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

Conclusion,   pp. 196-198


Page 197

                         Conclusion
                                                              '97
old methods are better than the new.     It seems, however, that
the distinction between the various offices of art is no longer
clearly recognized.  The merit of house-decoration is now seldom
measured by the standard of practical fitness; and those who
would set up such a standard are suspected of proclaiming indi-
vidual preferences under the guise of general principles.
  In this book, an endeavor has been made to draw no conclu-
sion unwarranted by the premises; but whatever may be thought
of the soundness of some of the deductions, they must be re-
garded, not as a criticism of individual work, but simply of certain
tendencies in modern architecture.   It must be remembered, too,
that the book is merely a sketch, intended to indicate the lines
along which further study may profitably advance.
  It may seem inconsequent that an elementary work should in-
clude much apparently unimportant detail.        To pass in a single
chapter from a discussion of abstract architectural laws to the
combination of colors in a bedroom carpet seems to show lack of
plan; yet the transition is logically justified.  In the composition
of a whole there is no negligible quantity: if the decoration of a
room is planned on certain definite principles, whatever contrib-
utes line or color becomes a factor in the composition.       The
relation of proportion to decoration is like that of anatomy to
sculpture : underneath are the everlasting laws.     It was the rec-
ognition of this principle that kept the work of the old architect-
decorators (for the two were one) free from the superfluous, free
from the intemperate accumulation that marks so many modern
rooms.  Where each detail had its determinate part, no superficial
accessories were needed to make up a whole: a great draughts-
man represents with a few strokes what lesser artists can express
only by a multiplicity of lines.


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