The bright yellow winter aconite provides welcome colour to British gardens early in the year. Winter aconite blooms as early as January, and grows en masse under trees. The 18th-century fashion for landscape gardens brought the little plant into fashion. Continue reading
Simply by its alluding name the Carlton House desk immediately catches the attention of a Regency Enthusiast. The imagination produces an exquisite piece of furniture made of exotic woods, rich in ornaments, and designed for no less a person than the Prince Regent. Though some antique dealers like to dwell on this lovely image, it is but a half-truth.Continue reading
Compiègne was one of three seats of the French royal government. The royal residence we know today, the Château de Compiègne, was built for Louis XV. Napoleon restored the château after it was left gutted during the French Revolution, and he ordered it to be made habitable again in 1807. He had its layout altered, a ballroom added, and the garden replanted.
But what did the restless French emperor do with another palace? Well, he lived there with his young bride, Marie-Louise, and it was there where they spent their first night together. Continue reading
In this post:
- The marvel of the panoramic scene wallpaper
- Technical innovations of the early 19th century
- Keeping the craft alive
Wallpaper has been known since at least the 15th century. Starting as a rare luxury item for the elite, wallpaper became more popular in England at the beginning of the 18th century. By then, wallpaper had become a cheap alternative to tapestry or panelling. 1712, the government even imposed a tax on it. Despite the taxation the demand for wallpaper grew in the mid-18th century.
Most wallpapers had been brought to England by the East India Company from China, where Chinese artisans produced hand-painted, dedicated wallpaper for their rich English customers. By the end of the 18th century, producers in France specialized in printed wallpaper became an important competitor on the market. Continue reading
In this post:
The rose is the national flower of England. It is, however, not the rose we know today that became the symbol of the country. The English rose – rosa gallica officinalis –was, roughly said, a wild rose. It was very popular in British gardens of the 18th century, as its fruits could be used as tea, marmalade, or as medicine (thus the alternative name apothecary’s rose).
It was only from the mid-18th century that natural philosophers and gardeners began to experiment with new varieties of roses that had been introduced from other countries. By the end of the 18th century, cultivated roses had spread throughout Europe, and with it a new enthusiasm for this beautiful flower.
When budding star-architect Robert Adam returned from his Grand Tour in 1758, he needed to find clients for the glamorous style he had developed in Italy. He knew that only the very rich would be able to pay for the grandeur he designed. Thus, he and his brothers settled close to High Society. They set up their home first at St. James’s Place, then at Lower Grosvenor Street in London. It was most important for Robert to be regarded as a gentleman architect rather than a professional architect, as he feared that being the latter would lower his status to a mere craftsmen. Robert displayed the many sketches he had made in Italy in his home, while the drawing office was located at New Bond Street, ‘invisible’ for his clients.
It was difficult for the ambitious Adam brothers to find their first commissions. Aristocrats who hadn’t mind Robert’s company abroad in Italy weren’t willing to socialise with him in snobbish London. Eventually, two women were instrumental in starting the Adam brothers’ career. Continue reading
The young man was an upper-middle class Scotsman, a second son, and he had left university prematurely. But he possessed genius and ambition, a convenient wealth of 900 pounds a year, and some hands-on experience gained at his family’s architectural practice. Thus, he was well equipped to embark on a journey to the Continent in the company of an Earl’s brother in 1754. Yet, Robert Adam, aged 26, was not to know that this journey would be the key to making him the most sought-after architect of his time.
The year 2017 marks the 225th anniversary of the death of the famous Scottish architect Robert Adam (3 July 1728 – 3 March 1792). This post is dedicated to the aesthetics of his unique neo-classical style. I have compiled a selection of photos of Adam’s works, from ceilings to chimney-pieces. You are very welcome to enjoy the delicate and the decadent, and the weird and the wonderful. Continue reading
- Palace, Pomp and Politics
- The British Ambassador as Tomb Raider
- Love & the Palace
– Shocking: Emma and Nelson!
- A King from France & the English Princess
Welcome, dear Regency Enthusiast, to a virtual tour of the Palace of Caserta. The palace is a grand building, and the heart of the government of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily (learn more the kingdom as a travel destination for British travellers in the 18th century here and here). In quick succession, the palace is also the home of 3 royal couples, their British friends and visitors – and their scandals: Continue reading
The Romantic Age saw a quick succession of trends in furniture fashion. These trends had one thing in common: They were inspired by foreign cultures, and often sparked by exploration and discoveries.
Travelling was expensive. Doing the Grand Tour to see the art treasures of France and Italy was only for the rich. Decorating a room with furniture in the style of the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations demonstrated wealth and education. Later in the age, wars and the Continental Blockade put a stop to private travelling. Nevertheless, furniture inspired by distant countries brought an exotic touch to the home.
Which style was fashionable in which decade of the Romantic Age? When would the hero of a Regency novel buy furniture inspired by the Egyptian culture? Would the heroine be likely to sleep in a lit à la polonais in 1812? Here is a small, chronological exhibition to answer these questions. Continue reading
Have you ever wondered
- how dark it was in an 18th century country house after sunset?
- what you can see in a room lit only by candles?
- how it feels to enter a room illuminated by several crystal chandeliers?
You could arrange an experiment at your home by lighting some candles at night. But this wouldn’t quite reproduce the lighting conditions of a country house, as there are less gildings, reflecting mirrors and chandeliers in the average apartment of our times.
I thus set out to experience a historic house after nightfall. My central question: What are the lighting conditions and how can a Historical Novel Writer depict them properly in a novel?
Let me take you to the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a grand chateau in France. We will wander its rooms and enjoy its park adorned with thousands of torches.