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When George III embarked on his long reign in 1760 the various styles in Georgian interiors decoration that have already been described were all established and although there were a considerable number of houses being built to individual requirements the main theme, on the whole, was still Classic.It is impossible to deal with this highly cultured phase in our history without simultaneously becoming aware of the great number of gifted craftsmen who left the houses of this country so much richer by their industry and example.
Such names as Chippendale, Sheraton, Hepplewhite, the brothers Adam and their many followers are all intimately concerned with this subject of Georgian interiors decoration. The many books and folios that were being published-illustrating their various works and explaining how such and such a design was to be carried out-were a boon to the Guild craftsmen throughout the country. The fantastic amount of work attributed to these particular artists is, unfortunately for posterity, quite impossible to verify or believe, but that their designs were copied, with various degrees of success, by both skilled and less skilled workmen, is an undeniable fact. Thus a Hepplewhite chest of drawers today usually means one that can be found illustrated in Hepplewhite's `Guides' and not necessarily made in his workshop.
When Robert Wood produced illustrated works on the ruins of Palmyra and Baalbek in 1753-57 an interest in Roman grandeur prevailed, to be encouraged further when Robert Adam's 'Diocletian's Palace at Spalato' was published a few years later.
The case with which a new idea could be thrust upon an educated community with a very vivid interest in anything `modern' is particularly striking in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and the illustrated book was seldom devoid of such influence. That its individual interpretation was not entirely concerned with architectural construction is abundantly noticeable in the various forms and designs that appeared, inspired by the published drawings but not necessarily relevant to applied architecture; for instance in Chippendale's `Gentleman & Cabinet Makers' Directory' published in 1754 designs and borders appear for paper-hangings. These `designs' consist of such things as urns and swags, classic pictures and the smaller motifs employed in classic design (all of great importance to Georgion interiors design). They were meant to be cut out and stuck on to a wall to give a classic flavour to the room they graced. As the paper-hanger was often also the artist who designed and printed his own papers, we may assume that such designs and others like them were copied and carried out throughout the country.
The room illustrated overleaf is an amusing departure from what had originally been intended. When Ston Eaton was built the cupboards, cornice and fireplace of this little room were designed to carry out the general scheme used in the whole house-that of a Palladian building in the Inigo Jones tradition. The room was, however, re-decorated at some time towards the close of the century with the prints, swags, urns and `miniatures' already mentioned, that appeared in book form ready to hand for the home decorator.
The present owner holds a theory-handed down in the family-that the decoration of this particular room was the careful work of two aunts. These ladies may possibly have been great-aunts or even great-great-aunts. It is, of course, almost impossible to date the `prints' because they nearly all depict scenes and figures of the past, and mostly show the nude and draped figure in Heroic classic in the Georgian interiors style. There is however, one exception which shows the inside of a prison and women prisoners wearing the clothes of the 1780's or 90's. This was in all probability a print from some incident connected with the French Revolution.