Archive for the ‘Lyme Park’ Category

Lyme Park’s rococo moment

January 22, 2013
Detail of one of the pair of carved giltwood side tables with Portoro marble tops, accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme Park. ©National Trust Collections

Detail of one of the pair of carved giltwood side tables with Portoro marble tops, accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme Park. ©National Trust Collections

Among the items recently accepted by the Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to Lyme Park are some pieces of wonderfully sculptural rococo furniture.

One of a pair of carved giltwood side tables with Portoro marble tops, accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme Park. ©National Trust Collections

One of a pair of carved giltwood side tables with Portoro marble tops, accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme Park. ©National Trust Collections

This allocation includes a pair of carved giltwood side tables with Portoro marble tops and two pairs of carved giltwood wall brackets. One of the pairs supports two Chinese Dehua porcelain female figures.

Pair of carved giltwood brackets, mid 18th century, accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme Park. ©National Trust Collections

Pair of carved giltwood brackets, mid 18th century, accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme Park. ©National Trust Collections

The rococo furniture at Lyme was originally acquired by Peter Legh XIII, who inherited the house in 1744. He finished the decoration of a number of rooms remodeled by his uncle Peter Legh XII in the 1730s and early 1740s.

Female figure in Chinese Dehua porcelain, Kangxi period (1662-1722), on English carved giltwood bracket, mid 18th century, accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme Park. ©National Trust Collections

Female figure in Chinese Dehua porcelain, Kangxi period (1662-1722), on English carved giltwood bracket, mid 18th century, accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme Park. ©National Trust Collections

Pseudo-Chinese birds, perhaps echoing the decoration of the Chinese porcelain in the house, appear on some of the rococo girandoles introduced by Peter XIII. At the same time he also seems to have added the 17th century oak paneling that came from another family house, Bradley in Lancashire, demonstrating the eclecticism of the middle of the 18th century.

View of the Drawing Room at Lyme, showing one of the rococo carved giltwood girandoles. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

View of the Drawing Room at Lyme, showing one of the rococo carved giltwood girandoles. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The giltwood chandeliers and the harpsichord by Hitchcock also date from this period.

View of the Saloon at Lyme, with one of the carved giltwood rococo chandeliers and the contemporary harpsichord. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

View of the Saloon at Lyme, with one of the carved giltwood rococo chandeliers and the contemporary harpsichord. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

But it wasn’t all sweetness and light: Peter XIII ended up separated from his wife, led astray by his mistress and his manipulative sister, being wheeled up and down the galleries at Lyme in a bath chair. Following Peter XIII’s death in 1792 the house entered a period of neglect which wouldn’t be reversed until his great-nephew Thomas Legh came of age in 1813.

It girls of the Elizabethan age

November 20, 2012

Portrait of Margaret Gerard, Lady Legh, attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Accepted in lieu of inheritance tax by HM Government and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme Park, 2011. ©National Trust Collections

This striking full-length portrait is among the objects recently accepted by the Government in lieu of tax and allocated to Lyme Park.

Portrait of Blanche Parry, possibly by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, at Tredegar House, Newport. ©National Trust Collections, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

It depicts Margaret Gerard (1569/70-1603), the wife of Sir Peter Legh IX (1563-1636), who completed and extended the Elizabethan house at Lyme.

Portrait of Elizabeth I, by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. ©Trinity College, University of Cambridge, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The portrait is attributed to the Tudor court painter Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561/2-1636) who, together with his father, came to England from the southern Netherlands.

Portrait of Elizabeth Vernon, Countess of Southampton, by school of Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. ©Glasgow Museums, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Gheeraerts the Younger introduced a more three-dimensional style of portraiture to English art, with more emphasis on capturing the character of the sitter. Moreover, he occasionally portrayed people with a smiling expression, which was rare at this time.

Portrait possibly of Anne Keighley, Mrs William Cavendish, by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. ©National Trust Collections, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

I did a search on the excellent Your Paintings database of oil paintings in UK public collections and found a number of other portraits of ladies by or in the style of Gheeraerts the Younger.

Portrait of an unknown pregnant lady, attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to Tate, 1999. ©Tate, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Seeing the Lyme portrait in the company of these portraits of other Elizabethan ‘it girls’ by the same artist really brings home the strangeness and splendour of Elizabethan court dress and body language.

Portrait of an unknown lady, aged 31, holding a glove and fan, in the style of Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, at Nostell Priory. ©National Trust Collections, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

It also demonstrates the huge value of both the Acceptance in Lieu scheme and the Public Catalogue Foundation/Your Paintings project to preserving and opening up our heritage.

The fictional life of Lyme Park

November 8, 2010

View of the north front Lyme Park, c. 1700. Acquired with the help of the Art Fund in 1999. ©NTPL/John Hammond

This view of Lyme Park was purchased by the National Trust in 1999 with support from the Art Fund. It shows the north front of the house in about 1700.

These topographical paintings were usually at least partly fictional, an expression of the owners’ pride, their ideals and hopes.

©NTPL/Matthew Antrobus

This is the north front photographed fairly recently.

Although the image is obviously a truthful record of a moment in time, the photographer has also incorporated certain conventions from the tradition of landscape painting, such as the curve of the drive in the the foreground and the mass of the tree on the right. It is a composition just as artfully contrived as the earlier painting.

The south front of Lyme. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

The other, grander front of the house will, for most of us, be associated with the 1995 television adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. In that series Lyme stands in for Darcy’s country house, Pemberley.

It is below the south front of Lyme/Pemberley that Darcy, having just taken a dip in the lake after a strenuous journey on horseback, encounters the mortified Lizzie Bennet, and they have their famously stilted conversation. In this case the reality of Lyme is augmented by both literature and film.

Can we ever see a place without all these associations? Perhaps that is only possible when we are three or four years old.

Flockadacious

November 1, 2010

©National Trust/Emma Williams

James Rothwell has just sent me this image of the library at Lyme Park as it looks now, in response to the previous post about the refurbishment of the room. It still needs a few finishing touches, but the overall effect is there.

The National Trust now encourages visitors to use the furniture in certain rooms – where appropriate and practical – so that they can get a better sense of what it would have been like to inhabit these spaces.

Watercolour view of the library by Sybil Legh, 1897. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

This watercolour (which I showed earlier) by Sybil Legh , a relation of Lord Newton who owned the house, documents the room as it was in 1897. You can see how she sort of fudged the difficult-to-paint pattern of the wallpaper, rendering it as a mottled reddish purple.

But the picture also shows the grained ceiling, the Boulle-work bracket clock, the Greek tombstone fragment in the alcove and the velvet-covered window seat, which have all either survived or been recreated.

Gathering the flock

October 26, 2010

The library at Lyme Park before its recent transformation. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

After the acquisition of the fifteenth-century Caxton Missal for Lyme Park in 2008, the opportunity was taken to refurbish the library at the house. It was decided to take the room back to about 1873, the date that the Missal was rediscovered there.

The Lyme library as illustrated in The Ladies' Field, 1901

James Rothwell, the curator for Lyme, worked with the National Trust’s adviser on interior decoration, James Finlay, to research how the library would have been furnished at the time.

Evidence for the wallpaper was found in a 1901 issue of the magazine The Ladies’ Field that showed a photograph of the Lyme library. A few precious scraps of this paper were found underneath a later wallpaper. It had also left faint shadows of its pattern on the underlying wall, but frustratingly no other surviving examples could be traced.  

The Turin Shroud-like shadows that the wallpaper had left on the wall. ©James Finlay

James Rothwell searched through the early Victorian wallpaper patterns in the registers of designs at the National Archives at Kew, photographing similar examples. It became clear from the stylistic evidence that Lyme’s paper must have been produced in the 1840s, possibly at the time of Thomas Legh’s second marriage in 1843.

The distemper being applied at Atelier d'Offard. ©James Finlay

All this evidence – the scraps, the shadows, the photograph, the similar examples – then allowed James Finlay to redraw the design. The fragments showed that the colourway had been a warm stone-coloured distemper ground with a damask design made up of bright metallic gold and deep red flock.

The flock being dyed. ©James Finlay

After a close-run selection process the commission to produce the wallpaper was given to Atelier d’Offard in Tours, a company that combines modern technology with traditional techniques and materials. Under James F.’s supervision blocks were cut, colours prepared and wool flock dyed.

David Wynne in action. ©James Finlay

The wallpaper was delivered in June 2010. Experienced local decorator David Wynne of Albert W. Wynne and Sons was called in to hang the paper, a sight that the visitors to Lyme enjoyed witnessing.

©James Finlay

Both Jameses were relieved to find that the wallpaper is not at all overpowering. In fact, it blends in very well with the regrained oak ceiling, the red velvet upholstery (from Lelièvre of Paris) and the cleaned oak bookcases. The Lyme Caxton – and the visitors who come to see it – have been made to feel very welcome.

A more detailed article about this project by James F. can be found in the latest issue of the National Trust’s ABC Bulletin. And you can see and hear James R. waxing lyrical about the project here.

Flower power

September 15, 2010

The grand staircase at Lyme Park, by Sybil Legh, 1898. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

At Lyme Park in Cheshire there is a group of small watercolours of interiors by Sybil Legh (pronounced Lee), painted in 1897 and 1898.

Early nineteenth-century wire plant stand in the entrance hall at Lyme Park. The stand is actually from nearby Dunham Massey. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Leghs had been at Lyme since about 1400.

The library at Lyme by Sybil Legh, 1897. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Sybil Legh wasn’t a professional watercolourist, but she certainly had an eye for framing a view.

Early nineteenth-century flower arrangement in the yellow bedroom at Lyme. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

 All of the watercolours include houseplants and flowers. 

The yellow bedroom at Lyme, by Sybil Legh, 1898. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

There was a project a few years ago recreating and photographing a number of documented historic flower arrangements, including the examples shown here.

The dining room table laid to design number 14 from John Perkins's 'Flower Decorations for the Table', 1877. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Flower arrangements are of course the most ephemeral of creations – but in this case they were recorded in the book Flora Domestica: A History of British Flower Arranging, 1500-1930, by Mary Rose Blacker.

Through Japanese eyes

April 29, 2010

Lindisfarne Castle in the snow, by Takumasa Ono. ©NTPL/Takusama Ono

Takumasa Ono is an artist working in two traditions.

View of Mt Fuji from downtown Edo, by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), at Cragside, Northumberland. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

On the one hand his work is reminiscent of the ukiyo-e school of Japanese printmaking, with its dramatic perspectives, striking silhouettes, and sensitivity to the seasons.

Belton House, by Takumasa Ono. ©NTPL/Takusama Ono

On the other hand his pictures remind one of the British tradition of country house views, showing the house as the focal point of the landscape.

Belton House, English School, c. 1720. Acquired with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, 1984. ©NTPL/John Hammond

For a number of years now Mr Ono has been travelling around Britain making ‘portrait’s of National Trust properties. Each picture is a highly personal take on a particular place.

Woolsthorpe Manor (Isaac Newton's birthplace), by Takumasa Ono. ©NTPL/Takumasa Ono

Mr Ono is almost like one of those eighteenth century travellers seeking out picturesque views to sketch and paint.

A garden in spring, by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), at Cragside, Northumberland. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

But instead of using a Claude glass to give a classical tinge to the view, he brings a subtle Japanese perspective to the image. In Japan, too, there was a tradition of making pictures of ‘famous places’.

Lyme Park in the snow, by Takumasa Ono. ©NTPL/Takumasa Ono

This year Mr Ono will be showing his work at the following National Trust properties:

  • 30 April – 18 May: Ickworth House (Suffolk)
  • 28 May – 13 June: Dinefwr Park and Castle (Carmarthenshire)
  • 26 June – 11 July: Hanbury Hall (Worcestershire)
  • 23 July – 6 August: Speke Hall (Liverpool)
  • 18 August – 5 September: Baddesley Clinton (Warwickshire)
  • 8 September – 26 September: Wightwick Manor (West Midlands)

Farmers working in rice fields in the rain, by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), at Scotney Castle, Kent. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Prints can also be purchased directly through his website. An interview with Mr Ono in The Artist can be read here.

Barbara of It’s About Time has just posted some beautiful photographs of Lindisfarne Castle (the Ono print of which is at the top of this post).

Easter gifts

April 2, 2010

The south front of Lyme Park, designed by Giacomo Leoni and built between 1729 and 1732. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

A group of objects with a provenance from Lyme Park, Cheshire, has just been accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax from Nicholas Legh and the Hon Mrs Simon Weinstock (formerly Laura Legh) and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme. 

The Drawing Room at Lyme, showing some of the furniture accepted in lieu of tax. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

This munificent transfer comes right on time to add to the bounties of Easter. As it happens, this year the invaluable Acceptance in Lieu Scheme has been in existence for 100 years.

One of the chairs with needlework covers imitating cut velvet. Image: National Trust

The allocation includes a set of mid-eighteenth-century mahogany chairs with their original needlework covers. The needlework is deliberately raised above the linen ground in imitation of cut velvet. Needlework was highly valued at this time, and was generally used on the best chairs in the most important rooms. However, savings were made by covering the backs with watered wool.

The Drawing Room, showing the chairs in situ. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The chairs were originally acquired by Peter Legh XIII, who inherited Lyme in 1744. He also introduced the carved giltwood chandeliers and the Rococo girandoles to the Drawing Room. The early seventeenth-century panelling was transferred by him from another Legh property, Bradley in Lancashire – an early example of historicist decoration.


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