Archive for the ‘Derbyshire’ Category

Virtue and vice at Hardwick Hall

October 29, 2013
Detail of a painted wall hanging, depicting the conversion of Saul, c. 1600, in the Chapel at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Detail of a painted wall hanging, depicting the conversion of Saul, c. 1600, in the Chapel at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

An exhibition at Hardwick Hall explores the political, religious, and social upheaval of the Reformation. It shows how these new ideas and beliefs were reflected in the historic interiors and collections of the house.

The virtuous Penelope, in an appliqué wall hanging in the Hall at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammondbyshire

The virtuous Penelope, in an appliqué wall hanging in the Hall at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammondbyshire

The exhibition, called Virtue and Vice, has been curated by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the University of York. It has also benefited from the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project European Conversion Narratives, c.1550-1700.

The Eglantine table, inlaid with musical instruments, sheet music, games and arms, crests and mottoes, possibly c. 1567, in the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

The Eglantine table, inlaid with musical instruments, sheet music, games and arms, crests and mottoes, possibly c. 1567, in the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

In this video Dr Helen Smith, reader in Renaissance literature at the University of York, talks about the concept of the exhibition. And in this one a choral group performs the motet ‘Oh Lord in Thee is all my trust’ inlaid in the so-called Eglantine table in the High Great Chamber. At Hardwick, at least, Virtue seems to have found an ally in Beauty.

Interwoven globe

October 8, 2013
The state bed at Calke Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The state bed at Calke Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The ever-stimulating Style Court blog has recently been featuring the exhibition currently on at the Metropolitan Museum in New York entitled Interwoven Globe, about how the international trade in textiles the early modern period influenced design across the world.

The Chinese embroidered silk inside the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millarthe Chinese silk embroidered hangings on the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

The Chinese embroidered silk inside the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millarthe Chinese silk embroidered hangings on the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

I am perusing the catalogue at the moment, and it is fascinating to read how European motifs ended up in Chinese silks, and how Chinese and Japanese motifs were in turn copied in Europe. Some ‘exotic’ textiles, such as Indian painted cotton palampores, actually combined elements from China, Persia, India and England.

Phoenix embroidered onto the white silk covering of the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

Phoenix embroidered onto the white silk covering of the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

This important exhibition is a suitable excuse for me to show some images of the rather gorgeous state bed at Calke Abbey, which is hung with Chinese embroidered silk. The bed was probably made for King George I in about 1715, and seems to have been given to Lady Caroline Manners by Queen Caroline when she married Sir Henry Harpur, 5th Bt, in 1734. Since the bed was hardly ever put up at Calke (it was too tall for most of the rooms in the family part of the house) the silk has been quite well preserved.

Qilin embroiderd onto the blue silk covers on the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

Qilin embroiderd onto the blue silk covers on the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The blue material is like taffeta and is relatively light, while the white silk is heavier and has a satin finish. Tightly rolled peacock feathers were used for the knots in the tree trunks and the markings on the butterfly wings.

Books as social history

March 26, 2013
View of Gardner Wilkinson Library at Calke Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

View of Gardner Wilkinson Library at Calke Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Mark Purcell and Nicola Thwaite have recently published a fascinating collection guide to the libraries at Calke Abbey.

Some of the library shelves at Calke with books on exploration and travel. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Some of the library shelves at Calke with books on exploration and travel. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Calke Abbey was acquired by the National Trust in 1985 and was consciously preserved as a house on the brink of ruin, a snapshot of a moment in time and a multi-dimensional archive of the history of a particular family.

Bookplate of Sir Henry Harpur, 5th Bt (1708-1748). ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Bookplate of Sir Henry Harpur, 5th Bt (1708-1748). ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

As Mark and Nicola demonstrate, the books at Calke are a record of the tastes and occupations of various generations of the Harpur-Crewe family, including ‘music, novels, big-game hunting, spiritual anguish, exotic travel, improving the estate, suing the neighbours, saying your prayers, learning Latin, catching rats, or choosing the upholstery.’

The Library at Calke. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Library at Calke. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Certain generations of the Harpur-Crewe family suffered from extreme shyness and other forms of unsociable and obsessive behaviour, which today we might describe as symptoms of hereditary autism.

Bookplate of Sir John Harpur, 4th Bt (1680-1741). ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Bookplate of Sir John Harpur, 4th Bt (1680-1741). ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

This family trait expressed itself, for instance, in the huge collections of geology and taxidermy assembled by Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe (1846-1924). But it is also evident in the progressive transformation of the house into a time capsule – which, poignantly, makes it all the more valuable for us today.

A style to suit the time of day

February 21, 2012

Reclining mermaid on one of a set of four sofas supplied by John Linnell to Kedleston Hall in 1765. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Looking at images of Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, I was struck by the differences between two pieces of furniture, both made by the same cabinetmaker.

One of the sofas in its Drawing Room setting. The blue damask is meant to reinforce the maritime theme. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The magnificent sofas in the Drawing Room featuring supine mermaids and sea gods were made by John Linnell in 1765 to suit the maritime theme of the room.

Design by John Linnell for a state coach, c. 1760. ©National Trust/Richard Holttum

Linnell was working to a design by Robert Adam, but also incorporated elements of his own designs for King George III’s coronation coach.

Chinoiserie porcelain cabinet by John Linnell, in the Wardrobe at Kedleston. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

Linnell also supplied a chinoiserie porcelain cabinet for Kedleston, using the ‘pagoda’ roof motif that he also deployed in the famous Badminton bed, now in the V&A.

The chinoiserie bed made for Badminton House, Gloucestershire, probably by John and William Linnell in about 1754. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

These very different pieces show how cabinetmakers like Linnell were able to switch styles with ease when required.

'Are we feeling maritime or Chinese, my dear?' The 1st Lord and Lady Scarsdale as portrayed by Nathaniel Hone. ©NTPL/John Hammond

It also tells us something about the different social associations of the classical/rococo style and the chinoiserie style: whereas the former was always chosen for the most formal and grand spaces of a house, the latter would appear in the more informal, intimate rooms.

James Paine interiors

January 14, 2011

The Saloon at Uppark, West Sussex, probably designed by James Paine. The compartmented ceiling and the pedimented chimneypiece are typical of Paine. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The previous post showing Gibside Chapel designed by James Paine gave me the idea to feature some of his interiors.

The Drawing Room at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire. The chimneypiece and ceiling were designed by Paine, while the doorcases and sofas are slightly later additions by Robert Adam. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Paine seems to have been born in Andover, Hampshire, in 1717 as the youngest child of a carpenter.  

Detail of the chimneypiece designed by Paine in the Dining Room at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire. The grotesque decoration on the wall is by Adam. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

He appears to have studied at the St Martin’s Lane Academy in London and then to have come into contact with the circle of the 3rd Earl of Burlington, the promotor of Palladian architecture.

The top-lit Stair Hall by Paine at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Paine built up a succesful architectural practice, both in Yorkshire and the north-east as well as in southern England.

The Dining Room at Felbrigg, created by Paine in 1752. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Although he worked within the context of Palladianism, he emphasized the need to make classical architecture fit contemporary needs. Top-lit staircase halls were one of his specialities.

The Staircase Hall at Uppark, another example of Paine's compact, top-lit staircases. The red baize door leads to the servants' quarters. ©NTPL/Geoffrey Frosh

In his earlier interiors Paine mixed Palladian with Rococo, but later he also adopted the newly fashionable neoclassical style.

Paine's Rococo ceiling of the Staircase Hall at Uppark. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Elegant chimnneypieces were another signature element of Paine’s, for which he ran a dedicated workshop.

For this post I consulted the guidebooks for Felbrigg Hall, Kedleston Hall, Nostell Priory, Uppark and Wallington as well as the entry on Paine by Peter Leach in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Traces of the Bachelor Duke

October 20, 2010

The Long Gallery at Hardwick ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Hardwick Hall is one of those places that look deceptively unchanged. In a previous post I referred to the building of the house by Bess of Hardwick in the late sixteenth century. In fact, a huge amount of change took place there subsequently, particularly during the time of William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858).

The canopy in the Long Gallery, from a bed made by Francis Lapierre for Chatsworth in 1697. ©NTPL/Nick Guttridge

The ‘Bachelor Duke’, as he was known, inherited the title and the huge Cavendish estates in 1811, at the age of 21. He was spoilt and extravagant, but also lively and loveable, and he greatly enjoyed entertaining, in spite of his increasing deafness.

Early-eighteenth-century bed in the Green Velvet Room. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The Bachelor Duke combined an abiding interest in the past with a Regency love of splendour. At Hardwick he restored the fabric and the interiors of the house, but he didn’t hesitate to move things around and add furnishings from some of his other properties.

Bed from about 1740 in the Cut Velvet Bedroom. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

He greatly increased the number of paintings hung on the tapestries in the Long Gallery, for instance, effectively making it into an art gallery. He also added the tester and head of a 1697 state bed brought from Chatsworth halfway down the Gallery, in a romantic recreation of the state canopies of Bess of Hardwick’s day.

Cupboard in the style of Jean Goujon set against Flemish tapestries in the Withdrawing Chamber.©NTPL/Nick Guttridge

The early eighteenth-century green velvet bed at Hardwick was brought by the Bachelor Duke from Londesborough Hall in Yorkshire, which the Cavendishes had inherited from the Earl of Burlington in 1753. The cut velvet bed in another room, by Thomas Hardy and dating from about 1740, came from Chatsworth.

Conservation work being done on one of the Gideon tapestries from the Long Gallery at Hardwick, part of a long-term programme of conservation being undertaken at the textile conservation workshop at Blickling Hall. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Bachelor Duke was also responsible for adding more tapestries to the walls of Hardwick, using it almost like wallpaper. It appealed to his romantic eye, as well as providing some protection against the perishingly cold Derbyshire winters.

The Cavendish connection

October 11, 2010

Although inscribed as a portrait of Queen Mary, this painting probably represents the young Elizabeth Hardwick. ©NTPL/Angelo Hornak

In response to the previous post the Columnist asked about the link between Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth House, the principal seat of the Duke of Devonshire. It all goes back to Elizabeth Hardwick, who built Hardwick Hall and who laid the foundations for no less than three Cavendish dukedoms.

The south front of Hardwick Hall, with Bess of Hardwick's initials along the roofline. ©NTPL/Robert Morris

Elizabeth came from a modest gentry family, but each of her four successive marriages carried her further up the social ladder. The initials on the ramparts of Hardwick stand for Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury, which she became through her fourth marriage, to the Earl of Shrewsbury.

Sir William Cavendish (1505?-1557). ©NTPL/Hawkley Studios

But the only one of her marriages to result in children was the second one,  to Sir William Cavendish. He was a government servant who had made his fortune under Henry VIII.

The second son from that marriage, William, is the ancestor of the Dukes of Devonshire, while from the third son, Charles, descended the Cavendishes, Dukes of Newcastle, and the Cavendish-Bentincks, Dukes of Portland.

The High Great Chamber at Hardwick. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Bess of Hardwick, as she became known, built Hardwick Hall between 1590 and 1597. This was after her fourth husband’s death, when she had become one of the richest people in the country.  

She would dine in state in the High Great Chamber, almost like a queen. An extraordinary coloured plasterwork frieze runs along the walls with figures repsresenting Diana, Venus and Summer in a forest setting. The Brussels tapestries below depict the story of Ulysses.

Figure of Penelope in an embroidered hanging depicting famous historical and mythical heroines, created in the 1570s. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Bess particularly identified with Penelope, Ulysses’s long-suffering and ultimately triumphant wife, who appears in an embroidered hanging now in the Hall. Hardwick has one of the most important collections of embroidery created for and by one household.

A corner of the Long Gallery. ©NTPL/Nick Guttridge

The colours of the textiles at Hardwick are now mostly rather faded, which gives it a mellow beauty. But originally the colour schemes would have been bright, brash and glitzy, befitting a country girl who had ‘made it’. In spite of the passing of time, Bess’s personality is still very much in evidence at Hardwick.

From the attic

October 8, 2010

Morquette carpet by Piat Lefebvre et Fils, Tournai, early nineteenth century, lot 662 in the Chatsworth sale. ©Sotheby's

We have just secured two lots at the Sotheby’s Chatsworth ‘attic’ sale, at which the Duke of Devonshire was selling a few odds and ends which were clogging up his store rooms. There were actually about 20,000 objects in all, but that’s ducal housekeeping for you. 

The entrance front of Hardwick Hall. ©NTPL/Mike Williams

We were trying to get things that had been at Hardwick Hall, the iconic Elizabethan house in Derbyshire which used to be owned by the Cavendishes (Dukes of Devonshire). We were bidding for a number of items, but the competition was stiff, with many lots going way beyond their upper estimates.

The Drawing Room at Hardwick. The Tournai carpet was shown in this room in a late nineteenth-century photograph in Country Life magazine. ©NTPL/Nick Guttridge

It was an interesting example of the ‘country house effect’, where the association with a historic house and an old family causes bidders to compete for objects that might not get a second glance in another context. 

Cavendish family deed boxes, lot 902 in the Chatsworth sale. ©Sotheby’s

But then we understand the value of context at the National trust too – the Devonshire deed boxes we bought will add a bit of family atmosphere to Hardwick. And the proceeds of the sale are said to be going towards improvements at the Chatsworth estate, which already has an excellent conservation programme, so that must be a good thing.

A sacred conversation

September 10, 2010

Attributed to Palma il Vecchio (c 1480-1528), Sacra Conversazione: The Madonna and child with St Mary Magdalene, St Peter and St Peter Martyr, oil on panel, 75.5 x 105.1 cm. Image Christie's

This painting came up at auction at Christie’s in London on 7 July. It was in the collection of John Barnard in the eighteenth century and was then acquired by the first Baron Scarsdale. It was at Kedleston Hall by 1778.

The north front of Kedleston Hall. ©NTPL/Matthew Antrobus

I was bidding for this picture at the auction on the National Trust’s behalf, but it went just beyond the limit we had set ourselves. However, one of our curators, Amanda Bradley, quickly contacted Christie’s to find out if the buyer might want to sell the picture on to us at a modest profit.

Italo-Byzantine triptych showing the Madonna and child with saints, early fourteenth century, at Polesden Lacey, Surrey. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Christie’s Old Master Paintings department very helpfully forwarded this offer to the buyer, who agreed, and after finding a little bit more money we were able to acquire the picture after all. We are very grateful to everyone who helped to make this happen.

Sacra Conversazione: The Virgin and child with St Jerome, St Justina, St Ursula and St Bernardino of Siena by Palma il Vecchio, at Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The title of the picture, meaning ‘sacred conversation’, refers to a type of religious picture that developed in the Renaissance, showing the Virgin and the Christ child surrounded by saints. Previously saints had been depicted in a rigidly emblematic way, but gradually they were shown more informally, as if conversing with the Virgin and child.

The first Lord and Lady Scarsdale walking in the grounds of Kedleston Hall by Nathaniel Hone, 1761. ©NTPL/John Hammond

This particular painting has been restored in the past, but it is nevertheless important to Kedleston as evidence of the taste for Old Master paintings of the first Lord Scarsdale and his wife Caroline.

Although Lord Scarsdale never seems to have gone on a Grand Tour of  Italy, he was nevertheless deeply interested in Italian art and architecture, as is evident in the building works he commissioned at Kedleston from James ‘Athenean’ Stuart and Robert Adam.

A design for the decoration of a state room at Kedleston, c. 1757-58, by James 'Athenian' Stuart. ©NTPL/John Hammond

As the new house was going up, Lord Scarsdale was buying more and more Old Masters, many of them through the painter and landscape designer William Kent.

The Drawing Room at Kedleston. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Many of the pictures were incorporated into plasterwork frames that were part of the architecture. The Old Masters were shown in the east side of the main block, whereas portraits were displayed in the State Appartment on the west side.

Promenade

July 28, 2010

The Marble Hall at Kedleston. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

A new temporary art installation called Promenade has just been installed at Kedleston Hall. The work by Susie MacMurray consists of 200 km of of gold thread woven among the pillars of the Marble Hall. A video of it can be seen here on the Daily Telegraph website.

The peacock dress. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The artist has been inspired by the peacock dress worn by Lady Curzon at the Delhi Durbar in 1903. Her husband Lord Curzon was the Viceroy of India at the time. The dress, also on display at Kedleston, was constructed of cloth of gold and Susie MacMurray imagined it unravelled and entwined amongst the pillars.

Detail of the State Apartments at Kedleston, with a blue-john urn and a gilded fillet surrounding the fireplace. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

Promenade also refers to the gold elements in the Robert-Adam-designed interiors at Kedleston, which have featured on this blog previously

And of course a maze of threads reminds one of the ancient Greek legend of Theseus, who unravelled a thread while searching for the Minotaur in his labyrinth. And then there are the threads of history, and of causality.

Pause amongst the pillars... ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

But the work is also intended simply to make the visitor aware of his or her  surroundings, to suggest a moment of contemplation.


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