Monday, September 10, 2012

Mr. Vanderbilt's HOUSE and COLLECTION - Japanese Drawing-Room

***Click HERE to view the introduction to this book.*** 

 ***Photos and text from Mr. Vanderbilt's House and Collection, described by Edward Strahan pseudo Earl Shinn - the Holland Edition published in 1883.***




The second drawing-room, communicating on the south with the first one, is known as the Japanese Parlor. Here all the furniture and decorations are in Japanese taste, and, as far as may be, of Japanese origin. The very clock upon the wall is a deceptive imitation of some masterpiece of Japan art, with a gong-like face all embroidered with cloisonne enamels, in which the Roman numerals for the hours struggle to be understood through their puzzling mimicry of the Mongolian alphabet.

A peculiarity which especially imposes on the eye is the ceiling; it is so insistantly Eastern in character that the roving visitor, straying into the room with eyes abstractedly aloft, is persuaded that the genie has transported him, if not into a room of Aladdin's palace in Cathay, at least into the boudoir of a favorite princess in the Taicoon's residence. Through the interstices   of an open   truss-ceiling  of red-lacquered  beams, appear the  angles of a hip-roof of bamboo, lined and   thatched  completely with the golden tubes  of   that   beautiful   reed.     The   effect is not only  merely novel and foreign, but  completley graceful. Not only is the trellis of rafter-work  underneath thoroughly Japanese-looking, with its coating  deceptively imitative of the  red   Miaco   or  Soochou lacquer, and its characteristic sheathing of ornate metalwork at every extremity and insertion; but, seen   beyond and  through   this, the  roofwork of innumerable bamboos, first rising in clustered 


columns and mitred panels around the cornice, and then leaning in serried ranks to support the flat central portion of the ceiling, seems like a haunt for the temple-birds of some pagoda. You look around for the idol, a dreamy Buddha or sanctified dragon; but there are no idols, and no birds; only, clinging  everywhere to the lacework of bamboo, are enormous jewelled dragonflies, motionless among the innumerable reeds as if the tropical summer were too warm to let them willingly stir. 



Under this sheltering roof made up of Eastern fancies, the apartment is found to be a perfect cabinet of Oriental rarities, 


more distinctly a collector's treasury than any room in the house, and so furnished and appointed as to give the valuables contained in it their most becoming setting. The hood of the mantel in this room resembles the doorway of a Japanese palace, with its flaring tent-shaped rooflet or pediment rising high above the fireplace. The lacquered pilasters supporting it are sheathed at their extremities with bronze sockets wrought into clusters of chrysanthemums; between them, overhead, spreads a frieze of Japanese cranes flying among the clouds, gilded and deeply undercut; while the pentroof, heavy and of tentlike curve as befits a Japanese pediment, swings out boldly from the wall and rises by a concave curve to the cornice, a triumph of skillful borrowing.

The walls, so far as one can see them, are spread with a low-toned damask of flowery Oriental pattern, spaced here and there with banner-like embroideries in Japanese uncut velvet which hang from the cornice with appropriate apparatus of silk cords and tassels. The shelfwork is so elaborate, however, that the walls are scarcely observed. This fantastic piece of joinery runs around the room with its successions of intricate shelves rising or hanging at every possible height according to the labyrinthine fashion of an Oriental etagere; the whole finished in lacquer, with plenty of carved ivory closet-doors or panels of golden daisies and peonies.

The chairs, of many original designs - the most elaborate being represented in the tailpiece to this chapter — are plentifully fringed and embroidered, and might be
hoisted on a pole by a prince of Nippon, when they would serve very well for his standards of battle. Selected Japan embroideries of a rare kind, in quaint shapes - 
fan-shape or moon-shape or fish-shape - form the backs and seats of this exotic upholstery. The carpet underfoot is Eastern in effect, with its geometric patterns like daimios' badges overlying it at irregular intervals. The panels of the lacquered doors have an enormous daisy-like or sunflower-like rosette. Even the fender which surrounds the fireplace is divided up into a series of lobes or screens which are Oriental in character, being of the peculiar oval seen in a Japanese sword-hilt. Japan has lent its ideas and its esthetic stamp, even where the workmanship is American.


The fine portiere of which the design is here presented owes its originality to the border of Japanese embroideries representing elephants.    Heavily worked in silks, these 


ponderous and pompous beasts are applied to the velvet, a whole herd of them. The elephant is not a native of the Japanese islands, and it is probable that the embroiderer has done his task without ever having seen one; hence the usual accuracy and realism for which the national art is so famous when it deals with natural history, is quite lacking in the frequent representations of elephants, giving place to a treatment altogether heraldic, sacred, or conventional. The introduction of the Buddhist religion has imposed upon the artist of Nippon a constant reference to the animal, without carrying with it the proper artistic documents; so that the most keen-eyed naturalists known to the world of art are perpetually forced to contradict their most cherished artistic habits, and represent as best they may a creature of which they only have priestly or legendary; information. 

The pair of light-bearing statues, nearly life-size, representing Japanese damsels, are of modern French work; they form characteristic door-supports, in perfect harmony with the general ornamentation of the room. They were executed by the sculptor Guillemin for the well-known goldsmith's house of Christoile, when the art-department of that establishment was in charge of M. Reiber, now with Deck the pottery manufacturer, and author of a book on methods of design for primary instruction. M. Guillemin has admirably caught the character of the Japanese visage and dress, and has produced a sort of idealized apology for the mild but feather-headed tea-girl of Tokio. The statues are of bronze, encrusted and plated on the surface with silver, gold, and other metals according to the ornamental
exigencies of the design.

The elaborate stained-glass window looking upon Fifth avenue is equally appropriate. The glorious peacock which forms its chief decoration, and the flowers and other accessories, are properly treated as a Japanese colorist would have treated them. Fantastic and gorgeous rather than possible, the bird is a bird of eastern fairyland. Nothing could be in more faultless yet more daring taste than this orgie of transparent color, confined in a design that is obediently held in keeping with the destination and purpose. The curve of the drooping tail reminds one of the fanlike spreading of the base of a cataract - in this instance a cataract of living gems. The artist, Mr. John Lafarge, has shown himself in this place a rare colorist and a designer who knows perfectly how to throw himself into the spirit of a given school of art. - The fantastic daring of the painter of Japan seems to have been placed at the service of a glass-stainer as able as the maker of a mediaeval cathedral window. No country but America has reached this perfection of taste and technical skill in glasswork, which combines the splendor of the middle ages with ideas only just revealed to us by the Orient.


The curiosities which find a shelter in this room arc of the most varied kinds,—lacquers, cloisonne' enamels, bronzes, potteries; as a rule, they are of Oriental origin, as befits the 


local genius of the place. Objects in ivory are admitted, although carved in Europe - no more appropriate repository being found in the house than the Japanese parlor; we may imagine that the presiding genius has lodged them here on account of the Oriental origin of the material; or that, as is often found in a Japanese palace, they have been left by the Dutch traders in exchange for rarities of the country.

CLOISONNE VASE, Supported by Storks. This large vase, ample enough for a baptismal font, has a globular body, and is supported on three figures of storks, completely modelled in the round; so that these aquatic waders uphold the vessel on their six slender feet. As this work may reach a class of readers who have not devoted much attention to enamels, it 


is proper to explain that, of the three divisions of the art, cloisonne, champ-leve, and taille d'epargne, the first is almost exclusively a specialty of China and Japan. No western nation has succeeded in imitating the probably simple but effectual process by which to fasten the wire divisions or cloisons, which separate the colors, to the body of the object. The Easterns do it with a simple glue or cement, of vegetable or animal composition, which presents sufficient resistance until the firing blends the whole into a homogeneous mass. They use this cement to enlace the object, whether bronze or porcelain, with a design in wire-work; the wires form partitions in which the colored pastes, made of powdered glass, are plastered; when all the cloisons are properly filled, the object is fired in a kiln; but as the enamel has the property of shrinking in the heat, the recesses have to be filled and fired as many as eight times before the 


enamel is flush with its wire boundaries.    The skill used to fire an elaborate object so often without cracking the enamel, is to us almost inconceivable. After the last firing the object is commonly polished to a smooth surface; though we sometimes see specimens in which the enamel is left irregular, with happy effect.

IVORY TANKARD : Orpheus Killed by the Maenads. This is Flemish work, of the seventeenth century. The ivory is very deeply undercut, with a crowded composition, good and graceful for the period, completely surrounding the tusk. Orpheus, inseparable from his lyre, is assailed on all sides by the furious priestesses, who attack him with rocks and clubs. On the cover is a device of very different taste - some knight of William the Silent rides off to battle on his heavy Flanders steed. The gold mounting includes a dragon used as a handle, very free and spirited.

IVORY TANKARD: Triumph of Bacchus.   This fine hanap would 


seem to be by some of the many Dutch artists who tried to get the Italian lightness of hand; the nymph who presses the grapes into Bacchus' hand is by a carver who has surely seen the nymphs of Albano and Guido. The rococo handle, with its winged Cupid, the children playing in the cartouches, and the pretty genius on the cover running along with his wine-cup, are equally of Dutch workmanship, but of Dutch workmanship which, like the painting of the brothers Bril, wishes to cross the Alps.

VASE WITH BEARS AND FALCON.   A magnificent falcon preening 


its feathers, which in the material are freely lifted up from the surface, perches on the shoulder of the vase; in a cave beneath a she-bear plays with her cub, and on the further side a misanthropic bear promenades sulkily on a promontory, like Heine's  Atta Troll. The detached work of the foliage and rocks once again proves the Japanese the only "landscape sculptors" in existence. The material is finely crackled pottery, of the kind known in commerce as Satsuma ware, though Dr. Dresser and the experts would probably give it a narrower geographical baptism.

VASE WITH BUDDHIST SAINT. Dr. Dresser's work, describing his art-mongering travels, may again be consulted for the proper assignment of this specimen of pottery, also called Satsuma in the curiosity-shops. Some hermit, doing service in his art to the religion come to him from far-away India, has probably elaborated this tribute to a Buddhist saint, whose apparition in a golden halo astonishes a group of worshipers. The spreading landscape, showing the sands and streams of a kind of Asiatic Thebaid, is well indicated with powdered gold and wandering lines as tender as the background of Leonardo's "Gioconda". The shape of the vase, precisely that 
of one of our old-fashioned butter-biggins, is intended as a tribute of religious  simplicity by  the  artist, who   undoubtedly performs an act of pious devotion in preparing his chaste and   cloister-like Decoration. 

BELL IN THE FORM OF A WINDMILL. This is Holland work, of about the period of Ostade and Teniers, as is seen by the costume of the miller, who toils up the staircase, sack on shoulder. The sleepy canals of Rotterdam or Haarlem should be imagined at the base of these little silver mill-sails, fabricated by some artist true to his country even in his whitesmith-work. A clock is set in the gable of the mill. The base spreads into the shape of a Dutch vrow's petticoat or vertugadin, decorated with a fine granulated kind of repousse which modern jewellers might copy with great chances of making a sensation equal to that of the hammered surfaces now so much in vogue.

STATUETTE OF AN ELEPHANT. To get his base of cloisonne enamel, and add color to his subject, the Eastern jeweller has not hesitated to submit all his delicate casting repeatedly to the fire. The design and finish of the howdah on the animal's back is entirely Indian in taste; but the fan-shaped ears of the elephant indicate the African species, while the head, except the exaggerated eye, indicates the true Japanese realism. The chasing on the hide elaborately reproduces the dry chapped skin of a pachyderm.

CHIMAERAS IN TERRA-COTTA. The scrollwork on the base is of the kind often copied by the Mohammedan sculptor or architect from the friezes left by the Romans in every part of their spreading empire; but while he has imitated this part of his subject with grace and freedom, the clumsiness of the animals betrays the artist forbidden by his religion to 
represent living creatures. Ornaments in this kind of taste are characteristic of all the countries covered by Turkish rule; we find them in the Danubian principalities until yesterday governed by the Sultan; in Turkey proper, and even in the old sacristy jewels of Poland and Russia. " Europe's arts and Asia's jeweled hands," in the past ages, used to turn out these singular combinations, partly classic, partly fantastic enough to satisfy a hashish-eater, but always symbolic in meaning. The free treatment of the terra-cotta, where every hair of an animal's mane is a separate thread of clay, indicates great technical perfection in the potter's art in this mystical curiosity.

PLAQUE IN "IVOIRE DEROULE". It is the purpose of this work to illustrate as well the triumphs of modern art-industry, when they are novel and instructive, as the relics of the past The process of unrolling ivory into sheets, and using these for objects of greater diameter than the natural tusks, is an invention of a Paris maker, Giroux, of the Boulevard des Capucincs. The inevitable cracks introduced by the process into the material are advantageously used to give the effect of "crackled" ware, as known in Eastern ceramics. Accordingly the design and mounting are in Japanese taste, and the hawthorn branches follow the cracks, as they would in a porcelain vase. The designer, whose name is Plangon, has introduced a more modern-looking bird in his centerpiece than the three archaic birds which support the dish.

JAPANESE BRONZE: The Boating-Party. Supported on a table of teakwood carved into lace, in itself a curiosity, is the bronze group representing a pleasure-boat, with revellers and crew. There is a pedestal of foamy waves, represented with the usual Japanese freedom, and on these rides the boat, the grain of whose planks is copied in a damascene of silver wire. The boat is protected by a roof, from all whose corners large lanterns are hanging, four times bigger than the bodies of the guests; underneath take place the festivities, enlivened by a music-girl with her guitar; one guest rises to point out the track to the man at the tiller; at the prow a boatman poles his way along; and an obese host at the head of the table enjoys the feast, the music, and the calm. This is one of the prodigious toys in which the Japanese sculptors excel, exhausting in a merry subject every perplexity and terror of the bronze-founder's difficulties.

LACQUER COFFER: The Seven Sages.   This large coffer is a fine specimen from the hands of the old Japanese workers in lacquer.    The mythological subject is not Japanese but 


Chinese, showing how the Shinto religion is faithfully derived from Chinese sources by the newer civilization at the north. The lettering seen in a line at the left indicates that the design is sculptured by a Japanese named Ichichosai; at the right is a raised cartouche indicating the subject: "Music and Dancing of the Seven Sages of China." A sort of kettledrum and a kind of accordeon are played by the venerable philosophers at the right; a pair at the left are exercising on the guitar and flute; the remaining three are waving their long sleeves in a dance; and all are laughing to split their sides except the flutist, whose playing prevents that expression of his philosophy. The covering of so large a surface with finest lacquer without a flaw adds great technical interest to a delightful specimen of Eastern art
and opinion.

IVORY CARVING: The Judgment of Solomon. This plaque, enormous considering the material, is fourteen by twelve inches in size. It is kept in the beautiful closet or shrine with 


ivory doors seen in the views of the mantelpiece. The young king on his lion-throne directs the feigned execution, and  the mothers betray themselves according to the history. The figures are in the taste of Rubens, and the work is Flemish of about his date: the artist has inspired himself at many founts, however; it is pretty certain that the carver of the Moses represented in one of the niches has seen the Moses of Michael Angelo. This superb ivory is in wonderful preservation.

IVORY VASE: The Finding of Moses. Occupying the width of a large tusk, this rich old carving represents a group of women, with Pharaoh's daughter in a radiated crown ready to take the babe from Miriam's arms. The female types are evidently inspired by Rubens, and the work is probably Antwerp of his period. Notwithstanding the opulence of flesh characteristic of the school, the craftsmanship is flowing, graceful and stately; it might be called painting in ivory, with all the Flemish morbidezza retained.

IVORY HEXAGONAL CASKET.    The sides are built up of rectangular ivory morsels, each carved with one or more 




figures, together making up a series of facets. At each angle is a standing figure like Donatello's St. George, with club and shield. The subject of the legend is continued in consecutive panels, overshadowed with the trees of a dense forest; in one the hero dreams, between a winged apparition of God the Father and three nude nymphs. The design is in the Italian taste of the Giotto period, and the marquetry-work in which the ivories are mounted reflects the elegance of Giotto's campanile.

DRINKING-FLAGON OF STEPHEN, KING OF POLAND. This royal drinking-cup, in silver parcel-gilt, and dated 1582, is from the San Donato sale, held in Florence in March, 1880. The catalogue description was as follows: "A vidrecomc, of curious form, being a hanap in silver repousse.  At the base, four owls in niches, from which rise four dragons bearing caparisons with the Russian imperial eagle and St. George on horseback; on the circumference, four oval medallions with male and female hunting figures. The cover, ornamented with infants terminating in scrollwork, fighting with chimeras, is crowned with a medallion bearing the bust-portrait of "Stephanus, D. G. rex Poloniae, anno 1582." A vidrecome is a welcome-cup, the term for welcome in German giving it the name. The catalogue account is in error
where it speaks of the eagles; they are not the twin-headed eagle of Russia, but the single-headed white eagle of Poland; the founder of the kingdom saw a white eagle fly from its eyrie, and adopted the bird as his emblem, and the place of its nest as the site of his capital.

DUTCH SHIP, in Silver-gilt. This antique pinnace, coming over to America full-manned, must be as much amazed as Columbus' "Pinta," when she found herself in canoe-covered waters.   The man in the lookout, with his gesture of unconquerable surprise, pretty distinctly expresses such a feeling. The relic is very curious and characteristic. The Dutch, as inventors of modern commerce, loved to show such emblems of their seafaring supremacy, as the centre-piece of a feast, or the conquering badge among the Chinese spoils of a cabinet. Here we see the captain and his officers in the stern-castle, surrounded by halberdiers in RipVan-Winkle breeches; the shrouds swarming with active sailors; the flag flying, the sail bellying, the pilot at the prow, all full of character, down to the shells and waves at the bottom of the pedestal.

ELEPHANT VASE. The lifted trunk forms a graceful spout, and the elephant's head from which it proceeds gives weight and dignity to the base of the vessel. The Japanese people depicted on the sides in various metals have the elegance, the tranquility, and the inherent improbability of their kind. The squareness of the handle adds a sort of architectural firmness to a design otherwise almost as loose as the rolling lines of a wine-skin. This design, in strangest Eastern taste, gives appropriate vehicle to a wondrous study of metallic colors, in the different substances artfully combined to make up this chromatic cosmos of beautiful surfaces.

MOUNTED NAUTILUS SHELL. At the time when the pearl nautilus was very rare, and only known in Europe through the India trade of the Dutch, it was the custom of patrician families to have specimens carved and mounted with gold and silver, as an emblem of marine conquest; and truly no surface more naturally beautiful can be presented for the field of a cameo than this spiral staircase of living pearl, on which Holmes has written the most beautiful of his poems. The silver stand of this rare dpergite, therefore, is composed of fishes and aquatic emblems, and the shell itself is enchased with graceful aquatic figures in an ingenious device. The workmanship is of the seventeenth century, and of German origin, perhaps Munich.    Augsbourg, a neighboring city, has yielded to the South Kensington Museum a correspondingly fine specimen.



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Country House of Character - "Huntland"

"Huntland" Mr. Joseph P. Thomas's Home at Middleburg,Va.
by Peabody, Wilson & Brown, Architects.  

What constitutes the perfect country house? Country Life asked this question of several of the leading architects in New York, and asked them to indicate some country houses which they had designed and which, in their opinion, made them distinctive from other houses. It was to make no difference whether the house were a marble palace at some fashionable watering place or a tiny bungalow in the foothills of the mountains. So long as the architect considered it a good example of a country house and, in his opinion it had character, that was all that we asked.

***Below is the selection chosen by Architects Peabody, Wilson & Brown*** 

"Huntland" Mr. Joseph P. Thomas's Home at Middleburg,Va. by Peabody, Wilson & Brown, Architects.         Painted by John Vincent

THE interest that attaches to this house for Joseph B. Thomas, at Middleburg, Va., arises from the fact that, unlike so much of our modern architecture in America, it derives its precedent from the early architectural traditions of our own country. It is not an indiscriminate transplanting of foreign details and associations, but it takes its fundamental qualities from the early and native traditions of the early days of prerevolutionary Virginia. It is an attempt to carry on from early precedent, but modified to modern conditions of life, as much as possible of the only style of architecture which can be truly said to be indigenous to the soil and climate of our country.

***Front View - "Huntland" Mr. Joseph P. Thomas's Home at Middleburg,Va. by Peabody, Wilson & Brown, Architects. ***

***Black lacquer furniture, walls covered in a gay Chinese design of birds and flowers and curtains, some pale yellow edged with green and some orange and green, make an interseting bedroom in the residence of Mr. Joseph Thomas at Middleburg, Va. The bed is an old four-poster with an unusual top draping.  Behind it is an alcove, down each side of which are book shelves. The ceiling in this alcove is made up of small mirrors in panels. Caption from  House & Garden Second Book of Interiors 1920***

This is the modern outgrowth of such a house as would have been built a hundred years ago by any wealthy Virginia planter with an interest in his home surroundings and possessing the native taste which was unfortunately, more common in those days than in the present.

 First Floor Plan. 
***"Huntland" Mr. Joseph P. Thomas's Home at Middleburg, Va. 
by Peabody, Wilson & Brown, Architects.***

It is not, however, modern civilization retreating to the shelter of old customs and conditions of living, not, in other words, a step backward; but rather a carrying forward of old traditions, and a modernization of them, to bring them abreast of the modern standards of life and culture.

Click HERE to see at wikimapia.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

From Lobby To Peak - Round About the Room

***From Lobby to Peak - a series of illustrated articles in Our Continent - by Donald G. Mitchell - describing  the New York City  apartment of Louis Comfort Tiffany - progressing from room to room - Mitchell describes the essence of Tiffany's style - part five of eleven - published March 22, 1882*** 

Let us see  now what we have about the walls of that snug room where the "Early Breakfast" was a-serving.   And, firstly, there is running around the room about three feet above the floor what a country carpenter would call the "chair-moulding" and what the stickler for niceties of speech would call perhaps the upper member or the cornice of the dado.   This furnishes a ledge, projecting maybe an inch and a half, where plaques, quaint old platters, half blue and white, or a Japanese array of dishes may be set on edge, all held in place and guarded against careless elbows by a small brass rod stretching from corner to corner or door to door, and fastened in the wood.     If the dishes in such receptacle are subject to frequent handling, and in a summer cottage by the sea, the every-day ware might easily make an "all around" decoration, the wall behind them for a breadth of eighteen inches should have cover that would suffer wear and not show finger-marks.    Nothing could well be better for this purpose than a strip of stamped leather-hanging, which we judge to be the material shown here in the lesser of the two cuts.   A very strong paper is also made in imitation of a bronze-toned leather, and except usage be inordinately hard would serve the end in view.

The upper edge of this wall-covering is both concealed and protected by another moulding into which little brass hooks are fastened and from which depend cups, as many and as rare and as rich as you like.

This is not the sort of decoration that would belong to the banquet-hall of a palace ; it would not justly and fairly belong to the homes of those who love to repeat at a distance palatial echoes. But let us remember that we are in a not over-large city apartment where economy of space is imperative, and where ceremony must wait upon tasteful disposition of the area at command.

Look again at the second and larger picture of our showing this week, and see what varied effect may be produced by differing sizes, hues and position in the assemblage of faience or porcelain upon this ledge of our dado : and observe again in respect of it that the easy, seemingly careless disposition of the successive rounds of color and of figure are such as would grow naturally out of the caprices of a zealous and variety-loving housewife, who would treat her friends to one show of her wares at a dinner of to-day and to another show at the dinner of to-morrow.

Once more, in reference to this bandlet of associated forms and color backed by deep bronze tint, consider how much the humblest little collage might be lighted up and made gay and festive and piquant such an "all around " disposition of blues and reds and grays, of Sunday wares and "best plates" and India china, and the rich brown of cooking dishes.

But what concerning the colors above and below this bronze-toned band of easy cupboardry? Below, it is not dillicult to see that low tones prevail and a color it would be a little unsafe to descibe : a brown surely, not over heavy, but we will suppose a pure Vandyke brown with a little lightening in it of white. And this foil of low-toned color should not only be laid upon the broad wall surface of the dado, but also upon the successive mouldings we encounter directly above; for on closer inspection we perceive that the moulding which carries its little dependent array of teacups, or tankards, as the case may be, is not the only one, but that another covers the edge of a second bandlet of color of neatly equal width with the bronze-toned one, and carrying certain puzzling forms.    What are we to make of this bandlet and of these net-like forms?

We must go beyond what the picture tells here, and say that it is a hand of cloth—arras, if you phase—blue in its prevailing tint : Japanese in origin, with longish, parallel white flecks of color woven into the tissue, as if it symbolized the sea. Perhaps it did in the weaver's fancy, perhaps it did not. In any event, the easily-fancied symbolism has been seized upon to warrant the deft fingers of some mistress of  the household in her pretty broidery task of working silken meshes of a net, here and there, over this blue sparkle of a sea and planting in her net, or near to its vagrant lines red sea-crabs, shining fishes, branches of sea-coral, whatever in short a nice, taste might suggest, as good adornment for such sea-blue ground of canvas, with all the aids of sparkling beads (flashing on the gills of fishes), and softest crewels and flossiest of silks. Yet all the tints are, as they should be, courageously subordinated. There is no flashy red, no brilliant blue, no screaming yellow ; the whites are sharpest, and they narrowed to spaces that are scarce seen in our pictures. The whole is firmly attached to the wall (glued perhaps), and as we said, protected as to its upper edge with a strip of the Vandyke brown moulding. Above this comes one of those piquant, soft-surfaced Japanese papers, the wall growing lighter us we go up, and drifted over with those puzzling groups of little disks, which the almond-eyed people love so well and which seem to carry strange mysteries in them.

But above all this, and just below the cornice—forming a frieze, is another bandlet of that curious, dreamy-blue cloth, stretched all round firm and hard, and showing a tint which, if below, it might be fancied a bit of sea, can with a fancy as easy be called here a strip of sky.

There are the same irregular streaks of white, which may be bits of stratus these have heen supplemented by the embroiderer's hand with litlle fleecy piles of cumulus and vagrant waifs of cirrous clouds, and at one point, unless our eyes deceive us, with flecks of snow. Then, into this belting of blue sky birds are happening always under the broideier's hand; birds with great sheaf of broad-spread wings, birds in gray solitude on brown splays of silk, birds of plumage rarer, flashing with what seem by contrast tints of gold and crimson.

And now let us moralize a little upon the order and style of this wall decoration. That "all around" cupboard may he extemporised as an "utter" convenience in the humblest household, nay in kitchen, and light up hardest work with its comforting disks of blue; and the same in the daintiest of households may be made by adroit selection and wise collocation a "thing of joy."

That bronze-toned leather is noway hard to find ; leather-like paper even less hard to find ; and if the seeker after good effects is debarred both, a dash of bronze color upon a deal board (better if paneled) will give all the effect. Consider again those bandlets of blue cloth : this indeed chances to apart in its weaving, a quaintness that comes from Japan, and so its nativity explains (and yet does not explain) those vagrant traces of white in the body of the color. but you may find good wall cloths outside of Japan, cloths which if they do not tempt you to counterfeit the sparkle of a sea or the feathery lights in a sky, may tempt you in a score of other ways, if you have the grace and dexterity to fling your floss silk into its meshes, for the telling of some simpler story.

What the story should be we do not to tell ; it may be a story of apple-blossoms, a story of "cherries ripe," a story of leaning reeds and rushes with dragon-flys dashing among them, a story of trailing vines where purple clusters hang. Whatever it be home ingenuity, leavened with a little subtle thinking, can work it-out : and so you will come stitch by stitch to the best sort of home decoration. You will not come up to Mrs. Wheeler's level in a day or a month, or a score of them ; but you will he venturing into fields where you may always go forward and always be drawing nearer to the best sort of accomplishment.

And now what of that cabinet which hangs against the wall, chained there as would seem and clamped about with metal fastenings?

We note first about it that it is a movable fixture, and from its strong array of metal bands and clasps, that it may very likely carry silver. Spanish, too, we should judge, of old stamped leather, that may have guarded trinkets ages ago; so as it hangs there, over the side-table, if seems to carry an odor of the wine of Xeres about it, and of garlic, and of golden-spurred Hidaigos.

What may be within? Its doors being closed we will not venture to say. But if put to good service it is every way a proper belonging to the room, and will serve as hint for what may be done in a dining-room in way of suspended clipboards and corner cupboards and cupboards of all sorts; on which topic we shall find margin some other week for fuller talk. 

Donald G. Mitchell

Donald G. Mitchell was a close friend of Tiffany's. Our Continent was a new magazine covering history, literature, science and art. Click HERE to view all earlier posts on Tiffany's Bella penthouse apartment.