British shipping magnate, Frederick Leyland wanted his dining room refurbished to provide a suitable environment in which to display his collection of Chinese porcelain. The original scheme designed by Thomas Jeckyll was left incomplete and James McNeill Whistler was called in for decorative advice. However, Whistler took over and went beyond the original remit without consulting Leyland either about his re-design or the money spent and the two fell out irrevocably. The resulting Peacock Room, named after the use of peacock motifs much favoured by Whistler, is considered the epitome of Aesthetic design. Another popular object of beauty, the gilt sunflowers flank either side of the fireplace. The room perfectly depicts the use of pure beauty for its own sake and the retreat from the Industrial Revolution so disliked by many artists and designers of the period.

Image courtesy of Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery

The Peacock Room
James McNeill Whistler (designer)
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery