I’ll come back another time to John Middleton & His Family, 1797 from the Museum of London, but today, this group portrait represents one of the online galleries at The Geffrye Museum of the Home in London. Their website has some nice features, and while I did get distracted playing the Topsy-Turvy Timeline game, what I really like
playing with exploring is the Life in the Living Room 1600-2000 gallery.
This has proven useful in keeping on (slightly distracted) track as we polish silver and think about lighting, entertaining, and the ways rooms were used in the past. In particular, since we settled on the idea of setting a formal table for the “holiday themed tours,” and on the After Dark tours, I’ve been thinking about lighting.
Not only is it clear that the expansive use of candles represented expense and disposable income, it’s also clear that it was uncommon. Special occasions on high-style homes: yes. Everyday use in middling homes: no. Even the charming and well-dressed lady reads by just one candle (though that is also a composition choice, and not purely documentary).
More hilariously to the point, this satirical engraving from the Lewis Walpole Libary: