Supporting Beth's comments : -)
Posted by Carolyn B on May 06, 1998 at 21:16:30:
In response to Furniture and how we live, written by Beth on May 05, 1998 at 23:10:02
] Before the Regency period, furniture was arranged around the perimeter of the room (including dining tables), with specific pieces being pulled out as they were required. Furniture that was not being used and was sitting by the walls was called "at rest."
] It was during the Regency period that rooms became less formal and more relaxed. The rooms you see in P&P2 and S&S2 are accurate in that groupings of furniture would be placed about the room acording to function. For example, a grouping near the fireplace, one near a window for work requiring good light, perhaps a small table and chairs for tea.
Supporting Beth's comments, in Peter Thornton's Authentic Decor: The Domestic Interior, 1620-1920 (ISBN 0 517 10328 1), the author quotes a Frenchman visiting England in 1810-1811. He visited Osterley Park which Robert Adam had decorated in the 1760s-70s and found that the furniture had been pulled away from what Thornton calls "its intended position against the walls." The Frenchman wrote:
Tables, sofas, and chairs, were studiously deranges [sic]about the fireplaces, and in the middle of the rooms, as if the family had just left them, although the house had not been inhabited for several years.
Such is the modern fashion of placing furniture carried to an extreme, as fashions always are, but the apartments of a fashionable house [now] look like an Upholsterer's or cabinet-maker's Shop.
Thornton interprets this description as evidence that [his words]: "the new craving for a more relaxed way of life and less formal arrangements indoors" was "by the time of the Frenchman's visit...well established, it seems." (I assume the term "dérangé" means "disarranged" rather than "deranged" ; )
Thornton describes one of the prints in the book (which has lots of great period illustrations):
"The new fashion of placing furniture out on the floor, and especially round the fireplace, is neatly exemplified by the proposal for a drawing room made in 1800 by a young English architect where we see the pair of sofas placed at right angles to the fireplace instead of alongside, flanking it against the wall."
There is also a "charming drawing of an English dérangé drawing room in use" from 1805 showing a middle-class house in Cumberland. My description: in the background is a small fireplace - a sofa is at right-angle to that - three women sit doing handwork and have a small table in front of them holding two candles. A "pouch table" (small worktable with a fabric pouch drawer) sits nearby with its lid up. Across from the women, a man sits reading (presumably aloud?)on a short bench also at an angle to the fire.
The 1920s house museum where I work has some small Regency-style tables in its collection, including a pouch-table. They are narrow and very light-weight so they could be easily moved around. (We're still working out which are Regency period vs. early 20th C. reproductions.)
- To you all, thanks --- Deborah (MaMa) 11:58:13 5/12/98 (0)
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