Archive for the ‘Portraits’ Category

The weight of family tradition

October 9, 2014

 

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70) as a young man, attributed to Thomas Hudson (1701–79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 2900098. ©Cheffins

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70) as a young man, attributed to Thomas Hudson (1701–79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 2900098. ©Cheffins

We have just purchased this portrait at auction at Cheffins in Cambridge. Attributed to the painter Thomas Hudson, it depicts Charles Yorke (1722-70), second son of the 1st Earl of Hardwicke and father of the 3rd Earl. The portrait has now joined the other Yorke family portraits, a number of which are also by Hudson, at Wimpole Hall.

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70), at the time he became Solicitor-General in 1756, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207788. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of the Right Hon. Charles Yorke (1722-70), at the time he became Solicitor-General in 1756, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207788. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Charles Yorke might be seen as a paradigm of the pressures of family expectation. A good potted biography of him can be found on the History of Parliament website. From an early age he was expected to do well in the law profession. His mother’s uncle, Lord Somers, had been Lord Chancellor, and his father had held the same post for nearly twenty years.

Portrait of Sir Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764), by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207887. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Sir Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764), by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207887. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Charles was indeed clever, was called to the bar and became a Member of Parliament. But he seems to have been indecisive and over-analytical, and those traits became more pronounced as his career progressed.

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Yorke (1725–60), Lady Anson, sister of Charles Yorke, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Shugborough Hall, inv. no. 1271067. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Yorke (1725–60), Lady Anson, sister of Charles Yorke, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Shugborough Hall, inv. no. 1271067. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

In Parliament he was constantly veering between the Government and the opposition and couldn’t make up his mind when offered posts. Nevertheless he did become Solicitor-General in 1756 and Attorney-General in 1762 and again in 1765.

Portrait of Catherine Freman (1736/7-59), who married Charles Yorke in 1755, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207789. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Catherine Freman (1736/7-59), who married Charles Yorke in 1755, by Thomas Hudson (1701-79), at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207789. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

When in January 1770 the Duke of Grafton finally did offer Yorke the Lord Chancellorship he felt caught out between his ambition and family tradition, the apparent instability of the Grafton administration, and his ties to friends and relations (including his brother) who were associated with the opposition. He ultimately accepted the post but the stress had so affected him that he died just three days later.

 

The Gilded Age at Waddesdon

September 30, 2014
Joanna Leigh, Mrs Richard Bennett Lloyd, inscribing a tree, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1775-6, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Joanna Leigh, Mrs Richard Bennett Lloyd, inscribing a tree, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1775-6, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

I attended a fascinating conference at Waddesdon Manor last week about the ‘Gilded Age’,  the period towards the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century when a group of American industrialists and entrepreneurs became incredibly wealthy and started to buy European art.

Lady Anne Luttrell, Duchess of Cumberland, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1772-3, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Lady Anne Luttrell, Duchess of Cumberland, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1772-3, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The booming of the Amercian economy during the second half of the nineteenth century, coupled with a light taxation and legislation regime, allowed a select group of ‘robber barons’ to build up unprecedented fortunes. These men included John Jacob Astor (fur, real estate), Henry Clay Frick (steel), Collis Potter Huntington (railways), J.P. Morgan (finance), Andrew Mellon (finance, oil) and John D. Rockefeller (oil).

Emma Hart, Lady Hamilton, as Circe, by George Romney, 1782, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Emma Hart, Lady Hamilton, as Circe, by George Romney, 1782, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Some of them used some of their wealth to build palatial ‘cottages’ in Newport and elsewhere and to collect art. This ‘demand’ coincided with the opening up of ‘supply’ in Europe, where aristocratic families were hit by the agricultural depression of the 1870s. In addition, in Britain the Settled Land Acts of the 1880s allowed families to sell land and chattels that had hitherto been designated as heirlooms.

Frances Browne, Mrs John Douglas, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1783-4, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Frances Browne, Mrs John Douglas, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1783-4, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

A number of art dealers stepped in to service both sides of this particularly frothy market, including Agnew’s, Colnagi’s (whose archive has recently been deposited on loan to Waddesdon), Goupil’s, Knoedler’s and Wertheimer’s.

Lady Jane Tollemache, Lady John Halliday, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1778-9, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Lady Jane Tollemache, Lady John Halliday, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1778-9, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Sometimes the dealers formed syndicates to acquire and redistribute large collections, while at other times they competed with climactic tenacity for the opportunities to buy and sell important and fashionable works of art.

Sophia Charlotte Digby, Lady Sheffield, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1785-6, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Sophia Charlotte Digby, Lady Sheffield, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1785-6, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Some of the types of paintings that were particularly popular in this period were Dutch seventeenth-century landscapes and interiors and English eighteenth-century portraits.

Mrs Abington as the comic muse, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1764-8 and 1772-3, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Mrs Abington as the comic muse, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1764-8 and 1772-3, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Visiting Waddesdon, it struck me that this house and collection, built and assembled by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839-98) has strong Gilded Age overtones. Indeed it could be said that the goût Rothschild and Gilded Age taste were partially overlapping and mutually influential.

Thaïs, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1781, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Thaïs, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1781, at Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The ‘grand manner’ English portraits collected by Baron Ferdinand would have been equally desirable, and occasionally hotly contested, by the robber barons across the pond.

Portraits from outer space

February 6, 2014
Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of Caroline Conolly, Countess of Buckinghamshire, 1784, at Blickling Hall. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of Caroline Conolly, Countess of Buckinghamshire, 1784, at Blickling Hall. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

We have been having a discussion about the relative merits of Arthur Devis and Thomas Gainsborough. I love the little details in Devis’s portraits, but I can also see that Gainsborough lifted British portraiture onto an altogether different plane.

Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, 1784, at Blickling Hall. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, 1784, at Blickling Hall. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Gainsborough’s portraits zoom in on the sitters’ appearance, glamourising them in the manner of today’s media personalities. Gainsborough’s foregrounding of a person’s ‘aura’ contributes to the characteristic vividness and brilliance of his portraits.

Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of a lady, possibly Elizabeth White, Mrs Hartley, c.1786-7, at Ascott. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of a lady, possibly Elizabeth White, Mrs Hartley, c.1786-7, at Ascott. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

However, it seems to me that in some ways Gainsborough’s pictures are – paradoxically – less realistic than Devis’s more muted portrayals.

Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of the Hon Thomas Needham, 1768, at Ascott. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of the Hon Thomas Needham, 1768, at Ascott. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Gainsborough’s settings are often very effective in hinting at the sitter’s role, personality or achievements, but they do that by being very theatrical. Pillar = grandeur and permanence. Pike = military hero. Anchor = naval prowess. Devis’s hints of domestic life have been replaced by emblematic props and backdrops.

Thomas Gainsborough and another hand, portrait of Susanna 'Suky' Trevelyan, Mrs John Hudson, 1761, at Wallington. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Thomas Gainsborough and another hand, portrait of Susanna ‘Suky’ Trevelyan, Mrs John Hudson, 1761, at Wallington. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The way the sitters are dressed, and their body language, is again often rather theatrical. They appear like beautifully dressed and charismatically posed actors on a stage.

Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of Commodore the Hon. Augustus Hervey, later Vice-Admiral and 3rd Earl of Bristol, 1767-8, at Ickworth. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

In their glamorous artifice Gainsborough’s portraits remind me of film posters or trailers.

Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of Louisa Barbarina Mansel, Lady Vernon, 1763-7, at Sudbury Hall. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of Louisa Barbarina Mansel, Lady Vernon, 1763-7, at Sudbury Hall. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

All this makes his pictures at once very present and very distant. Gainsborough people seem a bit like beautiful aliens who have just arrived from outer space, surveying the assembled earthlings with gentle surprise and benign disdain.

Rococo lifestyle

February 4, 2014
Arthur Devis, portrait of Lucy Watson, Mrs Thornton, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundationk

Arthur Devis, portrait of Lucy Watson, Mrs Thornton, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Waldemar Januszczak has recently been entertaining and educating us about the rococo on British TV. By pure coincidence I just spotted these charming rococo-period portraits of English gentry by Arthur Devis (1712-87).

Arthur Devis, portrait of Lascelles Raymond Iremonger, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Arthur Devis, portrait of Lascelles Raymond Iremonger, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Devis’s portraits always have something slightly stilted about them, but at the same time they show lots of telling little details of people’s dress and furnishings.

Arthur Devis, portrait of a lady, possibly Elizabeth Lacey, Mrs Joshua Iremonger III, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Arthur Devis, portrait of a lady, possibly Elizabeth Lacey, Mrs Joshua Iremonger III, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The chimney board in the portrait of Mrs Thornton, for instance, appears to be decorated with a Chinese picture or section of wallpaper, a practice that was fairly widespread at the time – Lucy Johnson has found references to them being introduced at Woburn Abbey in the early 1750s.

Arthur Devis, portrait of Joshua Iremonger III, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Arthur Devis, portrait of Joshua Iremonger III, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

It is also fascinating to see how empty the interiors are in Devis’s pictures, with just the occasional chair or table, a vase in the fireplace or a few porcelain jars and statuettes on the chimneypiece. Some of the floors are just bare boards, others appear to be covered by plain floorcloths with an occasional Turkey rug on top.

Arthur Devis, portrait of a man seated in a park, supposedly Sir James Burrow, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Arthur Devis, portrait of a man seated in a park, supposedly Sir James Burrow, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Was life just elegantly simple then, or did they have hidden closets bulging with stuff, like 1990s minimalists?

Arthur Devis, portrait of a boy or young man fishing, possibly Christopher Lethieullier, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Arthur Devis, portrait of a boy or young man fishing, possibly Christopher Lethieullier, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Or was Arthur Devis a stylist as well as a portraitist, skilfully editing his clients’ interiors? The little book propped on the dado rail in the portrait of Lascelles Raymond Iremonger, for instance, seems to betray the casually perfect touch of the stylist.

Arthur Devis, portrait of Sarah Lascelles, Mrs Christopher Lethieullier, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Arthur Devis, portrait of Sarah Lascelles, Mrs Christopher Lethieullier, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The outdoor portraits are equally fascinating, showing the sitters enjoying ‘nature’ in carefully composed settings. Mrs Christopher Lethieullier seems to have been provided with a floorcloth to protect her shoes and dress from the dirt, while the gentlemen appear to be slightly more carefree, seated on green-painted garden chairs and even putting their tricorn hats on the ground.

Arthur Devis, portrait of a man seated in a parl, possibly Benjamin Lethieullier MP, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Arthur Devis, portrait of a man seated in a park, possibly Benjamin Lethieullier MP, at Uppark. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

These portraits somehow seem to epitomise the rococo in Britain, delicately – or awkwardly – poised between baroque formality and Romantic sensibility.

In the van Dyck tradition

December 18, 2013
The Hon Edith Helen Chaplin (1878–1959), Marchioness of Londonderry, DBE, with her favourite greyhound Fly, by Philip de László, 1913. Accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The Hon Edith Helen Chaplin (1878–1959), Marchioness of Londonderry, DBE, with her favourite greyhound Fly, by Philip de László, 1913. Accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Mount Stewart. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Following the mention in the previous post of the van Dyck self-portrait which the National Portrait Gallery is trying to acquire, I was struck by how some of the portraits at Mount Stewart are very much in the van Dyck tradition.

The 7th Marquess of Londonderry sitting in front of a portrait of his ancestor, Lord Castlereagh, by Philip de László, 1927. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The 7th Marquess of Londonderry sitting in front of a portrait of his ancestor, Lord Castlereagh, by Philip de László, 1927. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

One of these, the Diana-esque portrait of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry by de László, has just been accepted in lieu of tax and allocated to Mount Stewart, along with a portrait by Lavery of her husband, the 7th Marquess, and a number of other objects associated with Mount Stewart and the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family.

Edward Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1902–1955), Lord Stewart, later 8th Marquess of Londonderry, as a page at the coronation of King George V, by Philip de László, c.1911. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Edward Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1902–1955), Lord Stewart, later 8th Marquess of Londonderry, as a page at the coronation of King George V, by Philip de László, c.1911. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The National Trust already owned a number of other family portraits at Mount Stewart, including a de László of the 7th Marquess draped with splendid van Dyckean nonchalance across a sofa in front of a portrait of his famous ancestor, Lord Castlereagh.

Lady Mairi Stewart (1921–2009), later Lady Mairi Bury, at the age of two, by Philip Alexius de László, 1923. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Lady Mairi Stewart (1921–2009), later Lady Mairi Bury, at the age of two, by Philip Alexius de László, 1923. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The are also two charming portraits by the same artist of Lord Edward and Lady Mairi Stewart as children. Lady Mairi lived at Mount Stewart until her death in 2009.

Save van Dyck’s Self-portrait

December 12, 2013
Sir Anthony van Dyck, self-portrait, 1640-1. ©Philip Mould & Co.

Sir Anthony van Dyck, self-portrait, 1640-1. ©Philip Mould & Co.

The National Portrait Gallery and the Art Fund have launched a fundraising campaign to purchase a rare self-portrait by Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641). The painting has been sold to an overseas buyer, but a temporary export stop is giving the National Portrait Gallery the chance to acquire it.

Sir Anthony van Dyck and studio, King Charles I, 1638-9, at Ham House (acquired by HM Treasury 1948, transferred to the National Trust 2002) ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Sir Anthony van Dyck and studio, King Charles I, 1638-9, at Ham House (acquired by HM Treasury 1948, transferred to the National Trust 2002) ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Van Dyck was born in Antwerp and trained under Rubens. In 1632 he came to Britain where he had a transformative effect on portraiture, capturing a ‘careless romance’ that has epitomised British aristocratic insouciance ever since. He worked as Principal Painter to King Charles I and painted the royal family and those close to the court.

After Sir Anthony van Dyck, self-portrait with sunflower, at Ham House (acquired by HM Treasury 1948, transferred to the National Trust 2002). The original of 1635-6 is in the collection of the Duke of Westminster. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

After Sir Anthony van Dyck, self-portrait with sunflower, at Ham House (acquired by HM Treasury 1948, transferred to the National Trust 2002). The original of 1635-6 is in the collection of the Duke of Westminster. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

In this self-portrait Van Dyck shows himself as if in the act of painting, looking at himself in a mirror but at the same time gazing directly at us. The sunflower motif in the frame – associated with Van Dyck – refers to the relationship between art and nature, and between the artist and his patron-sovereign, as a flower who always follows the sun.

This portrait has previously been in private collections (including that of the Earls of Jersey who owned Osterley Park). This campaign is the last opportunity to preserve this picture, so relevant to British art, for public display in Britain.

Meeting Sophonisba

November 26, 2013
Sir Anthony van Dyck, portrait of Sophonisbna Anguissola in old age, c. 1624. Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Knole. ©National Trust Knole, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Sir Anthony van Dyck, portrait of Sophonisbna Anguissola in old age, c. 1624. Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Knole. ©National Trust Knole, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Arts Council England has just published its 2012-13 report on the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. This report includes the recent allocation of a group of portraits to the National Trust which have a historic connection to Knole. Among these pictures is this portrait by Sir Anthony van Dyck of the artist Sophonisba Anguissola in old age.

Copy by Hugh Howard of a sketch by Sir Anthony van Dyck of Sophonisba Anguissola. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Copy by Hugh Howard of a sketch by Sir Anthony van Dyck of Sophonisba Anguissola. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Sophonisba Anguissola was born into the minor nobility in Cremona, Lombardy. Her father ensured that all of his children received a cultivated upbringing, and four of her sisters also became painters. Sophonisba studied with local painters, setting a precedent for women to become art students.

Sophonisba Anguissola, portrait of the artist's sister in the garb of a nun, 1551. ©Southampton City Art Gallery, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Sophonisba Anguissola, portrait of the artist’s sister in the garb of a nun, 1551. ©Southampton City Art Gallery, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

At the age of twenty-two, Sophonisba travelled to Rome, where she received informal instruction from Michelangelo. Although, as a woman, she was not allowed to study anatomy or life-drawing, she became an accomplished portraitist.

In 1559 she was invited to join the Spanish court as painter and lady in waiting to Elizabeth of Valois, King Philip II’s third wife. She married Don Francisco de Moncada, son of the Viceroy of Sicily, and they eventually went to live in Palermo. After her first husband’s death she married the considerably younger Orazio Lomellino, a ship’s captain whom she had met while travelling to Cremona. Both of her husbands supported her career as a painter.

Sophonisba Anguissola, portrait of the granddaughter of the Duke and Duchess of Parma, c. 1580. ©Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Sophonisba Anguissola, portrait of the granddaughter of the Duke and Duchess of Parma, c. 1580. ©Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

In 1624, a year before her death, the by now famous artist was visited by Sir Anthony van Dyck, who sketched her and recorded her advice about painting. This sketch formed the basis for the portrait now at Knole.

The world and his dog

November 6, 2013
Peter Palmer, huntsman to Sir John William de la Pole, 6th Bt, by Thomas Beach, 1793, at Antony. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Peter Palmer, huntsman to Sir John William de la Pole, 6th Bt, by Thomas Beach, 1793, at Antony. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

I have just been looking at the six volumes on the oil paintings owned by the National Trust which have been published by the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF).

Fury, a dappled grey, and his groom, by Francis Sartorius I, 1784, at Antony. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Fury, a dappled grey, and his groom, by Francis Sartorius I, 1784, at Antony. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The Public Catalogue Foundation is an extraordinary venture, in some ways reminiscent of Pevsner’s Buildings of England series, which has succeeded in digitising the UK’s publicly owned oil paintings.

Bruen, a spaniel, and Squirrel, a black horse, by Francis Sartorius I, 1790, at Antony. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Bruen, a spaniel, and Squirrel, a black horse, by Francis Sartorius I, 1790, at Antony. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The database can be accessed digitally via the Your Paintings site, but the PCF is also publishing a series of hardback catalogues, six of which cover the National Trust’s collections.

A groom, two greys and a currick in a courtyard, by Francis Sartorius I, at Antony. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

A groom, two greys and a currick in a courtyard, by Francis Sartorius I, at Antony. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

It is wonderful to see the collections of individual historic houses spread out across the pages, in all their variety, splendour and incongruity. Some are undoubted masterpieces by famous artists while others, though more humble, speak eloquently of social attitudes, changing fashions and family preoccupations.

Atlas, Master Pole's pony, which he rode at four year's old, by Francis Sartorius I, c. 1785-6, at Antony. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Atlas, Master Pole’s pony, which he rode at four year’s old, by Francis Sartorius I, c. 1785-6, at Antony. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The pictures shown here are from the collection of the Carew and Pole families which have been associated with Antony, in Cornwall, since the early fifteenth century.

A Proustian moment at Mount Stewart

July 16, 2013
Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry, by Philip de Laszlo, 1914. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry, by Philip de Laszlo, 1914. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

As I came upon these portraits of Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry (1878-1949), and his wife Edith, née Chaplin (1879-1959), it struck me how redolent they are of the generation that bridged the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.

Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, in the uniform of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, by Philip de Laszlo, 1918. ©Imperial War Museum, on loan to Mount Stewart

Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, in the uniform of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, by Philip de Laszlo, 1918. ©Imperial War Museum, on loan to Mount Stewart

The society portraitist Philip de Laszlo (1869-1937), who was very good at depicting people as they wished to be seen (and who was of the same generation), has imbued the Marquess and Marchioness with a Proustian mixture of aristocratic grandeur, earnest patriotism and modern self-awareness.

The 7th Marquess of Londonderry, with a portrait of Lord Castlereagh behind him, by Philip de Laszlo, 1924. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The 7th Marquess of Londonderry, with a portrait of Lord Castlereagh behind him, by Philip de Laszlo, 1924. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Lord Londonderry was descended from the one of the great politicians of the Napoleonic era, Lord Castlereagh, and he continued that tradition by participating in Irish and British politics. Lady Londonderry was one of the last great political hostesses, holding magnificent receptions at Londonderry House on Park Lane in London.

Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, by Philip de Laszlo, 1927. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, by Philip de Laszlo, 1927. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The portraits hang at Mount Stewart, which was one of their secondary homes and where Lady Londonderry created a notable garden. The house is currently undergoing a restoration project which should eventually make this Proustian moment even more palpable to visitors.

The shock of the old

July 9, 2013
Dress worn by Rosamund Anstruther, Mrs Edward Windsor Hussey (1877-1958). ©National Trust

Dress worn by Rosamund Anstruther, Mrs Edward Windsor Hussey (1877-1958). ©National Trust

Dame Helen Ghosh, the director-general of the National Trust, writes an internal blog about her experiences and thoughts while traveling around National Trust places and meeting colleagues. Recently she mentioned coming upon this Edwardian dress at Scotney Castle and suddenly being transported back in time.

Portrait of Rosamund Hussey by James Jebusa Shannon, painted shortly after 1900. ©National Trust Images/John HammondMRS EDWARD WINDSOR HUSSEY ON THE TERRACE by James Jebusa Shannon, (1862-1923), an American artist, on the Staircase in the new house at Scotney Castle, Kent

Portrait of Rosamund Hussey by James Jebusa Shannon, painted shortly after 1900. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The dress belonged to Rosamund Hussey who lived at Scotney during the first half of the twentieth century. She was painted wearing it by the society portraitist J.J. Shannon shortly after her marriage to Edward Windsor Hussey in 1900.

Mrs Hussey being painted by Shannon. National Trust Images

Mrs Hussey being painted by Shannon. National Trust Images

I have previously touched on the poignant juxtaposition between historic items of clothing and portraits showing them being worn, as also seen at Antony and in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The Scotney pairing is even more layered in that there exists a contemporary photograph showing the portrait being painted – an interestingly self-conscious celebration of the event of having one’s portrait painted, and an equally fascinating contrast between the new medium of photography and the old medium of oil on canvas.

View from the new house at Scotney down to the castle. ©National Trust Images/John Miller

View from the new house at Scotney down to the castle. ©National Trust Images/John Miller

And I suppose the garden at Scotney, shown in the background of the picture (and of the photograph), adds yet another visual layer which – like the dress – is still there.


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