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

VI: fireplaces,   pp. 74-88


Page 79

                      Fireplaces
                                     79
ment, while in Italy and EngLand the broken pediment is fre-
quently employed.       The use of a mirror over the fireplace is said
to have originated with Mansart; but according to Blondel it was
Robert de Cotte who brought about this innovation, thus produc-
ing an immediate change in the general scheme of composition.
The French were far too logical not to see the absurdity of placing
a mirror too high to be looked into; and the concave Louis XIV
member, which had raised the mantel-shelf six feet from the floor,
was removed 1 and the shelf placed directly over the entablature.
 Somewhat later the introduction of clocks and candelabra as
mantel ornaments made it necessary to widen the shelf, and this
further modified the general design; while the suites of small
rooms which had come into favor under the Regent led to a re-
duction in the size of mantel-pieces, and to the use of less massive
and perhaps less architectural ornament.
 In the eighteenth century, mantel-pieces in Italy and France
were almost always composed of a marble or stone architrave
surmounted by a shelf of the same material, while the Qver-
mantel consisted of a mirror, framed in mouldings varying in
design from the simplest style to the most ornate.   This over-
mantel, which was either of the exact width of the mantel-shelf
or some few inches narrower, ended under the cornice, and its
upper part was usually decorated in the same way as the over-
doors in the room.      If these contained paintings, a picture carry-
ing out the same scheme of decoration was often placed in the
upper part of the over-mantel; or the ornaments of carved wood
or stucco filling the panels over the doors were repeated in the
upper part of the mirror-frame.
 1 [~ is said to have been put at this height in order that the porcelain
vases should
be out of reach.  See Daviler, " Cours dArchitecture."


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