If last week's royal wedding has left you wanting more things British, check out the Huntington Library's exhibit Revisiting the Regency: England, 1811-1820.
The Regency period, named for the decade in which the "extravagant, emotional, and self-indulgent" Prince of Wales (later George IV) ruled in place of his mentally disabled father King George III, was an era of expansion in technology, media, arts, and architecture. It was also a time of war and rising unemployment.
Museum visitors who are Jane Austen devotees can see a first edition of "Pride & Prejudice" from 1813. The Prince Regent was a fan of Austen, insisting she dedicate her novel "Emma" to him. Architect John Nash, who spent the bulk of his career working for the Prince, built the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and remade London's West End. He was responsible for the planning of a good deal of what is now contemporary central London. The exhibit includes an image of the Pavilion's "Music Room" from 1826.
Also on view is a manuscript fragment of the score from "King Stephen" by Ludwig van Beethoven. The composer was extremely popular in Regency England. His iconic 9th Symphony was commissioned by the Philharmonic Society of London in 1817. There were developments in fashion with the introduction of "modern" men's clothing and the early version of today's business suit. Women favored the "empire" silhouette.
Curator Mary Robertson and exhibit designer Lauren Tawa want viewers to feel the extravagance of the era. They painted the gallery walls a shade of bright red that was widely used in stately English homes of that period. They also hung the objects in a scaled-down version of the floor-to-ceiling "salon style" to showcase the abundance of materials, including drawings, manuscripts, and rare books. All come from the Huntington's collection.
This show should satisfy even the most scholarly of Los Angeles Anglophiles — and give fans of British history and culture lots to think about until Kate and William come to town in July.
"Revisiting the Regency: England, 1811-1820" through August 1, 2011 at the Huntington Library in San Marino. Photos courtesy of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens