At long last it is appreciated that a few pictures really worthy of the name are preferable to many with nothing particularly attractive about them. The old-fashioned collection merely bewildered. It confused the eye, which saw mass and little else. A few pictures judiciously chosen for their interest or decorative worth, with a judicious amount of wall space between them so that each may be appreciated, are much to be desired. They may be more expensive individually, but surely it is better to have one print or painting that appeals than a dozen that do not. It is the difference between a dainty and sufficient meal and a repast poor in quality and too liberal in quantity. The former is enjoyed and contributes to ones well-being; the other neither pleases nor nourishes.
A famous musician once made an experiment in the matter of pictures. Previous to the redecoration of his study he had a miscellaneous array of photographs on the walls. Like the funds of a charity, all contributions were thankfully received, until at last it looked almost as though the room was tiled. Being an exceptionally busy man, he did not notice that the picture element was rather overdone until a friend inquired whether he had ever thought of issuing a guide. The question was not asked in an ill-natured kind of way but rather as a joke.
Pictorial Sheep and Goats
The musician thought it over, and deter-mined to redecorate. When the new wallpaper was on, the vexed problem of dividing the pictorial sheep from the goats arose. How selected nine, placing three on each of the two long walls, two on the wall with the door, and one only above the fireplace. Like a wise man, he took special care with the last-mentioned, because the fireplace is obviously the keynote of any room, and doubly so in this case because it was opposite the door. Get that wrong, and everything would be discordant. It would be like a wrong chord played in an harmonious prelude.
His favourite composer was Beethoven, and as a room should typify to some extent the personality of its chief occupant, he determined that a reproduction of a famous picture showing the Shakespeare of music playing at the piano, surrounded by enraptured friends, should hang above the mantelpiece. It was a fairly large print, otherwise it would have been dwarfed. The effect was excellent. On being shown into the room the attention of the visitor was at once arrested by a particularly charming scene entirely in keeping with the purpose of the room and the interests of the man who worked in it. It may not be easy in a mass-production age to express individuality in furniture, but it is possible to do so in the choice of pictures.
Judge Philbrick once remarked that there are two things which the British always did wrong. They hung their pictures too high, and hanged their criminals too low. The correct height for a picture is for its centre to be on a level with the eye of a person of average height. The tops of the frames should form a straight line. Although symmetry of shape and design is desirable, any difference will be far less noticeable if care is exercised in this matter. There should be an equal distance between each. A little trouble taken to ensure accuracy will be amply rewarded.
Nails, of course, should never be visible. There is no necessity for this warning when picture-moulding is used, but many people prefer to dispense with this because of the very objectionable series of cords which hang like so many fishing lines from the fixture. If the pictures are on a level with the eyes the necessity for tilting forward is obviated, although this does not apply to oil-paintings. These must be placed at an angle to catch the light. If they are too flat, the probability is that the light will fall too full, to the detriment of the artists work. Giltframes are invariably used for oil paintings. There is nothing neater for water-colours and engravings than wide white mounts and flat, narrow black frames.
For a small room, such as a bedroom, boudoir, or den, passe-partout frames are both artistic and inexpensive. The materials necessary are a sheet of gloss and a piece of cardboard, cut to the required size, and a reel of adhesive passepartout binding, obtainable from most fancy goods dealers and stationers. The process of making is simplicity itself. Lay the picture face downward against the glass, then .ace the cardboard as backing, and fix the strips around the edges of the glass to make a border about a quarter of an inch wide. The remaining width is carefully lapped over and secured to the cardboard. Eyelets which work on the principle of the old type brass paper fasteners, may be obtained for the back, and must be placed in position before the operation of fixing is begun. So many delightful colour reproductions are published nowadays that the choice of subjects presents no difficulty. Some of the work in the magazines and weekly periodicals is by no means to be despised in this connexion.
Many people are apt to forget that the hall, be it large or small, is a room, and should be regarded as such. To a visitor first impressions are important, and the hall is where that first impression is made. Panelling is effective for a large apartment, but is unsuitable for a small room, because it boxes it and therefore makes it appear even smaller than is actually the case. This also applies to figured papers. A light wallpaper will always look well, whether the house faces north, cast, south by west. A self-colour or mottled paper J3 more suitable for a small or medium-sized hall. A bright hall extends a cordial invitation; a dark hall is forbidding and almost speeds the parting guest before he or she has arrived.