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

Introduction,   pp. xix-xxii

Page xxi

                     Introduction                           xxi
on isolated branches of this subject, there is no modern French
work corresponding with such comprehensive manuals as d'Avi-
ler's Cours d'Architeflure or Isaac Ware's Complete Body of
  The attempt to remedy this deficiency in some slight degree
has made it necessary to dwell at length upon the strictly archi-
tectural principles which controlled the work of the old decorators.
The effects that they aimed at having been based mainly on the
due adjustment of parts, it has been impossible to explain their
methods without assuming their standpoint - that of architectural
proportion - in contradistinction to the modern view of house-
decoration as superficial application of ornament.  When house-
decoration was a part of architecture all its values were founded
on structural modifications; consequently it may seem that ideas
to be derived from a study of such methods suggest changes too
radical for those who are not building, but are merely decorating.
Such changes, in fact, lie rather in the direction of alteration than
of adornment; but it must be remembered that the results attained
will be of greater decorative value than were an equal expenditure
devoted to surface-ornament.   Moreover, the great decorators, if
scrupulous in the observance of architectural principles, were ever
governed, in the use of ornamental detail, by the      po~vm the
"wise moderation," of the Greeks; and the rooms of the past
were both simpler in treatment and freer from mere embellish-
ments than those of to-day.
  Besides, if it be granted for the sake of argument that a reform
in house-decoration, if not necessary, is at least desirable, it must
be admitted that such reform can originate only with those whose
means permit of any experiments which their taste may suggest.
When the rich man demands good architecture his neighbors will

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