University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

Wharton, Edith (1862-1937); Codman Jr., Ogden (1863-1951) / The decoration of houses
(1898)

III: walls,   pp. 31-47


Page 32

32              The   Decoration  of  Houses
regarded in some measure the claims of symmetry and proportion
in planning the interior of the house, and the decorator who in-
sists upon those claims without being able to justify his demands
by any explanation comprehensible to the unprofessional?   It is
inevitable that the decorator, who comes last, should fare worse,
especially as he makes his appearance at a time when contractors'
bills are pouring in, and the proposition to move a mantelpiece
or change the dimensions of a door opens fresh vistas of expense
to the client's terrified imagination.
  Undoubtedly these difficulties have diminished in the last few
years.    Architects are turning anew to the lost tradition of sym-
metry and to a scientific study of the relation between voids and
masses,   and the decorator's task has become correspondingly
easier.   Still, there are many cases where his work is complicated
by some trifling obstacle, the removal of which the client opposes
only because he cannot in imagination foresee the improvement
which would follow.  If the client permits the change to be made,
he has no difficulty in appreciating the result: he cannot see it in
advance.
  A few words from Isaac Ware's admirable chapter on "The
Origin of Proportions in the Orders "1 may serve to show the im-
portance of proportion in all schemes of decoration, and the neces-
sity of conforming to certain rules that may at first appear both
arbitrary and incomprehensible.
  "An architect of genius," Ware writes (alluding to the latitude
which the ancients allowed themselves in using the orders), "will
think himself happy, in designing a building that is to be enriched
with the Doric order, that he has all the latitude between two and
a half and seventeen for the projecture of its capital; that he can
           1 ~A Complete Body of~Arcbitet~ure, Book II, chap. Hi.


Go up to Top of Page