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the theory of colours proposed by Newton, is certainly correct, having been confirmed experimentally by the researches of Herschel, who ascertained the relative intensity of the different coloured rays by illuminating objects under the microscope by their means, &c.
“ Another certain proof of the difference in brightness of the different coloured rays is afforded by the phenomena of ocular spectra. If, after gazing at the sun, the eyes are closed so as to exclude the light, the image of the sun appears at first as a luminous or white spectrum upon a dark ground, but it gradually passes through the series of colours to black, that is to say, until it can no longer be distinguished from the dark field of vision; and the colours which it assumes are successively those intermediate between white and black in the order of their illuminating power or brightness, namely, yellow, orange, red, violet, and blue. If, on the other hand, after looking for some time at the sun, we turn our eyes towards a white surface, the image of the sun is seen at first as a black spectrum upon the white surface, and gradually passes through the different colours from the darkest to the lightest, and at last becomes white, so that it can no longer be distinguished from the white surface.”*_See par. 40. 44.
* “Elements of Physiology," by J. Müller, M.D., translated from the German by William Baly, M.D. London, 1839.
It is not impossible that Aristotle's enumeration of the colours may have been derived from, or confirmed by, this very experiment. Speaking of the after-image of colours, he says, “The impression not only exists in the sensorium in the act of perceiving, but remains when the organ is at rest. Thus if we look long and intently on any object, when we change the direction of the eyes, a responding colour follows. If we look at the sun, or any other very bright object, and afterwards shut our eyes, we shall, as if in ordinary vision, first see a colour of the same kind; this will presently be changed to a red colour, then to purple, and so on till it ends in black and disappears.”—De Insomniis.
N.B. The Editor has not inserted Note V. and the other interesting notes containing observations on the Italian masters, as Mr. Eastlake proposes to treat this subject at length in the 2nd volume of his Materials for a History of Oilpainting
ON THE DECORATION OF A VILLA.
TO CHARLES LOCK EASTLAKE, ESQ., R.A., ETC. *
At length I write to claim the performance of your promise, viz. that you would give me your advice as regards the decoration of the house designed by M. de Chateauneuf, the drawings and plans for which you have seen. After some discussion, and a struggle on my part in favour of the Elizabethan, the perpendicular-gothic, or whatever the style is to be designated, M. de Chateauneuf has triumphed, and the Italian, or revived antique, (essentially the Grecian,) has been finally agreed on.
You are aware how strongly I feel that one of the best modes of advancing the Fine Arts, is by paying greater attention to the interior decorations of our houses, than has hitherto been the fashion in England. The best proof of your own opinion on this subject, is the kindness with which you devoted much time and labour to the designing and executing for me the Pompeian room so deservedly admired. Entertaining this view on the subject of ornament, makes me the more anxious to take all possible pains in selecting the style of decoration, so as the house should prove that its owner is a lover of art, and that it should, as far as is compatible with a reasonable economy, be considered in some degree as a pattern of what might be accomplished in the matter of decoration. I never think on the subject without calling to mind the principles laid down for the ornamenting a country house, in Mr. Rogers's “Invitation to a Friend :' indeed, looking to his intimate knowledge of the whole circle of Fine Arts, and lastly, the specimen of refined taste which his own town house exhibits, my beau ideal of a house is one decorated under his direction ; but as this cannot be obtained, I trust that you, who possess so much of his spirit and refinement, will, as far as may be compatible with your engagements, afford me the benefit of your assistance. Although the subject of decoration, both as regards houses and public buildings, has been hitherto much neglected in this country, I think now every one is becoming fully alive to its importance. The establishment of the Government School of Design, in which, for the first time in England, the art of design, as applied to decoration, is systematically taught ;- the opportunity afforded by the building of the Houses of Parliament ;-the Committee of the House of Commons, which has already reported on the subject of their decoration ;—and the Royal commission entrusted with the further consideration of the subject,cannot fail to produce within a few years a great alteration in the views and taste of the public. I may here observe, that the School of Design, and the training of young workmen, will mainly tend to assist those who may be inclined to give up the ornamenting their saloons and halls with cheap printed papers, by producing persons who will be able, at a moderate cost, to execute the original designs of eminent artists, or to copy the great works of antiquity. Hitherto, except when foreigners were introduced, it has been scarcely possible to obtain the assistance of workmen capable of executing anything beyond the commonest and simplest scrolls or straight lines; or if such assistance were obtained, it could only be procured at a cost which put any extensive scale of decoration beyond the reach of any but the affluent.
* These letters formed part of a little work called “The Country House," printed by Lady Mary Fox for the benefit of a school at Kensington. The letter to Mr. Eastlake is added to explain the reason of his communication.—ED.
As regards the style and mode of execution of the proposed decorations, I should, of course, wish to be guided by your judgment. Whether it may be expedient merely to copy or adapt from known examples, such as the baths of Titus, and the paintings of Pompeii, or from the great masters of modern times, such as the designs of Raphael