Two things have been tearing through the Artstor staff recently – a nagging cold that seems to be felling us department by department, and a fascination with the British television show Downton Abbey.
The series follows the lives of an aristocratic family and their servants in a fictional Yorkshire country estate. The first season is set before the outbreak of World War I, beginning with news of the sinking of the Titanic, while the second series opens with the Great War. The Artstor Digital Library has enough relevant images to keep us busy until the next episode: The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an impressive collection of turn of the century furniture and household accessories, such as this mahogany desk designed by Mervyn Macartney, as well as dazzling examples of dresses, hats (including a “motoring” cap!), shoes, and accessories from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Brooklyn Museum Costumes, including these ever-so-tasteful satin evening shoes; the Foundation for Landscape Studies features images of Le Bois des Moutiers, an extraordinary Edwardian era-garden designed by English landscape architect Gertrude Jekyll and architect Edwin Lutyens; the Museum of Modern Art, Architecture and Design Collection gives us this beautiful printed fabric from William Morris; and of course there are countless examples of art from the period (we chose a painting of Lila Lancashire by Sir John Lavery from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston because it reminds us of Lady Edith Crawley). And while we weren’t able to find Downton Abbey itself (actually the Highclere Castle in Hampshire), a search for castle within Brian Davis: Architecture in Britain leads to a satisfying selection of similarly imposing buildings.
Let us know if you find anything else in the Artstor Digital Library that reminds you of Downton Abbey or its characters – but please, no spoilers!