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

V: Windows,   pp. 64-73

Page 71

folds so arranged that they cannot be lowered or raised, are an
invention of the modern upholsterer.   Not only have these fixed
draperies done away with the true purpose of the curtain, but
they have made architects and decorators careless in their treat-
ment of openings.      The architrave and embrasure of a window
are now regarded as of no more importance in the decorative
treatment of a room than the inside of the chimney.
  The modern use of the lanibrequin as an ornamental finish to
window-curtains is another instance of misapplied decoration.
Its history is easy to trace.  The medi~val bed was always en-
closed in curtains hanging from a wooden framework, and the
lambrequin was used as a kind of cornice to conceal it.  When
the use of gathered window-shades became general in Italy, the
lambrequin was transferred from the bed to the window, in
order to hide the clumsy bunches of folds formed by these shades
when drawn up.        In old prints, lambrequins over windows are
almost always seen in connection with Italian shades, and this is
the only Logical way of using them ; though they are often of
service in concealing the defects of badly-shaped windows and
unarchitectural trim.
  Those who criticiz& the architects and decorators of the past are
sometimes disposed to think that they worked in a certain way
because they were too      ignorant to devise a better method
whereas they were usually controlled by practical and artistic
considerations which their critics are prone to disregard, n otonly
in judging the work of the past, but in the attempt to make good
its deficiencies.   Thus the cabinet-makers of the Renaissance did
not make straight-backed wooden chairs because they were in-
capable of imagining anything more comfortable, but because
the former were better adapted than cushioned arm-chairs to

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