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Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937; Codman, Ogden / The decoration of houses

VI: Fireplaces,   pp. 74-88

Page 75

spirit of the treatment and on the proper relation of the different
members used.  Pajou's monument to Madame du Barry's canary-
bird is far more architectural than the Albert Memorial.
  When, in the middle ages, the hearth in the centre of the room
was replaced by the wall-chimney, the fireplace was invariably
constructed with a projecting hood of brick or stone, generally
semicircular in shape, designed to carry off the smoke which in
earlier times had escaped through a hole in the roof.  The opening
of the fireplace, at first of moderate dimensions, was gradually en-
larged to an enormous size, from the erroneous idea that the larger
the fire the greater would be the warmth of the room.   By degrees
it was discovered that the effect of the volume of heat projected
into the room was counteracted by the strong draught and by the
mass of cold air admitted through the huge chimney; and to ob-
viate this difficulty iron doors were placed in the opening and kept
closed when the fire was not burning (see Plate XXI).     But this
was only a partial remedy, and in time it was found expedient to
reduce the size of both chimney and fireplace.
  In Italy the strong feeling for architectural lines and the invari-
able exercise of common sense in construction soon caused the
fireplace to be sunk into the wall, thus ridding the room of the
Gothic hood, while the wall-space above the opening received a
treatment of panelling, sometimes enclosed in pilasters, and usually
crowned by an entablature and pediment.      When the chimney
was not sunk in the wall, the latter was brought forward around
the opening, thus forming a flat chimney-breast to which the same
style of decoration could be applied.  This projection was seldom
permitted in Italy, where the thickness of the waIls made it easy
to sink the fireplace, while an unerring feeling for form rejected
the advancing chimney-breast as a needless break in the wall-sur-

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