Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/411

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
397
THE PRINCIPLES OF DECORATION.

tint and tone of delicacy and subtleness, and enlivened, too, by the wildest caprices of beauty.

The bar to its use in England is the damp, for when the air is full of vapor the marble condenses the moisture, which stands on it in drops or trickles down it. But as most houses and buildings are now warmed, this need not stand for much, and if we panel our rooms below with wood, there is no reason why the upper part should not be of marble. Marbles are of every hue except blue, for blue Beige is black and white, and blue Napoleon, or imperial, is but bluish gray; and brown is scarce, though we have rosewood marble and Californian spar. Marbles are found in most countries of the world, and there are such vast varieties in Europe that they can hardly be catalogued.

Great taste in color is requisite for the proper arrangement of colored marbles; at present no one cares to exercise this taste as a profession, as there is so little effective demand, and, in spite of the low tone of marble generally, it is much easier to make a vulgar or discordant arrangement than a strikingly good or harmonious one. The fashion of using white marble chimney-pieces, white marble bas-reliefs, white marble statues and busts in decorated apartments, is absolutely fatal to low-toned schemes of color decoration, and, as a rule, all gorgeous schemes of color are low-toned, and white must then be used most sparingly as a jewel. White can only be sparingly ornamented with morsels of full color, or very high-toned decoration must be used in conjunction with it, as this alone can sustain masses of white.

Considering the wealth of this country, which mainly goes in useless feasting, useless men and maid servants, useless carriages and horses, and hideous as well as useless clothes, I do not think those who will not use marble from poorness of spirit are included in the beatitudes.

As I am now on marbles, I may as well include mosaic pavements. These must be greatly restricted in so cold and damp a place as England. Few of us love to walk on a marble floor without shoes or stockings, as all would do in a warm or hot climate, but it can be used for the pavement of Protestant cathedrals, for hall floors, for the center aisles of churches, for conservatories, porches, terraces, and the like; and when we can afford it, porphyry is by far the best material for the patterns, as it only polishes by the friction of dusty boots, unlike marble, which roughens, and unpolished marble is not more attractive than stone. Plain geometrical and flat floral patterns are the best, in marble or pottery floor mosaic, for the smallness of the pieces rather helps the scale of the room or building, and does not ruin it like marble squares.

The objection to pottery as mosaic in floors is its softness, so