Responding to the discussion inspired by a recent post, about the interesting problems around beauty, taste and historical accuracy, Stephanie Evans has now sent me some more pictures of Newton House, in two of its previous incarnations.
The picture above shows the house in about 1710. It is a straightforward rectangular block only decorated with quoins at the corners and with a modest pediment over the front door.
The painting is quite honest in showing the jumble of service wings and outbuildings clustered around the main house, including a row of haystacks. But one can also see the enclosed formal gardens complete with corner pavilions or banqueting houses, and an avenue of trees leading up to the house.
As mentioned earlier, the house was remodelled during the second half of the eighteenth century for George Rice and his wife Cecil. The above print shows the house in the 1820s with square corner turrets capped with smal domes. The walls seem to be uniformly covered in a light-coloured render and a crenellated parapet has been added.
The house is now set in a Reptonian ‘picturesque’ landscape, with the lawn sweeping almost right up to the house. The service buildings seem to have been removed from the immediate vicinity of the house and hidden behind a strategically placed clump of trees. The whole composition has been consciously conceived as ‘beautiful’ and has been represented as a painterly composition by the artist, rather than as just a topographical view.
The Victorians, with their interest in engineering, favoured elaborately fitted-out servants’ quarters. The image above shows how the service wing was reattached to the house in the 1850s remodelling, and how various other Franco-Venetian elaborations were added, as discussed earlier.
Quite apart from the merits or demerits of the successive appearances of the house, I tend to think that the changes have a certain beauty in themselves, like the development of a person’s character (or indeed face) in response to life’s changing circumstances. But that is just my personal bias – what do you think?