Liberty’s of London: ‘The Chosen Resort of the Artistic Shopper’

The Liberty store on London’s Marlborough Street was founded in 1875 and, though its doors are temporarily closed due to Covid-19, it remains one of Britain’s most distinctive and best loved retail destinations. The store is housed in a 1920’s Tudorbethan extravaganza of a building, an architectural gem in its own right. Oscar Wilde’s description of Liberty’s as “the chosen resort of the artistic shopper” characterizes its historical progress.

In this lecture, British historian Ian Cox will explore the history and development of this fascinating firm by looking at the context in which it originated and the biography of its founder Arthur Lasenby Liberty. Hallmark Liberty fabrics and fashions, a touch of Gilbert and Sullivan, decorative arts from the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau periods and examples from the contemporary era will all be used to shed light on the history of this unique emporium.

Liberty London Interior

Liberty London Interior

Ian Cox

Ian Cox studied at the Universities of Keele, London and Glasgow. He developed his career as a decorative arts historian in the 1980s and was the Director of the Christie’s Decorative Arts Programme at the University of Glasgow and then Director of Studies for Christie’s Education in London.

Ian also ran a prestigious Decorative Arts Summer School for Christie’s in New York and was Co-Director of the Victorian Society of America London Summer School. Ian has published widely in the history of the decorative arts, particularly on furniture and ceramics.

In more recent times he has directed cultural holiday programmes for the ACE foundation in Cambridge and is a regular round the world lecturer for the Seabourn and Silverseas cruise lines. He has been a lecturer for The Royal Oak Foundation in the USA since 2006.


Tuesday, May 26th at 3:00 p.m. (eastern)

Online via Zoom Webinar

$15 members; $20 non-members

Free to Heritage Circle members


Between Wednesday, May 27th and Sunday, May 31st

“Rent” the recorded lecture to watch at your leisure

$15 members; $20 non-members

Free to Heritage Circle members

The video will expire on Sunday, May 31st at 11:59pm and will not be available after that date and time.