Archive for the ‘Plas Newydd’ Category

In memoriam: the 7th Marquess of Anglesey

July 18, 2013
Henry Paget, 7th Marquess of Anglesey. ©National Portrait Gallery

Henry Paget, 7th Marquess of Anglesey. ©National Portrait Gallery

George Charles Henry Victor Paget, 7th Marquess of Anglesey, who has died aged 90, was a soldier, historian and conservationist.

Plas Newydd, Isle of Anglesey. ©National Trust Images/Nick Meers

Plas Newydd, Isle of Anglesey. ©National Trust Images/Nick Meers

After serving with the Royal Horse Guards during the Second World War he succeeded to the marquessate of Anglesey in 1947. Substantial inheritance tax liabilities soon forced the reduction of the family landholdings from 650,000 acres to 40,000 acres.

The Staircase Hall at Plas Newydd. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Staircase Hall at Plas Newydd. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Lord Anglesey became a military historian, writing a biography of his famous ancestor William Paget, Lord Uxbridge and later 1st Marquess of Anglesey, a dashing Napoleonic-era cavalry commander.

William Paget, later 1st Marquess of Anglesey, as Lieutenant Colonel of the 7th Light Dragoons, by John Hoppner and Sawrey Gilpin. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

William Paget, later 1st Marquess of Anglesey, as Lieutenant Colonel of the 7th Light Dragoons, by John Hoppner and Sawrey Gilpin. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Lord Uxbridge played a crucial part in the battle of Waterloo. As he was riding off the field with the Duke of Wellington his leg was smashed by grapeshot, causing him to remark with characteristic understatement: ‘By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!’ – to which Wellington responded, with equal sang froid: ‘By God, sir, so you have!’ Uxbridge’s pioneering wooden leg is still at the family’s ancestral seat, Plas Newydd.

The 1st Marquess of Anglesey's wooden leg and shako. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The 1st Marquess of Anglesey’s wooden leg and shako. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The 7th Marquess’s magnum opus was an eight-volume History of the British Cavalry, 1816-1919, which received increasingly laudatory reviews as the individual volumes were published.

Lord Anglesey in his study at Plas Newydd. ©National Trust Images

Lord Anglesey in his study at Plas Newydd. ©National Trust Images

Lord Anglesey was also active in conservation, serving variously as founding president of the Friends of Friendless Churches, president of the National Museums of Wales, chairman of the Historic Buildings Council for Wales, vice-chairman of the Welsh Committee of the National Trust, member of the Royal Fine Arts Commission, trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. In 1976 he donated Plas Newyd and 169 acres of surrounding land along the Menai Strait to the National Trust, although he continued to maintain an apartment in the house.

Beth Katleman’s Rococo vision

June 6, 2011

Beth Katleman, Folly. ©Beth Katleman/Alan Wiener

I recently spotted these images of an extraordinary porcelain relief entitled Folly, by New York-based artist Beth Katleman. The work is five meters long and consists of 3,500 individual porcelain pieces. It is inspired by the riotous wall decorations of the Rococo period.

Facsimile of a Regency chinoiserie wallpaper in the Bow Room at Castle Coole, Co. Fermanagh. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Folly is reminiscent of eighteenth-century Rococo and chinoiserie tapestries, wallpaper and printed cotton, with their floating islands populated with whimsical figures and fantasy structures.

Folly (detail). ©Beth Katleman/Alan Wiener

The work also references the more extreme forms of plaster decoration, and the phenomenon of the porcelain room, with its walls covered with figurines, vases, cups and plates.

Detail of the mantelpiece in the Paper Room at Claydon House, Buckinghamshire. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

But upon closer inspection Katleman infuses these ‘high culture’ sources with a healthy dose of kitsch. The floating islands are populated by porcelain casts that the artist has taken from flea-market finds, including pencil sharpeners in the shape of famous monuments and cast-off plastic dolls.

Folly (detail). ©Beth Katleman/Alan Wiener

Katleman aptly emphasises the surrealist potential of the Rococo style. At the same time she subverts the domestic associations of interior decoration, transforming the elegant into the uncanny. 

Detail of toile de Jouy in the Ante-Room at Plas Newydd, Anglesey. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Folly will be shown by Todd Merrill at Design Miami/Basel from 13 to 18 June. Subsequently it will be part of the exhibition Flora and Fauna, MAD About Nature, at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, from 28 June until 6 November.

Folly (detail). ©Beth Katleman/Alan Wiener

Another edition of the work will travel to London to be shown, again by Todd Merrill, at the Pavilion of Art and Design, from 12 to 16 October. 

Chinoiserie plasterwork and carved wood decoration in the Chinese Room at Claydon House, Buckinghamshire. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Todd Merrill website features a short video about Folly featuring Beth Katleman.

Splendid silks

January 5, 2011

Chinese silk on the c. 1720 state bed at Plas Newydd, Anglesey. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

I have just visted the Imperial Chinese Robes exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The robes have been lent by the Palace Museum, Beijing.

The colour combinations and the different textures of the silks are extraordinary. And I found it fascinating to learn more about the motifs used in the designs, and the occasions on which the different styles of clothing would have been used.

The state bed at Plas Newydd with its flying tester. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The silk shown here, at Plas Newydd, Anglesey, was used in a different context, but it does illustrate the longstanding British fascination with Chinese art and design, of which the current V&A exhibition is only the latest example.


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