Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hanging Around: How the Victorian displayed their Artwork

You may have this in your home. You know that funny wood molding, not quite a Crown moulding in fact it hands a few inches from a ceiling or maybe its a foot or so down the wall. Well that's your Victorian hanging rail.The most common of the Victorian hooks , these come in a variety of styles and are produced today by several companies.

Despite the fact many considered the Victorian to be rather stogy people . The facts are that the Victorians liked to change the appearance of their rooms and that included art on their walls. Given that wallpaper and stencilled walls were a luxury item, few wanted to have a hole in their wall or heaven forbid a nail in a wall that caused a crack in the plaster.
A step above the simpler brass hanger are these elaborate rosette upholstered hangers with their sash cords one is only limited by their imagination as to how grand these can be.

The hanging rail was in fact a very practical idea. It allowed one to move artwork around on a wall, and didn't damage it. This practical idea is making a comeback and is showing up in more new homes and lofts. Several companies now manufacture this molding again.

In Order to hang the artwork you need a hook that fits over the hanging rail and several companies now manufacture them. Cost can range from a couple of dollars to $50.00 for an elaborate mult- tassled and sash cord custom piece.

Naturally there were 'rules' relative to the hanging of art, after all this was the Victorian era.
According to one decorating guide of the era:

"The display of fine artwork is a task for which one must use the ultimate care. Artwork should be best viewed at standing eye level and should never be "skyed" placed one above the other as one did years ago as this can cause eye strain and not allow your guest their comfort."

1 comment:

catherine said...

We recently installed a picture rail in our pre-civil war apartment. We got the wood railing from Huber Lumber in Norwood and the hooks from Bona Hardware in Oakley. It is very helpful since hanging anything on the plaster on brick walls is challenging and often very damaging.