Looking at the Royal Pavilion tells you much about the philosophy of pleasure as enjoyed by George IV and Victoria. George saw Brighton as a a place to enjoy and had this sumptuous building, converted from the original Marine Pavilion by John Nash between 1815 – 1822, to lavish enjoyment on his court. The architecture and the decoration reflect an expression of extrovert pleasure. Close to the centre of Brighton and with the growing interest in the sea, Nash created this Indo-Saracenic Palace for the King’s delight displaying the increasing Eastern spiritual flavour with its domes and minarets.
The Garden Front of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton
The two main interior spaces are the Banqueting Room and the Music Room. The walls of the Banqueting Room are adorned with bold oriental illustrations by the designer, Robert Jones and the highlight is the chandelier held in the claws of a silver dragon weighing in at just over one ton. The highlights of the Music Room are the decorations by Frederick Crace, the Rock Clock (c1735) and the (restored) Axminster carpet. Unfortunately the Royal Saloon, with its sumptuous Egyptian couch, with crocodile feet, was closed for refurbishment for our visit but there is much to be seen in the state rooms, corridors and the upstairs rooms. Although mainly restored the flavour of excess is visible throughout; do look out for the bright yellow hand painted wall papers in Queen Victoria’s apartments.
The Banqueting Room, Brighton, with silver gilt, pedestal lamps and chandelier.
Which brings us to Victoria. Her pleasure was much more introspective preferring the company of her family, and finding Brighton far to brash and close to the people. Having decided on the more remote Osborne House on the Isle of Wight she stripped the palace bare, to furnish Windsor and Buckingham Palace, before selling to the Corporation of Brighton in 1850. She and others have returned much of the property over the years and a long term loan from the current Queen Elizabeth II has allowed the original feeling of excess to return. Amongst the accoutrements look out especially for the eight pedestal lights and the Regency silver gilt in the Banqueting Room and the various eighteenth and nineteenth century pianos, reflecting the Prince Regent’s love of music. The list of items to note is almost endless.
We finished our trip with a look around the Art Gallery which is a quaint provincial affair resembling an emporium in part. Highlight for me was the permanent exhibition of Glyn Philpot Paintings. The family gift to Brighton shows Philpot as a highly understated twentieth century figurative painter, perhaps not fully embracing Modernism. We also love seeing the British Abstractist, William Gear, wherever we go and exhibited here are Caged Yellow 1971 and Ascending Orange 1969. Also worth seeing is the exhibits of fashion and the tastefully curated rooms looking at transology and exhibitionism.
Ascending Yellow, William Gear, 1971, Brighton Art Gallery.
Brighton is a great place to visit for its different approach to the world of pleasure (we were here for the Marathon) and neither the Pavilion, the museum or, indeed, the City will let the visitor down.
Congratulations, Dave for completing with a PB time of 4 hrs 27 mins