Household Art

A movement in middle-class home decoration in the late nineteenth century directed toward bringing "art" into the home. According to the material culture scholar, Martha Crabill McClaugherty, "The phrase 'household art' was a generic term used throughout the last thirty-five years or so of the nineteenth century when referring to almost anything connected with buying or creating furnishings and decorations for the home."

It was primarily disseminated through books and articles written by tastemakers who believed that the home interior could exert moral influences and be a place for optimizing individual, amateur expressions. These writers sought to establish an artistic standard for the home that would be in harmony with the recently industrialized society of the late Victorian era.

... The writers themselves did not use a consistent terminology; they used "household taste," "art in the house," "household beauty," "interior decoration," "house furnishing," and "domestic decoration" as synonyms. [McClaugherty] chose "household art" from among these many phrases because it elucidates the over-all concern for an aesthetic approach to home interiors.

Source: Martha Crabill McClaugherty "Household Art:Creating the Artistic Home, 1868-1893", Winterthur Portfolio 18, no 1 (Spring 1983), page 1.

Sources: Martha Crabill McClaugherty "Household Art: Creating the Artistic Home, 1868-1893", Winterthur Portfolio 18, no 1 (Spring 1983), pages 1-26.