Sunday, June 29, 2014

Masterpiece of the Week: The Kitchen at Elmswell Hall, York

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The Kitchen at Elmswell Hall, York
Mary Ellen Best, 1834
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Mary Ellen Best (1809-1891), a watercolorist, excelled in creating views of domestic interiors and tender genre paintings. She often created the interiors which she painted and was famous for some of the makeshift details in her scenes which were accurate representations of a typical home. She didn’t glamorize her scenes and took great pains in beings a true to life as possible, making sure that the furnishings matched the setting. For example, in this scene, Eighteenth Century chairs are shown, neatly depicting the fact that, in most great homes, the servants’ halls were furnished with pieces which were considered too out of fashion for the main house.

Here, we see one of Best’s creations—a watercolor view of the kitchen of a great country house, showing a woman inspecting bread dough as it is rising in a dough trough which is humorously supported by a chair. The piece was painted in Little Driffield, England in 1834.

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