Before we start talking about the Victorian style, it is necessary to say something about the Victorian era.
Queen Victoria was the queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (over 60 years). It marks the period between 1830 and 1900. Her rule is known, among other things, for the fact that Britain has reached high points of development when it comes to prosperity, political stability, and discoveries in the field of transport and communication. It is believed that during the reign of Queen Victoria, the way of looking at human nature was completely changed, under the influence of various discoveries whose importance has not reached that peak since ancient Greece. Discoveries in medicine and technology have been significant. Also, the Industrial Revolution should not be ignored.
When it is said that ”Victorian culture, especially its art and architecture, remained conservative in its appearance”, this should not lead us to think that there was stagnation in the field of art. On the contrary, there was a greater development of personal taste because the middle class could invest money in the design and decor of the houses in which they lived. Britain’s prosperity was reflected in the fact that the middle class had enough to make interior design no longer just a luxury of the rich. And having in mind that Britain, under Queen Victoria’s reign, expanded its borders, there was inevitably a cultural exchange, and the middle class could incorporate things characteristic of Asia and other continents into interior design. Therefore, it is clear why the Victorian era, as a symbol of prosperity and well-being, also influenced the interior of the middle class. It may be one of the most important indicators of economic stability: the interior design was no longer reserved only for rulers and their rich salons, but also for someone from the middle class could create their own, unique style. The availability of decor and decorations to the middle class, as well as their accessibility, has led to mass production.
Victorian style and interior design
It has several characteristics that are important for the Victorian style. One of them is the richness of colors. Perhaps colors, as in Baroque ornaments, were a symbol of prosperity. Either way, as part of the Victorian style, colors came as a result of painting and new dying techniques. We should not forget the invention of aniline dyes that could be dissolved, among other things, in water or alcohol, and people eagerly used them in the form of stripes and floral elements on the wallpaper, curtains, and other furniture. The most used were burgundy, ruby red, and forest green.
The furniture did not develop too much. It was decorated with ornaments, but it was also during the Baroque. Large, massive ottomans full of ornaments adorned the large dining rooms. It was given a little more attention to light, especially candles that filled almost every corner. We can’t help but notice how much the Victorian style, in its choice of massive furniture and candles, is a bit similar to Gothic. However, unlike the darker tones of Gothic and the wide carpets that covered the floor, a parquet made of wood was a characteristic element of the floors, while the wallpaper on the walls was mostly filled with motifs of flowers, nature, and all lit by candles.
The presence of decor was a sign of good taste, while, on the other hand, the sparseness of the furniture was characteristic of the poor. The windows were decorated with curtains of rich fabrics. To get an even richer look, the curtains often contained elements of silk and wool.
It’s not why the Victorian era, when we talk about interior design, is, among other things, characterized as conservative. If we look at the elements that Victorian style represents, it is similar to the previous movements in the interior or takes over their elements, combining them in the old or new way, but not so significant as to say how it completely created a unique style. However, prosperity during the reign of Queen Victoria created space for interior design to be considered more widely than before.
Author: Miloš Lazarević
Photo: Yakira Eppel