The Earl of Strafford, 1672–1739
By contrast with the other four men in these case studies, the earl of Strafford was never an arbiter of taste and was concerned only with following the latest fashions. Yet paradoxically it was by emulating prevailing styles in personal and material display rather than by creating them that he looked to manage his identity as a successful diplomat, and his career demonstrates the increasing importance of the material world in diplomatic life. By 1700 a diplomat’s overseas residence had become an important locus of display, and not just his carriages, plate, and dress but also his furniture, pictures, and furnishings fulfilled a significant role in ambassadorial etiquette. Strafford patronized architects, cabinet-makers, silversmiths, artists, upholsterers, and decorative painters to ensure that his position as a senior minister was clearly evidenced by his material world – to both the English social elite and to his foreign diplomatic colleagues.
Keywords: follower, fashion, identity, diplomat, residence, plate, furniture, pictures, furnishings, architects, cabinet-makers, silversmiths, artists, upholsterers, decorative painters, material world, social elite
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