Balanced Distribution of Pictures and Rugs
In considering the balanced distribution of pictures, it must be remembered at the outset that the requirements of unity demand that pictures to be hung on the same wall, or even in the same room, reveal easily perceptible likenesses. Monochromes will not ordinarily be hung with colored pictures, and, in general, water colors will not be hung with oils, or wood frames with gilt. Normally there will also be considerable similarity in subject and handling, and marked similarity in tone. Moreover, where small pictures are to be hung on a large wall space the requirements of unity demand that they be so grouped that the mind, regarding the group as a unit, will accept it as sufficiently large and important to be congruous with the wall space. In this case the pictures must be fairly close in tone to the wall, since the effect of marked tone contrast would be to emphasize the individuality of each small picture so sharply that the eye could not see them as a group. If all these precautions are observed, pictures may be hung according to the mechanical formula of balance, the decorative weight of each picture being based upon its surface area. It may be noted in passing that pictures should be hung flat against the wall, the smaller ones without visible support, the larger by means of two cords or wires rising vertically from near the ends of each picture to two hooks, since it is only in the case of elliptical or circular shapes, where the cords leave the circumference at a tangent, that we are in ordinary practice justified in running the cords over a single hook. Pictures should be so hung as to place their centers of interest at eye height, and normally those hung in a horizontal line on the same wall will have their centers of interest in line, rather than the tops or bottoms of their frames.
FIGURE 40.- The oblique lines created by hanging a rectangular picture as at 'a' are in general objectionable because they catch the attention and lead it away from the picture to the hook. In 'b' there is no such tendency, while harmony is ensured by the repetition of the straight verticals of the frame. Pictures or mirrors of curvilinear outline should however be hung as at 'd', since the method c breaks the rhythmic flow of line.
In practice it rarely happens that a picture of any considerable decorative weight will be hung by itself. The mind demands not only lateral balance, but also a support which seems to be adequate. This demand is best satisfied by hanging the picture directly above some such other unit as a cabinet, table or chair, which rests upon the floor and is wider than the picture and therefore appears to be stronger. Moreover, the decorative value of a skilfully arranged group, which reveals the presence of unity in diversity, is so great, and the floor area of most rooms so limited, that it would in general be a waste of opportunity to use two units separately where it is possible to combine them. It must be noted that while a picture hung above an- other unit which rests upon the floor must be narrower than the lower member in order to insure an effect of stability in the group, in the case of two pictures hung vertically the wider or larger must be above, since the mind in this situation regards the lower unit as depending from and supported by the upper unit.
A large rug is as much a part of the fixed decorations as are the walls and the openings, and it must accordingly be placed symmetrically with reference to the width of the room in every case, and with reference to the length of the room in most cases. When a large rug is crowded by a projecting hearth into a markedly unsymmetrical position on the floor, the whole effect of the room is marred, and its balance can be restored only by using an all-over carpet or a number of carefully placed small rugs, or else by cutting the big rug in the manner suggested in the chapter on proportion.