Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Those rebellious Victorians

Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Loretta reports:

One of the many wonders of the Victorians is their propensity for decorating everything to death.  I was intrigued to learn that places like Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral were a good deal plainer in the days of my early 19th C characters than they are now.  The differences struck me forcibly in the Victoria & Albert Museum, where I could compare furnishings almost side by side.

While the two cabinet-like objects in my photographs are made for different purposes, they demonstrate the differences clearly.  Above at left is a bookcase made for Carlton House  (home of the Prince of Wales/Prince Regent) in 1806. 

Below right is a washstand made in 1879 by William Bruges, who thought 18th C & Regency era furniture was icky.  In this he was not unlike most of his Victorian contemporaries, who held their predecessors and predecessors’ tastes in low regard.  In Bleak House, for instance, Dickens creates a devastating caricature of a Regency beau in old Mr. Turveydrop.

Yes, those Victorians, like teenagers, were rebelling against what went before.  If they could time travel to today, a great many of them would be scratching their heads over our interest in and affection for that icky Regency era.


Isobel Carr said...

And then we get the beauty and simplify of the Arts and Crafts movement in direct response to the florid decorations of the Victorian era. It's all cyclical.

Recycled Cottage & Garden said...

And what would they say today with the minimalist style?

Marilu Veale said...

Give me solid wood with graceful lines every time.

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