James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903) was an American artist, active during the American Gilded Age and based primarily in the United Kingdom. He was averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, and was a leading proponent of the credo “art for art’s sake”. His famous signature for his paintings was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger for a tail. The symbol was apt, for it combined both aspects of his personality—his art was characterized by a subtle delicacy, while his public persona was combative.
The Peacock Room was originally designed as a dining room in the townhouse located at 49 Prince’s Gate in the neighbourhood of Kensington in London, and owned by the British shipping magnate Frederick Richards Leyland. Leyland engaged the British architect Richard Norman Shaw to remodel and redecorate his home.
Shaw entrusted the remodelling of the dining room to Thomas Jeckyll, another British architect experienced in the Anglo-Japanese style. Jeckyll conceived the dining room as a Porsellanzimmer (porcelain room).
Above the fireplace hung the painting, Rose and Silver: The Princess from the Land of Porcelain, by American painter James McNeill Whistler, that served as the focal point of the room. The ceiling was constructed in a pendant panelled Tudor-style, and decorated with eight globed pendant gas light fixtures. To finish the room, Jekyll placed a rug with a red border on the floor
The Peacock Room at 49 Prince’s Gate, London, ca. 1890 via