From the Deccan

Embroidered Indian silk, or 'Decca work', on the bed in Mr Child's Bedroom at Osterley Park. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

The perenially interesting Style Court blog has just done another post on Indian textiles, and that has inspired me to feature the East Asian textiles at Osterley Park

Osterley Park, in Middlesex, was the country house of the Child banking family. The ninth Earl of Jersey gave the house to the National Trust in 1949. The contents were purchased by the Government and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which administered Osterley until 1991 when the National Trust took full control of it.

The Childs had connections with the East India Company, and there are collections of East Asian porcelain and lacquer in the house.

Some of the surviving Indian embroidered silk. ©National Trust

In the eighteenth century it was fashionable to use ‘Decca work’, embroidered silk made in the Deccan in Southern India, as furnishing material. By the early 1780s the mahogany four-poster bed in Mr Child’s Bedroom at Osterley was entirely made up with Decca work, and some of it still remains, albeit now slightly darkened by age.

Satinwood bed designed by Robert Adam with painted taffeta hangings. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

In the same period the bed in the Yellow Taffeta Bedchamber had Chinese taffeta hangings painted with a floral design.

Detail of the painted taffeta. ©National Trust

 The current hangings were remade in the 1920s from the original design.

Window pelmet and curtains in the same room. ©National Trust

In the late eighteenth century these bedrooms would also have been furnished with Chinese wallpaper, lacquer furniture and Chinese paintings on silvered glass, so the exotic atmosphere would have been quite strong. Chinese wallpaper was generally used in bedrooms as it was felt to create a more informal effect.

9 Responses to “From the Deccan”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Emile, Your posts are always just right. The artistic vision of the incredible Robert Adam bed & the hundreds of people hours that went into Decca work illustrate human endeavors at their highest. And, of course, the fact that you always include a brief history of the venue caps the appeal for me. Thank you.

  2. Barbara Says:

    A little more…I wrote a note on my blog about other blogs that appeal to me, and yours was uppermost in my mind.

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Barbara, you are too kind! But I agree with you that the historical context of these objects makes them even more fascinating.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    As for your second comment, again you are being too generous 🙂 But it does seem to be a law of blogging that the more you ‘give’ (i.e. post, comment, link), the more you get back.

  5. Karena Says:

    The Decca work is an equisite art form. So enchanting. Thank you for sharing Emile.

    Art by Karena

  6. le style et la matière Says:

    Such beauty! The canopy in the top photo seems to be covered with the fabric throughout its most minute carved details. Truly amazing.

  7. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Karena & Le style, Yes it is amazing, and it would have been even more impressive when the whole bed was covered with it. Covering the fretwork cornice with fabric seems to be a hang-over from the seventeenth century, when every visible surface on important beds was covered with fabric.

  8. style court Says:


    You are always so generous with your words (and links!)

    The Decca work is stunning. It’s just so fascinating to compare and contrast these masterpieces with contemporary things and I’m so happy you’re sharing all of these examples from the Trust. Will add a link to this post on my blog.


  9. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks very much Courtney, but that’s what I have learned from people like you!

    Isaac Asimov once said that outer space is not ‘out there’ – we are right in the middle of it. I think it is the same with the past: it’s all around us.

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