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.
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.
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.
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.
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.