25 MARCH 1899, Page 14


[To Tea EDITOR Or mac "SPECTATOR."] Sin,—It is to be hoped that the recent allusions in the Press to the decorations in St. Paul's will induce all lovers of archi- tecture to visit the Cathedral and see for themselves what is being done. The chancel being practically complete, the Decoration Committee are proceeding to carry out the same scheme of colour and mosaic under the central dome and in the nave, and the two completed bays, in full illumination, now make it possible to form an opinion as to what will be the effect of the whole. Sir W. B. Richmond's mosaics may be admirable in themselves, and in the domes and concaves of the roof something of the kind was undoubtedly needed; but it has been also found necessary in the opinion of the Committee to colour the surrounding surfaces in order to get rid of the " cold frame of Portland stone." Consequently we are losing the exquisite carving of capitals and cornices under a garish coating of paint, and the plain spaces which it has taken two hundred years to weather to their present perfection of harmonious warmth, are being ruined by imperishable stencilling. It is, perhaps, useless to traverse the Committee's opinion, that all this colour is needed to match the mosaics, though that is at least doubtful; but surely it must be apparent to all that a glittering and restless splendour is entirely displacing the quiet dignity of Wren's own work. Lavish ornament in stone the architect himself supplied. It is a poor compliment, it seems to me, to cover it with red and gold. Possibly the Committee may still see their way, at least in the nave and transepts, to sacrifice a little richness and leave us a little repose.-,-I am,

Stonycroft, Limpsfield, Surrey, March 21st.