There was so much interest in the eye-boggling 18th c. wallpaper from Colonial Williamsburg last week that I thought I'd follow up with two of the most brightly painted rooms in the entire town.
The large blue room is the ballroom in the Royal Governor's Palace, and the green room that opens from it is the supper room. Both were added to the palace in 1752, following the new fashion among English aristocrats to build special rooms onto their houses dedicated to dancing and socialising. The rooms are decorated in the latest London fashion for 1770 as if to suit the last royal governor, the Earl of Dunmore.
The ballroom is especially imposing because it has four life-size portraits of English royalty: King Charles II and his queen, Catherine of Braganza (because Lady Dunmore herself had Stuart blood) and, at the other end of the room, the reigning King George III and his queen, Charlotte. The portraits were meant to remind guests that the royal governor was the stand-in for the Crown, and the king literally stood behind his representative, even here in the distant colonies.
The ballroom is very large, historically large enough to hold a ball with 200 guests in attendance. Obviously not all guests danced at once. There would likely be a good many who never made it away from the
card or dining tables in one of the other
rooms, and others who simply passed the evening sitting in the chairs along the walls, flirting or gossiping.
The ballroom was designed to impress with its high arching ceiling, elaborate moldings, and crystal chandelier, but it's the brilliant blue walls, edged all around with gold, that first catch the eye. The wall-to-wall patterned carpet, woven to match, adds more color with vivid gold, pink, and purple.
With daylight streaming in through the tall windows, the effect is almost gaudy. However, the ballroom was used almost exclusively at night, and by candlelight (we NHG attended an evening ball lit entirely by candles) the colors are much more subdued and more elegant, too.
The same can be said of the adjoining supper room with its Chinese-inspired woodwork, brilliant green painted walls, and more patterned wool carpet. When the evening grew late and the guests exhausted from dancing, the doors to the supper room were opened and a lavish late meal was served here. Another set of doors at the opposite end of the room opened directly onto the formal gardens, where on warm nights guests could wander and amuse one another, and the green walls of the supper room were echoed by the trees outside.
Reader Lyn S. told us how bright the colors were in another 18th c. house, George Washington's Mt. Vernon. Here's the link for a virtual tour -- check out the bright green in the dining room!