Archive for the ‘West Yorkshire’ Category

The World of Interiors, c. 1735

October 19, 2012

The Nostell Priory doll’s house. ©National Trust Images/Mark Fiennes

The Winn  family doll’s house at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire, is a remarkable time capsule of the taste in country house interiors of the 1730s, almost the equivalent of an interior decoration magazine like The World of Interiors today.

The Hall. ©National Trust Images/Robert Thrift

The furnishings and furniture were created with a high level of precision and detail, indicating that the house was made as a decorative model for the adults of the family, rather than for the children to play with.

The Drawing Room. ©National Trust Images/Robert Thrift

All the fireplaces are copied from James Gibbs’s Book of Architecture of 1728. In the early 1730s Sir Rowland Winn, 4th Baronet, was building a new house at Nostell and the doll’s house may have been commissioned at that time.

The Red Velvet Bedroom. ©National Trust Images/Robert Thrift

The late John Cornforth has pointed out how the Nostell doll’s house also illustrates the function of chinoiserie, or pseudo-oriental decoration, in the less formal spaces of 18th-century country houses.

The Chinese Dressing Room. ©National Trust Images/Robert Thrift

While the principal or state bedroom is decorated with red velvet, its dressing room next door has walls hung with either Chinese wallpaper or leather hangings imitating Chinese motifs. One of the subsidiary family bedrooms on the floor above has a bed and curtains hung with Indian chintz.

The Chintz Bedroom. ©National Trust Images/Robert Thrift

So while ‘west’ stood for formality and grandeur, ‘east’ indicated a more intimate, informal and feminine atmosphere. And that characterisation has influenced the meaning of chinoiserie to this day.

Reflections of China

June 25, 2012

The Chinese Chippendale Bedroom at Saltram, with its Chinese wallpaper, mirror paintings and ceramics. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

On Tuesday 26 June I will be taking a group on a tour of Saltram, near Plymouth, looking at the Chinese and Chinese-inspired collections in the house. The tour begins at 6.30 pm, and to book a (free) place you can call 01752 333500. It is part of Sinopticon, a programme of exhibitions and events exploring what chinoiserie means in a contemporary context.

While preparing the tour I noticed the similarities and differences between Saltram, Osterley Park, in west London, and Nostell Priory, in West Yorkshire, all houses with important eighteenth-century chinoiserie decoration.

One of the Chinese mirror paintings, in English Rococo frames and with Chinese porcelain leaping carp figurines on the mantelpiece below, in the Mirror Room at Saltram. ©National Trust Images/Rob Matheson

Saltram has a great collection of Chinese wallpapers complemented by Chinese mirror paintings, east Asian ceramics and sets of chinoiserie chairs. The Parkers of Saltram were wealthy and fashion-conscious, but they rebuilt and redecorated the house in a piecemeal manner.

Chinese mirror painting inserted into a neo-classical frame designed by Robert Adam, c. 1760, in the Yellow Taffeta Bedchamber at Osterley Park. ©National Trust Collections

The Childs of Osterley, by contrast, were among the super-rich and could really splurge on chinoiserie decoration. The decoration of Osterley included lacquer furniture, Chinese wallpaper, mirror paintings, Indian fabrics, east Asian ceramics, carved ivory objects, live exotic birds in the menagerie, a multi-room and fully furnished chinoiserie pavilion in the garden and a Chinese-style boat on the lake.

Chinoiserie pier glass by Chippendale, with matching japanned commode below, in the State Bedroom at Nostell Priory. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The chinoiserie taste of Sir Rowland Winn, 5th Baronet, of Nostell was slightly different again, as he concentrated on commissioning several sets of beautiful chinoiserie furniture from Thomas Chippendale, set against the backdrop of Chinese wallpaper. There was a chinoiserie garden pavilion at Nostell too, but it was a relatively small, portable affair.

I find it fascinating how the different ‘ingredients’ of the chinoiserie style were combined in different quantities and configurations at these three houses in the middle of the eighteenth century. In the tour tomorrow I hope to be able to bring out the uniqueness of Saltram by contrasting it with what the other ‘Joneses’ were doing at about the same time.

An emblematic interior

February 28, 2012

Sir Rowland and Lady Winn in the Library at Nostell Priory, attributed to Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1736-1808). Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Nostell Priory, 1986 (inv. no. 960061). ©NTPL/John Hammond

The image of the Chippendale set of steps in the Library at Nostell Priory reminded me of the portrait of Sir Rowland and Lady Winn standing in that same room, painted by Hugh Douglas Hamilton.

The Library at Nostell. Hamilton's painting can be seen on the easel in the corner. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Here we see a couple in the room that they had just finished decorating, to designs by Robert Adam and with stucco by Joseph Rose, inset paintings by Antonio Zucchi and furniture by Thomas Chippendale.

Detail of the Chippendale desk in the Library (inv. no. 959723). Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Nostell Priory, 1986. ©NTPL/Jonathan Gibson

Sir Rowland seems to be leaning against the Chippendale desk, which is still very much the centrepiece of the room today.

Detail of a carved lion mask on the desk. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The artist has practised a sleight of hand in ‘folding open’ one of the walls of the room, to create a wider backdrop for the figures and allowing them to be more prominent and closer to the picture plane (as explained by our curator of pictures Alastair Laing in his article on the painting in the April 2000 issue of Apollo magazine).

Quite apart from providing a glimpse of the life of the specific inhabitants of a specific house, this picture has fairly recently also come to stand for English cultural life in the eighteenth century more generally, when it was reproduced on the cover of John Brewer’s widely-read book The Pleasures of the Imagination. The companionable atmosphere of the painting and its suggestion of culture and learning borne lightly seems to make it an emblem of the ideal of a certain way of life.

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.

Brueghel to stay at Nostell

January 6, 2011

Image Robert Thrift

I have just heard the wonderful news that sufficient funds have been raised  for the National Trust to acquire the Nostell Brueghel. The National Heritage Memorial Fund provided the final £1,034,000 towards the £2.7m purchase price. 

Image Robert Thrift

Members of the public donated £680,000 to the campaign and £510,000 was contributed by trusts and foundations. Special plaudits should go to the Art Fund, which not only gave a grant of £500,000, but also contributed its fundraising expertise. This has been an excellent example of charities working together to achieve a common goal.

The National Gallery and York Art Gallery have been showing the painting for the last few months, but it will shortly return to Nostell Priory, where it will be on display from the end of February. See here for previous posts about the Brueghel.

Almost there

December 8, 2010

The procession to Calvary, by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/5-1637/8)

The campaign launched jointly by the National Trust and the Art Fund to purchase the Nostell Brueghel is now in its final stages.

The Persian Sibyl, by the studio of Guercino (1591-1666), at Nostell Priory. ©NTPL/John Hammond

So far the fundraising has gone well, with generous support from both private donors and institutions.

Sir Thomas More and his family, by Rowland Lockey (c 1565-1616) after Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543), at Nostell Priory. ©NTPL/John Hammond

But it is still not certain whether we will be able to get all the necessary funds together by the Christmas deadline. The Art Fund website is still open for donations.

Still life by Pieter Claesz. (1597/8-1660), at Nostell Priory. ©NTPL/Matthew Hollow

Keeping the Brueghel at Nostell Priory, where it can be seen together with all the other great paintings from the Winn collection still in the house, would be a marvelous Christmas present for us all. So here’s hoping the final push will succeed.

Panned out well

June 4, 2010

©National Trust/Robert Thrift

The other day I featured the Chinese porcelain bowl at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire, that was used to serve punch. The vessels employed in the kitchen at Nostell are also rather impressive, although in a more robust, down to earth way.

©National Trust/Robert Thrift

In 2007 a group of copper pots and pans from the kitchen at Nostell was accepted by the Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust. This so-called batterie de cuisine can tell us all sorts of things about country house cooking practices in the nineteenth century.

©National Trust/Robert Thrift

The pans are engraved with the monogram of the Winn family, Barons St Oswald. Nostell was transferred to the National Trust in 1953, but it is still the home of the present Lord and Lady St Oswald.

©NTPL/John Hammond

Other historic houses have similar sets of implements, although each kitchen is different. The Great Kitchen at Saltram, in Devon, was built in the 1770s, but the range was added in 1885.

©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The kitchen at Petworth House, West Sussex, includes a warming cupboard with nifty sliding doors. 

©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

There is also a high-tech steam bain-marie at Petworth, made by Jeakes & Co. in about 1870. I could easily picture this in a Japanese steampunk anime film.

Bowled over

May 28, 2010

Chinese porcelain punch bowl, painted in enamels with the western trading posts in Canton, 1780s. ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

In 2008 the National Trust purchased a rare eighteenth century Chinese punch bowl with a provenance from Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire. It is decorated with a depiction of the western trading posts on the waterfront at Canton (Guanghzhou). The acquisition was made possible by generous grants from the Royal Oak Foundation, the Art Fund and the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

Chinese and westerners mingling along the waterfront. ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

By imperial edict all foreign traders coming to China had to conduct their business in a restricted zone just outside Canton. There they could lease trading posts known as ‘factories’ or hong.

Chinese warehouses and mansions next to the western compounds. ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

Patricia Ferguson, who has researched this bowl (and written an article on it in the 2009 NT Historic Houses and Collections Annual), dates it to either 1786 or 1788. This is based on a comparison between the national flags shown on the bowl and dated records and pictures of the trading activities in Canton.

The American and Swedish factories. ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

The flags flown are those of Denmark, Spain, France, America, Sweden, Britain and the Netherlands.  It is one of the earliest examples of a depiction of the Stars and Stripes. 

Nostell Priory. ©NTPL/Matthew Antrobus

The bowl appears in an 1806 inventory of Nostell Priory, but it is not known how it was originally acquired – the Winn family of Nostell Priory had no links with the China trade.

The Small Dining Room at Nostell. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Patricia Ferguson makes the amusing suggestion that Sir Rowland Winn, sixth Baronet (1775-1805), who was a keen fox hunter, may have won the bowl as a prize for winning a horse race.

Angelica Kauffman: Celebrity artist

April 19, 2010

Self-portrait by Angelica Kauffman at Saltram, Devon. Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and transferred to the National Trust in 1957. ©NTPL/John Hammond

I previously featured the Kauffman portrait that we manage to re-acquire for Oxburgh Hall, but in other National Trust properties we also have a few works by this artist, which illustrate her remarkable career.

Angelica Kauffman, The Artist Hesitating Between the Arts of Music and Painting, 1791 or 1794, at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire. Acquired with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2002. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Angelica Kauffman was born in Switzerland in 1741, and as she grew up she showed talent for both music and art. A priest advised her that art would be more rewarding in the long term. Kauffman later dramatised this ‘judgement of Hercules’ decision in an image of herself hesitating between the blandishments of Music and the rocky road of Painting.

Portrait of Sir Joshua Reynolds by Kauffman, 1767, at Saltram, Devon. Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and transferred to the National Trust in 1957. ©NTPL/Rob Matheson

Kauffman’s father took her to Italy where she studied drawing and painting and visited important collections. She was fluent in several languages and was fêted as a female prodigy. In 1766 Lady Wentworth, the wife of the British ambassador to Venice, took her to London, where she befriended Joshua Reynolds who enthusiastically promoted her career.

Venus Directing Aeneas and Achates to Carthage, by Angelica Kauffman. Exhbited at the Royal Academy in 1769. Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and transferred to the National Trust in 1957. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Kauffman was one of the founding members of the Royal Academy. She was keen to paint historical, literary and mythological subjects, which were seen as more prestigious than portraits. 

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Foster by Angelica Kauffman, 1785, at Ickworth, Suffolk. ©NTPL/Angelo Hornak

Portraits were an important source of income for Kauffman, however. After a brief and disastrous marriage to a conman she married the Venetian painter Antonio Pietro Zucchi in 1781. She ended her life in Rome, where people like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Antonio Canova sought her out.

These paintings can be seen at:


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