Interior Decoration in France During the 18th Century
( Originally Published 1919 )
INTRODUCTION.—The story of interior decoration in France during the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth is not only dramatically fascinating from the merely human point of view, and intensely suggestive of innumerable precedents susceptible of modern application with the most felicitious results, but it is also thoroughly illuminating to the student of how and why things were done and of the methods; of composition and design manipulation. The French were then, as they always had been, such consummate masters in the art of assimilating divers elements and of evolving therefrom, with rare selective insight, new combinations and striking forms of expression that a careful survey of their processes well repays investigation. In-deed, it is indispensable as a part of preparation for dealing successfully with modern requirements in the decorative field.
It will suit our purpose best and conduce to a truer and more coherent estimate of the character of the period if we begin our discussion with the accession of Louis XV in the year 1715. The earlier years of the century really belong to the preceding period, although the influences that blossomed forth in full force upon the demise of the Grand Monarque, and the letting down of the restrictions and conventions that had been rigorously upheld during his lifetime, had been at work for a number of years prior to that event. The year 1715, so far as any one specific date can signalise a line of demarcation between two styles, which are nearly always necessarily of gradual growth and are wont to overlap each other in their course of progress, marked the final breaking away from the old spirit of ponderosity and oppressive formalism which had been rigidly maintained, in theory at least, with a sense of almost religious obligation, so long as the "Roi Soleil" sate upon the throne. Once the restraining force was re-moved, reaction set in as swiftly as a bow flies, back when the arrow is shot.
One phase of the revulsion materially affected the very character of the houses and influenced not only such building activities as were newly undertaken but set in motion a significant train of alterations and readjustments in the palaces, chateaux and houses that al-ready existed. The people were determined to be rid of the palatial atmosphere of the old regime that had grievously weighed upon their spirits and irritated their nerves. "The chilly splendours of the vast and imposing halls, which had persisted in the last century, might be an admirable setting for state pageants, but they no longer answered the wants of society, whose chief requirement was a congenial milieu for intimate gatherings, combining cosiness, daintiness, and gaiety. The age of the withdrawing-room and boudoir had arrived." Outwardly, indeed, the architectural character of the newer domestic edifices exhibited little if any noticeable departure from former precedent. "Many of the chief monuments erected at this period might, except for relatively unimportant details, be-long equally well to the periods which preceded or followed; the majority of its buildings betray their Louis Quinze character externally, if at all, only by the few features which were carved or otherwise enriched."
It was inside that the notable changes took place. People preferred smaller houses, it is true, and built smaller houses, and, in the country, the petit es Raisons, where they could quickly escape from all tedious formalities, were often more regularly occupied than the chateaux to which they belonged, but the people like-wise fell to breaking up large apartments into suites of smaller ones—the precedent for this had been set at Versailles—and prepared themselves an environment in which to live rather than a setting in which to be on parade. And it is with the interiors of such houses and apartments, "devoted to pleasure and social life," that we are here concerned, with their decorations and furnishings to which, under their various guises, we apply the generic term, "Style Louis Quinze."
In a broad, general way, when speaking of the great decorative styles, the term Rococo is usually regarded as synonymous with the Style Louis Quinze. And for purposes of convenience and the sense of identity that has sprung up, we may let it go at that. In doing so, however, we must make this reservation for the sake of historical accuracy. The early years of the Regency, while the Duke of Orleans held the reins of government, saw the development ,of a style commonly termed Regency, which marked the transition between the "Style Louis Quatorze" and the later full-fledged Rococo. We must also add, and insist that the facts be kept clearly in mind, that the Rococo style, in the larger signification of the term, had really struck root in the latter years of the reign of Louis XIV and that it had run its full course long before the close of the Fifteenth Louis's reign. Furthermore, we must call attention to the fact that the neo-Classic style, with which we are wont to associate the name of Louis Seize when speaking of French decoration, had already been well developed and established for years in popular favour when the last-named Louis ascended the throne.
Rococo, using the term in its more comprehensive sense, was of two kinds, good and bad. It may be likened to the proverbial little girl with the curl. When it was good, it was very, very good, instinct with grace and delicacy and full of a most refreshing, blithesome naivete of conception and a remarkable finesse of execution. Altogether, it was a decidedly agreeable and optimistic style to live with and radiated a kind of decorative sunshine. Quite on the other side of the picture, when it was bad, it was excessively horrid. Nothing, in fact, could have been worse, more offensively vulgar, more nauseatingly saccharine, more distorted, more extravagant. Adjectives, indeed, completely fail adequately to describe the thoroughly odious and inconsequently vicious character of the strumpet phase of Rococo decoration.
That Rococo should have run to irresponsible extravagance was, perhaps, not unnatural when we remember the rigid "centralised systematisation" of "life, thought," and of every kind of decorative expression that had previously confined all efforts within strait and prescribed limits. The change was not merely a rebound; it was an out and out rebellion, and that any of its fruits should have been tempered with common sense and artistic judgment is cause for won-der rather than otherwise. That it was so is a tribute and testimony to the innate mental balance and logical attitude of the French people.
There was the utmost diversity of expression in this newly dawned era which may be regarded as a period of free-thinking and anarchy in decorative art, despite the many really fine things it produced. Some one has characterised it as a "hot-house period"; whether this be quite justifiable or not, it was certainly exotic. It was an era of flux and changing ideals. The quest for novelty was the one constant element that seemed dominant. Everything was grist that came to the Rococoist's mill. The subjects that might be used with high approval as inspirations for decorative treatment were drawn indiscriminately from the "country, animal life, the customs of foreign lands," Oriental art and every other conceivable source. There was the utmost freedom in the use of all manner of naturalism. "The subject, indeed, was indifferent, provided it was novel in itself, and that its artistic presentment had esprit and invested it with le bel air. . . . All known roles of architecture might be set aside with impunity, if the result had but style, piquancy and perfect technique."
When the course of decorative license had run to its utmost limits, it was to be expected that a revulsion of feeling should ensue. And this reaction came in the form of the neo-Classic style. While the decorative forces let loose in the early part of the reign, of Louis Fifteenth had "undoubtedly pushed defiance of Classical traditions further than any other period since the Renaissance," they ultimately "reached a climax beyond which no further advance in the same direction was possible," and a "fresh return to the sources" became not only necessary but inevitable. The impartial student of the work of the Rococo age "cannot but recognise that it has never been surpassed for finish, both of design and execution, for sparkling elegance and coquettish playfulness—in a word, for complete adaptation to the life of the age which, with all its faults, had many delightful qualities"; but the impartial student will likewise recognise that it had not in it the element of permanence. While it was often most agreeable it was, nevertheless, essentially ephemeral. It was also essentially restless. And the time had come when there was a common craving for something more restful in decorative expression.
By fortunate coincidence, there had gradually grown up a widespread disposition toward archaeological research. Perhaps it may have been partly due to the skeptical spirit of the age which was unwilling to accept without question the standards and conceptions that had been handed on to it by preceding ages. At any rate, the fact remained that antiquarian studies and appreciation, hitherto unparallelled except in the beginning of the Renaissance period, if indeed then, exerted a most compelling influence upon the popular mind. The ruins of the palace of Diocletian at Spalato had been not only explored and sketched but accurately measured and drawn to scale by the Brothers Adam and the results of their labours were in due course published in several volumes. The ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii had been excavated and most thoroughly studied and the publication of the results of this work exercised an enormous influence. Similar undertakings, dependent upon a freshly awakened ardour for antiquarian research, were also pushed forward elsewhere in Italy, in Greece and in other portions of what had once been the Roman Empire.
The outcome of all this activity was that there soon followed a consciousness, growing into an overwhelming and general conviction, that the models of ancient architecture and ancient decoration, and the principles deduced therefrom, once acclaimed as standards by the fathers of the Renaissance and their successors, did not by any means represent all the architectural and decorative wealth of Classic antiquity nor even, necessarily, what was best. The full realisation of this larger horizon with its larger liberty of interpretation, along with such rationalistic attacks upon the affectations of Palladianism as that put forth by the Abbe Langier, spelled the doom of Vitruvianism, which quite collapsed. Architects and decorators disregarded the earlier norms that were thus proved to be artificial and arbitrary, and not infallible as they had once been sup-posed, and went back direct to fresh springs for inspiration.
This new influence was felt not only in France but also in England and all throughout the Continent. In France it assumed a concrete form that we know as the "Style Louis Seize." It was architecturally and decoratively consistent and there was no longer any tolerance shown for that earlier compromise between Palladianism and Rococo, strict architecture and free decoration, an anomalous pairing off that was very like condoning a Saturday night drunk on condition that the Sabbatarian inebriate would remain sober the rest of the time. Along with the renewed ascendancy of straight lines in architecture and decoration, characteristic of the Style Louis Seize, and along with a certain degree of Classic severity, we can see also the addition of many elements of local grace, tempering blithesomeness and restrained naturalism, the latter due in great measure to the influence of Rousseau, which taken all together gave the style its peculiar individuality.
It was the elimination of many of these added graces and amenities and the pushing of certain influences to a logical and somewhat puristic conclusion that resulted in the Directoire Style. The urbanity and mellowness of the old regime were now taboo and a kind of archeological mania seemed to have possessed men's minds and impelled them to find their highest satisfaction in discerning parallels between their own ideals and practice and the precedents afforded by a certain period of Roman public and domestic life. To such an extent did they carry the infatuation that, not content with reproducing as nearly as circumstances would permit the architectural and decorative back-ground of their chosen prototypal Roman period, they even tried to emulate Roman peculiarities of costume and domestic usage and, arrayed in tunics and togas, would sit or recline to eat a meal from a tripod table, doubtless with more archaeological than bodily satisfaction.
While the Directoire Style was professedly a revolt and a departure from the Style Louis Seize, it was in reality a development from it or, at any rate, a development from the same parent stock, pushed to extremes and a little attenuated and formalised in, the process. In its best manifestation, the Directoire Style was pure and graceful, but the very rigidity of archaeological interpretation to which its sponsors seem to have been unalterably committed, would soon have proved its undoing had it not, ere long, been completely sup-planted by the Empire Style. Contemplating the two together it seems hard to understand how two modes, drawn as were both Directoire and Empire, from much the same well-spring of inspiration could have turned out so different in their final developments.
The determination to make a clean break with all traditional backgrounds, so far as French history was concerned, and to give the people a new system. of art and architecture as well as a brand-new political organisation resulted in Napoleonic fiat authorising Percier and Fontaine to devise an entirely unprecedented system of decoration which they based, indeed, upon Classic models, but upon that aspect of Classic models most calculated to appeal to aggressive militaristic ideals. Military trophies and symbols, and the emblems of imperial pomp, were freely and preponderantly introduced among the properties of their schemes of decoration along with the more graceful forms that had characterised Roman decorative art in the early imperial period. Their system, though often overloaded with ornament and excessively profuse, was, nevertheless, impressively rich and sometimes displayed considerable grace and charm despite its obvious opulence. In the earlier stages of the Empire Style there were frequently manifestations worthy of sincere commendation. That was, however, before the style be-came heavy, debased, vulgarised and bombastic to suit the tastes of a body of rich parvenus who had taken the place of the old noblesse. This phase of the style merits only condemnation.
In architecture what is known as the. Greek Revival parallelled the Empire Style in decoration. Its interpretation was usually stolid, pompous and heavy, but its saving grace was that it was generally simple and fortunately took its direction mainly from an archaeological bias of inspiration.
Architectural Background and Methods of Fixed Decoration.—In the preparation of the fixed architectural or interior decorative backgrounds of the Louis Quinze or Rococo style of decoration, using the latter term in the sense previously explained, we find certain general characteristics common to all the phases that come under that comprehensive heading, whether or not we choose to attach to those phases the names Regence, Watteau, Boucher or Rocaille. These charaeteristics, which betokened an amazing fluidity of conception and manipulation in all the aforesaid varieties, were the studied avoidance of everything formal or ponderous; the neglect, or rather the deliberate defiance, of all strict Classical canons or rules ; the elimination of deep shadows (Plates 37 and 39 A), the disuse of straight, especially of horizontally straight, lines and of right angles, and a consuming "delight in ca-prices and surprises, playful forms and piquant combinations." Everywhere was studied irregularity and complication of motifs and the whole system of decoration may be said to have been reduced to a fluid state and, occasionally, to a frenzy of anarchistic riot. After the rigidity of the Louis Quatorze period, everything was undergoing a process of mollification.
The architectural foundation upon which the Louis Quinze episodes of decoration were grafted was essentially symmetrical in its genius and so it remained. Even during the period of utmost license in decorative practice, the French mind had too sincere a perception of fundamental values and too profound a respect for constructive sanity to make any radical departures from the structural principles and usages of the pre-ceding age. Rooms, therefore, still retained their symmetry of form and were well proportioned in respect of their usually symmetrical disposition of doors, windows and other distinctly architectural features.
There was a tendency to accentuate the size of windows, and the window openings, in a great many cases extending all the way to the floor, had square- or arc-shaped heads or else terminated in either round-headed arches or arches very much flattened at the top. It was a common thing for the upper part of the windows to contain some heavy wooden tracery with curved flowing lines or else to be separated from the larger and lower part by an horizontal mullion or transome, and the small casements of the upper portion opened independently of the long casements under them. Door heads, like the tops of windows, were square, arc-shaped, round-arched, or flat-arched.
In some cases, by the manipulation of the interior trim, there was a tendency to bound even door and window openings, especially at their heads, not by lines of geometrical regularity that would indicate their limits as structural features, but by a succession of curves, retaining only the chief vertical lines. Such exaggerations of treatment, however, exaggerations that justified the accusation that the Rococo style was naught but a series of "tormented and broken lines," were to be found rather in extreme cases and were not the rule, as the limits of structural features were ordinarily clearly defined in a reasonable manner. The contours of mouldings and other members of door and window trims, in accordance with the prevailing practice, although frequently ornate and complicated in line, were almost invariably flattened (Plates 41 and 47 A) so that the openings did not assume the aspect of dominant features, as they often had done in pre-ceding periods.
The treatment of walls in the Louis Quinze style was a matter of paramount concern. The Classic orders, which had hitherto played so conspicuous a part in the make-up of the architectural background, were now adjudged quite too formal as a dominant element in decoration and were either left out altogether or else so radically disguised by fantastic treatment that they could scarcely be recognised at all. In the wall scheme for important rooms, pilasters and rectangular architraves yielded place to elaborate framing and bordering of panels.
Panelling, indeed, was the chief resource by which the momentous tem of wall treatment was compassed. Wood was the favourite and most universally satisfactory medium for this purpose and was used both in its natural state and likewise painted or painted and parcel gilt. When the natural wood was employed (Plate 37), it was frequently oak or light-coloured walnut, and its users had the sanity to let it alone and not smear it over with any artificial darkening mixture. Other natural woods than the two just mentioned also occurred.
When paint and gilt played a part in the scheme of decorative foundation, one favourite combination was white and gold, the flat surfaces being painted white and the mouldings and other carved projections gilt. White and gold, however, were by no means preponderantly in vogue. Colours were freely used (Plates 38 B, 40, 41 and 42), either by themselves or in conjunction with gilding. As a rule the colour schemes, as judging from the social character of the times we might fancy they would be, were prevailingly light and gay—light green, citron, tender pink, green blues and blue greens, yellow or buff, light warm greys, fawns or putty tones and occasionally graining. Sometimes deeper tones were used, such as fairly dark blues or greens, sufficiently greyed, and the necessary lightening was supplied by a judicious addition of gilding.
Again, when wood was not used throughout for interior finish, the panels were often executed on canvas and then the canvasses were defined and held in place by wooden mouldings. Besides these media of execution, the panelling was sometimes wrought in plaster and then painted and gilt. In some cases, too, while the mouldings were of wood, the elaborate scroll, shell, leaf and other decorations were wrought in comp which, indeed, supplied a better base for gilding than wood, which had first to be gesso-coated before applying the gold leaf.
The panels were large and vertically oblong in their emphasis, extending all the way from a low dado to the cornice (Plates 40, 41, 42, and 44, Fig. 3). The width varied according to the exigencies of the room and the distribution of openings. Some of the panels were very narrow, others were fairly wide (Plates 40, 41 and 42). They were always spaced and balanced with a sense of symmetry despite the tendencies to irregularity elsewhere manifested.
These panels, notwithstanding all their "enrichment and complication," by force of sheer height acquired a value in vertical emphasis equal to that of the erstwhile conspicuous pilasters that had been sup-pressed. This process of flattening out or completely suppressing the major members of wall projections was consistently carried out in minor details. For one thing, the projections of all mouldings were substantially reduced (Plate 39 A and B), a marked departure from the practice of the Louis Quatorze style. Not only did the contours of all mouldings become appreciably flatter and slimmer, but all other projections likewise were radically modified; cornices (Plate 39 A and B) and pediments that had cast bold and vigorous shadows were replaced by "gentle coves (Plates 40, 41 and 42) and graceful volutes," sculpture in the round or trophies and emblems in high relief yielded precedence to paintings, while massive carven and moulded fruit and foliage swags and drops or similar features of imbricated laurel leaves were cast aside for "dainty wreaths of roses and fluttering ribbons." Everywhere the forces of flattening out and attenuation were simultaneously in operation with the dominant curvilinear force.
Attention has already been called to the general aversion from straight horizontal lines and the tendency to bound spaces "not by geometrical figures, but by a series of curves and to retain only their main vertical lines, while consoles and the pedestals were diversified by gentle swellings and taperings." In accordance with this all prevalent impetus, the bottoms (Plates 40, 41, 42, 43, Figs. 7 and 8; 44, Fig. 3, and 47) as well as the tops of panels were often curved and broken, while "angles and junctions of all sorts were managed by means of scrolls, flourishes and other softening devices." It was quite the common thing for the only horizontally straight lines in a room to. be the top of the dado below and the cornice at the top (Plates 40, 42 and 47), and sometimes the latter was encroached upon by flamboyant motifs (Plate 41) that climbed from the wall or sprawled over the ceiling. In the more exaggerated phases of the style, even the vertical bounding lines of the panels were not free from occasional curvilinear interference. Ordinarily, however, vertical boundaries of panels and of door and window openings were allowed to retain their customary emphasis modified only by curvilinear treatment at panel tops and bottoms or, perhaps, by small superposed interruptions in the forms of leafage or floral sprays or entwinements.
The curvilinear shaping at the tops and bottoms of panels, or above doors and windows, might be symmetrical (Plates 42, 43, Figs. 2, 4, 5 and 6; 44, Figs. 2 and 3, and 47),, in such cases usually centring in a shell (Plate 43, Figs. 1 and 4) or some similar motif. Again, and this was peculiarly characteristic of the Rocaille episode, it might be altogether asymmetrical, depending upon adroitly counterposed flexures, to convey to the eye a sustaining and satisfying ultimate sense of balance. Here, too, a centring was frequently made by a shell, a cartouche or a mascaron and the general treatment was apt to be somewhat flamboyant in the rapid action of its curves.
Before speaking specifically of the character of the decorative motifs customarily employed in Louis Quinze decoration, it seems advisable to say a word about the manner of distribution. In a period of such license and breaking away from all previous canons of restraint, it is not surprising that decorators should have given free rein to their fancy and indulged in the utmost exuberance. It often seemed as though a space left undecorated was abhorrent to them and that every space carried with it an obligation to lavish thereon some kind of ornament. If one may be permitted to paraphrase the advice of the bellicose old Irishman to his son who was about to set out for the Donnybrook Fair: "Mike, wherever you see a head, hit it!" one might say that the motto of the decorator of this epoch was, "Wherever you see a space, decorate it!" Not by any means all of the work of this period was thus decorated to excess. Some of the simpler things showed admirable restraint and reticence. The more elaborate creations, however, and especially during the Rocaille stage, often laboured under a redundancy of ornament.
One of the most characteristic motifs employed—we should not be far amiss in calling it the "trade-mark" of the Rocaille phase of Louis Quinze decoration, just as the scroll composed of interrupted curves had virtually been the trade-mark of Baroque decorative design—was the shell (Plate 38 A). It was often shaped very much indeed like a large oyster shell, more elongated than the usual Baroque cockle or escallop shell and much flared at the top with clearly defined flutings, scallops or frillings of surface and edges. Along with rockwork, it was one of the stock motifs of the Rocaille system and was worked for all its might and main, being constantly in evidence under a wide diversity of guises but always, recognisable. By cutting out all the body of the shell (Plate 43, Figs. 1 and 4) so that only the outer rim was left they derived a cartouche form which they sometimes employed for small mirror frames and for sconces as well as for the centres of decorative compositions.
Sinuous leaf and vegetable motifs (Plate 40), which lent themselves readily to expression in flamboyant curves, along with sundry scrolls and flourishes were likewise everywhere in evidence as were also ribbons, scrolled or tied in loose bows, wreaths and bunches, of roses and other flowers, divers naturalistic details and masques.
One important resource of decorative enrichment, of which the Louis Quinze decorators fully availed themselves, was the use of chequered, latticed and other geometrically diapered' groundwork (Plate 43, Figs. 4 and 8) to fill in. the spaces between the rectilinear lines of panel heads or sides and the multiplex curving forms of other bounding lines ; to fill in the distance between curving boundaries ; and, finally, as a base upon which to superpose free groupings of decorative motifs. This device was a direct reflection of Spanish influence, de-.
- rived by the Spaniards, in turn, from the Moors. The effect of this closely chequered or latticed diapering, with its seemingly endless succession of uniforrn repeats, was, as it always is, to produce a rich texture rather than to convey any conscious impression of pattern. Furthermore, it served as a medium to blend and pull together diverse forms into an united composition and helped to modify the sharpness of contrasts that, without some such tempering influence, might have seemed too incisive.
One evidence of the naturalistic tendency of the period in decoration is to be seen in the popularity of pastoral motifs (Plates 38 B and 42) of which Watteau, Fragonard, Lancret and other artists of scarcely less note were the chief exponents. Besides making use of the familiar shell, scroll and foliated accessories, they introduced into their panel paintings dainty, elegant dames and slim courtly beaux in gay attire, or masquerading as shepherds and shepherdesses, disporting themselves in the most fanciful pastoral scenes furnished forthwith hedges, trees, flowers, fountains, birds and animals and the additional accompaniments of grilles, lattices and trellised arbours. Panels of a different tone, but in the same vein of elaborate and refined execution, were painted by Francois Boucher and his school who decorated both boudoirs and salons with voluptuous and erotic scenes from Classic mythology.
All manner of Chinese motifs were combined into genial compositions for panels and other features, and from these graceful Chinoiseries it was but a step to the playful singeries or representations of apes and monkeys in human costume engaged in sundry pranks. Chinoiseries, singeries, bergeries and other pastoral scenes were commonly incorporated with and surrounded by freely rendered arabesques, many of which were even more open and slender in composition than were Berain's, and more modern and naturalistic in the subjects depicted.
To the foregoing stock of properties of the Louis Quinze decorator we must add the complement of palms, cartouches, ribbons, amorini, sprigs of "slim spidery foliage" of nondescript genus, along with a medley for ceiling adornment consisting of gods and goddesses, blue skies, birds, scattered flowers, butter-flies, and rosy clouds inhabited by chubby cherubs.
Mirrors were immensely popular as decorative factors (Plates 38 A, 39 A and B, 40, 41 and 47) and were freely used in panels and incorporated in doors, as well as occupying an important place over mantels. Indeed, they were used to such an extent that, between them and the painted panels, there was little chance for pictures most of which, as a matter of fact, were of distinctly decorative character and were customarily em-panelled as overdoor decorations or set into the heads of empanelled mirrors (Plates 38 A, 39 B, 41 and 42).
In not a few rooms, coved niches were provided at appropriate places for the display of sculpture or of carved urns, porcelain vases or other similar items of adornment.
As a natural accompaniment to the many mirrors there were numerous sconces (Plates 39 A and 40) elaborately wrought in chiselled ormulu, affixed to small mirrors of cartouche shape, or made of glass and crystal with pendants to catch and reflect the rays of the candles. Chandeliers also (Plates 39 B, 42 and 47), either in ormulu or made of glass and crystal, were objects of ingenious design and finished workmanship.
Fireplaces were low in dimension (Plates 39 A and B, 40 and 47) and sometimes wide, with low mantel-pieces of wood, marble or stone carved in motifs consistent with the rest of the curvilinear decoration. The low mantel shelf terminated the decorative construction of the fireplace; there were no structural "continued chimney-pieces." The front of the chimney jamb above the mantel shelf was graced by a mirror or by panelling and treated in a manner precisely similar to the rest of the walls.
Cornices were low in projection (Plate 39 A), but were frequently coved (Plates 39 B, 40, 41, 42 and 47) and sometimes of considerable width. It was not an uncommon practice to divide the cornice into oblong panels with groups of decoration centred in them thus, in a way, echoing the treatment of the walls. Then again, as previously noted, the cornice decoration occasionally climbed up and encroached upon the ceiling (Plates 39 B, 40 and 41). Ceilings were frescoed or else decorated with a certain amount of relief in plaster which could be coloured or gilt.
While marble-tiled floors might now and then be employed in galleries and a few large apartments, wooden floors were almost universally prevalent and were very commonly parquetted with varicoloured woods and divers patterns.
In contrast with the "Style Louis Quinze," the "Style Louis Seize" was marked architecturally by a "four-square sobriety" and decoratively by a return to classical purity of expression and more restraint in the quantity and distribution of ornament. Both architecture and decoration became perceptibly simpler and more reserved, though not severe. There was no diminution in refinement of design nor in rendering, but there was a readier disposition to acquiesce in the "guidance of antiquity." There was no longer an "architectural tendency pulling in one direction and a decorative tendency pulling in another." Architecture and decoration were again wholly consistent the one with the other and the Style Louis Seize, with reference to both architecture and decoration, was unquestionably a "more completely homogeneous style than any of those which had obtained since Henri II."
For the chief specific characteristics of the Style Louis Seize and items of contrast with the preceding style, we may point to the reassertion of the principles of symmetry and of rectilinear and rectangular treatment (Plates 44, Fig. 1, and 46) ; the general avoidance of curved forms with the occasional exception of simple circles and ellipses which, however, were always kept subservient to the rectangular environment; the carrying through of straight lines with the least possible interruption; the inclusion of such arched forms as were used within a rectangular panel or recess (Plates 48 B and 49) ; the use of undisguised and unrounded angles (Plate 46) except occasionally in the framing of panels whose corners were modified by square re-entering angles, the space thus formed being filled by a rosette (Plate 46) except occasionally in the framing of panels cornices, friezes, balustrades and lintels uninterrupted by cartouches, ornate keyblocks or sculpture.
Rooms were scrupulously symmetrical and well proportioned in their dimensions and in the balanced disposition of windows and doors. Windows commonly extended all the way to the floor and even those that did not had low cills. They were almost invariably of the casement type with wooden muntins, stiles and rails and were frequently divided vertically by a mullion and horizontally by a transome, the upper section, when such divisions were made, being smaller than the lower, and, of course, opening independently. Window and door heads were commonly rectangular (Plates 47 A and B and 48 A), or, when round-arched (Plate 48 B), straight lines and rectangular elements were so disposed as to maintain the rectilinear predominance.
Trims for doors and windows were of low projection and refined contour (Plates 47 B and 48). They were also of far more restrained design and of rectilinear emphasis. Wherever any curved features were retained in door heads (Plate 45, Fig. 1) or in overdoor treatment, they were always subordinated to the rectilinear note in composition as in all similar instances to which attention has already been called. Classic pilasters often framed door and window openings in the larger and more important rooms, while in smaller rooms, where it was desirable to keep the scale down and to flatten projections, the pilasters were not seldom replaced by thin strips (Plate 44, Fig. 1). All mouldings and projections were derived from Classic precedents and maintained the aspect of purity and severe restraint consistent with their source of inspiration.
Walls were both panelled (Plates 46, 47 B, 48 and 49) and plain of surface. Panelled walls were executed in wood, either in its natural finish or painted, the latter being the more usual. They were also executed in plaster with mouldings of plaster or compo or of wood applied to the plaster background. Small ornaments of more or less intricate character in themselves were sometimes moulded in carton pierre or in compo and then applied.
The plain walls might be covered with wall-paper or with fabrics strained over their surface. For this purpose brocades, silks, reps, poplins, printed linens, chintzes and other appropriate fabrics were employed. Wall-paper, up to the latter part of the century, was printed with hand-blocks upon sheets about three feet long by a little more than a foot wide. About 1790 it began to be made in rolls.
It was customary to divide the walls horizontally by a dado about two and three-quarters feet to. three feet high. This relieved what might otherwise sometimes have seemed too strong an emphasis of verticality, especially in the case of panelled walls where a number of the panels were tall and narrow. It likewise added an architectural note to the composition. Niches for sculpture, for urns and for large porcelain vases were now and then introduced into the walls of large rooms where such features of decoration were becoming.
Panels were large and vertically oblong and varied in width. One very common treatment was to alternate broad and narrow panels (Plate 47 B), and this alter-nation of panel widths, corresponding with the widths above, was often continued in the dado or immediately below the chair rail. The panels were regular in shape with straight sides, tops and bottoms, and all ornament was strictly confined within the limits imposed by the frames of moulding. Furthermore, the panels were either entirely rectangular or else relieved at the corners by square re-entrant angles, as previously mentioned, rosettes or some similar small device being introduced to fill out the vacancy thus created.
Colour was quite as important a factor in Louis Seize interiors as it had been in those of the preceding mode, although the schemes were somewhat differently managed. The prevailing colours were cool and generally receding in character and soft in tone. White and gold figured to some extent, but more characteristic of the spirit of the period were silver rose, pearly grey, tender blues and pale greens and putty colour. The colours just mentioned, of course, were chiefly employed for backgrounds and served as foils for the decorations subsequently painted thereon and the other items entering into the furnishing schemes.
During the preceding epoch mirrors had proved too valuable a decorative accessory to be dispensed with and they continued in high favour for the spaces over mantels and likewise for insertion in panels (Plates 46 and 48) at other appropriate positions in rooms, although, in this latter capacity, they were not, perhaps, utilised to such an extent as they had been during the Louis Quinze period. Decorative landscapes (Plates 46 and 47 B) and other decorative subjects on large canvasses were to a certain degree employed as panel embellishments, but the favourite devices for ornamentation were arabesques, classical subjects introduced in the form of medallions or tablets, groupings of trophies or attributes, enriched or decorative bands, and floral compositions in the shape of pendants, swags, garlands, interlaced wreathings and borders (Plates 47 B, 48 and 49). The disposition of all ornament was well-ordered and logical and the compositions were always confined within geometrically regular boundaries.
Decorative paintings that filled whole panels were chiefly of two sorts, landscapes and architectural subjects in the eighteenth century Italian manner, which were also largely employed at the same time in England under the Adam influence, or else paintings apotheosising rustic life, these latter inspired by the influence of Jean Jacques Rousseau. In some cases, whole panels, usually of small dimension, were filled with classic subjects executed in monochrome.
It was more customary, however, to use the classic figure motifs in the smaller form of medallions, plaques and tablets, wrought in the fashion of cameos, which made integral parts of arabesque compositions, or else executed as low reliefs on plaster walls. Arabesques were commonly of the Pompeiian type or patterned after those of the Vatican Loggie. They were quite as delicate in execution and as full of imagination as were those of the preceding period, but more re-strained and occasionally less vigorous, and they were decidedly lighter in scale than those of the Louis Treize or Louis Quatorze styles. The groupings of trophies or attributes included a diversity of subjects, but there seems to have been a special predilection for musical emblems, rustic motifs, such as wheat sheaves, bundles and baskets of vegetables or fruits (Plate 48 A), agricultural or horticulural hand implements, hay-makers' hats and beehives, or distinctly "sentimental emblems, such as burning torches, quivers, pierced hearts, and billing doves." The floral and foliated treatments occurred as pendants falling nearly the full length of a panel, as swags and garlands ; as pairs of light and long sprays of such small-leaved plants as myrtle or ivy or jasmine, "interlaced to form a series of vesica shapes, or else with a series of tassel-like knots of foliage or bell-flowers issuing one from the other"; or as loose bands of bordering. The flowers and blossoms themselves—roses, marigolds, daisies, anemones, forget-me-nots, bell flowers, and many more —were almost invariably small in size and dainty in execution.
Besides the motifs and classes of motifs just enumerated, ribbons played an important part in much of the painted and modelled decoration of the period and were closely associated with flowers and foliage. They were generally closely pleated throughout their length and, as well as appearing in bow knots and wreaths, were used in the foliage banding of panels or for spiral coilings or intertwinings round staves or mouldings. Swags and drops (Plate 45, Fig. 1) of imbricated leafage of bay, olive and myrtle appeared in carved, moulded and painted expression. Drapery festoons sometimes took the place of foliated and floral swags. Among the purely naturalistic items must also be mentioned birds, insects, and single knots of fruit, foliage and flowers. Diapers or chequerings were retained for occasional background enrichment. The honeysuckle pattern was much in evidence as were also urns and vases, successions of Vitruvian scrolls in the "wave" motif—"postes," as the French call them—many kinds of guilloche (Plate 45, Fig., 1) or meander, paterae, rosettes and sundry other small classic architectural motifs, besides the usual stock complement of tripods, sphinxes and lyres. In the depiction of human figures, classic apparel rather than modern was to be seen.
Sconces, which were extensively employed, were of brass, of carved and gilt wood, of compo painted and gilt, and of crystal. In design, rectilinear feeling was dominant and in their general purity of motif and restraint of treatment they fully conformed to the prevailing spirit of the style. The same observations apply to chandeliers anent which it is merely necessary to add that crystal was peculiarly in favour owing to brilliance and the manifold reflections.
Fireplaces remained low (Plates 46, 48 and 49) and there were no "continued chimney-pieces," the over-mantel space (Plate 45, Fig. 2) being customarily filled by a large mirror (Plates 46, 48 and 49). If the ceiling was very high, a decorative panel might be included in the space between the head of the mirror and the cornice. Mantel shelves were low and, in the design and structure of the whole mantel composition, right angles, straight lines and parallel sides took the place of the flowing curves that had previously been in vogue. The depth and breadth of the fireplace itself were somewhat decreased by placing decorative metal side and back plates within the wood or marble trim. Mantels were made of carved and painted wood, of carved stone, or of carved and sometimes inlaid marble. The frieze beneath the shelf was supported on scrolled consoles, or brackets or else upon termes or term-like columns.
Ceilings were much less frequently coved than formerly and were quite commonly flat, an occasional exception being made for flat elliptical vaulting. Unbroken cornices with strong horizontal accent mark (Plates 46, 47 B, 48 and 49) the boundary between walls and ceiling and are distinctly architectural in the character of their members. Not a few of the ceilings were quite plain, while others were enriched with formal plaster mouldings, bands of imbricated foliage and other devices that conformed with the generally classic architectural tone of composition. The mouldings and foliated bands often divided the ceiling into symmetrically panelled spaces. These plaster decorations, standing forth in relief, were frequently coloured and parcel gilt. In the more elaborate ceilings, the flat surfaces were not seldom frescoed or else embellished with classic motifs in low relief which were intensified with subdued colour. The frieze of the cornice might be filled with motifs of purely architectural derivation or else with swags, festoons, wreaths and other items of semi-architectural or of conventionalised naturalistic origin. These latter might be in moulded relief and coloured or gilt or they might be wholly painted on a flat surface.
Floors were usually of wood and it was customary to enhance the entire decorative ensemble of the room by introducing geometrical patterns parquetted (Plate 49) in several woods of different contrasting colours. Marble and marble-tiled floors were also occasionally used in the larger and more formal rooms.
The Directoire mode embodied an ideal altogether different from that which had actuated the architectural and decorative practice of the Louis Seize period.
In Louis Seize manifestations, French individuality and the fecund spirit of the time, although deriving the major part of their inspiration from, classic antiquity and incorporating pure classic forms into current composition, nevertheless added thereto an. abundant body of graceful and often playful amenities of detail of modern and local devising. Adaptations, likewise, were freely made, but always in a spirit consistent and harmonious with the underlying classic ideals. These additions and adaptations were responsible for the piquancy and blithesome vitality of the "Style Louis Seize."
The Directoire mode was a deliberate and intentional piece (Plate 50) of decorative archaeology. From the classic body it remorselessly sheared off all the accretions of blithesome grace and vivifying invention which the Louis Seize designers and craftsmen had imparted to their handiwork and confined itself to a rigidly literal reproduction of antique practice. It was Louis Seize stripped naked and reduced to the lowest terms. Nay more, whenever opportunity permitted, not satisfied with meticulous adherence to the spirit of a long dead and gone past, its interpreters strove with all their might and main to reproduce "particular monuments or as large portions of them as could by any possible means be made to accord with modern requirements." "Thus the letter took precedence over the spirit with the usual unsatisfactory results and, while the details and composition of antiquity were more accurately copied, they were used to less purpose." Such forms of ornament as were retained in the new system had the specific sanction of exact historic prototypes. The process of elimination and restraint produced a fashion in many respects altogether admirable.
The Directoire style at its best excels in chaste simplicity and grace and possesses a very distinct charm worthy of sincere emulation (Plate 51). The weak point about it all, and the feature open to unfavourable criticism, was the narrow conception of its originators and fautors, a conception that absolutely limited it within the straitest bounds, stifled imagination, arrested legitimate growth and forbade development, a conception, indeed, that effectually suppressed real creative instinct and deprived it of the vitality necessary to endurance and perpetuation, a conception, in short, that embalmed the style and insisted upon putting it on exhibition instead of using it.
It was well enough for the people of the time, if it pleased their fancy, to conceive that "the ancient republics enjoyed a regime of pure democracy and individual liberty, and that their citizens were models of all the austere and simple virtues"; it was well enough, too, for them to light their rooms with Pompeian candelabra, to place Etruscan vases on their chimney-pieces, and "to breakfast at tripods, seated on curule chairs," but to insist upon these domestic equipments and these only, to the exclusion of all else, was an attitude that did not conduce to wholesome growth and a logical interpretation of precedents to meet the living needs of the day. In other words, the ultra purist promoters and adherents of the Directoire style seem to have esteemed its real elegance and graceful beauty less than its symbolism of a social condition which, to them, it seemed to embody. They made it an empty simulacrum of their political aspirations. They shut their eyes to its real value and meaning as an expression of art and reduced it to the level of a fad. Under the circumstances, it is not to be wondered at that it was soon strangled and obliged to give way before the more robustly insistent Empire mode which was shortly to follow it.
It goes without saying that the rooms were entirely symmetrical in their dimensions and regular in the disposition of their openings when there was every-where such zeal for exact archaeology. Window and door trims were much simplified and were often bereft of their former architectural features. Indeed, the openings for doors frequently had no architraves, columns nor pilasters, and when columns or pilasters were used, they had no bases. There was a mere apology for capitals, and pillars very often carried only lintels and not entablatures. Windows were divided into fewer and larger panes and the panes were set in narrower muntins. In some cases windows had semicircular, instead of square heads, and also a few window openings were semicircular or lunette shaped. The panels of doors were shallower and the surrounding mouldings flatter. In shape the panels were horizontally rectangular and of fairly small size, or else of lozenge shape and large. The taste for lozenge-shaped panels. seems to have been akin to the fancy for intersecting diagonals wherever they could be introduced in balconies or lattices.
The time-honoured custom of panelling walls was in many cases represented by painting on a flat plaster ground (Plate 51), the decorating being done in the Pompeian style, long, narrow panels alternating with broader divisions. Again, panels or divisions approximating panels would be filled with strained fabric--the toile de Jolty linen with its classic motifs, elongated octagons, ovals, circles, cameo designs and lyres, all connected by a series of arabesques, or else a linen printed in some restrained and small-sized Chinese motif. An even more characteristic treatment was to apply paper in panel forms, using for this purpose the hand-blocked designs of classic subjects in large size, done in monochrome from cartoons prepared by David. These were exceedingly beautiful and dignified and within the past few years the present owners of the blocks have again begun to make impressions from them, which are not at all prohibitive in price. Then, again, plain walls were often covered with simple paper of small design or with landscape paper in monochrome or in subdued tones. When walls had a plain papered or painted surface it was not at all unusual to intro-duce a deep frieze below the cornice and to dispense, on the other hand, with the dado, there being nothing but a low washboard at the base of the walls.
Mantels of marble, stone or wood, were low and severe in line (Plate, 50) ; there was a straight lintel, and the shelf was supported on simple round columns, on elongated scroll brackets or upon caryatid figures (Plate 51). There was no set overmantel decoration, but a large mirror or painting usually occupied the space.
Ceilings were flat, separated from the wall by a re-strained cornice, and they usually carried some moulded geometrical or severely classical plaster decoration around the edges and, perhaps, in the centre; or else the ceilings were concaved to a flattened arc or formed into a barrel vault. These latter ceilings might be frescoed, or, when the arc was flat enough to make the treatment effective, they might be embellished with plasterwork squares, octagons, circles and hexagons enclosing classic figures, the whole scheme being wrought in very flat relief. Floors were of marble tiling or of wood, in the latter case frequently parquetted in geometrical devices.
The key to the genius of the fully developed Empire style is found in two factors, one political, the other social. The first was the emphasis intentionally laid upon every element that savoured of militaristic pomp and imperial display; the second was the ascendancy of a ruling class composed in the main of parvenus, who, " after their kind, liked pretentious display, and were not restrained, as the old aristocracy had been, by hereditary culture and a mode of life which amounted to a continual training in elegance and good taste," a condition that resulted in a " coarsening in tone of the work carried out for them."
The better examples of the Empire style were of two sorts, the elaborate kind that was executed with punctilious regard for a certain type of classic precedent and was both inspired by ideals of the utmost magnificence and supplied with means to realise the ideals with thorough elegance; and, on the other hand, the simpler sort of Empire work that exhibited a decorous reticence in the use of the current motif and materials. The less desirable examples, which unfortunately predominated numerically, were characterised by thorough-going ostentation and bombast.
Symmetry was one of the prime requirements and all openings were regularly disposed. Window and door openings were usually square-headed or round-arched. Trims were broad and of flat profile. Door-heads had straight, flat lintels, sometimes in the form of a very much simplified cornice supported on modillion brackets. Door and shutter panels were large, rectangular and flat, with flat moulding profiles.
Walls were almost invariably plain. The more elegant walls were covered with strained fabrics or frescoed; the simpler walls were painted or papered. The dado dropped out of fashion and the frieze became general.
Fireplaces were low and without fixed chimney-piece decoration, and the space between mantel shelf and ceiling was usually occupied by a mirror of corresponding breadth. A straight lintel, often without any decoration, topped the fireplace opening and the mantel shelf was supported by plain round columns or by caryatid figures.
The high ceilings were flat, the cornices were modest, and the moulded plaster ornament around the edges and in the centre was in geometrical or heavy classic motifs. Floors were of wood, plain or parquetted, and, in halls and some of the more sumptuous rooms, of marble tiles.
Furniture and Decorations.—Both wall and seating furniture, at the beginning of the reign of Louis XV, was more abundant and varied than had been the case during the preceding reign. It was a period of polished manners and luxurious habits, and once the restraint of Louis XIV formality was removed and the door opened to greater freedom of social habits, mobiliary art was, quick to reflect the change in the increased number of intimate, domestic and luxurious forms introduced.
Louis Quinze furniture faithfully mirrored the dominant traits of contemporary fixed decoration as noted earlier in this chapter. The curving line was supreme. Nearly all furniture dimensions were smaller and lighter in line, a change indicative of the abandonment of pompous, stately forms in favour of greater convenience and bodily comfort.
While all the usual types of bedsteads, cupboards, or armoires, tables and seating furniture were fully in use, there was an appreciable increase in the number of forms and refinements introduced in writing furniture and in console cabinets or commodes. These latter were used upon every conceivable occasion and in every conceivable place. Besides these, there were contrived numerous small stands, tables and cupboards to meet specialised demands.
While walnut was the staple, wood, all sorts of rare and highly coloured woods were freely employed for veneer, inlay and marqueterie. Much of the furniture, also, was painted, painted and parcel gilt, or lacquered. The colours used were generally light. When it was possible to introduce panels painted with arabesques, pastorals, singeries or Chinoiseries, it was done. To add to the mobiliary grace and elaboration, ormulu mounts were lavishly employed on cabinet-work.
With the neo-Classie period, returned the dominance of rectilinear emphasis in furniture. The cabriole leg made place for the straight fluted and tapered leg; the bombe-fronted console cabinet with its swelling, undulating contours, yielded to a successor whose right-angled restraint of line was in sharp contrast. The kinds of articles and the amount of furniture used did not appreciably change; the difference was wholly in contours and motifs of decoration. Light colours in painted, painted and parcel gilt, or lacquered furniture continued in favour, as did also the great variety of multicoloured woods for veneer, inlay and marqueterie. Likewise continued the fashion of numerous metal mounts for cabinet-work, the design, how-ever, being altered to suit the revived classical spirit.
Directoire movable furniture, like Directoire fixed decoration, was virtually a reduction of the corresponding Louis Seize elements to their lowest terms. The Empire style, while retaining a good deal of rectilinear severity, nevertheless, occasionally flourished out into flamboyant and grandiose contours, especially where seating furniture, bedsteads and, to some extent, tables, were concerned. During the Empire phase of the neo-Classic style, while painting and parcel-gilding of furniture continued to a limited degree, the favourite material was mahogany, which made an admirable foil for the elaborate filigree and embossed ornamental applique which enjoyed such vogue. Empire contours were almost invariably substantial and robust, and, at times, became even gross and clumsy.
Other Decorative Accessories and Movable Decorations.—During the dominance of the Rococo style, tapestries of the old pattern continued in use to some extent where large, formal rooms or galleries left a place for them. Other accessories, however, had usurped most of their function. Hangings at doors and windows were made of silks, taffetas, brocades, dam-asks, velvets and printed linens, light colours and dainty patterns being most in favour. Door and window heads were very commonly adorned with shaped valances or loopings, and the hangings were frequently draped back. Pictures for the walls of many of the rooms were not at a premium (v. paragraph on the use of mirrors). Porcelains, both Oriental and of Western fabrication, were in great demand, and, along with pieces of bronze or marble sculpture, were introduced with great frequency. Many of the Oriental porcelains, such, for instance, as some of the finer Chinese ginger jars, were carefully set with ornate ormolu mounts.
Chandeliers of crystal, brass, or of ormolu, depended from the centres of ceilings in the more elegant and important rooms. Sconces of chiselled ormolu, in graceful, flowing designs, were hung in symmetrical positions on the panelled walls. Candelabra were designed to accord with them.
During the period of neo-Classic influence, while the love for the old tapestries never quite died out, there was a perceptible turning toward the newer Aubusson tapestries of paler, lighter hue and more blithesome pattern for such wall surfaces as required a large hanging. Door and window hangings were of practically the same fabrics as noted for the Rococo period. Light colours and dainty patterns also remained in favour, with the addition of a well-defined vogue for stripes. At door and window heads there were both straight and shaped valances, and likewise looped draping or else shirred ray-like folds centring in a button, the two latter treatments being suitable for round-arched windows. Valance mouldings or boxes were likewise in use and added a distinct note to the composition. In accordance with the prevalent rectilinear emphasis, door and window hangings generally fell in straight folds.
Pictures regained the position from which they had been temporarily ousted during the most mirror-loving days of the Rococo period. The disposition of rooms was not less symmetrical or ordered nor was the extensive use of mirrors discontinued, but it became the fashion either to hang pictures within panels that ac-corded with their dimensions or to remove them from their frames and empanel them. Porcelains and other objects of vertu, whether Oriental or Occidental, found abundant appreciation and were freely employed. In addition to the taste for Oriental forms and European fashions of recent date in ceramics, there was keen interest in revived classic forms in pottery and porcelain. At the same time, with the reawakened classic sense, bronze and marble sculpture enjoyed increased favour. What was said of lighting appliances for the foregoing period applies with equal force for the neo Classic, the only significant difference being the substitution of Classic for the Rococo design.
Tapestries in the Empire period were distinctly out of place. They were tolerated where they had to be retained, but their presence was not sought as a factor in decorative schemes. Hangings of silk, satin, brocade or velvet were voluminous and impressive by their ample folds and by their shaped valances and cornice mouldings or by their intricate loopings: at window heads. Pictures had more leeway in decorative practice, as many of the wall surfaces were unbroken by panel boundaries. Porcelains and sculpture were popular in their imposing and heroic dimensions, and where they aided vigorous contrasts of strong colour. To chandeliers, sconces and candelabra, many of which were of exceedingly beautiful design and workman-ship, in glass, marble, crystal, brass, bronze and ormolu, must be added the lamps for mantel garniture, usually of bronze, with etched or cut-glass globes and pendent prisms. The fire iron and hearth accessories of the period also aided the ensemble with their polished brass fittings.
Materials and Colour.—The fabrics and other materials in use at the successive periods have already been more or less fully noted. To what has been said it is only necessary to add that during the Rococo and neo-Classic periods a great use was made of Aubusson tapestry for furniture covers and that in the Empire period a great deal of heavy brocade, brocatelle, damask, velvet and rep was used not only for hangings but also for wall coverings, likewise that haircloth, figured and plain, began to occupy an appreciable space in upholstery calculations. Throughout both the Louis Quinze and Louis Seize styles there was a marked preference for cheerful and light colourings, whether in woodwork, furniture or fabrics. At the same time, delicacy of pattern was a sine qua non. These characteristics were well exemplified in the Aubusson and Savonnerie rugs and carpets so much used at this date. During the Directoire episode, while the colouring occasionally became more vigorous in emulation of Pompeian precedent, the design was so restrained and shapely that there was no oppressive impression of heaviness. With the full blossoming of the Empire style, the whole colour preference changed. Strong and heavy reds, greens, purples, yellows and other vigorous hues in raw and often combative tones came into high favour and the patterns reflected the militaristic and imperial tone observable in all other decoration.
Arrangement—Throughout the Rococo and neo-Classic periods a balanced, orderly and symmetrical disposition of furnishings and decorations was considered indispensable to a well-appointed interior. The modes might change, but the conception of order remained unaltered.