Now that I've talked them up thus (hopefully stopping shy of a rant), I'd like to point out a somewhat minor, if lovely, bit of their world. A bit of a personal discovery. Often, while enjoying paintings and my beloved 70's period dramas, I would notice a particular piece of mystery furniture in a household, usually next to a fireplace. I asked myself, "What in the heck is that?" numerous times. I'll confess that logically the answer was there all along, and painfully obvious, but apparently it was my time to be a thicko.
What I'm talking about turned out to be fireplace screens.
While gas and was used for lighting, the primary heating source for the home at that time was fire. Yes, that hallmark of prehistoric man, the gift of Prometheus, was still the standard mode of both heat and cooking within the lifetimes of people still living...which I find amazing. Now, having grown up with a wood burning stove, I can attest to the single-minded attitude of fire. It has one setting: HOT. Here's where our practical bit of artwork comes in, to create a barrier between us and the heat. Though it seems a bit foolish to put a frame of wood covered with cloth between us and flame, they seem to have been quite practical, as there are a great still-existing used examples from the period, unburnt, looking every bit as pretty as they were when new. Wonderfully, during the warmer months, these screens also served as an aesthetic protection from the draft, and the ugliness of an unused, blackened hearth. A beautiful bit of practical framed art, existing to provide both physical and artistic comfort. I like that.
Here are some examples of this practical Victorian/Edwardian art. Though there are some beautiful copper screens, the needlework versions strike me as especially interesting....I hope you feel the same way.