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

XVI: bric-á-brac,   pp. 184-195


Page 188

;88
          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,
and
have been marked by a retrospective tendency."  The Archite~ure of Ike
Renais-
sance in Italy, by W. J. Anderson.  London, Batsford, 1896.


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