Peeling Back the Years in a New Exhibition at Woburn Abbey

Come to Woburn Abbey to discover the story of a room through its layers of wallpaper, from its pioneering 1750s Chinoiserie decoration as the 4th Duke of Bedford’s private bedchamber to its later use as an office for household staff in the 19th into the 20th century. Get close to beautiful hand-painted Chinoiserie papers and explore how these were made, sold and hung during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This exhibition tells the fascinating story of a decorative element with which we all live, in its most inventive and luxury form.

‘Peeling Back The Years’ showcases the many Chinoiserie papers and silks at Woburn, drawing out their individual iconographies, and illustrating the different approaches to decorating in this style in the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. A display of materials and implements demonstrates the advanced techniques used in the creation and installation of these papers. The original documentary evidence detailing how the craftsmen and suppliers worked at Woburn Abbey will bring to life these processes as well as illuminating the research which goes into discovering and recreating the history of a room.

A trail through the rest of the house with show the progression of the Chinoiserie style through the different rooms and periods. Innovatively, the exhibition will also link the wallpapers and interiors with the extensive usage of Chinoiserie in the beautiful gardens at Woburn, winner of the 2013 Georgian Group award for restoration of a Georgian garden or landscape. The trail continues through these and takes in Henry Holland’s Chinese Dairy and Jeffry Wyattville’s Chinese Pavilion amongst others.

2014 is the year for chinoiserie and wallpaper. Woburn Abbey is collaborating with the National Trust, who are launching a trail and catalogue of all the Chinoiserie papers in their houses across the country.

The exhibition will be open from Friday 11th April until Sunday 28th September 2014. 

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