The eighteenth century was a time of great change in Britain and globally. The 18th century room in the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery features works from the Ashmolean Museum Oxford’s collections, sheds some light on the art, furniture styles and the glass and ceramics of the time.
In this period the ‘Queen Anne’ style of furniture developed. Furniture was smaller, lighter, and more comfortable. It also became generally curved in shape, often with cabriole legs which are characterised by two curves; the upper arc is concave and bows outward while the lower arc is convex and bows inward. The axes of the two curves are in the same plane. Extra decorations were also frequently added to the furniture such as carved shell and scroll motifs.
Our 18th century room contains some chairs in this Queen Anne style. The fireplace is flanked by a pair of mahogany hall chairs, part of a set of six, dating from 1720-1730. These were presented to Oxford University in 1955 by Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax who was Chancellor of the University of Oxford 1933-1959.
There are also six walnut side chairs around the room which were donated by the Keil family who ran the antiques business based at Tudor House prior to the building becoming the base of the Broadway Museum & Art Gallery.
The room also features a number of artworks from portrait artists including Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds, reflecting the development of portraiture during the eighteenth century.
The Gainsborough painting, Two Monks Reading, is interesting as it is a copy of a painting either by Van Dyck or Rubens, which was in his possession.
The painting by Reynolds is a portrait of Dr Joseph Warton a poet and headmaster of Winchester College between 1766 and 1793.
During this period the international trade in luxury commodities, such as tea, coffee, chocolate and sugar grew. Fashionable families showed their wealth and status through their possession of silverware and porcelain.
Broadway Museum’s eighteenth century room contains two cabinets packed with glassware, ceramics and English, Irish and Scottish delftware.
Most of the glassware on display are part of a collection presented to the Ashmolean Museum in 1957 by Monica Marshall in memory of her only son, William Somerville Marshall who was killed in action in the Second World War. Lead crystal glass was developed by George Ravenscroft during the 1670s and improvements in glass-making continued in the eighteenth century. Among the objects on display are a wide range of wine and other glasses, a posie-holder, a glass horn and flasks.
There are Bristol, Worcester, Staffordshire and Armorial Ceramics objects in the collection which includes teapots, tea bowls and saucers, plates, dishes and jugs. Delftware – tin-glazed earthenware – was named after after the Dutch town of Delft which was renowned for its blue and white potter inspired by Chinese porcelain. Delftware had first come to Britain in the sixteenth century and remained popular in this country until it was superseded by creamware and porcelain in the 1770s. Objects in the collection include plates, teapots and a bottle and a night light holder.