The Georgian Era – Back By Popular Demand!
I’ve noticed (from having a nosy at my site stats) that a lot of people are using Google to search for the history of Georgian design. I already have a post relating to a Georgian colour scheme but my very first module while studying my interior design Diploma required me to look into the history of Georgian design a little more in-depth. In an attempt to quench this continuing thirst for knowledge/inspiration I have uploaded my Georgian board and associated notes. I hope the readers of my blog find this useful!
My starting point for this board was researching the colours/wallpapers of the Georgian period – I was instantly drawn to the soft palette of the powder blue/dusky pink shades that were particularly favoured by Robert Adam in the second half of the Georgian period. These shades reflect the understated elegance during this time. I have also included an original segment of hand-painted Chinese wallpaper that became popular during the Georgian period. This is featured in the Dressing Room, Nostell Priory and is very striking mainly due to the detail of the birds and flowers (this is situated beside the powder blue arrangement). I have also included the floral/damask prints that would have been used in wallcoverings and more commonly in burgundy, this illustrates the gradual developments of wall decoration within the Georgian period (the Chinese inspired wallpaper design with a white background is not an original design but reminiscent of this period).
The most outstanding and eye-catching element of my board is undoubtedly the Robert Adam ceiling. This ceiling is the epitome of elegance and combines the subtle use of colour, delicate plasterwork and art to great effect. This is the original ceiling located in 5 Royal Terrace and has been partially restored (some sections illustrate the original decoration). It includes vitruvian scroll with festoons, ribbons and drops; a painting of Apollo, with his horses and eight outer sections of the octagon decorated with alternating rinceaux and scrolled half-figures. The influence of Ancient Greece and Rome on Robert Adam’s work and the skill of craftsmanship employed are clear in this example.
The mirror that I have included not only further highlights the strong Chinoiserie influence during the Georgian period but also the importance of mirrors within Georgian design. This gilded mirror is dated 1760 and includes a pagoda top, carved branches and foliage. Considering mirrors were costly during this era their use was generally restricted to the more affluent Georgian homes, thus reflecting status and wealth. Lighting was sourced via natural day light (this is where the brilliance of the large Georgian windows came into their own), candle light or the fireside and it wasn’t uncommon for mirrors to include candle holders or to be placed behind wall sconces – mirrors therefore provided a much needed reflection of light.
The Hepplewhite sideboard illustrates how the intricate, carving of furniture had developed into a more simplified manner. This item of furniture is dated approx. 1790 and is inlaid with Satinwood panels on the legs, whilst the drawer faces have quarter fan detailing.
The marble chimney-piece, an original William Kent dated approx. 1735 is an example of the exquisite carving used in these important focal points of Georgian rooms. A ram’s head is clearly visible, as is the intricate frieze/scrolling detail and foliage. Again, this piece illustrates the overwhelming influence of Ancient Greece and Rome in William Kent’s designs.
My favourite item has to be the original Chippendale camelback settee. It exudes a grandness and elegance that was such a fundamental theme of Georgian design. It features a beautiful damask fabric and cabriole legs, with carved foliage and scroll feet, which appear to be Mahogany. They are situated in Dumfries House and can be seen in the pictured Christie’s catalogue. It is also interesting to note the Chinoiserie inspired gilded mirror and intricate plasterwork within this Georgian period room.
I have included a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds (one of the great portraitists of the Georgian era), this particular portrait depicts ‘Miss Elizabeth Ingram’ and is dated 1757. I decided to include a piece of art because the use of paintings/portraiture in the Georgian period, particularly by the noble/middle classes was a growing trend. It greatly assisted in establishing a sense of importance and status (Italian art was also highly collectable at this time). It is also worth noting the column in the background – a further reminder of the architectural influence of Ancient Greece and Rome and the stunning attire worn by Miss Elizabeth Ingram; an illustration of fashionable ladies clothing and material at this time.