Today we return to our tour of the Brighton Pavillion, the magnificent seaside palace which was the darling child of Jane Austen’s most detested Prince Regent.  She would most certainly have not approved of him or his excesses, but as evidence of his world has survived, I see no reason for us not to take a look (and secretly enjoy it all!)

Today I am going to concentrate on only one room, as it is so magnificent: The Music Room. You can see its position in the building by looking at the  ground floor plan of the rooms in the Pavillion, below. This floor plan shows the Pavillion as it was in the 1820s and the Music Room’s position on the Steyne Frontage of the building is indicated by the red arrow:

This is how it appeared in the 1820s…

This watercolour by John Nash, who then was the Prince Regent’s favoured architect and who was responsible for the design of the building, shows the Prince sitting to the left of the picture. He is depicted  sitting between his mistress of the time, Lady Conyngham and her daughter.

 

It is thought that the couple opposite them on the far right of the picture are the Duke and Duchess of Wellington.

 

The orchestra-The Royal Band- is shown standing before the magnificent organ, and it is thought that the conductor may even be Gioachino Rossini who visited the Pavilion on the 20th December 1823 to conduct and direct the members of the royal band in playing selections from his operas for the entertainment of the Court. His operas were,of course ,the big musical hits of the day…We do have to note that the Prince, later George IV was a man who wanted the best…of everything…all the time….

 

This room is, as you can see, splendid in every way.

 (©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

You can clearly see the organ in the rear centre of the photograph above, and in my photograph, below. The organ was the largest and most powerful domestic organ made in England at the time…Well, of course it was….

The Prince was terribly fond of music and its importance to him is shown in the decoration of this astounding room. All the Chinoiserie decoration was the work of  three people, John Nash and the decorators, Frederick Crace and Robert Jones. It took nearly two years to complete it; work began on the room in March 1818 and ended in January 1820.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

The deep and dramatic colors are an indication that this room was primarily intended for use in the evening, after the company had eaten in the Banqueting room and then processed along the Gallery. Then, in the dark, the colours would glow and the room and the lighting would-be seen to best advantage. The gaolers, which are chandeliers powered by gas, which was introduced as a power source to the building  from 1821, are in the shape of waterlilies.

And the clerestory windows, which you can see in the photographs above and  below, were like the windows in the Banqueting Room, designed to be lit from behind at night, to add to the overall splendour.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

Robert Jones designed the chimney piece-at a cost that would have impressed even Mr Collins- £1684, and the Spode Pagodas-four of which are over 15 feet high- are now in the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

The French artist, Lambelet was responsible for the wall panels painted in imitation of Chinese lacquer, and which depicted scenes from Sir George Staunton’s book, An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China by William Alexander, which was published in 1796.

In accordance with the general over the top Chinoiserie theme, Dragons abound…holding chandeiliers…

Their tails curling sinuously down the curtains…..

This is just a magnificently over the top room- and what is even more interesting is that this room’s current state of preservation is a miraculous work of restoration as it was almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1975. While Jane Austen may not have approved of it, I find it absolutely entrancing.The stuff of dreams.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

You may like to know that this exhibition has recently been awarded the Sussex Fashion Outstanding Achievement Award 2011. we shall see more of the costumes in the next post in this series.