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

VI: fireplaces,   pp. 74-88


Page 81

                         Fireplaces
form a more expressive background than the dead and unrespon-
sive surface of brick or stone.
  It was not uncommon in England to treat the mantel as an
order crowned by its entablature.  Where this was done, an in-
termediate space was left between mantel and over-mantel, an
arrangement which somewhat weakened the architectural effect.
A better plan was that of surmounting the entablature with an
attic, and making the over-mantel spring directly from the latter.
Fine examples of this are seen at Holkham, built by Brettingham
for the Earl of Leicester about the middle of the eighteenth
century.
  The English fireplace was modified at the end of the seven-
teenth century, when coal began to replace wood.  Chippendale
gives many designs for beautiful basket-grates, such as were set
in the large fireplaces originally intended for wood; for it was
not until later that chimneys with smaller openings were specially
constructed to receive the fixed grate and the hob-grate.
  It was in England that the architectural treatment of the over-
mantel was first abandoned.  The use of a mirror framed in a
panel over the fireplace had never become general in England,
and toward the end of the eighteenth century the mantel-piece
was frequently surmounted by a blank wall-space, on which a
picture or a small round mirror was hung high above the shelf
(see Plate XLVII).   Examples are seen in Moreland's pictures,
and in prints of simple eighteenth-century English interiors; but
this treatment is seldom found in rooms of any architectural
pretensions.
  The early American fireplace was merely a cheap provincial
copy of English models of the same period.  The application of
the word "Colonial" to pre-Revolutionary architecture and deco-


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