How the Georgians invented nightlife

Modern nightlife was invented in London around 1700. So argued the historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch, who traced this revolution in city life to its origins in court culture. Medieval and Renaissance courts held their festivities while it was still light outside, but by the late 17th century, aristocrats preferred to party after dark. The trend was rapidly commercialised: a new kind of conspicuous consumer descended on pleasure gardens like Vauxhall and Ranelagh, to eat, drink, stroll and listen to music by the many-coloured light of thousands of oil lamps. Before the 1700s, night was a fearful all-consuming presence, and the main challenge was to get through it Or you can give

The Georgian fashion revolution

Normally, when you look at portraits you feel obliged to focus on the sitter. But quite often you’re thinking, ‘Ooh, what a lovely frock.’ Or, ‘Fabulous breeches!’ Here it’s the costumes that take centre stage. The point that this exhibition makes is that costume spoke volumes about society, particularly in the long 18th century, over the course of the reigns (and regency) of the four Georges. Compare the flounces and silk of a portrait of Queen Caroline in 1771 with the simple classical white muslin cotton of Princess Sophia in 1796 and you find nothing less than a revolution. The change resembles what happened in dress after the Great War: