Demand for luxury goods—rich fabrics, lacquered furniture, tapestries, chimneypieces, silver, porcelain, crystal, paintings, watches, and fine jewels—grew dramatically in England during the first half of the seventeenth century. Exotic products, such as tobacco, coffee, chocolate, and tea from the Indies, Asia, and Africa penetrated the English market, creating new public spaces and private rituals. People at many levels of society more time and more money dressing themselves, decorating their houses, and whetting their appetites. To meet increasing demand, the first London shopping malls were created. New goods from home and abroad marked their purchasers as fashionable, cosmopolitan, and, in the words of contemporaries, "modern."
Consuming Splendor examines the ways in which the consumption of luxury goods transformed social practices, royal policies, and the economy in seventeenth-century England. It tells the story of new goods, new aspirations, and new ways to shop; new building, furnishing, and collecting; and the new relationship of luxury, technology, and science. Over the course of the seventeenth century, luxury consumption and the appropriation of artifacts and skills from abroad transformed England into a center of European growth and innovation.
Curators: Linda Levy Peck and Rachel Doggett