Picture inserted into the overmantel in the Chinese Bedroom at Blickling Hall, Norfolk. NT 356855.
This picture, showing Chinese figures in a landscape, hangs above the chimneypiece in the Chinese Bedroom at Blickling Hall, Norfolk. The outlines of the imagery were printed with carved woodblocks, but the colours were added by hand.
The overmantel in the Chinese bedroom at Blickling. ©National Trust/Paul Bailey
The picture is different from the surrounding fully painted Chinese wallpaper. Usually overmantel frames like this were decorated with mirrors or European oil paintings, but here the presence of Chinese wallpaper must have made it seem appropriate to use a Chinese picture instead.
The Chinese picture with the yellow line showing where the two separate prints have been cut and joined.
At first sight it appears to be a single picture. But when we look more closely we can see that two separate prints have been cut and joined together – indicated by the yellow line in the above image. The scale of the print on the right is actually ever so slightly larger than the one on the left.
The Chinese Chippendale Room at Buckingham Palace in 1914, photograph by Sir Alexander Nelson Hood, RCIN 2101873. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016
I was recently discussing a similar collage of Chinese prints, which is in store at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, with Dr Alexandra Loske, curator at the Pavilion, and Dr Clare Taylor of the Open University. Here it is when it was still in the so-called Chinese Chippendale Room at Buckingham Palace, set into the overmantel frame.
The chimneypiece and overmantel in the Chinese Chippendale Room at Buckingham Palace, originally from Eltham Lodge, Kent, RCIN 2580.
The overmantel and chimneypiece are very interesting too, beautifully carved in mid-eighteenth-century English rococo chinoiserie style. They were acquired for Buckingham Palace by King Edward VII in the early twentieth century and are thought to have originally come from Eltham Lodge, Kent.
Part of a Chinese wallpaper panel from Eltham Lodge, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, E.2087-1914. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2016
The name Eltham Lodge will be familiar to those who know the Chinese wallpaper collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum owns a group of important early Chinese wallpaper panels that was removed from Eltham Lodge in 1911.
That makes me wonder if the chimneypiece and overmantel at Buckingham Palace, the collage of Chinese prints at the Royal Pavilion and the Chinese wallpaper at the V&A were all originally in the same room at Eltham Lodge? I don’t know if there is any hard evidence for that, but it would seem to be a possibility, and the Chinese Bedroom at Blickling provides a suggestive parallel.