Dear Katherine, I’m noticing a lot of peacocks in décor these days. Will I be wasting my money if I decorate my house this way?
If you love peacocks, I would never say that it’s a waste of money. I believe that even if a trend passes by, if decorating in that style gives you joy, then you should do it. The peacock motif, specifically, has been around through the millennia, decorating ancient Mediterranean tombs, Indian art, and Byzantium pottery. The peacock has significant symbolism and beautiful colors and is a great inspiration. You don’t have to have peacock feathers all over the room, and every wall doesn’t need a peacock print. Using the colors and motif as an inspiration, and the peacock form more sparingly, will make the style longer-lived, and you won’t tire of it so quickly. Use the images below for some inspiration!
The Northeast Peacock Gate at Jaipur City, India’s Palace Pitam Niwas Chowk showcases peacocks as a symbol for Autumn. Peacocks are revered in India and are regularly use to represent gods and royalty. Source
This illustration of a wash-basin in the form of a peacock was described by Al-Jazari in Kitab fi Ma’rifat al-Hiyal al-Handisayya. Just as in Christian art and design, Islamic design often uses peacocks as a symbol of resurrection. Source
Incorporated throughout the intricate mosaic ceiling mural, peacocks are integral to the Christian story told at the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille, France. The church has had multiple incarnations, this being approximately 1864, and is in the Neo-Byzantine style. Source
If you look closely, you can see Peacock eyes worked into St. Michael’s wings in Rogier Van der Weyden’s “The Last Judgment” circa 1446-1452. The multiple “eyes” symbolize the all-seeing Church and the resurrection of Christ. Source
The Aesthetic Movement of art and design was based on “art for art’s sake.” Nothing epitomized this notion better than James McNeill-Whistler’s famous Peacock room. Commissioned to house the owner’s collection of porcelain, it was extravagantly painted over leather in peacock green and gold There is a long, very interesting story about this room which I won’t detail here, but if you like drama, I encourage you to explore it further. The room is now on display at the Smithsonian for a limited time. Here’s more information on the room http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/current/peacockroom.asp.
The peacock’s regal nature, vibrant color, and symbolic stature made it a perfect motif for the Art Nouveau era. Its form showed up in numerous works in print, jewelry, fashion, wallpaper, fabrics, and architecture. There are more peacocks featured during the late 19th century and early 20th century than at any other time.
Walter Crane’s illustration, “The Peacock’s Complaint,” in 1887’s The Baby’s Own Aesop depicts Juno on her throne skirted by two regal peacocks. (The peacock’s complaint and Juno’s rebuke hold so true!) Source
The 1878 Peacocks and Dragons fabric pattern by William Morris is still in use today. As one of the fathers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, he especially loved to incorporate early Christian and mythical symbols into his highly stylized works. Source
“La Parure”, the necklace, jewelry box by Phillippe Wolfers from 1905 is a maginificent depiction of a peacock in full regalia. I like how the tail is draped over the box instead of up in its traditional position. Source
James Cox’s Peacock Clock, circa 1777, is a life-sized automaton that is a great work of art, craftsmanship, and engineering. It was made especially for Catherine the Great’s Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia and still resides there.
One of the Imperial Eggs by Faberge was inspired by and patterned after the Cox Peacock Clock. Instead of the great size of the clock, the egg is a wonder in tiny detailing. The egg from 1908 is currently in the collection of the Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation.
Louis Comfort Tiffany especially loved the tulip motif as well as the peacock. He designed several versions of his peacock lamp, this being one design from 1910. Some bases are illuminated glass while this one is bronze. There are also slight differences in shades. Source
As in this chair, the 1970s saw a resurgence of the peacock motif done in a very stylized way, reminiscent of early Egyptian and Islamic illustrations. Peacock feathers popped up in many home across Britain and the U.S. I remember dusting the peacock plumes that my mother kept in large floor vase next to the front door. That may be why I resisted the current peacock trend on my showroom floors! Source
If you appreciate the regal nature of the peacock or just love the jewel-tone blues and greens of this prominent bird, Home Furniture has the art and decorations you need. Instead of using just peacock images, try mixing in patterns and colors that remind you of a peacock.
A traditional print of a peacock can be the foundation of your own peacock room. Source
This pair would look lovely in a bedroom or even in an elegant powder room. Source
A stylized mirror evokes the shape of the peacock feathers. Using this will keep the theme from becoming overwhelming. Source
If big and bold is your style, this painting is for you! One piece in the room says it all. Source