Studio: international art — 3.1894

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On the Decoration of the Day

sake, as opposed to a literal transcription of natural
effects wherein the ideal of the tinted photo-
graph sways the artist; rather than the preparation
of a panel of dexterously arranged lines, and gay
masses of colour which shall be in every sense a
decorative adjunct to a room, and not so many feet
of more or less selected Nature seen through an
opening in the wall.

This movement, whether for ultimate good or ill,
is obviously attracting many of the best of our
younger men, and one feels that its future historian


must needs give a prominent place to The Sea
Maiden, which is certainly a typical example of the
new departure—new at all events so far as Burling-
ton House is concerned.

The cynic, in view of the pervading
lack of beauty, may well be excused if he ask
whether anybody, save the decorators, cares
about decoration at. all. Many men and most
women have, it is true, a very real affection for
pretty things, things which are pretty in a trivial
sense, but have no claim at all to be considered
beautiful. If the designer can achieve this
standard of prettiness, and can content himself
with it, he reaps a golden harvest, as do all those
who supply a demand. And yet it seems to be
true that the average Philistine cannot be satisfied

to admire anything short of the best, on the same
principle as man, in spite of a host of excuses for
being bad, is so surprisingly good. Show him the
way, and he will strive ever so valiantly to keep in
it. Did he not at the command of the " Preacher
Appointed" do homage to the squint-eyed
Madonnas, and, somewhat later, was he not induced
to forego the gay chintzes that were dear to him,
for the chaste melancholy of faded yellows and
joyless greens? And after the sunflower and the
lily had fallen from his faltering hands did he not,



when the word reached him, turn his eyes to Japan
and swathe his rooms in flimsy and uncomfortable
Oriental draperies, albeit he could not tell why a
work of art by Utamaro or Hokusai is to be pre-
ferred to a Japanese article made by the hundred
gross for the English market ? It were surely vain
after all this to deny his good intentions.

And it must be confessed that from the deco-
rative ideals of our grandfathers we have gone very
far. Whether our progress is actual and not seem-
ing, whether we can honestly congratulate our-
selves that we are not as they of the Great
Exhibition, is open to argument. The old-fashioned
sitting-room had a certain character of its own ;
emphatically it was comfortable. The carpet with
its riot of flowers, the stiff chintz that glistened like
a varnished wall-map, the group of wax-fruit under
a bell-jar, the debauch of antimacassars invented
by the profane in rivalry of Joseph's coat—these
things, taken singly, were hideous enough in all
Conscience. But they produced an ensemble such
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