Thomas Hope     1807

Room Containing Greek Vases
Household Furniture and Interior Decoration

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Happening to possess several Egyptian antiquities, wrought in variously coloured materials, such as granite, serpentine, porphyry, and basalt, of which neither the hue nor the workmanship would have well accorded with those of my Greek statues, chiefly executed in white marble alone, I thought it best to segregate these former, and to place them in a separate room, of which the decoration should, in its character, bear some analogy to that of its contents. Accordingly, the ornaments that adorn the wall of this little canopus are, partly, taken from Egyptian scrolls of papyrus; those that embellish the ceiling, from Egyptian mummy cases; and the prevailing colors of both, as well as of the furniture, are that pale yellow and that blueish green which hold so conspiculos a rank among the Egyptian pigments; here and there relieved by masses of black and of gold.
Let me however avail myself of the description of this room, to urge young artists never to adopt , except from motives more weighty than a mere aim at novelty, the Egyptian style of ornament. The hieroglyphic figures, so universally employed by the Egyptians, can afford us little pleasure on account of their meaning, since this is seldom intelligible: they can afford us still less gratification on account of their outline, since this is never agreeable; at least in as far as regards those smaller details, which alone are susceptible of being introduced in our confined spaces. Real Egyptian monuments, built of the hardest materials, cut out of the most prodigious blocks, even where they please not the eye, through the elegance of their shapes, still amaze the intellect, through the immensity of their size, and the indestructibility of their nature. Modern imitations of those wonders of antiquity, composed of lath and of plaster, of callico and of paper, offer no one attribute of solidity or grandeur to compensate for their want of elegance and grace, and can only excite ridicule and contempt.




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