The Peacock Room A Cultural Biography Linda Merrill

Publication date:
24 Sep 1998
416 pages: 320 x 260 x 33mm
105 colour plates, 150 b&w illustrations

The magnificent Peacock Room, decorated by James McNeill Whistler in 1876-77 for wealthy London shipowner Frederick Leyland, quickly became one of the most controversial, celebrated, and scandalous rooms in the world. Now on permanent display at the Freer Gallery of Art, the recently restored Peacock Room is widely held to be the most important nineteenth-century interior in an American museum. In this gorgeously illustrated book, Linda Merrill tells the full story of the London dining room that was created to provide a setting for Leyland's extensive collection of Chinese porcelain, the legendary quarrel between Whistler and his patron, and the subsequent critical and popular reception of the room through its museum installation in 1923. In this comprehensive examination of the Peacock Room's history, Merrill offers fascinating insights into nineteenth-century British culture -- taste, patronage, attitudes toward Asian art, origins of art nouveau, and relation to American culture.