Saturday, November 17, 2012

Unusual Artifacts: Devonshire Villas, 1900

Devonshire Villas No. 3
England, 1900
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This isn’t a dollhouse. It’s actually a replica of an actual house that stood in Kilburn, North London in the Devonshire Villas. The house, No. 3—now long gone—was once the home of Mr. Samuel Loebl who commissioned this model as a gift for his daughter, Cecy, so that she would have a record of her childhood home. The model was made in 1900 and it passed from Cecy to her own daughter who donated it to the V&A in 1972.

The model, like the real house on High Road in Northwest London had been, is decorated in the height of early Twentieth Century fashion—much in the Art Nouveau style--and includes a host of “modern” amenities, including a fitted bathroom with a double sink in the kitchen. The bathroom walls are outfitted with "sanitary" wallpaper—paper coated with a special material which allowed it to be washed, a new concept at the time. The nursery, almost an exact replica of the real thing, was filled with miniature toys and a colorful frieze.

The most interesting thing, perhaps, is that the model contains a small telephone. The six room replica also depicts the house’s conservatory (separated from the drawing room by a beaded curtain). The hallway of the model also replicates the handsome stained glass window of the original house.

Cecy Loebl even had a hand in the decorating of the model. She made the carpets, lampshades and furniture upholstery to match those of the real house’s bedroom and drawing room.

The replica was exhibited at a 1925 Toy Fair in Frankfurt where it was wholly praised for the fine replication of the original house.

No comments: