Thomas Hope

Household Furniture and Interior Decoration

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Drawing Room. This room was principally fitted up for the reception of four large pictures, executed by Mr. daniel. and representing builf=dings in India. of Moorish architecture. Some part of the arrangement and decoration of the room were, for this reason, borrowed from the Saracenic style; though, from the unavoidable intermixture of other productions of art, of a totally different character with the pictures aforementioned, it was impossible to adhere to the Moorish style in the greater part of the detail.

A low sofa, after the eastern fashion, fills the corners of this room. Its ceiling, imitated from those prevailing in Turkish palaces, consists of a canopy of trellice-work, or reeds, tied together with ribbons. The border and the compartments of this ceiling display foliage, flowers, peacock's feathers, and other ornaments of a rich hue, and of a delicate texture, which, from the lightness of their weight, seem particularly adapted for this lofty and suspended situation. Persian carpets cover the floor.

As the colours of this room, in compliance with the oriental taste, are everywhere very vivid. and very strongly contrasted, due attention has been paid to their gradually lightening, as the eye rose from the skirting to the cornice. The tint of the sofa is feep crimson; that of the walls sky blue; and that of the ceiling pale yellow, intermixed with azure and with sea green. Ornaments of gold, in various shades, relieve and harmonize these colours. Round the room are placed incense urns, cassolettes, flower baskets, and other vehicles of natural and artificial perfumes.

The central object in this room is a fine marble group, executed by Mr. Flaxman, and representing Aurora visiting Cephalus on mount Ida. The whole surrounding decoration has been rendered, in some degree, analogous to these personages, and to the face of nature at the moment when the first of the two, the goddess of the morn, is supposed to announce approaching day. Round the bottom of the room still reign the emblems of night. In the rail of a black marble table are introduced medallions of the god of sleep and of the goddess of night. The bird consecrated to the latter deity perches on the pillars of a black marble chimneypiece, whose broad frieze is studded with glod stars. The sides of the room display, in satin curtains, draped in ample folds over pannels of looking-glass, and edged with black velvet, the fiery hue which fringes the clouds just before sunrise; and in a ceiling of cooler sky blue are sown, amidst a few still unextinguished luminaries of the night, the roses which the harbinger of day, in her course, spreads on every side around her.

The pedestal of the group offers the torches, the garlands, the wreaths, and the other insignia belonging to the mistresses of Caphalus, disposed around the fatal dart of which she made her lover a present. The broad band which girds the top of the room, contains medallions of the ruddy goddess and of the Phrygian youth, intermixed with the instruments and the emblems of the chace, his favorite amusement. Figures of the youthful hours, adorned with wreahs of foliage, adorn part of the furniture, which is chiefly gilt, in order to give more relief to the azure, the black, and the orange compartments of the hangings.

Happening to possess several Egyptian antiquities, wrought in variously coloured materials, such as granite, serpentine, porphyry, and basalt, of which neither the hue nor the workmanship would have well accorded with those of my Greek statues, chiefly executed in white marble alone, I thought it best to segregate these former, and to place them in a separate room, of which the decoration should, in its character, bear some analogy to that of its contents. Accordingly, the ornaments that adorn the wall of this little canopus are, partly, taken from Egyptian scrolls of papyrus; those that embellish the ceiling, from Egyptian mummy cases; and the prevailing colors of both, as well as of the furniture, are that pale yellow and that blueish green which hold so conspiculos a rank among the Egyptian pigments; here and there relieved by masses of black and of gold.

Let me however avail myself of the description of this room, to urge young artists never to adopt , except from motives more weighty than a mere aim at novelty, the Egyptian style of ornament. The hieroglyphic figures, so universally employed by the Egyptians, can afford us little pleasure on account of their meaning, since this is seldom intelligible: they can afford us still less gratification on account of their outline, since this is never agreeable; at least in as far as regards those smaller details, which alone are susceptible of being introduced in our confined spaces. Real Egyptian monuments, built of the hardest materials, cut out of the most prodigious blocks, even where they please not the eye, through the elegance of their shapes, still amaze the intellect, through the immensity of their size, and the indestructibility of their nature. Modern imitations of those wonders of antiquity, composed of lath and of plaster, of callico and of paper, offer no one attribute of solidity or grandeur to compensate for their want of elegance and grace, and can only excite ridicule and contempt.

Sideboard adorned with emblems of Bacchus and of Ceres. Cellaret ornamented with amphorae and with figures, allusive to the liquid element. To the right, a sloping altar or pedestal, surmounted by a vase. To the left, a lofty candelabrum, destined to support a torch. On the table, a vase with Bacchanalian marks, placed between two cassolettes: over the same a picture, representing a Bacchanalian procession: the picture-frame of mahogany and gold, strengthened at the corners by metal gilt clasps.

Closet or boudoir fitted up for the reception of a few Egyptian, Hindoo, and Chinese idols and curiosities. The sides of this Lararium are formed of pillars, and the top of laths, of bamboo. Over these hangs a cotton drapery, in the form of a tent. One end of this tabernacle is open, and displays a mantle-piece in the shape of an Egyptian portico, which, by being placed against a back ground of looking glass, appears entirely insulated. On the steps of this portico are placed idols, and in its surface are inserted bas-reliefs.




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