A room with a blog

The breakfast Room at Osterley Park, before its recent repainting in ‘Batman grey’ and the start of the conservation project. ©National Trust Images/Mark Fiennes

Some rooms have views, other have blogs — and some have both. The Breakfast Room at Osterley now has its own blog, documenting the conservation process that aims to rediscover its original yellow colour scheme.

The Breakfast Room as the contents are being removed. © National Trust

Between 1949 and 2011 the Breakfast Room had undergone several redecorations, including a green and a yellow scheme, carried out first by the Victoria & Albert Museum and latterly by the National Trust.

James Finlay scrutinizing the evidence. © National Trust

The room was recently painted grey when it was used as one of the sets for the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. The fees charged for the filming have now enabled Osterley to instigate a full-scale investigation into the original yellow.

A paint scrape from the dado, showing a yellow layer on top of an earlier blue one. © National Trust

In 1772 Agneta Yorke visited Osterley and described the Breakfast Room as being ‘a lemon colour with blew ornaments.’

An unpicked sample of the 20th-century wallpaper, showing different layers of paint, paper and linings. © National Trust

But descriptions of colours are notoriously subjective, and it would be ideal if we could identify physical traces of the original paint.

The discovery of a doorway which once connected the Breakfast Room to the Library Passage. © National Trust

20th-century layers have now been stripped off and paint scrapes have been taken. The various findings are now being analysed, and you will be able to follow the story on the Osterley Breakfast Room blog.

11 Responses to “A room with a blog”

  1. mary Says:

    I will definitely follow the progress of this beautiful music room. Thank you. Mary

  2. style court Says:

    Paint detectives have fascinating work. I’ve learned a bit about Patrick Baty’s projects so I’m really anxious to see what Finlay and the team are doing in the breakfast room — thanks for the link. (And great sidenote re the revenue earned from Batman filming. Are any NT properties in the upcoming James Bond movie?)

  3. style court Says:

    Sorry, I think I meant Dr. Bucklow, Finlay and team.

  4. artandarchitecturemainly Says:

    Great title for a post :)

    Since the room has had many different paints and many different wall papers throughout its history, the task will be to select one particular period and to return to that period with accuracy. I suppose the 1772, 1850 and 1941 versions of the room were all equally valid for the families who lived there, as long as the furniture and fittings match the wall surfaces.

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Mary, glad you like it!

    Courtney, I asked colleague Lauren Taylor in our film office, and she reports that James Bond is not swashbuckling his way around any NT properties in his latest film, but that The World is Not Enough featured Stowe, and Waddesdon Manor was used in Never Say Never Again.

    Helen, yes indeed the room went through a number of incarnations during its ownership by the Child and Child-Villers families, of course, and those are all historically relevant and interesting. As I understand it, the aim of this project is to get as close to the ‘original’ colour as possible, but a lot depends on exactly what evidence is found.

  6. style court Says:

    Appreciate the follow up. I’ll have my eyes peeled for Stowe and Waddeston if I find myself watching those earlier ones.

  7. Mark D. Ruffner Says:

    I think the process of discovering earlier paint schemes of historic rooms is fascinating. I understand that it is only recently that historians working in Williamsburg, Virginia — famous for its grayed colors — have discovered that the American colonialists actually used shockingly bright colors.

  8. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Courtney, here is the Gothic Temple at Stowe in The World is Not Enough featuring as a church where a funeral has just taken place: http://bit.ly/UCf4my — the 18th-century playful Gothick of Stowe being re-interpreted as either original Medieval Gothic or 19th-century earnest Victorian neo-Gothic (I haven’t seen this film so not sure about the narrative context).

  9. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Mark, yes it is dismaying to discover how brash and vulgar our ancestors sometimes were, isn’t it? :) And here we were thinking the 18th century was a haven of good proportions and considered ornament …

  10. ADetailedHouse Says:

    The architectural details are so beautiful!

  11. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks very much :)

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