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STON EASTON c.1740
It is not certain at what date the house was `done up', it could easily have been about 1740. Here we can still see the imposing stucco decorations almost identical in design to those produced by Inigo Jones for his interior at Whitehall and published in Lord Burlington's books. However, at Ston Easton, a reasonably sized country house, the Georgian interiors design architect had to suit his designs to a much smaller setting and the very deep cornice in the salon with its great shells and scrolls picked out by a terra-cotta background is a weighty proposition for the size of the room.
The pedimented doorways and chimney-piece are in complete accord with the original principles, and a Grisaille painting over the fireplace carries out the illusion of classic sculpture.
Grisaille was the term applied to paintings which, in order that they might conform to the demands for classic ornament were carried out in imitation of statuary or relief sculpture. This effect was achieved by painting un oils on canvas in shades of grey, brown or other shadow tones with an appreciative eye to the natural lighting of the room they were to grace.
Mock niches and alcoves with stucco frames frequently contained Grisaille urns or `statuary'. Some of this type of work was so cleverly carried out that at first glance it can easily be mistaken for what it was intended to represent.
The same idea inspired the wallpaper designers of that time, for many of these wallpapers were hand-painted. Vast schemes based on classic ornament were carried out with amusing results in perspective. That which appears at first glance to be stucco architectural ornament, quite suddenly takes on the strangest of proportions. This is particularly noticeable on staircases where, of course, one is most likely to get sudden changes of vision.
Strips and wall panelling panels of such ornament were manufactured and supplied by the yard so that those unable to afford the costly plasterwork could quite reasonably carry out similar schemes which might at first glance be mistaken for the actual thing.
An enterprising gentleman by the name of Jackson advertised his ability to produce wallpapers during the 50's in the following manner:
...'Antique statues, landscapes after Salvator Rosa, Canaletto, copies of Painters, in short any bird that flies every figure that moves upon the surface of the earth from insect to Human and every Vegetable that springs n from the ground. Whatever is of Art or Nature may be introduced into the Georgian interiors design plan... Saloons in Imitation of Stucco may be done in this manner and staircases in any taste as shall be agreeable ... Thus the person who cannot purchase the statues themselves may have these prints in their places, and may as effectually show his taste and Admiration of the ancient Artists in this manner of fitting up and furnishing the Apartments as in the most expensive. 'Tis the choise and not the price which discovers the true taste of the possessor.'