M991X.5.340 | Parlour interior

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Parlour interior
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19th century
Ink on paper - Wood engraving
20.6 x 15.8 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

In the previous image, the eldest Miss Ross is shown sitting at her piano playing music. Entertaining guests with music and song draws people together in refined society. The piano is flanked by a carved mantel supporting a plant and, on the other side, a book-laden sideboard. Both chair and throw rugs are fringed, creating lively effects. The carpet is patterned with squares and floral motifs. The wall is decorated with a frond-like border and a painting frame holding a palm branch. The piano is panelled at front and sides with crotch veneer. Fret-work, wooden sheets with openwork designs, is popular in the 1880s. American machines flood the market with elaborate fret-work, providing a cheap and effective means of decoration. It is easy to imagine lively tunes cheering up the room. All that is missing is the piano stool and player.

Clive D. Edwards, "Fretwork," in Victorian Furniture: Technology and Design (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993), p. 61.

Source : Crowding the Parlour [Web tour], by Jane Cook, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    This is a print from a wood engraving of an upright piano in a domestic setting. Pianos with elaborate fretwork were made by Weber & Co. of Kingston, Ontario.

  • Where

    The piano stands in a corner of a parlour or music room. The Montreal engraver operated at 126 St. James Street, expanding to 132 St. James and 116 St. François Xavier in 1885.

  • When

    The engraver lived between 1831 and 1899, establishing his business at 126 St. James Street, Montreal, in 1850.

  • Who

    John Henry Walker is the designer and engraver of the wood engraving from which this print was made.