History of Wall Panelling in Interior Design Periods


Early Georgian Interiors c. 1714 - 1760

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Unfortunately for posterity a considerable amount of the fine carved ornament -which had been so much appreciated in the late Stuart interiors design-was stripped away from the walls it had graced in the wave of enthusiasm provoked by the revivalists of Inigo Jones. The Palladian ideals would not countenance ornaments other than those which had originally been suitable to the classic formality of ancient Greece and Rome. (Even if such ornament were only paint or paper). We therefore fined the nude and draped figure and the instruments and impedimenta of a civilization of two thousand years earlier applied as decoration to the homes and gardens of the eighteenth century.


This fashion for the pure classic, however, soon had its rival exponents ex­perimenting with the `rococo' styles, obviously more suited to the more intimate rooms where minute floral detail and leafy curls and scrolls could be enjoyed in­dividually without detracting from the general magnificence of a largeroom or hall.


The skill with which these complicated designs, with but little cohesion, were carried out is considerable. Even examples in the remoter parts of the country leave one incredulous that there were so many skilled craftsmen ready and competent to copy a new formula of such profusion of detail within such a very short period of time from its original introduction. Not only woodwork but plasterwork and furniture and porcelain were all arranged to fit this type of rococo room.

 

It was into this atmosphere of country craftsmanship combined with classical formula and oriental splendour that Chippendale made his way, happily combin­ing the three apparently violently opposed ideals into a whole that was at once delicately beautiful, original, and eminently suitable to our needs and climate.


Some of Chippendale's earlier works show the faults of a too hasty enthusiasm for the oriental as opposed to the capacity of the craftsman and materials to hand, but it is much a matter of personal like and dislike as to the superiority of his Chinese Chippendale style over those carried out so happily in an English vernacular, or vice versa.
Rightly speaking the majority of the work he inspired was carried out after 1750 when carpenters and craftsmen all over the country were doing their best to copy his style and drawings as published in his Directory in 1754.

 

Cedar, pine, cherry, walnut and other fruit woods were now used extensively for this lighter type of furniture, and no room was considered furnished without its tripod tables, fine winged armchairs and footstools. Whilst the wealthy displayed their knowledge and interest in travel by importing various curiosities and objets d'art, the average English householder decorated his home with the true English type of furniture that can still be found in many of our country homes, its fine craftsmanship having survived the ordeals of 200 years wear.

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