From Whitley Beaumont, about six miles from Huddersfield, came the fine room shown in Fig. 380. Here we encroach on the classical manner of the first years of the eighteenth century. The wood is oak throughout, with the exception of the ornaments in the frieze, which are of pear tree, gilded. The columns, - which divide the apartment into room and ante-room, - are also of oak, very lightly constructed, in four vertical sections cooper-jointed on the shafts, with turned caps and bases, also hollowed out. The inspiration of the classical cornice, with its modillions entirely covered on the soffits with dentils placed closely together, - a very unusual detail, - and the frieze with triglyphs, is entirely architectural. Between these tablets of the frieze are heads of animals, birds and other devices, with Beaumont cyphers interlaced. The height of this room from floor to ceiling is 13 ft. 7 ins.
Another room, of somewhat later date, probably of the later years of George I, is shown in Fig. 381. Here the scheme is much more simple, and the room is low, 8 ft. 6 ins. to the top of the cornice, which was evidently the finish under the ceiling, unless a coving, in plaster, was used above, - which is doubtful with a cornice of this size. The section of this latter is also unusual, with large overhang to the corona, and carved dentils below, but the frieze is divided from the panelling by a small astragal bead instead of the large stepped frieze moulding which one would have expected at this date. The wood here is red deal, a timber which was very general in work of the eighteenth century. The usual finish of this woodwork was paint, but this red deal was always of beautiful grain and quality, far superior to anything procurable at the present day. It was imported from the Baltic ports, Dantzic and Memel, but the source is now extinguished.
Fig. 385. Alcove Cupboard In Red Deal.
A very commendable fashion has obtained, of recent years, of stripping this fine deal, - which is generally of beautiful colour when the paint is removed, - graining the knots, - which are the only disfigurements, - to match the texture of the wood, and finishing with wax and friction. The fine door with its architrave, shown in Fig. 382, which is in its original situ, has been stripped in this manner, and the colour is now that of old pencil cedar. This door, apart from the fine quality of the carving, is exceptional in many details. It is of the type which can be much more easily copied badly than accurately. One detail in proportions can be referred to here. The modern six-panelled door has the smallest panel at the top, the next in size at the bottom and the middle panel is taller than the other two. In this door the lower and middle panels are the same in height. This could not have been conditioned by the position of a surbase moulding, as this could have been fixed at any height from the floor in reason. The idea is that the eye gives an effect of downward perspective, so that the lower door panel really appears to be less in height than the middle one. This detail is not unusual in eighteenth-century doors, in fact it may be said to be rather the rule than the exception, and yet in reproduction work it is the one which is rarely noticed, with the result that, in copies, one gets the effect of a modern Swedish machine-made door. Another point to be noticed on the page of sections is the extraordinary thickness of the door panels. The flat of the panel on its fielded side is nearly level with the face of the door frame. The architrave, also, has an abnormal projection for the size of the door and the room, and this is still further accentuated by the bevelling of the architrave return. It is in two sections, the mouldings of the front half being worked on the solid instead of the facing of the front ogee, as one usually finds in mouldings of this size. The sections of this door and its architrave are shown in Fig. 384. The skirting and panel-moulding of the window reveals in the same room are carved in the same fine manner. The detail of the door carving can be seen, to a larger scale, in Fig. 383. The date of this work is about 1730-40.
Victoria and Albert Museum.
To this period belongs the fine china alcove or niche which was made to displav the decorative porcelains of the middle eighteenth century, illustrated here in Fig. 385. This comes from the South-west of England, but there is no longer the local distinctions of type which existed, formerly. The paint has been removed from this alcove cupboard, and the fine red deal has now the colour of faded pencil cedar or pear tree, the result of the action of lead and oil in the paint, and the exclusion of light for many years. The shell above is finely carved, in high-relief scrolling with the arms of Hicks on the cartouche, originally all painted in polychrome and gold, with very rich effect. The ends of the shelves finish with carved spandrels in similar fashion to the returns of treads in the staircases of the same date (see Fig. 254). Simple in general effect, yet with a quiet charm in proportion, detail, colour and play of light and shade, with this china niche the progression of English woodwork must be concluded, as far as the scope of this book is concerned, leaving the subsequent development of panellings and interior joinery to be traced further, during the remainder of the eighteenth century, in a later work.