Thornton, Peter 1925-2007 (Peter Kai Thornton)

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Thornton, Peter 1925-2007 (Peter Kai Thornton)


See index for CA sketch: Born April 8, 1925, in St. Albans, England; died February 8, 2007. Museum curator and author. Thornton was a keeper and curator who was considered an innovative force in the art of historical interior restoration. Born in a historic home himself—the eighteenth-century Kingsthorpe Hall that was later converted to a public building—Thornton did not at first pursue history as an interest. He attended the De Havilland Aeronautical Technical School for two years, where he worked on what was to become the Mosquito aircraft. In 1945, as part of his required military service, he enlisted in the British Army Intelligence Corps and was sent to Austria. Here, he became interested in Rococo and Baroque architecture. Returning home, he found work as an assistant keeper at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and from 1952 to 1954 was joint secretary at the National Art-Collections Fund in London. The Victoria and Albert Museum hired him as assistant keeper of textiles in 1954, and he was named assistant keeper of woodwork in 1962. In this capacity, Thornton developed a unique approach to restoring interiors. Unlike his colleagues at the time, Thornton insisted on detailed historic research to discover just how furniture and other aspects of an interior were used in previous centuries before he did the restoration on the Apsley House, the home of the first Duke of Wellington. Thus, with his background in architecture, textiles, and furniture, Thornton was promoted to keeper in 1966. He served in this post until 1984, meanwhile publishing several important works in the field, including Seventeenth-Century Interior Decoration in England, France, and Holland (1978), and Authentic Decor: The Domestic Interior, 1620-1920 (1984). Thornton next served as curator of the Sir John Soane's Museum, restoring the building and creating a new gallery before retiring in 1995. He was named a Commander of the British Empire in 1996 in recognition of his contributions.



Times (London, England), March 13, 2007, p. 62.

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Thornton, Peter 1925-2007 (Peter Kai Thornton)

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