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Fire screen

Fire screen

  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1787 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Elizabeth Princess (Princess), born 1770 - died 1840 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Rolled paperwork on a wooden frame

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of a gift from John Alexander Fothergill and his family and the Brigadier Clark Fund through The Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    W.31:1 to 3-1984

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
Rolled paperwork became a popular pastime for young women in the late 18th and 19th centuries, and was used to decorate small objects such as screens, boxes and tea caddies. Flowers were favourite motifs, and initials and dates were often incorporated when the item was intended as a gift for a friend or relative.

Design & Designing
The intricate border patterns around the edges of the screen may have been copied from published sheets which were available from shops such as 'The Temple of Fancy' at 34 Rathbone Place, London. Pattern sheets were also printed in periodicals, such as The Ladies Magazine, which promoted rolled paperwork as a suitable activity for young women.

Materials & Making
The effect used to decorate the screen, known as 'filigree' work at the time, is achieved by tightly coiling hundreds of narrow strips of paper which are then glued to a flat surface. Rolled paperwork 'kits' were available from cabinet-makers, and included coloured and gilded papers as well as a wooden box or tea caddy. In 1791 the cabinet-maker Charles Elliott (active 1783-1810), purveyor of artists' materials to the royal family, supplied Princess Elizabeth with 'fifteen ounces of different filigree papers, one ounce gold paper, and a box made for filigree work with ebony moulding, lock and key, lined inside and out'.

Place of Origin

London (probably, made)


1787 (made)


Elizabeth Princess (Princess), born 1770 - died 1840 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Rolled paperwork on a wooden frame


Height: 124.5 cm, Width: 55 cm

Object history note

Princess Elizabeth, the third daughter of George III, is said to have made this panel of rolled paperwork for her physician, Dr. Alexander Fothergill. Rolled paperwork was only one of many arts practised by Princess Elizabeth and her five sisters, encouraged by their mother Queen Charlotte. They received tuition in a range of skills including drawing, velvet-painting and lithography.

Descriptive line

Fire screen or pole screen, mahogany with rolled paperwork probably by Princess Elizabeth in London, 1787


Woodwork; Household objects; Royalty; British Galleries


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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