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From Arthur Devis to Walter Sickert paintings from collections across the UK and America will be shown as social-historical documents containing revealing details about the nature of domestic spaces and the objects that furnished them.

Exterior and interior furnishings and decorative art, as well as documentary sources in the form of inventories, diaries and letters, trade catalogues, pattern books and planting plans will be used alongside the canvases.

And – in-keeping with a museum set in the former almshouses of the Ironmongers’ Company that focuses upon English urban middle-class living from 1600 to the present day – the spotlight will be on the valued domestic spaces of the middle-classes rather than those of Royalty or the aristocracy.

Study days are planned to accompany the exhibition during which historians and writers from a range of disciplines will explore ideas raised by the images. Subjects covered in Part One will include the role and uses of the conversation piece in 18th-century paintings and the use of props in portraiture.
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