Bringing on the bling

Inkstand by William Plummer, 1786, engraved with the Chute and Barrett-Lennard (Dacre) arms. Image: Bonhams

We purchased this delicate boat-shaped inkstand at Bonhams in London on 30 June. It was once owned by Thomas Chute (1721-1790) of The Vyne, Hampshire, and it will now go back on display there.

View of The Vyne by Johann Heinrich Muntz (1727-98), c 1755. The view is slightly idealised, reflecting John Chute's plans for the house as well as the reality. ©NTPL

The Vyne was orinially a Tudor house owned by the Sandys family. In 1653 it was bought by Chaloner Chute (c 1595-1659), Speaker of the House of Commons. He employed the architect John Webb, a pupil of Inigo Jones,  to add the portico to the north front in the 1650s, the first of its kind on an English country house.

Bench designed by Mark Brazier-Jones on display on the staircase landing at The Vyne. Its shape and detailing seem to echo the silver inkwell shown above. ©National Trust

His descendant John Chute (1701-1776) was a friend of the collector Horace Walpole, and he was a member of the ‘Committee of Taste’ that helped to design Walpole’s famous Gothick villa at Twickenham, Strawberry Hill.

Baroque? Rococo? Neo-classical? Pieces by Mark Brazier-Jones in the setting of John Chute's staircase. ©National Trust

The Strawberry Hill circle was in the vanguard of the new antiquarian taste. At The Vyne John Chute refurbished some rooms in the Gothick style, while in others he employed a neo-classical idiom. The staircase, in particular, is a neo-classical tour de force.

You can probably spot the Brazier-Jones by now. ©National Trust

John Chute bequeathed The Vyne to the above-mentioned Thomas Chute, a distant cousin originally called Lobb who assumed the Chute name upon coming into his inheritance.

A chair combining the traditions of stamped leather, metalwork and horsemanship in the Oak Gallery. ©National Trust

The Vyne is currently hosting an exhibition by designer Mark Brazier-Jones (until 1 August), showing his avant-garde pieces in the context of John Chute’s radical eighteenth-century interiors. 

8 Responses to “Bringing on the bling”

  1. columnist Says:

    Yes, I think the Brazier-Jones cabinet and chaise longue fit rather well within the C18th interiors. When modern pieces are interwoven in these environments they work well on two conditions – 1) there are not too many of them, and 2) the pieces are well designed, and the materials used are of the best quality.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes, Brazier-Jones prides himself on using good materials and craftsmanship. Interesting that you say there shouldn’t be too many modern pieces: I suppose it works if it is like the seasoning on the dish.

  3. Rosie West Says:

    If I am honest, I can never decide whether these interventions by contemporary artists are interesting or pointless. Forgive me, but I think they probably veer towards the self-serving.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Indeed, contemporary interventions like this can sometimes overshout or jar with the historical context. However, I think the intention at The Vyne was not only to showcase Brazier-Jones, but also to allow visitors to see the house in a new way. For instance, it can make one think abought what ‘contemporary’ means: John Chute’s interiors were cutting edge too, when they were installed.

  5. Hels Says:

    Links upon links… I love it. “John Chute was a friend of the collector Horace Walpole, and he was a member of the ‘Committee of Taste’ that helped to design Walpole’s famous Gothick villa at Twickenham, Strawberry Hill”! Who you know, as ever, was the most important factor in success and renown.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Quite. These artistic collaborations are discussed in the sumptuous catalogue of the recent Walpole exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

  7. Toby Worthington Says:

    Interesting point here, concerning the definition of “cutting edge” at various points in history. Whatever the merits of the Brazier-Jones pieces, it’s obvious
    that they’re seen at a distinct advantage against the robustly classical architecture
    of The Vyne, which sets them off nicely. I’m inclined to agree with Columnist
    though. A roomful of those pieces might be a bit hard to love.

  8. Jennette Ficklen Says:

    This is wonderful blog. I love it.

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