I wasn’t intending to blog today but this is irresistible!
This afternoon we went to look around a home which has been preserved exactly as it was when decorated in 1886 for the fabulously wealthy silk merchant, Rudolph Christensen. He lived there with his wife and three children: a son and two daughters, Gerda and Ellen. Here are the children.
The girls never married and lived in the house until they died as old women in the 1960s. They changed nothing about the house, in deference to their parents’ taste, and it was then given to the National Museum of Denmark. So, it’s a fabulous time capsule showing the life of the very best in Danish Society in the late Victorian age.
Our guide, Laura, explained how all the furnishings and decoration were chosen to demonstrate how wealth and success. So Christensen had electricity installed with lampshades designed not to actual shade the light – he wanted people to notice he had electricity. He had one of the first telephones, though no-one to call. The dining room ceiling was decorated with a painted wood effect- so much more expensive than real wood. I did take a few pictures to show you:
The bay in the dining room – where the plant is – is where the string quartet would play during the weekly twelve course meals for eighteen people.
You’ll see from the last photo that they had a bath installed for the family to use (not the servants, of course), and they bathed once a week, which was quite unusual in those days.
Laura was particularly interesting on gender differences; how the decorations of the house reflected the expectations of society. She had a fairly shocking photo of the effects of corsetry on woman’s anatomical development, as they aimed for a 14 inch waist.
Anyway, we were getting towards the end of the tour and Laura said that she had one more thing to show us. This family were one of the very first to install a flushing lavatory – here it is:
But wait – what’s this on the pull the end of the chain?
… instructions! Yey! Pull then walk away.
By the way, the museum has got a video tour around the house here, if you’re interested.
Incidentally, I did ask why it was called the Victorian House, being in Copenhagen. Apparently, the end of the 1800s is called ‘Late Victorian’ even in Denmark.