Thinking pink at the Royal Pavilion

The Long Gallery at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. ©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

The Long Gallery at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. ©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

At the recent ‘Objects, Families, Homes’ conference of the East India Company at Home project I heard a fascinating lecture by Dr Alexandra Loske about the rich array of colours and motifs in the interiors of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

Chinese famille rose porcelain lidded vase, inv. no. 1245511, at Polesden Lacey. ©National Trust/Lynda Hall

Chinese famille rose porcelain lidded vase, inv. no. 1245511, at Polesden Lacey. ©National Trust/Lynda Hall

Alexandra teased out how some of the decoration came from Chinese sources, such as famille rose porcelain and mandarins’ robes, while other elements came from European illustrated books about China and the ongoing tradition of imitation-Chinese – or chinoiserie – decoration.

The Long Gallery in John Nash's Views of the Royal Pavilion, 1826 (image from Austenonly)

The Long Gallery in John Nash’s Views of the Royal Pavilion, 1826 (image from Austenonly)

Out of these diverse and and sometimes unexpected influences the ‘design team’ – comprised of the Prince of Wales (client), John Nash (architect) and John and Frederick Crace and Robert Jones (designers) – then created the extraordinarily rich synthesis that we can still experience at the Royal Pavilion today.

Alexandra Loske holding Moses Harris's influential The Natural System of Colours (c.1769-76), and with a fragment of Chinese wallpaper in the collection of the Royal Pavilion in the background.

Alexandra Loske holding Moses Harris’s influential The Natural System of Colours (c.1769-76), and with a fragment of Chinese wallpaper in the collection of the Royal Pavilion in the background.

Alexandra has also master-minded a special display at the Royal pavilion entitled ‘Regency Colour and Beyond – 1785-1850’, about the Regency-period fascination with colour. The display has been based on Alexandra’s research, which was carried out in collaboration with the conservators at the Royal Pavilion and pigment specialists at the National Gallery.

Fragment of the original wall decoration of the Long Gallery, inspired in part by Chinese wallpaper and in part by famille rose porcelain. ©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Fragment of the original wall decoration of the Long Gallery, inspired in part by Chinese wallpaper and in part by famille rose porcelain. ©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

The project was part of Alexandra’s collaborative doctorate, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which aims to encourage interaction between academic and non-academic institutions and businesses. I, for one, hope to learn more from Alexandra about the role of Chinese wallpaper in the development of the Royal Pavilion.

6 Responses to “Thinking pink at the Royal Pavilion”

  1. artandarchitecturemainly Says:

    You didn’t say how tall the Chinese famille rose porcelain lidded vase is. But I am sure a lot of drama comes from the boldness of the objects, as well as the rich array of colours and motifs. Gorgeousness layered on top of gorgeousness!

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Helen, yes like a modern-day rock star George IV could never really stop shopping, redecorating and rebuilding, but what remains of his purchases and projects shows a sure eye for sophisticated design.

    The vase is 127 cm high and sits on a stand which is another half a meter or so, so it stands quite tall. It is at Polesden Lacey in Surrey and has no direct connection with the Royal pavilion, but there is a stylistic link. There is a direct line from the rich eclecticism of Regency taste, as shown by George IV, the 2nd Marquess of Hertford and William Beckford, via the 10th Duke of Hamilton and the Rothschilds in the middle of the nineteenth century, to grand Edwardian interiors such as Polesden’s.

  3. Andrew Says:

    I’m sure you know that many of the fixtures and fittings from Brighton Pavilion ended up at Buckingham Palace, lending a distinctly oriental feel in some rooms.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes Queen Victoria took some items and furnishings to Buckingham Palace. There are some wonderful pictures by James Roberts c.1855 showing them in situ there, in the Yellow Drawing Room (http://bit.ly/1kvNtMR) and the Pavilion Breakfast Room (http://bit.ly/1nIKqWr). I think the latter is still more or less the same, now called the Chinese Dining Room.

  5. Alexandra Loske (@Saschaloske) Says:

    Yes, Queen Victoria did take most things before she sold the Pavilion in 1850, including fireplaces, chandeliers, carpets, wall hangings and all the furniture. Many fixtures and other items were returned, but many remain at Buckingham Palace, having become absorbed into the fabric and history of the building. A related blog post here: http://rpmcollections.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/what-can-these-diamond-jubilee-portraits-tell-us-royal-pavilion/

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks very much Alexandra for those comments and the link.

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