Interiors as works of art

Rossetti's bedroom at Cheyne Walk, by Henry Treffry Dunn (1839-1899), at Wightwick Manor. ©NTPL/John Hammond

One of the paintings at Wightwick Manor, in Wolverhampton, has just gone on loan to the exhibition The Cult of Beauty at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It is a depiction by Henry Treffrey Dunn of the bedroom of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, painted as if seen in a convex mirror.

Dunn’s painting has been used to recreate the bedroom in the V&A exhibtion. Rossetti was one of the artists who played a major role in the Aesthetic Movement. In his house on Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, he deliberately blurred the boundaries between art and life.

The fireplace in the Oak Room at Wightwick. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Wightwick Manor still contains original interiors that were heavily influenced by the Aesthetic Movement. The rooms have the same mixture of antique furniture, metalwork and ceramics that Rossetti helped to make fashionable.

Head of a young woman, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). ©NTPL/John Hammond

There is also a collection of pre-Raphaelite art at Wightwick, including works by Rossetti himself.

The Hall Alcove at Wightwick. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Many of the textiles in the house are by Morris & Co, similar examples of which are also shown at the V&A.

©NTPL/Paul Raeside

Wightwick was built by the Victorian industrialist Theodore Mander and was given to the National Trust by his son Sir Geoffrey Mander in 1937.

The Dunn painting is illustrated in an article by the curator of the V&A exhibition, Stephen Calloway, in the May 2011 edition of The World of Interiors. The Cult of Beauty exhibition also features in the March/April 2011 edition of Selvedge.

From tomorrow I shall be on holiday for a week.

11 Responses to “Interiors as works of art”

  1. Barbara Says:

    We will miss you.

  2. Hels Says:

    Excellent! Your very final photo, that included the Morris textiles, actually reminded me a Vermeer interior eg Allegory of Faith or The Art of Painting. Of course they were from a different century and a different nation, but he certainly focused on interiors as works of art.

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    What an interesting comparison – and apart from the curtain, there is a hint of Vermeer in the side lighting, too, come to think of it.

  4. Janet Says:

    Safe travels. Thanks for leaving us with such a lovely post to tide us over. . . Looking forward to hearing of your adventures.

  5. Toby Worthington Says:

    Portait of a Room in a Convex Mirror, though this time, not by Parmagianino.
    What a charming concept, and then to take it further by employing it as
    a guide to restoration. The whole thing put a smile on my face.

  6. style court Says:

    The painting is so captivating. Now I can’t wait for the May WoI (saw the Selvedge coverage though). Happy trails, Emile.

  7. Deb Says:

    Thank you for this post! Can you please verify for me that the painting is just the circular scene, and the “frame” is not part of the painting? Is this a photo of the painting as it’s been mounted at Wightwick (against a bookshelf, it looks like)? I am intensely interested in any detail or lead you could give me to follow up on this. Thanks!

  8. this write life Says:

    Loving the renewed interest in Rossetti!

  9. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Deb, it is a watercolour on paper, presumably painted from a view in a convex mirror, but the frame is a real one. In the photograph it seems to have been propped up on a chair, but normally it hangs on the wall in the Dining Room at Wightwick. It came originally from the artist’s brother, William Michael Rossetti (who can be seen in my post of 1 April below).

  10. sofia Says:

    Hi, I´m a industrial designer and i´m doing a research about design for my master thesis, it had been hard to find good pictures of arts&carfts with Morris designs. I want your permission to use your picture “The fireplace in the Oak Room at Wightwick” in my work, of course i will give you the credit.

  11. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Sofia, great to hear of your research. The best thing to do would be to contact our photo library, National Trust Images ( I don’t think they charge, or only very minimally, for academic usage (but please check with them about that). At that wesbite you will also be able to search for other Arts & Crafts-related images.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: