Monday, May 26, 2008

Regency Style - Thomas Hope 1769 - 1831

Robin watch is over. Baby flew off yesterday morning. My planter now has a plant in it.

While in England I was fortunate to be there for a very special exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. We got up early and went up to London on the train.
a great way to travel I might add. And the V & A does a lovely lunch too.

Thomas Hope pictured here in Turkish Costume helped define the Regency style. He was fascinated with classical purity. A son of a rich banker, he went on the Grand Tour and was much taken with the architecture and the arts of the Ottoman Empire.

On his return, his family having moved to London to escape the French, he set out to improve modern design. He opened his house in Duchess Street, off Portland Place, with a view transforming modern British taste. Very kind of him, I'm sure, being a Dutchman! The Prince of Wales attended the opening. Hope then issued tickets to the house in 1804 to members of the Royal Academy and other notables in society, artists, scholars and designers.

The styles he employed included Egyptian Greek, Roman and Indian as well as a version of French Empire. It really is quite a mismash and is all rather heavy looking, but fascinating.


The house was divided into rooms, to display furniture, sculptures and vases. this is one of the vase rooms, a popular addition to many homes in the era. The Egyptian Room displayed Hope's belief that the ancient Egyptians were the origin of western culture. The walls were of pale yellow and bluish green relieved by masses of black and gold. There is heavy black and gold settee with arms carved with sphinx for example.

The Aurora Room contained a statue of the Aurora, Goddes of Dawn surrounded by mirrors and scarlet curtains, so the statue could be viewed from all sides at once. it is really quite lovely.

He created his own designs in a book called Household Furniture and Interior Decoration in 1807 and provided measurements to help furniture makers make their own copies. This is the first time the words "interior decoration" were used. Sounds far more moderns that that, wouldn't you say. Some of the furniture is almost art deco in appearance.

Much of his furniture from this period can be found at Deepdene, the country estate he bought in Dorking in Surrey. The exhibition shows how this originally red brick Georgian mansion was adapted to blend into its irregular landscape.

If you get a chance to visit, I am sure you will be delighted with this exhibition. I am definitely going to try to visit Deepdene when I am next in England. And I have ordered Hope's book, so I am sure I will be sharing some more of it with you.

I leave you with a picture of his wife, wearing what Hope saw as the quintessential attire for woman, it is of course the Regency gown.

Until next time, happy rambles.