Social New York under the Georges, 1714-1776: Houses, Streets, and Country Homes, with Chapters on Fashions, Furniture, China, Plate, and Manners

By Esther Singleton | Go to book overview

IV
WALLS, PICTURES AND LOOKING-GLASSES

AT the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, the walls of houses were usually panelled, painted or whitewashed. In the homes of the rich, tapestry and gilt leather hangings were found. When Kalm visited New York in 1748, he noticed that the rooms were wainscotted; that the woodwork was generally painted a bluish grey; and that the people seemed to be slightly acquainted with hangings. Two years later, wall-paper was imported in such quantities that we may feel safe in assuming it was as generally employed here as in England. In 1749, Isaac Ware noted that "Paper has in a great measure taken the place of sculpture." Furthermore, he says: "The decoration of the inside of rooms may be reduced to three kinds: first, those in which the wall itself is properly finished, for elegance, that is where the materials of its last covering are of the finest kind, and is wrought into ornaments, plain or uncovered; secondly, where the walls are covered with wainscot; and thirdly, where they are hung; this last article comprehending paper, silk, tapestry and every other decoration of this kind."

He might just as well have written this after an examination of interiors in New York. In the middle of the century, these three forms of finishing

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Social New York under the Georges, 1714-1776: Houses, Streets, and Country Homes, with Chapters on Fashions, Furniture, China, Plate, and Manners
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