University of Sussex
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The decorative scheme of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton: George IV’s design ideas in the context of European colour theory, 1765 – 1845

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posted on 2023-06-08, 17:28 authored by Alexandra Loske
This thesis investigates the use of colour in the interior decorations of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. The building was created between 1785 and c.1823 by the Prince of Wales (1762 – 1830), later Prince Regent and George IV. The main aims of the thesis are firstly, to analyse the intense colour scheme of the building and set it in the historical context of colour theory and pigment production, and secondly, to establish to what extent personal tastes and fashion influenced these designs. Chapter 1 brings together nineteenth century descriptions of and reactions to the building from early guidebooks and visitors’ accounts, followed by brief outlines of restoration work carried out since 1850 and observations on how the building is experienced by visitors today. The aim of Chapter 2 is to provide an overview of colour theory and literature in Europe between c.1765 and c.1845, in order to highlight the cultural, social and scientific background to the use of colour in art and interior design. Chapter 3 outlines the role of key figures involved in the creation of the building. It first discusses the Prince’s tastes in art and considers to what extent he may have drawn inspiration from other members of the Royal Family and earlier Oriental buildings and interiors. The chapter then discusses the artists and designers John and Frederick Crace, Robert Jones and Humphry Repton. Chapter 4 describes the colour schemes and chromatic layout of the interior of the building in its various stages from the 1780 to the 1820s. The chapter includes a case study of the conspicuous and varied use of silver as a colour in the building, discussed in the context of the use of silver in other European interiors. Three appendices provide detailed information of colour terms found in contemporary account books, pigments identified in the Royal Pavilion so far, their historical context and where they are found in the interiors. The thesis thus analyses the multi-sensory experience of an interior in relation to new ideas about colour as a crucial element of interior design.


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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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