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The Victorian Era

The Victorian era of the United Kingdom was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign from June 1837 until her death on 22nd January 1901. 

Queen Victoria was well loved by her people and it was a long period of prosperity for many of the British people.

Because the reign of Queen Victoria covered a long period of time it tends to be divided into Early Victorian, Middle Victorian, and Late Victorian and many changes of style occurred throughout this time. 

The Victorian decorative arts refer to the style of decorative arts during the Victorian era…. well known for its eclectic revival and interpretation of historic styles and the introduction of cross cultural influences from the Middle East and Asia.

The decorating of homes reflected a definite Victorian style – bareness in a room was considered in poor taste and so it was that a stylish Victorian home was crammed with objects that reflected the home-owners effort to show that they were indeed “stylish”. Exotic fabrics and furniture, porcelain, silver, china, paintings and rugs. Plants were seen everywhere – palms and ferns were seen in parlours and stuffed animals under glass were often exhibited. 

Love of family was exhibited through prominent display of lithographs (the photos of the day). Prints and paintings were displayed alongside commemorative souvenirs of the Royal Family. 

A woman’s worth during this period was often judged by how well she could “manage” a household whilst indulging in the gentler pastimes such as embroidery, making lace, playing a musical instrument or painting. 

Furniture went through a very interesting phase as there did not appear to be one dominant style. Designers used styles taken from other time periods like Gothic, Tudor, Elizabethan, English Rococo, Neoclassical etc.

There was strong use of wallpaper during this time with elaborate floral patterns with primary colours in the background overprinted with large prints of cream and tan. William Morris was one of the most influential designers of wallpaper and fabrics during the latter half of the Victorian period. Morris used medieval and gothic tapestries in his work. Embossed paper was used on ceilings and friezes.