Music Room of the Royal Pavilion, 1826

In this aquatint taken from John Nash’s Views of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, we glimpse the rich and luxurious opulence of the Music Room. This is the most magnificent of Frederick Crace’s interiors for George IV’s palace.

What can we see?

Mythical beasts, symbols and emblems

The Music Room is rich in ‘Chinoiserie’ decorations, a European imitation of Chinese design, fashionable at the time. These decorative schemes, dominated by rich reds and golds are evident in the gilded snake-like dragons, slithering down columns or crawling along the walls.

Glittering lotus-shaped chandeliers decorated with flowers and warriors light the scene. The sumptuous carpet is resplendent with a wealth of Chinese imagery including birds, bats, clouds and a central dragon, all with hidden meanings.

In Chinese mythology the bat represents a symbol of longevity; placed alongside clouds it indicates good fortune. The dragon is also a creature of benevolence and good omen, while the lotus flower is an emblem of purity in adversity.

Pagodas

Murals on the walls adorned with Chinese scenes of painted bamboo and pagodas reflect the three-dimensional pagodas that stand along the walls.

People spotting

George’s splendidly dressed guests, ladies with feathers in their hair and men in colourful military suits, gather in the music room.

Some are seated, animated in conversation and perhaps people-spotting, some stand as if preparing to take to the dancefloor, with the music of the concert in mid flow.

Music

Music was one of George’s great passions, he enjoyed singing and played the pianoforte and cello. He also employed his own private band of up to forty or more musicians, similar in fashion to our contemporary military bands.

The band would often perform late into the evening, with an extensive repertoire including popular works by Handel and Beethoven. In 1823, as a guest of George, the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini performed several of his works on piano.

Author: Beverley Green

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