Regency Rules: The Madness for Great Art & Design in 19th Century England
- 30 January 2021
Indeed, it seems that the ton has found itself in the thick of yet another auction season. The many bids to be tendered after a promenade around Jane’s Room are well underway. Best of luck to those who have not already made arrangements beforehand as preparations began weeks ago— and we all know how vicious the competing collectors can get during this time of year.
As one can expect, the next twelve months will be filled with tales of shock and delight. And I will be here to report all about it— no details, big or small, shall be spared.
However, I may be getting ahead of myself. While this author recognizes the absurdity of some of the ton’s more elaborate traditions, for the sake of new visitors, I shall elaborate on the state of society and our most awaited event— the auction season. Now, dear reader, for this next part, I beg your indulgence.
The year is 1814, Finsbury Square. At the helm of the ton is the Prince Regent, first born son of Mad King George, who himself is the very picture of excess and self-indulgence. One has to wonder who between the two monarchs is more unfit to rule.
While much of the Prince Regent’s leadership, not to mention his ever-growing waistline, leaves much to be desired, there is something to be said about his eye for aesthetics and his patronage of art. After all, it was he who inspired the ton’s obsession with the picturesque. From there, they have taken it upon themselves to fill all their family estates with the same gilded frames, dainty tea sets, ornate silverware, fine tapestries, exquisite portraits, and lush landscape paintings in the style favored by the Prince Regent. One can certainly call this ‘the cult of the picturesque.’
It may be a comfort to know that despite the lack of strong leadership on the part of the monarchy, society goes on. In fact, the ton is thriving, even without the presence of a man in charge. Ladies, are there really any surprises here? A new era is dawning, and perhaps women may now play a hand in the affairs that have long been kept exclusive to men. We are simply living in a fanciful golden age, where the conservative ideals of the ton may slowly rust away. But the fashions, the furniture, the art— all these shall endure.
I dare to wager that the tapestries, tea sets, silverware, furniture purchased by the ton to fill their drawing rooms (and every other room of their homes for that matter)— as well as, everything else that talks of one’s status and wealth, will one day be worth much, much more. Believe me, centuries from now, these social customs and taste for exacting craftsmanship will enjoy timeless admiration from the future generations. Dear reader, I urge you to seek out these fashionable family heirlooms, including the family jewels, for these never quite go out of style.
Though I may never reveal my true identity, I will let you in on a secret— I frequently visit Jane’s Room for my afternoon cup of tea. From the 30th of January through the 4th of February, you may unknowingly catch me there.