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

V: windows,   pp. 64-73

Page 70

          The Decoration of Houses
was really a universal custom until the beginning of the present
century.   It is known, of course, that curtains were used in
former times   prints, pictures and inventories alike prove this
fact; but the care expended on the decorative treatment of win-
dows makes it plain that the curtain, like the porti~re, was regarded
as a necessary evil rather than as part of the general scheme of dec-
oration.  The meagreness and simplicity of the curtains in old
pictures prove that they were used merely as window shades or
sun-blinds.  The scant straight folds pushed back from the tall
windows of the Prince de Conti's salon, in Olivier's charming
picture of "Le Th~ ~ l'Anglaise chez le Prince de Conti," are as
obviously utilitarian as the strip of green woollen stuff hanging
against the leaded casement of the medi~val bed-chamber in Car-
     's "Dream of St. Ursula."
  Another way of hanging window-curtains in the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries was to place them inside the architrave,
so that they did not conceal it.  The architectural treatment of
the trim, and the practice prevalent at that period of carrying the
windows up to the cornice, made this a satisfactory way of ar-
ranging the curtain; but in the modern American house, where
the trim is usually bad, and where there is often a dreary waste
of wall-paper between the window and the ceiling, it is better
to hang the curtains close under the cornice.
  It was not until the eighteenth century that the window-cur-
tain was divided in the middle; and this change was intended
only to facilitate the drawing of the hangings, which, owing to
the increased size of the windows, were necessarily wider and
heavier.  The curtain continued to hang down in straight folds,
pulled back at will to permit the opening of the window, and
drawn at night.   Fixed window-draperies, with festoons and

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