‘Decorators May be Compared to Doctors’: An Analysis of Rhoda and Agnes Garrett's Suggestion for House Decoration in Painting, Woodwork and Furniture (1876)

Ferry, Emma ORCID: 0000-0002-1295-8430 (2003) ‘Decorators May be Compared to Doctors’: An Analysis of Rhoda and Agnes Garrett's Suggestion for House Decoration in Painting, Woodwork and Furniture (1876). Journal of Design History, 16 (1). pp. 15-33. doi:10.1093/jdh/16.1.15

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Domestic advice manuals are, like any other texts, constructed discourses that cannot be used as conventional historical evidence. They need to be understood both as historical documents that engage with contemporary notions of design and taste, and as a genre of Victorian narrative: they need to be placed in a context of other narratives, both historical and literary, and explored using both historical methodologies and literary theories. Of the twelve volumes that comprise the “Art at Home” series published by Macmillan (1876- 83), four deal exclusively with interior design and decoration. Written by “Lady Experts” these texts seem to contribute to the Victorian ideology of the proper sphere of womanhood and to the cult of the “House Beautiful”. This paper considers perhaps the best known of these texts, Suggestions for House Decoration, written by Rhoda and Agnes Garrett. Ostensibly a text defending the “Queen Anne” style and offering advice on the design and decoration of the home, when read analytically, it can also be understood as a resistance to patriarchy and a subversion of Victorian domestic ideology through its demonstration of the hard-won knowledge and skills gained by England’s first professional female interior decorators.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is excerpted in several readers (see related URLs)
Uncontrolled Keywords: domestic advice manuals; female employment; Garrett. Rhoda and Agnes; gender politics; interior decorators; women designers
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Subjects: N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Research Priority Areas: Creative Practice and Theory
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2023 15:22
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2023 15:53
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/12468

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