Windsor chairs are wooden chairs, the backs and sides of which are made of numerous spindles. Typically, the legs are splayed outwards. They often have arms, and backs which are curved and slightly reclining.
One source suggests that they are known as Windsor chairs because they were first made in Windsor in Berkshire in about 1710; another source suggests that High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire was the main location for production of Windsor chairs, and that from 1724 onwards, the town of Windsor became the centre for their transportation to London. During the 18th century, Windsor chairs also became very popular in North America.
Ormolu was originally a technique for applying powdered gold to bronze to produce what was known in French as bronze doré ('gilt bronze'). This was then used to make mountings and decorations for items such as furniture, clocks, porcelain and lighting devices. The use of ormolu was particularly popular amongst 18th and 19th century French furniture and cabinet makers. However, because the ormolu process involved the use of mercury, it was made illegal in France in about 1830.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was a satirical poet and translator. He was particularly fond of using rhyming pairs of lines known as heroic couplets. The extract below is taken from 'The Rape of the Lock', a burlesque (a humorous imitation of a serious work) written in the mock-heroic style:
In various Talk th' instructive hours they past
Who gave the Ball, or paid the Visit last:
One speaks the Glory of the British Queen,
And one describes a charming Indian Screen.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was a major English Romantic poet who become the British Poet Laureate in 1843. He is particularly remembered for his short lyric poem 'Daffodils'; his sonnet 'The World Is Too Much With Us'; his ode 'Intimations of Immortality'; and his lengthy semi-autobiographical poem 'The Prelude'.
It's not clear whether 'Oxford Street', as used here, is gay slang or Polari. It does not appear in the on-line dictionaries and glossaries to be found on the Internet.
Oxford Street is a major shopping street in London's West End. It extends from Marble Arch in the west to High Holborn in the east and is home to various department stores and retail chains (including Selfridges, Debenhams, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer), as well as numerous smaller shops.
Miss Selfridge was founded in 1966 as the young female fashion brand of Selfridge's department store on Oxford Street. Subsequently, the brand appeared in other department stores such as Lewis's, and in independent retail outlets.
There were clashes between the police and young black Londoners at the 1975 Notting Hill carnival, rioting at the 1976 carnival, and further disturbances at the end of the 1987 carnival. As may be seen in this account of the carnival's history, some white residents of the Notting Hill area have been opposed to the holding of the carnival. The 1976 riot was the background to the song 'White Riot' by the punk rock group The Clash, and to the reggae song 'Three Babylon' by Aswad.
Listen here to 'White Riot' on Spotify.
Listen here to 'Three Babylon' on Spotify.
In April 1981 (two years before the period in which this part of The Line of Beauty is set), there were serious clashes between police and protestors in Brixton, an area of south London with a large African-Caribbean community. This event was the first of what became known as the Brixton riots.
For further information about the Notting Hill Carnival, see also the bookmark for p.14.
Reggae is a musical genre which originated in Jamaica in the 1960s. It is particularly associated with the Rastafarian community in general, and with Rastafarian musicians such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Damian Marley.
Click here to find out more about the particular musical characteristics of reggae.
Listen here to Peter Tosh's I Am That I Am on Spotify.
Listen here to Bunny Wailer's Dream Land on Spotify.
Originally, the coat of arms was displayed as a means of identification on the medieval battlefield, but later become a sort of identificatory flag or logo for high status families. Institutions, such as universities, may also have coats of arms.
Rembrandt (1606-1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher who is considered to be one of the greatest European artists. He is particularly well-known for his portraits, self-portraits, and depictions of biblical scenes.
The Pevsner Architectural Guides were a series of guide books on British architecture, published between 1951 and 1974. The series includes a book on the architecture of Buckinghamshire, the county in which Lionel Kessler's country house is set.
Click here to see the guide to Buckinghamshire.
The guides were written mainly by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner (1902-1983), a German-born academic and scholar in the field of art and architectural history who settled in England in 1933.
A porte-cochère is an open-air porch built outside a doorway, or a covered entrance to a courtyard. It is sometimes known as a carriage-porch, as its original function was to shelter travellers as they alighted from their carriages.
Click here to see another image of a porte-cochère.
Baroque is the name given to an artistic and architectural style which originated in Italy at the beginning of the 17th century, and subsequently spread throughout Europe. The style is characterised by elaborate grandeur and a sense of drama.
Rococo, also known as Late Baroque, was an artistic and architectural style which developed in early 18th century France, and subsequently spread to other parts of Europe and to Russia. Like the Baroque style, it was highly ornate, but with a more playful, delicate and graceful character. It featured elaborate curves and scrolls, asymmetrical shapes, shell and plant motifs (particularly the acanthus leaf) and light pastel colours.
Boiserie (often used in the plural form boiseries) is the name given to ornate, intricately carved and decorated wooden panelling which was used on walls, doors and items of furniture. It was particularly popular in 17th and 18th century France, and may be seen in the Palace of Versailles.
In the pictures below the panelling (boiseries) and ceiling have rococo elements, and the frieze around the top of the walls has acanthus leaf motifs. The panelling is taken from the music room of Norfolk house, the London home of the Dukes of Norfolk between 1722 and 1938. It is on display at the V&A Museum in London.
His work includes many still lifes; landscapes, with and without people; portraits; and studies of bathers.