Studio: international art — 11.1897

Page: 17
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Revival of English Domestic Architecture

well as artistic grounds—is a notable achievement. build a palace for a millionaire (and one may be
But that Mr. Voysey has done it more than once sure he would not unless he had full liberty to dis-
remains as abiding evidence that art may not only card the commonplace decorations of the hour) then
be obedient to the demands of common sense, but we have no reason to suppose it would be unadorned,
that it is able to use worthy materials honestly, and On the contrary, while we should find exquisite pro-
give you a lasting structure as cheaply as the most portion and harmonious arrangement of masses his
scamping rival could produce it. This is doubtless first aims, there is little doubt but that he would
due to the fact that Mr. Voysey in such a building employ fellow craftsmen to enrich certain portions
almost entirely ignores ornament, especially of the as superbly as they knew how. One sees in his
sort that is applied so lavishly to distract attention furniture no reliance on mouldings or machine
from faulty workmanship and unsound material. carvings, ormolu mountings, or other "stuck on"
It is often the plaint of poor but artistic house- decorations; but all the same in hinges, escutcheons,
builders, that lack of money obliges them to forego and other portions where ornament can be used
beautiful things. This is a fallacy of the worst order. wisely, he does not shun it, but rather welcomes
for it implies that beauty is a thing of decoration and amplifies it so that these few portions impart
and non-essentials. In theory we all agree to pro- the effect of sumptuous adornment to the whole of
test against such a distorted view of beauty; but in a structure that else relies solely on good material,
practice, especially in architectural practice, the shaped to fine proportion.

presence of so much superfluous, if not, possibly, In another context he has explained his theory
bad ornament, can be attributed to no other cause. of the decoration of the house. If you have really
But because Mr. Voysey in almost every case beautiful furniture, and only fine pictures, and
hitherto, has abjured carvings, stained glass, tiles, such pieces of bric-a-brac as are entitled to be
and the ordinary items of applied decoration, it called works of art, then he counsels exquisite re-
would be absurd to argue therefrom his dislike or ticence in internal decoration. But if you must
contempt. Should he ever accept a commission to needs use unlovely ornate furniture, and fabrics

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