Rails to Display Pictures for Historical Homes.
During the medieval times, only castles were adorned with portraits and tapestries on their walls. However, in the Victorian era of the 19th century, picture hanging became increasingly popular with the nouveau riche and the middle classes, who flaunted their affluence and exquisite taste by covering their walls with paintings, mirrors, shelves, and the like. The picture rails provided a perfect solution for hanging these works of art without damaging the walls.
Picture rails, or picture moldings as they were called, were introduced in the 1840s and were inspired by the idea of hanging pictures on a moveable hook that could hold a substantial weight and wouldn't damage the wall surface. The modern picture rail was simply a horizontal molding made of wood or composition material, often embellished with decorative elements, and mounted high on the wall.
Picture rails were typically mounted in one of three positions. In formal rooms, the rail was placed ¼” to ½” beneath crown and cove moldings to accommodate the hooks. In a simpler approach, the rail was tacked to the wall at the height of window and door heads, leaving a frieze area between the rail and the ceiling. During the Victorian era, the frieze would get decorative embellishments. As ceiling heights lowered and minimal moldings came into fashion in the 1920s and 30s, the picture rail was mounted just a half-inch or so from the ceiling. Old brass hooks were replaced with hooks with a rolled profile and wires.
Using a picture rail today is just as easy, but there are hooks available in different thicknesses and shapes, and it's essential to test for fit before buying them. Hooks not made of cast brass can be re-bent or modified to fit. To hang heavy items, it's advisable to use two hooks to distribute the weight evenly. Picture cord, picture wire, or chain may be used to hang the artwork. Picture cord is a twisted wire cording that passes through eyelets or D-rings mounted on the back of the frame; the cord is tied together at the top, creating a triangle. A medallion or a tassel or both can be attached to the hanging treatment, adding a touch of glamour. At one time, it was fashionable to make the crisscrossing cords themselves into a decorative treatment.
Gross & Daley provided an excellent example of an “Elizabethan” Arts & Crafts house where two ribbon-covered wires attach to hooks in a picture rail immediately below a cornice.
If you find yourself in the position of wanting to hang pictures or a new TV and you desire to add some wall decor to create a more unified and finished look in your room, it is important to consider the preparations required before taking up that hammer.In order to securely hang any heavy items such as
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