Walls – Classical is All About The Walls
The most important surface in a room are the walls. The Architecture of the Classical Interior by Richard Semmes’ states that the essential task of the wall treatment in any room is to make a strong connection between the floor and the ceiling. “The wall must artfully carry the lines of the ceiling down to the floor in accordance with the principle of fictive structure.” The order is the primary organizing device of the wall, so every wall is treated as an order. The classical order organizes the wall giving it the proportions and its ornaments. “The use of a complete order (pilasters or columns) is usually reserved for the grandest or most elaborate rooms. Nothing endows a room with honorific character as powerfully as a fully articulated order–particularly the Corinthian.” Spencer House, Princess Diana’s home.
“You can also have a perfectly classical room in which there are no columns, pilasters, or any other explicit evocation of an order. In many rooms, especially in more intimately scaled and domestic interiors, the appearance of a full order would be overbearing.” A typical tripartite division of wall surfaces into dado, panel, and cornice is seen in nearly all classical wall treatments regardless of material or elaborateness of detail. Most classical rooms are astylar or without columns or pilasters. French designers of the mid- to late eighteenth century developed a style of wall treatment in which the paneled room reflects an implied order. The order is infered from the proportions and ornamentation of the boiseries which divide the walls into bays by phantom pilasters.
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