Archive for the ‘West Sussex’ Category

The gardens of Woolbeding

July 1, 2014
View over the lake to the chinoiserie bridge in the landscape garden at Woolbedding, created with the help if Julian and Isabel Bannerman from the late 1990s. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

View over the lake to the chinoiserie bridge in the landscape garden at Woolbedding, created with the help if Julian and Isabel Bannerman from the late 1990s. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

I just wanted to share these images of Woolbeding, the garden, or rather series of gardens, created by the Hon. Simon Sainsbury and Stewart Grimshaw.

River god in the landscape garden at Woolbeding. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

River god in the landscape garden at Woolbeding. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

Simon Sainsbury leased the house and garden from the National Trust in 1973, and together with his partner Stewart Grimshaw he gradually transformed the garden.

Rootwood bench at Woolbeding. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Rootwood bench at Woolbeding. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

An article by Stephen Lacey in the Sunday Times describes the development of the garden in some detail.

The rotunda at Woolbeding, designed by Philip Jebb to fill the place of a tulip tree that was blown over in the great storm of 1987. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

The rotunda at Woolbeding, designed by Philip Jebb to fill the place of a tulip tree that was blown over in the great storm of 1987. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

Various designers were involved, including Lanning Roper (1912-83), Philip Jebb (1927-95) and Julian and Isabel Bannerman.

View towards one of the cedars at Woolbeding. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

View towards one of the cedars at Woolbeding. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Simon Sainsbury died in 2006, but Stewart Grimshaw still uses Woolbeding as a weekend home and continues to be involved in the garden.

The 'ruined abbey' at Woolbeding. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The ‘ruined abbey’ at Woolbeding. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Although Woolbeding is still a private garden, visits can be pre-booked. More about the history of the house and garden can be found on the Parks and Gardens UK website.

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 praise of copying

September 19, 2013
Detail of a Roman copy of a fifth century BC bronze figure of an Amazon, in the North Gallery at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Stuart Cox

Detail of a Roman copy of a fifth century BC bronze figure of an Amazon, in the North Gallery at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Stuart Cox

The other day I was having a discussion with a colleague about the relative merits of original works and copies. Although I am as keenly interested in original works of art as the next heritage-minded person, I found myself defending of the value of copies – in particular the copies of antique sculpture.

The North Gallery at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

The North Gallery at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

The Romans copied famous Greek sculptures, and following the Renaissance the Italians copied Greek and Roman works as well as combining disparate ancient fragments. These copies and hybrids tend to be beautifully made objects in themselves, but apart from their purely visual appeal I also find them fascinating because of what they tell us about our how our culture interacts with its past.

Roman figure of Agrippina as Ceres, Roman adaptation of a Greek original, restored in the eighteenth century, with two busts, in the North Gallery at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Roman figure of Agrippina as Ceres, Roman adaptation of a Greek original, restored in the eighteenth century, with two busts, in the North Gallery at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The past was being rediscovered, and the products of that past were so desirable that a reproduction market arose to satisfy the demand. Regardless of whether these objects are ‘originals’, ‘copies’, ‘bodges’ or ‘fakes’, they embody an ideal that was so powerful that people felt compelled to fill their houses with them, and indeed to rebuild their houses to realise that vision even more fully.

Volunteer Room Steward in the North Gallery at Petworth, next to a Greek seated figure of a philosopher, with a Roman head added in the eighteenth century. ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Volunteer Room Steward in the North Gallery at Petworth, next to a Greek seated figure of a philosopher, with a Roman head added in the eighteenth century. ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

And of course we are doing more or less the same thing when we visit a historic place today, and buy the guidebook, and add images to our Pinterest boards, and change something in our own home inspired by what we have seen. When we look at our ancestors looking at their past, we are also looking at ourselves.

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.

Petworth’s oriental vibe

November 27, 2012

Two Chinese lidded vases, Kangxi period (1662-1722), acquired by Elizabeth Duchess of Somerset in the late 17th century. They stand in front of a Chinese lacquer screen that dates from the same period but was acquired for Petworth in 1882 in the Hamilton Palace sale. ©National Trust Images/Christopher Hurst

In his new book about Petworth, Christopher Rowell highlights the sumptuous taste of Eizabeth Percy, Duchess of Somerset, the late 17th-century chatelaine of the house.

Portrait of Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Somerset with her son Algernon, by John Closterman, c. 1692. ©National Trust Images/Matthew Hollow

Like her friend Queen Mary, Duchess Elizabeth was a keen collector of blue and white porcelain.

Some of Duchess Elizabeth’s Chinese vases on display in the Carved Room. They originally stood on the baroque carved stands which now hold some of the busts. ©National Trust Images/Bill Batten

Several dealers are known to have supplied porcelain to the Duchess, including a ‘Mrs Vanderhoven’, a ‘Mr Van Collema’, and a ‘Mrs Bull for Delf [i.e. Delft] ware.’

Some of the lacquer cabinets and coffers collected by Duchess Elizabeth in what is now called Mrs Wyndham’s Bedroom. ©National Trust Images/Bill Batten

‘Mrs Harrison’, who also supplied the Queen, was paid £52 for ‘a Jappan Cabinet and frame’ in 1695.

The front of one of the 17th-century Japanese lacquer cabinets at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

In characteristic baroque style, reflective materials were combined wherever possible. Two ‘India Cabinets’ (‘India’ being a generic terms for East Asian products) in the King of Spain’s Drawing Room were each surmounted by no fewer than 22 pieces of China. In Duchess Elizabeth’s China Closet, the walls were covered with mirrors ‘ornamented wth carved work & 45 pieces of China.’

Detail of the interior of the 17th-century Japanese lacquer cabinet below the Grand Staircase at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Christopher’s book can be purchased through the National Trust Bookshop and via Amazon.

The spirit of Petworth

November 23, 2012

Christopher Rowell has just published a new book about the house which probably contains the richest collection of fine and decorative arts, furnishings and books in any of the historic places owned by the National Trust.

The Marble Hall at Petworth, probably built to a design by Daniel Marot. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Petworth: the People and the Place is the second in a new series of books based on the more substantial type of National Trust guidebook, but rewritten and redesigned to include new photography and the latest research.

Wooden cherubs supplied by the workshop of Grinling Gibbons to the 7th Duke of Somerset for the Carved Room at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Stuart Cox

During much of its history the Petworth estate was part of the huge aristocratic empire of the Percys and latterly the Seymours which also included Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, Syon Park in Isleworth and Northumberland House in central London. This partly explains the richness of the collections at Petworth.

The Grand Staircase at Petworth with murals by Louis Laguerre. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

In the 1690s Charles Seymour, the 6th Duke of Somerset, and his wife Lady Elizabeth Percy turned Petworth into a baroque palace. The building was probably remodeled by Daniel Marot, and many of the most splendid furnishings and works of art date from this period.

Italian sgabello chairs of about 1640, the earliest surviving examples in England, at the bottom of the Grand Staircase at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The 6th Duke’s grandson, the 2nd Earl of Egremont, added furniture and furnishings in the rococo style as well nearly 200 paintings and some 70 pieces of antique sculpture.

The Square Dining Room at Petworth, with its rococo furnishings. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The 3rd Earl of Egremont was noted for his ‘abundant though not very refined hospitality’, for his many dogs and host of illegitimate children, but also for his patronage of J.M.W. Turner, who painted numerous views of the house and the park.

Detail of the Exeter carpet, dated 1758, on the Grand Staircase at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

In 1947 Petworth was donated to the National Trust by the 3rd Lord Leconfield. After Lord Leconfield’s death his nephew, the 1st Lord Egremont, pioneered the practice of offering outstanding works of art and other historical objects to the Government in lieu of inheritance tax. The current Lord and Lady Egremont still reside at Petworth and have lent items from their personal collection to further enhance the rooms open to the public.

The Rotunda, built in about 1760, in the Pleasure Ground at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/David Levenson

Christopher’s book can be purchased through the National Trust bookshop as well as through Amazon.

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.

Nymans in June

August 2, 2012

The topiary crowns and the Verona marble fountain in the Wall Garden at Nymans. ©National Trust Images/Clive Nichols

These images are from a recent photoshoot by Clive Nichols at Nymans, in West Sussex. Nymans is a grand and yet intimate Edwardian garden which has continued to evolve up to the present day.

A Japanese stone lantern appearing beyond a bank of santolina. ©National Trust Images/Clive Nichols

The garden was started by Ludwig Messel, a succesful stockbroker who had come to Britain from Germany and who bought Nymans in 1890. With the help of his expert head gardener, James Comber, and encouraged by other notable gardeners in the area such as Sir Edmund Loder  and William Robinson, he began to create an extensive garden full of rare trees and shrubs.

One of the views outwards into the countryside from Nymans. ©National Trust Images/Clive Nichols

Features from Ludwig Messel’s day include the pinetum, the rock garden, the heather garden, a Japanese-style pergola and stone lanterns, a lime avenue, a prospect platform and an enclosed Wall Garden. Exotic species such as magnolias and rhododendrons were introduced, many coming from plant-hunting expeditions in east Asia.

Yew hedge near the house, nicknamed ‘the Toblerone hedge’ by the current gardeners. ©National Trust Images/Clive Nichols

Ludwig’s son Leonard Messel and his wife Maud had the house at Nymans rebuilt in the 1920s in medieval manor house style. Maud created the rose garden and Leonard continued to add botanical rarities to the garden, many of which subsequently won prizes at Royal Horticultural Society shows.

The Forecourt. ©National Trust Images/Clive Nichols

Disaster struck in February 1947 when the house burned down, destroying the important botanical library. Some parts of the house remained inhabited, but others were left ruinous as a romantic garden feature.

View across the lawn to the picturesque ruins. ©National Trust Images/Clive Nichols

Nymans came to the National Trust following Leonard Messel’s death in 1953. His daughter Anne, Countess of Rosse, continued the family’s involvement, working with head gardener Cecil Nice. More Chinese plants came to Nymans through an exchange programme with the Ross family seat Birr Castle, in Co. Offaly, Ireland.

The dovecote. ©National Trust Images/Clive Nichols

The great storm of 15-16 October 1987 wreaked havoc at Nymans on its hilltop site, destroying many trees. But this disaster did also allow the new head gardener David Masters to rejuvenate the garden by opening up views and bringing in more light.

Hedge regularly clipped by Alistair Buchanan, which has almost come to resemble a Henry Moore sculpture. ©National Trust Images/Clive Nichols

Following Lady Rosse’s death in 1992 Ludwig Messel’s great-grandson Alistair Buchanan has been the family representative at Nymans. The current head gardener, Ed Ikin, has continued the tradition of innovation by introducing new species and successfully experimenting with a reduced watering regime in summer which encourages root growth. He recently published a book entitled Thoughtful Gardening on how to garden in harmony with nature.

Testing your eye on the Van Dycks

January 3, 2012

Anne Boteler, Countess of Newport, by Sir Anthony van Dyck, at Petworth House. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Paintings expert Bendor Grosvenor has been perusing our new online National Trust Collections database (which I first posted about here), testing his eye on various ‘school of’ and ‘attributed to’ portraits. He has reported his hunches on his Art History News blog.

An unknown Genoese lady, attributed to Sir Anthony Van Dyck, at Petworth House. ©National Trust/Andrew Fetherston

For instance, he thinks that this portrait of a lady at Petworth, attributed to Van Dyck, really is by the artist himself, done in the mid 1620s in Italy.

Henry, Baron Percy of Alnwick, by Sir Anthony van Dyck, at Petworth House. ©NTPL/Matthew Hollow

This kind of response is really encouraging. It means people are now starting to use the National Trust Collections site for research and comparison. The site itself (and the National Trust’s curatorial records) will also benefit from these responses, as more information comes to light and opinions are exchanged.

Catherine Bruce, Mrs Murray, later Countess of Dysart, by Sir Anthony van Dyck, at Petworth House. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Once again we see the potential of crowd sourcing – which, in the slightly rarified area of old master paintings expertise, should perhaps be called in-crowd sourcing (but an in-crowd accessible to all).

Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, by Sir Anthony van Dyck, at Petworth House. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

As it happens, the Economist newspaper featured an article in its most recent issue about a related development in a ‘parallel universe’ to art history: the effect of blogging and social media in spreading ideas and discussions from the academic world of economics into the wider business and policy environment.

Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland (the 'wizard earl'), painted posthumously as a philosopher, at Petworth House. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

So do have a look yourself on National Trust Collections, search for objects that fall within your professional expertise or private obsession, and let me know if you, too, can spot any ‘sleepers’.


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