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

XVI: bric-á-brac,   pp. 184-195

Page 188

          The Decoration of Houses
still apt to buy too many things, or things out of proportion with
the rooms for which they are intended.                 The scoffers at style-
those who assume that to conform to any known laws of decora-
tion is to sink one's individuality-often justify their view by the
assertion that it is ridiculous to be tied down, in the choice of
bibelots, to any given period or manner-as though Mazarin's
great collection had comprised only seventeenth-century works of
art, or the Colonnas, the Gonzagas, and the Malatestas had drawn
all their treasures from contemporary sources!              As a matter of
fact, the great amateurs of the past were never fettered by such
absurd restrictions.  All famous patrons of art have encouraged
the talent of their day; but the passion for collecting antiquities is
at least as old as the Roman Empire, and Gr~co-Roman sculptors
had to make archaistic statues to please the popular fancy, just as
our artists paint pre-Raphaelite pictures to attract the disciples of
Ruskin and William Morris.           Since the Roman Empire, there has
probably been no period when a taste for the best of all ages did
not exist.'  Julius II, while Michel Angelo and Raphael worked
under his orders, was gathering antiques for the Belvedere cortile;
under Louis XlV, Greek marbles, Roman bronzes, cabinets of
Chinese lacquer and tables of Florentine mosaic were mingled
without thought of discord against Lebrun's tapestries or B~rain's
arabesques; and Marie-Antoinette's collection united Oriental por-
celains with goldsmiths~ work of the Italian Renaissance.
 Taste attaches but two conditions to the use of objects of art:
 1 "A little study would probably show that the Ptoleniaic era in Egypt
was a re-
naissance of the Theban age, in architecture as in other respects, while
the golden
period of Augustus in Rome was largely a Greek revival. Perhaps it would
even be
discovered that all ages of healthy human prosperity are more or less revivals,
have been marked by a retrospective tendency."  The Archite~ure of Ike
sance in Italy, by W. J. Anderson.  London, Batsford, 1896.

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