Term applied to the style of architecture, furniture and decorative art produced from 1811 until 1830, during the Prince Regency and subsequent reign of George IV

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  • Thomas Rowlandson, 'A Two O'Clock Ordinary' 1811
    Thomas Rowlandson
    A Two O'Clock Ordinary 1811
    Etching and watercolour on paper
    image: 238 x 352 mm
    Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996
  • Sir Thomas Lawrence, 'Miss Caroline Fry' 1827
    Sir Thomas Lawrence
    Miss Caroline Fry 1827
    Oil on canvas
    support: 756 x 629 mm
    frame: 1037 x 920 x 105 mm
    Presented by Mrs William Wilson 1890
  • John Constable, 'Mrs James Andrew' 1818
    John Constable
    Mrs James Andrew 1818
    Oil on canvas
    support: 775 x 649 mm
    frame: 955 x 825 x 115 mm
    Purchased 1950

The notoriously pleasure-loving Prince George, the future George IV, became Prince Regent in 1811 and then reigned from 1820 to 1830. Although the term implies the era when he was ‘Prince Regent’ it tends also to be applied to the period of his reign too.

Regency style is characterised by elements of classicism combined with Egyptian, Chinese and French Rococo influences. The range of the style is exemplified by the architecture of John Nash who designed terraced houses in Regents Park, London in a classical style, but also created the oriental fantasy of his Brighton Pavilion built for the Prince.

The great painter of the Regency era (but not of the period overall, as Constable, Blake and Turner were all at their height during this time); was Thomas Lawrence. Painter to the King from 1792 and knighted in 1815, Lawrence produced glittering but often technically deficient portraits of the leading figures of the day. More cutting views of the time can be found in the cartoons and caricatures of Gillray, and Rowlandson, who also made erotic drawings for the Prince.