Archive for the ‘Uppark’ Category

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.

An eighteenth-century Pinterest board at Uppark

June 20, 2013
The Print Room at Uppark. ©National Trust Images/Geoffrey Frosh

The Print Room at Uppark. ©National Trust Images/Geoffrey Frosh

The eighteenth-century Print Room at Uppark was completely destroyed in the 1989 fire. By a very lucky coincidence, however, the prints and their straw-coloured backing paper had been removed for conservation, so it was possible to put them back when the room was restored.

©National Trust Images/John Hammond

©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The prints seem to have been originally hung in the late eighteenth century, and there is a record of Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh, the owner of Uppark, paying £51 5s to ‘Mrs Vivaro for Prints’ in 1774. The prints are mostly after Italian, Flemish and Spanish old master paintings, although there is also one of a ‘contemporary’ Reynolds painting showing the actor David Garrick.

The cut-out watercolours of flowers in terracotta pots seem to have been added in the early nineteenth century, during the time of Sir Matthew’s widow (and erstwhile dairy maid) Mary Ann, Lady Fetherstonhaugh.

©National Trust Images/John Hammond

©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The practice of sticking prints directly to the walls surrounded by decorative paper borders and other trompe l’oeil decorations seems to have originated around 1750. It may be related to the contemporary taste for decorating rooms with arrangements of Chinese prints and paintings on paper.

It also reminds me of the recent emergence of Pinterest and other personalised online image collections, which clearly are part of a venerable tradition (and which I have previously posted about).

Opening up the Uppark dolls house

January 15, 2013
The Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Last week I joined a group of colleagues to discuss how we can better understand the dolls house at Uppark. This dolls house is a large miniature house that is also a piece of furniture, a toy and a work of art. It is a distinct object, but at the same time it is also a whole collection of very diverse objects. It is in effect a historic house with almost all of the contents from the time of its creation.

Four rooms in the Uppark dolls house, clockwise from top left: the Drawing Room, the Dining Room, the Staircase Hall and the Kitchen. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Four rooms in the Uppark dolls house, clockwise from top left: the Drawing Room, the Dining Room, the Staircase Hall and the Kitchen. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The dolls house dates from the late 1730s and came to Uppark with Sarah Lethieullier, who married Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh in 1746. But apart from that not much is known about it.

Close-up of the Dining Room in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Close-up of the Dining Room in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Who originally commissioned it – Sarah Lethieullier or perhaps another member of her family?  What motivated its creation? Was it a genteel amusement for the ladies of the family? Was it intended just for adults or also for children?

Close-up of the Principal Bedroom in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Close-up of the Principal Bedroom in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Was an architect involved in its creation, perhaps James Paine? Can we find out who supplied some of the contents – the furniture, the paintings, the household objects, the costumed dolls? Were its walls originally decorated with different colours and materials rather than in the uniform white we can see today? What can it tell us about early Georgian interior decoration and the life in a grand house?

Close-up of the Kitchen in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

Close-up of the Kitchen in the Uppark dolls house. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

It will take time and research by a number of different experts to try answer these questions. One avenue of investigation will be to compare the Uppark dolls house with the more or less contemporary dolls house at Nostell Priory, and also with with the 17th century dolls houses surviving in the Netherlands, such as those created by Petronella Dunois and Petronella Oortman. Ultimately, the aim of the project is to make the Uppark dolls house better understood and better known.

Recycling in the grand manner

October 9, 2012

Silver basin by Anthony Nelme, 1692, subsequently engraved with the arms of Sir Matthew Featherstonhaugh, 1st Bt, and his wife Sarah Lethieullier. ©Christopher Hartop

Recycling and retrofitting is nothing new. We have just acquired a silver basin with a connection to Uppark, West Sussex, from Christopher Hartop. This luxurious item was originally most likely used in the bedchamber, then became a christening bowl, and finally reverted to being a bedroom hand basin.

The Saloon at Uppark. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The bowl was made by London silversmith Anthony Nelme in 1692, and may have been commissioned by Sir Heneage Fetherstone, 1st Baronet (d. 1717). It was later inherited by Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh, 1st Baronet (1714-1774),  and engraved with his an his wife Sarah’s arms.

The Althorp christening bowl, by Paul de Lamerie, 1723-1724. The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection, on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. © V&A Images

Originally it may have bee intended for the washing of hands, for shaving, or perhaps as a punch bowl. In 1754, with the birth of Sir Matthew and Sarah’s son Harry, later the 2nd Baronet, it was used for his christening, which took place in the Saloon at Uppark.

Pair of silver salvers by William Peaston, 1746, purchased for Uppark at auction in 2010 with funds from gifts and bequests to the National Trust and with a contribution from a fund set up by the late Simon Sainsbury. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

During the Commonwealth baptismal fonts in churches were considered to be among the trappings of ‘Popery’, and grander families began to hold christening ceremonies discreetly at home. The practice persisted in some quarters even after the Restoration, but surviving christening bowls (like the Althorp Christening bowl in the Gilbert collection) are very rare .

Late 19th-century photograph showing Miss Frances Bullock-Fetherstonhaugh sitting on the south steps at Uppark surrounded by friends. ©National Trust

Both the 1st and the 2nd Baronet acquired silver for Uppark. Most of these pieces were dispersed during the twentieth century, although the National Trust has been able to repatriate a few in recent years.

The Tapestry Bedroom at Uppark. ©National Trust Images/Geoffrey Frosh

By the late 19th century, Sir Harry’s sister-in-law, Miss Frances Bullock-Fetherstonhaugh, was once again using the silver basin in her bedroom for washing her hands. It has now been placed in the Tapestry Bedroom to evoke that everyday use.

This acquisition was made possible by a grant from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

Precious commodities

November 3, 2011

Pair of silver tea caddies engraved with the arms of Featherstonhaugh impaling Lehtieullier, 1767. ©Sotheby's

I am delighted to be able to announce that we purchased this pair of silver tea caddies at auction at Sotheby’s in London yesterday. They are engraved with the arms of Sir Matthew Featherstonhaugh and his wife Sarah, who lived at Uppark in West Sussex, and are dated to 1767.

The purchase was supported by a fund set up by the late Simon Sainsbury as well as by other gifts and bequests to the National Trust.

Pair of silver salvers similarly engraved with the Featherstonhaugh and Lethieullier arms, 1746, acquired by the National Trust for Uppark in 2010. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The shape of the caddies – almost like milk churns – is unusual. The very obvious locks are testament to the still relatively high value of tea at that time. Presumably the keys would have been carried by Lady Featherstonhaugh herself, as she would have presided over the serving of tea to her guests.

The dining room in the Uppark late-1730s doll's house, which includes a miniature silver porringer and monteith, both hallmarked. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Just last year we managed to buy a pair of silver salvers that had also belonged to Sir Matthew and his wife. Some more silver can be glimpsed in the dining room of Sarah’s grand and beautifully made dolls house, which was originally created in the late 1730s.

A paradigm buffet at Uppark

March 25, 2011

The Little Parlour at Uppark. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

I have previously shown how the decoration of Uppark, West Sussex, was influenced by the Grand Tour of Sir Matthew Featherstonehaugh and his wife Sarah. However, there is a also a strong strand of chinoiserie in the house.

The 'chinoiserie-cum-Grand-Tour' cabinet in the Little Parlour. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

In the Little Parlour, for instance, there is an extraordinary English japanned cabinet which combines East Asian features with inset Italian pietra dura panels and ivory plaques brought back by Sir Matthew. Based on its similarity to certain designs by Mayhew and Ince and Chippendale it probably dates to the late 1750s.

Close view of the cabinet. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

There is also a mahogany breakfast table incorporating a chinoiserie fretwork cuboard in this room, from about 1765. The wallcovering would originally have been Chinese wallpaper depicting birds roosting among flowering branches.

As I have mentioned before, I always find it astonishing how easily various styles were combined in the mid-eighteenth century. There was clearly no need for a any paradigm shifts when you could have a paradigm buffet.

The top part of the pier-glass in the Little Drawing Room, with its Rococo chinoiserie detailing. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The Little Drawing Room contains a giltwood pier-glass of about 1755 in chinoiserie Rococo style. It can be linked to a c. 1752 design by Matthias Lock.

The Little Drawing Room. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The walls of this room were originally hung with gilded leather, and twelve ‘Black Chaires’ – possibly japanned – were also recorded here at that time. The English japanned cabinet dates from the late 1750s.

The commodes and pier glasses in the Red Drawing Room. ©NTPL/Geoffrey Frosh

In the Red Drawing Room, moreover, there is a pair of commodes attributed to Pierre Langlois, probably from the early 1760s, which incorporate panels of Chinese lacquer. The pier glasses above them, by contrast, do not have any East Asian influences, but it is fascinating how they nevertheless form a visual whole with the commodes.

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.

Fruitful symbolism

May 3, 2010

Pair of silver salvers by William Peaston, London, 1744, engraved with the arms of Sir Matthew Featherstonhaugh (1714-1774). Image courtesy of Sotheby's

We have just managed to buy at auction a pair of silver salvers with a connection to Uppark, West Sussex. They were purchased at Sotheby’s in London on 27 April for £6,250, with funds originally donated by the late Simon Sainsbury and from various other gifts and bequests.

The Red Drawing Room at Uppark.

Salvers were developed from the second half of the seventeenth century onwards as a kind of tray used to bring in drinks, but they could also be used for display on a sideboard. The silversmith William Peaston specialised in salvers, but National Trust silver expert James Rothwell says that the vine-leaf border seen on these examples is unusual. It fits in well with the decorative scheme at Uppark, as we shall see below.

Sir Matthew Featherstonhaugh (1714-1774), first Baronet, by Pompeo Batoni. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The arms engraved on the salvers are of Sir Matthew Featherstonhaugh (pronounced Featherston-hoar) and his wife Sara, née Lethieullier. Sir Matthew descended from an ancient Northumbrian family who had made their fortune in coal and wine. Sarah was the great-granddaughter of a Huguenot who emigrated to England and became a prominent London merchant.

Apollo mask, sunburst and garlands of fruit on the ceiling of the Little Drawing Room. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Soon after marrying Sarah in 1746, Sir Matthew bought and began to remodel Uppark, probably using James Paine as his architect. Paine was close to the St Martin’s Lane Academy circle, a group of artists and architects who were instrumental in spreading the Rococo style in England. 

Sarah, Lady Featherstonhaugh (1722-1788), by Pompeo Batoni.

In 1749 Sir Matthew and his wife went on a two-year tour of Italy, taking in Florence, Venice, Rome and Naples. They brought back a subtantial number of pictures, including portraits of themselves wreathed in fruits by Pompeo Batoni.

Carved-wood head of Bacchus on the Little Parlour chimneypiece. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The asymmetrical foliage, flower and fruit motifs typical of the Rococo are clearly in evidence in the decoration at Uppark associated with Paine.

Deatil of the ceiling plasterwork in the Red Drawing Room. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Bunches of grapes obviously referred to wine and to the pleasures of the table. More generally, fruits were auspicious as symbols of bounty. Perhaps all this symbolism was too reassuring, suggesting limitless resources: Sir Matthew’s son Sir Harry became a spendthrift Regency rake – but that’s another story.


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