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Title: Professional women interior decorators in Britain, 1871-1899
Author: Garrett, Miranda
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 623X
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis recovers the histories of the women working as professional interior decorators in the later years of the nineteenth century and, by reassessing their contribution to the field, challenges the masculinized history of British interior decoration. Examination of documentary and archival sources, including trade directories, census records, periodicals and newspapers, has revealed that at least nineteen female-run interior decoration firms were active in Britain between the years of 1871 and 1899. Scholarship on the history of British interior design, however, is dominated by the histories of men. Only one female firm is mentioned with any regularity: that of cousins Agnes (1845-1935) and Rhoda Garrett (1841-1882). Although, typically, the Garretts receive a cursory mention, their female contemporaries are consistently overlooked. This study redresses the balance, focusing on case studies of three pioneering firms: those run by the Garrett cousins (active c.1874 to 1905), Charlotte Robinson (1859- 1901, active 1884 to 1901) and Caroline Crommelin (1854-1910, active 1888 to c.1903). These pioneering entrepreneurs were part of a growing network of women who, in the late nineteenth century, forged new roles in interior decoration. As a result, the thesis also considers the Garretts, Robinson and Crommelin's less well-documented female competitors. Through extensive new research, it significantly enriches our knowledge of the Garretts' work and reveals, for the first time, the professional biographies of Robinson and Crommelin. The case studies are approached thematically, with chapters focusing in turn on the women's motivations and training, professional spaces, promotional activity and clients and commissions. By discussing the Garretts alongside their direct female rivals, our understanding of the cousins' contribution is substantially enhanced. Further, by positioning the Garretts, Robinson and Crommelin alongside their male competitors, the significant contribution of women to nineteenth-century interior decoration is asserted for the first time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Design ; Interior Design