Wimpole inside out

View of Wimpole by Richard Bankes Harraden, 1821. ©Miles Wynn Cato

The spring 2011 issue of ABC Bulletin (which can be downloaded here) features an article by David Adshead and Amanda Bradley about a small painting of Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, that we have recently purchased from Miles Wynn Cato.

Wimpole Hall. ©NTPL/Megan Taylor

The little picture by Richard Bankes Haraden (1776-1862) is unusual in showing the Wimpole landscape ‘inside out’: not the view outward from the house towards the Gothic Tower, but instead looking from near the Tower back to the house, which appears almost hidden.

Design by Robert Greening design for the garden at Wimpole, c. 1752, showing the "eyetrap" he created by framing the view north from the house with trees. ©NTPL/Angelo Hornak

The views from the house into the park were originally designed by Robert Greening, who began to undo the formality of Wimpole’s park in the mid-1750s. The process was continued by ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1760s and 1770s. By the time Harraden painted his picture in 1822 the planting had clearly matured.

Longhorn cattle at the Wimpole Home Farm. ©NTPL/Jonathan Cass

The cattle shown in the painting are evidence of the agricultural improvements of Philip Yorke, the 3rd Earl of Hardwicke (1757-1834). Apart from commissioning the splendid stables at Wimpole from the architect John Soane (shown here earlier) he also introduced Leicester Longhorn cattle, a cross-breed developed for meat production.

The Gothic Tower. ©NTPL/Megan Taylor

So this small, modest picture contains all sorts of evidence about the development of the Wimpole estate. It also illustrates the Romantic conception of a landscape as a picturesque whole, rather than just a setting for a great house.

4 Responses to “Wimpole inside out”

  1. Barry Leach Says:

    I drove to work this morning, once I’d left the interstate, along a country road that now spring is here reminded me so much of southern England -a soft green, rolling landscape of fields, trees and fences. A house the calibre of Wimpole was not to be seen, of course, but there were what had been simple 19th century cottages (now sadly updated with vinyl siding and aluminium porches) set back from the road amid remnants of orchards and stands of pecan trees.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    What a nice glos on this post – and a reminder of how memory affects they way we see things.

  3. Janet Says:

    What a fantastic little image, encapsulating all of the significant aspects of the estate in such an easily elegant way.

    Hope you had a wonderful vacation. We are glad to have you back. . . !

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks Janet, yes sometimes modest works of art can be just as eloquent as masterpieces.

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