A parlour in 1745
The standard London townhouse changed very little throughout the eighteenth century and the layout of the parlour, with its three sash windows, the painted softwood panelling and the marble fire surround, is similar to rooms of an earlier date.
New additions in the parlour included goods imported from India and China. These were highly desirable, but they were also expensive, affordable only to the wealthy. To meet demand, English manufacturers increasingly copied oriental styles of decoration, of which the japanned corner cabinet is an example. Its glossy surface imitates oriental lacquer.
Such imitations and authentic oriental goods were frequently mixed in stylish homes. The ceramics on the table - the teapot, tea bowls and small dishes - were all imported from China. When tea was first introduced, it was very expensive and therefore only drunk in small quantities. Taking tea was seen as the height of refinement and also became associated with good manners.
Miss Elizabeth Hemyng by Arthur Devis, oil on canvas, c1742
Bracket clock by Robert Higgs, c1735
India-back chair, walnut, c1730, with modern upholstery (detail of back)