Self-Consuming Consumers

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By the 1860s, big house life for most landlords had returned to one of splendor and plenty. Most owners spent lavishly on maintaining them as they had done in the past. Their magpie-like owners continued to scour the Continent during their grand tours, as their ancestors had done before them, seeking bargains from the palaces and great houses of the more impoverished continental aristocracy that would provide symbolic expressions of the lifestyle that they deemed appropriate to their class. Ironically, it would not be long until they themselves would become impoverished and the works of art with which they had filled their homes would become the targets of the wealthy plutocrats of America.

Terence Dooley
The Decline of the Big House in Ireland