Display | John Cornforth, A Passion for Houses

Posted in books, exhibitions, resources by Editor on February 16, 2016

Now on view at the Paul Mellon Centre:

John Cornforth, A Passion for Houses: Material on the
Georgian Town House from the Cornforth Library Donation

Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 8 February — 27 May 2016

Curated by Charlotte Brunskill, Frankie Drummond Charig, Emma Floyd, and Jenny Hill

The second Drawing Room Display, curated by Research Collections staff, focuses on material donated to the Paul Mellon Centre from the Estate of John Cornforth. The display concentrates on the town house in the 18th century and will run from February until May 2016.


Bookplate for John Cornforth, designed by Reynolds Stone (1909–1979).

John Lawley Cornforth (1937–2004) was an architectural historian who wrote numerous articles for Country Life from 1961 to 1993 and worked for the National Trust for many years. His specialism was the 17th- and 18th-century country house, but he also wrote extensively on the town house and its interiors. John Cornforth’s personal working library was donated to the Paul Mellon Centre, through the auspices of the National Trust, in August 2004, shortly after his death. This collection, from which staff selected nearly 800 books and journals, increased the Centre’s already extensive holdings on the history of the town and country house and added considerably to the previously small collection on eighteenth-century decorative arts. He also donated to the Centre’s Photographic Archive the collection of photographs taken for his book, Early Georgian Interiors, published posthumously by Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre in 2004.

The display consists largely of materials donated from Cornforth’s collection but will also include a number of works about John Cornforth or written by him drawn from the rich holdings of the Centre’s library. The holdings relating to John Cornforth are just one of the many points of entry to study the town house of the 18th century in the Research Collections. The Centre’s Archive holds relevant material in, for example, the Oliver Millar Archive and the Brinsley Ford Archive on interiors and architects for this period.

This display is the second in a series featuring material drawn from the Paul Mellon Centre’s own Research Collections. Display and accompanying booklet produced by Charlotte Brunskill, Frankie Drummond Charig, Emma Floyd and Jenny Hill.

The 24-page booklet is available here»

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