This seminar for scholars and museum professionals sought to explore some key themes around the nature of domestic interiors as found in British portraits from the early modern period to the present day. How can we start to interpret the pictorial world in which portrait sitters are placed? Are such spaces representations of contemporary interiors, or are they fictional spheres which – like pose, costume, and props – serve to convey coded messages about the sitters? By exploring portraits in various media throughout this period, speakers considered these questions, helping interiors and portrait researchers to understand these mediated artistic constructs and interpret the contemporary symbolism within.

This event was a collaboration between the Histories of Home and the Understanding British Portraits Subject Specialist Networks. It was aimed at researchers, academics, and museum professionals engaged with portraiture, or historical and modern interiors. Papers included scholarly case studies as well as contributions from museum professionals using portraits as a research tool, and engaging audiences in design history through the use of historic portraits.

Venue: Geffrye Museum, London

PDF: Decoding the domestic interior in British portraits 28 June ’17 – programme

PDF: Decoding the domestic interior in British portraits 28 June ’17 – further reading