OStyle In Furniture

examples. Such as were brought to light, and could be acquired by the nation to supplement the incomparable store already possessed, were eagerly seized upon, and conveyed to places of honour in the national palaces, châteaux, and museums, where students, for generation after generation, were taken in order that they might imbibe, and put into practice to the best of their ability, the lessons which these relics of bygone days had to teach.

More than that even was done. In no country in the world have the names, and histories, of artists and art-craftsmen been handed down to posterity, and the beauty of their masterpieces placed on permanent record, so that he who runs may read, as in France. Volumes upon volumes—many of them truly monumental works, produced without any regard to the question of the expenditure of time, labour, or money— have come from the press, to tell the world of the glories of French furniture and decoration throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. The services of the most gifted artists have been retained to reproduce those glories, so far as possible, by means of pen, pencil, and brush ; and, with modern developments in photography and photographic reproduction, the camera has been set to work to render yet more perfect this ever-growing chronicle of the great things done for the beautification of the home by those furniture designers and makers whom even kings delighted to honour.

It is hardly to be wondered at, therefore, that, with the French, admiration of the " François-Premier/' and " Henri-Deux " ; of the « Louis-Quatorze," " Louis-Quinze," " Louis-Seize," and « Empire," developed almost into a creed, amongst the numerous adherents of which, for over half a century, there was not the slightest indication of heresy. Old models were studied and copied until it would seem that the idea of any serious departure from them was not within the bounds of possibility; and so it came about that the "new art" in france 281

the styles I have named, but more particularly the " Henri-Deux," " Louis-Quinze," " Louis-Seize," and « Empire," were « served up," so to express it, year after year, and decade after decade, until people became so accustomed to their apparently inevitable re-appearances that nothing else was seriously looked for in the land of their origin.

Perfect, both in design and execution, as the French renderings of those styles always have been, and are still, there came a time at last when a certain number of artists, rebelling against this constant and slavish following of old and familiar forms, determined, so far as they were concerned at all events, that such a course should be no longer pursued. They recognised plainly that, if continued, its enervating effects on the minds of designer, craftsman, and public alike would inevitably culminate in artistic atrophy. A new line, they insisted, should be struck out by them at any cost, and the all-too-prevalent styles, to which they had for so long been faithful, should know them no more.

It is affirmed, I believe, by scientists, to be an indisputable fact that, if certain organs, gifts, or faculties be permitted to fall into absolute disuse for any length of time, they become, imperceptibly it may be but none the less surely, weaker ; while, if the period during which they are not employed be prolonged unduly and past all reasonable limits, the result must surely be complete local paralysis, if not something still more serious. This has, of course, been conclusively proved within the experience of most of us. Must we, then, fall back on this theory, or rather recognised natural law, to furnish an explanation for the temporary loss, on the part of the French designer, of the power to create fresh ideas ? Truly, their faculty for adaptation and reproduction was constantly kept in active training; but that was to the almost total exclusion of everything else. What was the natural result ? Whatever originality those designers and craftsmen possessed—and we cannot by any process of reason-

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