A huge variety of materials was used to make folding screens. You find lavishly embossed leather versions; examples adorned with Chinese wallpaper, on which birds flutter in an exotic landscape; screens painted for the huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ gentleman’s library, with scenes of huntsmen and hounds at full tilt; others pasted with collages or prints, or covered with textiles such as brocade, silk and needlepoint. Most date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and cost between £1,000 and £15,000. At this level decorativeness is an all-important factor and value plummets if the Screens are tremendous survivors, andifthey look good they tend to sell well A fire-screen can effectively conceal an unattractive grate in summertime; a pair of pole screens placed on either side of a fireplace adds height and elegance; a folding screen makes a decorative backdrop, an instant partition, or both.


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