House Beautiful

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To tie in with the V&A's exhibition The Cult of Beauty, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the effect of the Aesthetic movement on the home in Britain.

Many artists and craftsmen were repelled by the ugly mass produced goods on show at the 1851 Exhibition.

A reactive movement started that made BEAUTY the focus and ambition, not only of art but of all things including household goods and furnishings.

Laurence starts at Leighton House in London, the opulent studio-home of the painter Frederic Lord Leighton, which was open for the public to admire and emulate.

Rossetti, Whistler and Wilde also had houses which became hugely fashionable for their muted colour, their harmonious furnishings and their refined collection of art and objects, many from Japan and the Middle East.

Laurence traces the style to the very heart of middle class suburbia where all things 'artistic' became an obsession.

And we hear how much we owe to that movement today - how our glassy home magazines are descendants of the Victorian 'home hints', how the tiles and wallpapers we choose, the idea of lifestyle' and of 'good taste' can be attributed to what happened during the 1870s.

Prodcuer: Susan Marling

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen considers the impact of the Aesthetic movement on the British home.