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Wharton, Edith (1862-1937); Codman Jr., Ogden (1863-1951) / The decoration of houses

Conclusion,   pp. 196-198

Page 196

IN the preceding pages an attempt has been made to show that
   in the treatment of rooms we have passed from the golden
age of architecture to the gilded age of decoration.
  Any argument in support of a special claim necessitates certain
apparent injustices, sets up certain provisional limitations, and
can therefore be judged with fairness only by those who make
due allowance for these conditions.    In the discussion of ~s-
thetics such impartiality can seldom be expected.   Not unnatu.-
rally, people resent any attempt to dogmatize on matters so
generally thought to lie within the domain of individual judg-
ment.  Many hold that in questions of taste GefiThi ist allen
while those who believe that beyond the oscillations of fashion
certain fixed laws may be discerned have as yet agreed upon
no formula defining their belief.  In short, our civilization has
not yet developed any artistic    creed so generally recognized
that it may be invoked on both sides of an argument without
risk of misunderstanding.
  This is true at least of those forms of art that minister only to
the ~sthetic sense.    With architecture and its allied branches the
case is different.   Here beauty depends on fitness, and the prac-
tical requirements of life are the ultimate test of fitness.
  If, therefore, it can be proved that the old practice was based
upon a clearer perception of these requirements than is shown by
modern decorators, it may be claimed not unreasonably that the

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