Into the closet


The entrance to the Green Closet at Ham from the Long Gallery. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Ham House website now has a downloadable guide to the miniatures and cabinet pictures in the Green Closet (see the link under ‘Guidebook’).

The south and west walls of the Green Closet. The electric lights are copies of those the 9th Earl of Dysart installed before 1904. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Green Closet is a rare survival of an early seventeenth-century private cabinet designed for the display of small pictures and other treasures.

Some of the miniatures on display, including in the centre a portrait of Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619). ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The raised ceiling painted by Franz Cleyn (1582-1658) was inserted in 1637-9.

The east wall. The closet was purposefully designed with one window in the north wall to provide a steady light and reduce light damage. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The present silk damask used for the wall hangings and uphholstery is a recreation of the ‘green damask’ that was known to be there after 1672.

Small cabinet picture by either Ambrosius II Bosschaert (1609-1645) or Abraham Bosschaert (1612/13-1643). ©NTPL/John Hammond

The ebony table of c. 1670 with caryatid supports is inset with the silver monogram of Elizabeth Murray (1626-1698) when she was Countesss of Dysart.

The 'fire pan garnished with silver' and the 'brass fender guilt' recorded in 1683 are still in the fireplace. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Louis XIV-style design of the table (and of the stools and cabinet stands) is based on engravings by Jean le Pautre (1618-1682). The Japanese lacquer cabinets date from about 1630.

8 Responses to “Into the closet”

  1. Hels Says:

    If I had a lot of money, I would love an early seventeenth-century private cabinet designed for the display of small pictures and other treasures. The idea of collecting “smalls” for my cabinet would intrigue me for ages. The portrait miniatures are just a delight.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Helen, you could build a virtual cabinet on your blog – in a way, that is what blogs are anyway, aren’t they?

  3. Patricia Oliver Says:

    I’ve lived in Hampton for 30+ years and have not yet visited Ham House ! Must rectify….those miniatures look beautiful .

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Patricia, you must go! Ham has great paintings, rare furniture, amazing textiles, wonderful atmosphere, a beautiful garden – so many delights. You will feel completely outside London and outside the 21st century when you are there.

    Tours of the house start 12 February, and it is fully open for free-flow visiting from 2 April. The garden and tearoom are already open (see the website linked above).

  5. style court Says:

    Emile —

    Blogs as virtual cabinets of curiosity — love that comparison.

    I do think this is an old concept worth reviving in some way in the 21st century. Apart from the lush green walls, the placement of the pictures grabbed my attention and I’m taking notes: smallest of the small placed lowest; symmetry, symmetry, symmetry; and little negative space.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes these walls are a bit like the inspiration boards you featured recently ( having one’s favourite images close to hand. But symmetry is indeed all-pervasive, it’s very Baroque in that way.

  7. Janet Says:

    Oh, I am so thrilled to hear this news. When I was there, it was so difficult to stay in the room for any length of time and really look at everything, much less learn about them. Hooray for Ham House!

  8. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes it is such a tiny space and difficult for visitors to move around in, so this kind of kind of downloadable guide is a real help.

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