The Geffrye Museum specialises in the history of the home, particularly the main living spaces of English urban, middle-class houses from 1600 onwards.

Its collection of paintings, prints and drawings provides a rich source of information about home furnishings, reflecting changing values and ideas about home and family life. This particular painting is a remarkably well-documented depiction of a specific, middle-class London household by a significant artist. It shows the artist’s brother, Alfred Rooke, and his family preparing to play a piece of music together at their home in the Mount Park area of Ealing. The room is furnished in the ‘artistic’ taste that had become fashionable among the urban middle classes as an alternative to more mainstream furnishing choices. The wallpaper looks similar to William Morris designs and the muted but rich reds, greens and yellows are typically associated with Aesthetic interiors. The choice of a simple pot of heather, a humble heathland flower popularly associated with luck, for the table decoration, clearly demonstrates the family’s ‘artistic’ preferences.

Provenance

In artist’s family until 1978/9; Julian Hartnoll; Joseph Setton; by descent.


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