Enfilade

Display | Bedford Square: Creating Social Distance

Posted in exhibitions, on site by Editor on May 10, 2022

Alison Shepherd, Drawing of ‘First’, ‘Second’ and ‘Third Rate’ Houses, in John Summerson, Georgian London (Yale University Press, 2003), figure 54, image courtesy of Alison Shepherd / Trustees of the Estate of John Summerson..

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Now on view at the Paul Mellon Centre:

Bedford Square: Creating Social Distance
Drawing Room, Paul Mellon Centre, London, 31 January — 9 September 2022

Curated by Martin Myrone with Bryony Botwright-Rance

Bedford Square has always been acclaimed as an outstanding piece of urban planning. Built between 1775 and 1782, the fifty-three houses of the square—all but one arranged in apparently symmetrical order, in four ‘palace-fronted terraces’ around a gated, landscaped garden—are considered exemplars of Georgian architecture. The arrangement of the buildings remains intact, and many original architectural details and even interiors are preserved along with much of the character of the private garden, making Bedford Square one of the most complete survivals of Georgian London. Through literature on Bedford Square’s architectural history and records of its inhabitants, this Drawing Room display at the Paul Mellon Centre highlights the way that classic Georgian architecture created forms of social distancing: in its physical form; in creating closed and exclusive urban sites; through its internal spaces which separated inhabitants and allocated roles in highly predictable ways; and its aesthetic values which lay claim to supposedly timeless and universal principles of classical design and geometrical order.

The accompanying exhibition pamphlet by Martin Mryone is available for download at the PMC.

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