Thomas Hope & the Regency style is another great discovery for Regency era fans at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Hope you enjoy learning about Thomas Hope (1769–1831), designer, design reformer and collector.
Thomas Hope inherited a tradition of collecting as well as vast wealth from the family bank, to become a collector on a grand scale and also an innovative designer of great genius who helped define Regency style.
His extensive Grand Tour travels in Europe, Greece, Turkey and Egypt inspired his interest in antiquities as a source of designs for Regency interiors, furniture and metalwork. He was determined to reform contemporary taste by returning architecture and the arts, including interior design and furniture, to what he conceived as the spirit of classical purity.
- Robert Adam
The colourful interiors of Duchess Street and of Hope’s country house, Deepdene in Surrey, played a unique role in the history of collecting, interior design and display.
Both were open to select visitors, but his furniture reached an even wider public through his book, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration. Published in 1807, this book introduced the term ‘interior decoration’ into the English language.
His designs appeared in trade journals and books on interior design, and though the Duchess Street house was demolished in 1851, its contents were taken to The Deepdene where they remained accessible to the public.
In 1917 his collection was dispersed in a great sale at The Deepdene. This led to a renewed interest in Hope’s achievement, for objects designed by him were bought by collectors and museum directors in Europe and the USA, so reaching a wider public. Hope’s style influenced the Regency Revival of the 1920s and ’30s, and even Art Deco design.
The interiors created by Hope at his London house in Duchess Street, off Portland Place, were the fullest expression of his mission to transform modern British taste.
He opened the house in 1802, with a grand party attended by the Prince of Wales. To the surprise of his contemporaries, he then issued admission tickets in 1804 to members of the Royal Academy. Subsequently there were numerous other visitors to the house, including leaders of society, artists, scholars and designers.
Hope’s startling juxtaposition of styles included Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Indian elements, as well as his own version of the French Empire style. Classical sculpture and vases were displayed alongside modern paintings and sculpture. Most striking of all was the inventive and exotic furniture that Hope designed specifically for the house.