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More About Panelling

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

WOOD panelling was employed from an early period, and was a form of wall covering essentially suited to the English climate, giving an atmosphere of warmth and homeliness. It was used in practically all Jacobean rooms of any importance. The panels, although wider than had been customary at an earlier date, were still comparatively narrow, and were usually arranged in regular formation, as in the example in Fig. 35. The stretches of panelling were broken up at intervals by pilasters of various curious versions of the classic orders. At B, Fig. 44, is a section of panelling which is typical of the more elaborate Jacobean work which was being produced when Inigo Jones commenced his architectural career. The motifs employed are clearly traceable to the Renaissance, but the peculiar proportions and the strange adaptations of the Ionic pilasters show the lack of know-ledge of the true classic principles.

Inigo Jones did not favour wood panelling, and it was painted in the few instances where he used it. The room at Wilton (Fig. 54) is typical of his wall treatment. White plasterwork, with applied ornamentation of composition, usually gilded, was his common method. In his large and more purely architectural rooms, as the hall at Raynham (Fig. 52), he used a series of classic pilasters with the full entablature, and with large panels between the pilasters.

His pupil, Webb, never having been to Italy, retained in his work more of what was traditionally English. He made considerable use of panelling, which was usually left in its natural state. The dining-room at Thorpe Hall (Fig. 56) is a good example. The scheme of panelling, however; was very different from the Jacobean type. The panels were made much larger, and a favourite feature was the introduction of headings to the important panels, as in A, Fig. 91. One of them is shown enlarged at B. This should be compared with the panel heading shown at B, Fig. 57, which is also by Webb.

The panels often became even wider during the Wren period, although the general scheme tended to become simpler. C, Fig. 91, is an example of Wren's design. The two carved cornice mouldings are shown at D and E. The saloon at Belton (Fig. 6o) shows the tremendous size of the panels often introduced in the schemes. A more architectural character is given to the rooms at Badminton (Fig. 62) and Dyrham (Fig. 64). In both, the large panels are retained, the former having framed portraits forming an integral part of the scheme.

With the reversion to the Italian style in the 18th century, panelling once again fell into disfavour, and in almost all cases where it was used it was painted, as in the room shown in Fig. 76. Another feature tending to the elimination of panelling was the increased use of wallpaper in the second half of the century.

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