ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
What is Art?


Art and Artists
Africa, Zaire
England, Higham Manor, Suffolk
Donald Judd
New Mexico (Mimbres)
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Thailand (Blue Hmong)
Robert Rauschenberg

Inner Worlds Environment   Identity Designing Spaces and Places
England, Higham Manor, Suffolk, The Tudor Room
England, Higham Manor, Suffolk, Tudor Room
England, Higham Manor, Suffolk
The Tudor Room, about 1600
carved oak
MIA
Art often tells us much about the history and culture of its creator. This paneled room from Suffolk, England, was designed to accommodate the climate, comfort, and social prestige of its inhabitants. This room is an example of a period room that can be found at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

About the Art

A period room is a room set up to resemble a particular time and place in history. Period rooms frequently contain furnishings and actual flooring or wall paneling from historic houses. Period rooms can reveal much about the values and lifestyles of the people who inhabited them.

It is most likely that this room served as a family dining room or sitting room. Although the room may seem hard and bare by today's standards, around 1600 in England this would have been considered the height of comfort and wealth. Up until this time, country houses had been constructed of heavy oak timbers joined with mortar. The timbers and plain mortar walls were left exposed. Here, thin oak panels have been placed over the walls. The panels served as decoration, kept out the drafts, and helped make the room feel warm and comfortable. The carved, flat columns attached to the wall are called pilasters and provide additional decoration.

The fireplace supplied heat and light for a house like Higham Manor. Most rooms in the house had a fireplace. In earlier periods the hearth had been in the center of a room. However, this placement exposed occupants of the room to smoke and dangerous sparks. Chimneys with projecting smokestacks became common in the Tudor period. As in modern fireplaces, the chimney helped contain the smoke allowing it to escape the room safely. Notice, that the fireplace is very open and shallow. The openness of the fireplace directed as much heat into the room as possible. The stone surrounding the fireplace opening forms a simple arch typical of the Tudor period. The area above the fireplace is elaborately carved, depicting royal warriors with lion's-head shields. The designs for these motifs most likely came from pattern books.

The pieces of furniture in this room are not from Higham Manor, but are from the same time period and are typical of such a setting. The furniture is simple and functional, but a few touches show a trend toward greater personal comfort. An actual room of this period would have been more bare than this museum setting. Even in wealthy homes sitting rooms usually contained only a large table, perhaps a single chair for the head of the household, and a bench or stools for other members of the household.

  • The table has heavy, bulbous legs. The stretcher rails serve to stabilize the table and also act as footrests. Many tables were simply boards on supports, which could be put up and taken down as needed.

  • The armchair is an adaptation of a chest to which arms and a back were added. The backs of armchairs in this period were usually straight and solid. They were often uncomfortable, however, and their size and weight made them difficult to move. Seating of all types was made more comfortable with cushions. In the wealthiest houses cushions were often made of rich velvets and trimmed with bright-colored fringe.

  • Benches and stools were more common forms of seating in most households. Not until the 17th century did chairs begin to replace stools at dining tables. The fashions of the time--huge skirts for women and puffed breeches for men--made stools more convenient. The seats were often padded.

  • Chests were also used for sitting, as well as reclining and for storage of clothing and other accessories. Such pieces were important for a household in the days before built-in cupboards and closets were standard features.



    Tudor bench
    Tudor bench (detail)
  • Tudor table leg
    Tudor table (detail)

    Tudor chair
    Tudor chair (detail)

    Vocabulary Terms

    hearth--The fireplace, or other main source of heat in a room. Rooms are often designed around a hearth.

    mortar--A building material similar to cement which is used in masonry or plastering.

    motif--A dominant theme, idea, or pattern in a work of art. Motifs are often repeated.

    period room--A room set up to resemble a particular time and place in history. Period rooms frequently contain furnishings and actual flooring or wall paneling from historic houses. Period rooms can reveal much about the values and lifestyles of the people who inhabited them.

    pilaster--A flat column which is attached to the wall.

    [ Return to the TOP of the page ]

     
    Themes, Resources, Participants, Sitemap, Help

    Discussion/Activities, About the Artist, About the Art, Teacher Lessons

    Inner Worlds | What Iis Art? | Environment | Designing Spaces and Places | Identity
    About the Art | About the Artist | Discussion Questions/Activities | Teacher Lessons