Dressing Screen

An image of a large yellow fabric folding screen. On the screen are pink and blue flowers with smaller yellow flowers, and green vines and leaves.
Screen in the Pink Bedroom

Country of Origin: likely Canada  
Year: ca. 1900  
Materials: Wood, metal, and cotton  

Dressing screens like this one are often an iconic feature of women’s bedrooms in the Victorian and post World War I era. Dressing screens are actually much older, dating to ancient China. Folding screens would have been used to stop drafts, divide spaces, and give people (particularly women) some privacy. Folding screens spread in popularity across east Asia and made their way to Europe in the Middle Ages.  

Folding screens often had a wooden frame with metal hinges. The screen portion could be made of a variety of materials including lacquered wood, cotton, or silk. Generally, the side facing outward was the most decorative, with the inside usually painted with florals or other patterns.  

This screen is made of wood with a linen screen. The pattern on the outside is floral, with no pattern on the inside. This piece was likely used as a dressing screen, as the pink bedroom does not have an attached dressing room. It is likely that this item was more for decoration than practical use, but it is a lovely room feature.