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Victorian Tastes

The urns, Turkish lamps, and even the foreign setting of the large painting in the entry hall illustrate the Victorian taste for cultural imitation of Middle Eastern, Asian, and North African societies. This “orientalism” in decorative arts, was intended to lend a stylish worldliness to the space, though Austin and Susan Dickinson never traveled to those places. The Dickinsons, like many white 19th-century consumers, engaged with this style for its perceived associations, which are today recognized as part of colonial and imperialist narratives.

A gilt-framed oil painting of Abram and Sara hangs above a red velvet sofa. To the left, is a brass vase on a taboret