The Georgian Town House is commonly considered the epitome of English style. Its symmetry and gracefulness, derived from Ancient Rome, has embedded itself into English history that it is hard to picture an era more representative of England.
The Georgians were great entertainers and consequently took great interest in fashion and interiors which became progressively more elegant through the era. Exotic influences from China and Japan not only featured, but became the central themes of entire rooms. These foreign themes were the subject of fascination to a society eager to boast an understanding and collection of other cultures.
An 18th Century Chinese Export Black Lacquer Bureau
An English house fortunate enough to possess this bureau would have ensured it sat in a prominent position to be admired. Sophisticated interiors, at this time, would have had hand-painted Chinese wallpapers against which the black lacquer would have stood out but it would have been complimented equally well by the muted tones of the period such as sage green, blue or mustard.
A similarly exotic feature of the Georgian interior was porcelain for which the export markets of China were the most popular choice. The striking designs of Chinese export porcelain were alien to the Western market and thus resulted in huge demand from the English. Dark interiors were injected with floral patterns, cobalt blues and Chinese symbolism that the Georgians did not entirely understand. Ironically, the porcelain patterns once so exotic in the 18th century have become so absorbed into the English interior that they have assumed an Englishness, associated with the rich mahoganies of the period.
An 18th Century Kangxi Period Blue & White Porcelain Vase
Alongside brightening their interiors with porcelain, mirrors were positioned with light in mind and became an important element of the Georgian era. Expensive to produce they became increasingly decorative, often reflective of architectural themes fashioned in a variety of timbers.
A Fine 18th Century George II Period Tabernacle Mirror
This fine Tabernacle mirror was made circa 1740 and features strong architectural motifs, echoing the Neo-Palladian style with a broken swan pediment, foliate swags and a carved eagle. With its applied walnut veneers and gilt gesso it would have been considered the height of fashion whilst being simultaneously functional. At an impressive 54 ½ inches tall, a mirror such as this would have commanded a large space within a Georgian home and would not only have reflected and increased light within the room but offered pleasing reflections of other decorative items such as portraits.
The Georgian Town House, with all its graceful splendour habitually resurfaces in in the designs of subsequent eras; its elegance and sophistication are yet to be matched. Even in the 21st century we continue to look back to Georgian ideals within the context of interior design perhaps due to their unique ability to lend features even to the most contemporary interior with unassumed sophistication.