History of Wall Panelling in Interior Design Periods


Early Georgian Interiors c. 1714 - 1760

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Such rooms were often designed to form `frames' for pictures or mirrors or even small delicate designs on ricepaper or Chinese silk. They were nearly always painted, white and a duck egg green being favourite backgrounds. Now that their original features no longer exist many of these rooms present a curious appearance. In the illustrated example-a delightful little bedroom at Bettiscombe Manor-the size and shape of wall panelling panels on the fireside wall are all different. Those on the door (leading to the fitted powder closet are moulded with some seven or eight ridges and a raised panel set inside, the long slit panels beside the door have only a single moulding and do not match. The powder closets in every bedroom are all fitted with their original drawers and cupboards, a tiny set of eight drawers with drop handles for such contempo­rary necessities as powder, patches, pins, pomatum etc.


We are told that on the site of Westwell in Oxfordshire the remains of a Roman villa were discovered some time during the early years of the Eighteenth Century, and amongst these relics of the past several carved Ionic capitals made their appearance. The immediate architectural value of such treasure inspired the owner to take advantage of the classic revival and construct one room that included these capitals as the chief feature of decoration. This room has wall panelling in pine, which was probably originally painted. The alcove with its two bowed shelves would undoubtedly have been an original feature and the narrow carved design on the cornice is the only ornament which, though in keeping, does not compete with the fine sculptured capitols to the supporting columns. The rather delicately recessed oak panelling panels would indicate that the date was somewhere about 1740 when wall panelling was no longer the main feature of a room and merely served as a simple background for pictures, prints or China-ware. The fashion for panell­ing was, at this time, quite definitely on the decline for wall-papers and cotton­prints were nearly always to be found covering walls above the low wainscot.


Other interesting features of Westwell introduced at approximately the same date include a marble fireplace with its original hand-bevilled mirror and a very beautiful staircase.


The staircase follows the typical lines of the time and introduces such classic details as dentils, scrolls and a fine Roman Doric column on the bottom stair.

There is abundant evidence that the little house of the eighteenth century could be as well and graciously equipped as the more palatial ones. In fact we find that Pope, at least, was not in-favour of the slavish copyists of Palladio , . .


`… Yet shall, my Lord, your just four noble rules
Fill half the land with imitating fools;
Who random drawings from your sheets shall take,
And of one beauty many blunders make; …’

 

Marble Fireplace with Mirror

Marble Fireplace with Mirror

WESTWELL

c.1740

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