In 1876, the British shipping magnate Frederick Richards Leyland bought himself a grand house at 49 Princes Gate in the fashionable neighbourhood of Kensington in London. Shortly after, he engaged architect Richard Norman Shaw to remodel and redecorate his home. Redesigning the dining room, however, was entrusted to the gifted architect Thomas Jeckyll, who was known for his Anglo-Japanese styles.
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Leyland had a large collection of Chinese blue and white porcelain, mostly from the Kangxi era of the Qing dynasty, which he wanted to display in his dining room. For these, Jeckyll constructed an intricate lattice framework of engraved spindled walnut shelves, and complemented them with antique gilded leather which he hung from the walls. A painting by the American artist James McNeill Whistler, called The Princess from the Land of Porcelain, occupied a coveted place above the fireplace.