As the Diamond Jubilee weekend approaches, I thought I would take a look at some of the objects in the collections of the National Trust that relate to the 1953 Coronation.
They provide a narrowly focused but vivid snapshot of early 1950s cultural and social trends in Britain.
Some of the items show modernist design elements, although in a muted, decorous way. Others are unashamedly traditionalist.
They span the entire spectrum from cheap throwaway items to beautifully designed objects made from durable materials.
But they all seem to include heraldic elements, befitting the highly symbolic, even hieratic nature of the occasion. Style Court has just done a nice post about Arnold Machin’s iconic silhouettes of the Queen.
And the early television set reminds us that in 1953 Britain had only fairly recently entered the broadcast media age – there was debate around whether the coronation should be broadcast on television at all, and when it was decided to do so many people bought TV sets especially for the occasion. Perhaps we are in a similar transitional moment now, as interactive media supplement or take over from broadcast platforms.
More Coronation memorabilia can be found on the National Trust Collections website – with thanks to Philip Claris for highlighting a selection of them.
This also reminds me of the upcoming conference at the Courtauld Institute, London, entitled Art and Its Afterlives, looking at how the meaning of works of art and other objects changes and reverberates long after their original creation.