further, save to recognise again the greatness of the work which the apostles of the cult have accomplished. Notwithstanding the many extravagances and absurdities with which they are to be credited, they have induced decorative artists the world over to think more for themselves, and rely less on their knowledge of traditional " styles/' In fact they have persuaded them to use their own brains instead of perpetually copying, adapting, and re-rendering the results of the brain-work of others. The total gain of all this, in the long run, must be altogether incalculable ; so cannot we afford to forget the follies, great as they are, by which its inception has been attended ?
THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
(PRIOR TO, AND EARLY, " VICTORIAN")
Having fresh in our memory the standard attained by the British furnisher and decorator during the reign of the Georges, it is difficult to write in terms of moderation of English furniture as it was during the latter part of the first half of the nineteenth century—the early Victorian period— if the subject is to be discussed purely from the artistic point of view ; and it is that aspect of the question which must now be kept before us. Comparisons are notoriously odious ; but in many circumstances they are not altogether to be evaded ; and as it is one of the chief objects of this book to indulge in them, we must be prepared to put up with the consequences, whatever they may chance to be. At the present stage of our studies, those that must be instituted will not prove in any degree comforting.
The preceding century, as we have seen, had been by far the brightest and most notable in the history of the house-furnishing industries of this country. At its close, the tasteful, and, in not a few instances, beautiful creations of the " Heppelwhite " and u Sheraton " schools were at the height of their popularity, which they retained far into the reign of George the Fourth, and even later. Before the nineteenth century was out of its infancy, however, the personal influence of the founders of those styles was removed ; and to improve upon their work, or even merely to perpetuate such traditions as had been created by them, was a task the fulfilment of which required the presence of a man, or men, of similar calibre. Refinement reigned
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