Editors' pick

The Peacock Room Comes to America


Editorial Review

Excerpt from "Ten Objects of Beauty": Peacock Room

By Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, Aug. 5, 2011

The Peacock Room has never looked this good. Well, maybe it did one day in the spring of 1908.

That’s when art collector Charles Lang Freer had photos taken of the room, whose furnishings he had purchased a few years earlier and transported from the home of a wealthy Londoner to his mansion in Detroit. In London, the room (designed by painter James McNeill Whistler) was a showcase for Chinese blue-and-white porcelain, and nothing else. Freer turned it into a showcase for a variety of ceramics from not just China, but also from Japan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran and Korea, and in every color of the rainbow.

In more recent years, long after Freer moved his art collection to the museum that bears his name, the museum restored the Peacock Room to the way it was in London.