frame so that it will hang flat against the wall.