Author Archive

Rooms present and rooms past

June 13, 2013
The Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

The Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

The colleagues at Hanbury Hall are gearing up for the final phase of the restoration of the mural paintings created by Sir James Thornhill (1675-1734). I have previously mentioned the complex work on the murals in the Painted Staircase.

Portrait of Thomas Vernon, MP, (1654-1721), the builder of Hanbury, by John Vanderbank. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Portrait of Thomas Vernon, MP, (1654-1721), the builder of Hanbury, by John Vanderbank. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Dining Room has two ceiling paintings by Thornhill. When Thomas Vernon (1654-721) built the house in the early 18th century there were two rooms here, a Lobby and a Withdrawing Room. These rooms were amalgamated into the present Dining Room after 1830.

Ceiling painting by Sir James Thornhill depicting Boreas abducting Oreithyia, in the Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Ceiling painting by Sir James Thornhill depicting Boreas abducting Oreithyia, in the Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The smaller painting, with Boreas, the north wind, abducting the nymph Oreithyia, was originally the ceiling of the Lobby, hinting at the draughts coming in through the door into the north-east courtyard.

Ceiling painting by Sir James Thornhill depicting Apollo abducting a nymph, possibly Cyrene, in the Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Ceiling painting by Sir James Thornhill depicting Apollo abducting a nymph, possibly Cyrene, in the Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The larger painting, depicting Apollo abducting a nymph, possibly Cyrene (although from some angles it appears as if she is abducting him), was originally the ceiling of the Withdrawing Room.

Composite image taken with ultra-violet light identifying the structural problems in one of the ceiling paintings in the Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. ©National Trust

Composite image taken with ultra-violet light to identify the structural problems in one of the ceiling paintings in the Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. ©National Trust

Over time the ceiling has bowed and cracked, which in turn has affected the paintings. The planned work will include strengthening the ceiling and the floors above, restoring the plasterwork and cleaning, repairing and retouching the paintings.

The south-east end of the Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. The carved wood chimneypiece and overmantel date from about 1760. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The south-east end of the Dining Room at Hanbury Hall. The carved wood chimneypiece and overmantel date from about 1760. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The total project will cost £74,500, and we have already found funds amounting to £44,500. Donations towards raising the remaining £30,000 can be made through the Hanbury Hall JustGiving site.

The myth of the sleeping beauty

June 11, 2013
Detail of an oval pier-glass in the Queen's Bedchamber at Ham House, one of a pair by supplied by William Bradshaw, c.1743. It reflects a carved and gilded garland by John Bullamore dating from the 1670s. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Detail of an oval pier-glass in the Queen’s Bedchamber at Ham House, one of a pair by supplied by William Bradshaw, c.1743. It reflects a carved and gilded garland by John Bullamore dating from the 1670s. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

I have just been perusing an advance copy of the book Ham House: 400 Years of Collecting and Patronage. The sale copies of this book are apparently somewhere on the high seas en route from the printer, and are due become available within the next a few weeks, but I thought I might provide a little preview here.

Fruitwood armchair, c. 1730, in the Queen's Bedchamber at Ham House, with velvet upholstery in red, green and cream silk velvet woven in either Genoa, Lyons or Spitalfields. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Fruitwood armchair, c. 1730, in the Queen’s Bedchamber at Ham House, with velvet upholstery in red, green and cream silk velvet woven in either Genoa, Lyons or Spitalfields. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

This book is the result of a conference held a couple of years ago about the history and collections of Ham House, one the best preserved 17th-century houses in Europe. It includes 28 essays by internationally recognised scholars accompanied by specially commissioned photography, as well as transcriptions of Ham’s historic inventories.

Detail of the silk velvet upholstery of the fruitwood furniture in the Queen's Bedchamber at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Detail of the silk velvet upholstery of the fruitwood furniture in the Queen’s Bedchamber at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Ham is justly famous for its 17th-century interiors and has acquired the reputation of being a kind of ‘sleeping beauty’, a house where nothing ever changed. However, several essays in this book puncture that myth and focus on restorations and embellishments carried out by its 18th- and 19th-century owners.

Detail of the marble topped pier table in the Queen's Bedchamber at Ham House, by William Bradshaw, c.1743, with a Portoro marble top and carved and gilded legs. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Detail of the marble topped pier table in the Queen’s Bedchamber at Ham House, by William Bradshaw, c.1743, with a Portoro marble top and carved and gilded legs. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Christopher Rowell, the National Trust’s furniture curator, discusses the taste and patronage of Lionel Tollemache, the 4th Earl of Dysart (1708-70), who inherited Ham in 1727. The 4th Earl repaired and remodeled a number of rooms in the house, and introduced new furniture, but Christopher demonstrates that he did so with great sensitivity to what was already there.

Parcel-gilt pier-glass and table possibly by William Bradshaw, c.1740, in the Volury Room at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Parcel-gilt pier-glass and table possibly by William Bradshaw, c.1740, in the Volury Room at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The 4th Earl commissioned cabinetmakers George Nix (1744-51) and William Bradshaw (1700-75), among others, to supply chairs, tables, stands and even tapestries. But the new acquisitions were designed to harmonise with the existing furnishings, or to function as facsimiles of items which had become damaged or worn out.

Gilt X-frame sofa, 1735-40, in the style of William Kent and with velvet upholstery, in the Volury Room at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Gilt X-frame sofa, 1735-40, in the style of William Kent and with velvet upholstery, in the Volury Room at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The subtlety of the 4th Earl’s contributions have almost caused him to be written out of Ham’s history.

Torchere by Peter Hasert, one of a pair, 1741, in the Marble Dining Room at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Torchere by Peter Hasert, one of a pair, 1741, in the Marble Dining Room at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Horace Walpole (171-97), who lived in nearby Twickenham, may have started that process by describing Ham, in his characteristically vivid and sweeping manner, as a house that time forgot: ‘Close to the Thames in the centre of all rich and verdant beauty, it is so blocked up an barricaded with walls, vast trees and gates that you think of yourself an hundred miles off and an hundred years back.’

Pier-glass, pier-table and stands veneered with incised Chinese lacquer, c. 1675, in the Withdrawing Room at Ham House. The table and stands were supplied with new supports by John Hele in 1741. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Pier-glass, pier-table and stands veneered with incised Chinese lacquer, c. 1675, in the Withdrawing Room at Ham House. The table and stands were supplied with new supports by John Hele in 1741. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

I hope to do a few more posts highlighting aspects of this splendid new book in the near future.

The significance of things

June 6, 2013
Silver and coral baby's rattle, at Snowshill Manor (NT1340278). ©National Trust Collections

Silver and coral baby’s rattle, at Snowshill Manor (NT1340278). ©National Trust Collections

Professor Margot Finn, who is leading the East India Company at Home project, recently gave a talk posing the question ‘How can things make historians think differently?’

Edith Agnes Eleanor Bliss, aged 7 months, April 1864, by Davy, at the Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock Abbey (NT97792). ©National Trust Collections

Edith Agnes Eleanor Bliss, aged 7 months, April 1864, by Davy, at the Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock Abbey (NT97792). ©National Trust Collections

Margot began by reminding the audience how our understanding of history has been shaped by ‘the overweening tyranny of the written text’. Objects, being mostly non-textual, have been ignored by historians or at most tolerated as illustrations for their own texts.

The Flute Player, Meissen porcelain group, c. 1900, at Nunnington Hall (NT979528). ©National Trust Collections

The Flute Player, Meissen porcelain group, c. 1900, at Nunnington Hall (NT979528). ©National Trust Collections

She handed a group of objects to the members of the audience with the request to pass them round and to note down any associations they might evoke.

Baby carriage, 1762, at Kedleston Hall (NT108650). ©National Trust Collections

Baby carriage, 1762, at Kedleston Hall (NT108650). ©National Trust Collections

This was also to emphasise her point about the limits of exhibitions and museum displays, which admittedly place the objects centre-stage, but at the same time move them out of reach and divorce them from their original contexts.

Mary Myddelton (1688-1747) and Sir William Myddelton, 4th Bt (1694-1718), as children, English School, at Chirk Castle (NT1171140). ©National Trust Collections

Mary Myddelton (1688-1747) and Sir William Myddelton, 4th Bt (1694-1718), as children, English School, at Chirk Castle (NT1171140). ©National Trust Collections

Margot welcomed the online proliferation of images of objects in museum collections, but she also cautioned that this in some ways reduces objects to flat, full-frontal images (something I also touched on in my previous posts on the Pinterest phenomenon).

White cotton baby's cap, at Overbeck's House (NT1413897). ©National Trust Collections

White cotton baby’s cap, at Overbeck’s House (NT1413897). ©National Trust Collections

She posed a kind of ‘baby test': how can we historians and curators convey historical reality with as much immediacy as if we were in the presence of an adorably cute and simultaneously pungently messy baby? Now there’s a challenge.

The Boudoir revisited

June 4, 2013
The Boudoir at Attingham, by Ethel Sands, probably 1929, oil on board, oil on board,  61 x 49.9 cm.  ©Christie's

The Boudoir at Attingham, by Ethel Sands, probably 1929,
oil on board, 61 x 49.9 cm. ©Christie’s

We have just purchased this small painting of the Boudoir at Attingham Park at auction at Christie’s South Kensington. It is by Ethel Sands (1873-1962) and was probably painted in 1929.

Recent photograph of the Boudoir. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Recent photograph of the Boudoir. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Between the two World Wars Teresa, Lady Berwick (1890-1972), entertained a cosmopolitan and artistic circle at Attingham.

©Christie's

©Christie’s

Lady Berwick’s father, William Stokes Hulton (1852-1921), had been a painter who knew Sickert and Sargent. Her mother, Costanza Mazini (1863-1939) had links with the international literary and artistic community in Florence, including the Brownings and the Berensons. Thomas Noel-Hill, 8th Lord Berwick (1877-1947), met Teresa while serving as a diplomat in Italy during the First World War, when she was working as a nurse, and they were married in 1919.

©Christie's

©Christie’s

After the war they gradually restored and updated Attingham, adding furniture and art to the collection. They also acknowledged recent artistic developments by naming cows on the farm after Picasso, Gaugin and Matisse. There are records of Ethel Sands visiting Attingham on several occasions in 1929, when she was joined by writers, intellectuals and aesthetes such as L.P. Hartley, Cesare Visconti, Count of Marcignago, Albert (‘Bertie’) Landsberg and Angela Mond.

Sir Gerald Kelly (1879-1972) painting Lady Berwick in the Boudoir, c. 1923. ©National Trust

Sir Gerald Kelly (1879-1972) painting Lady Berwick in the Boudoir, c. 1923. ©National Trust

The late 18th-century painted decoration of the Boudoir, originally created for Anne Vernon, 1st Lady Berwick (1744-97), was cleaned and restored a few years ago. But this late 1920s painting is a beautiful and useful snapshot of the room in one of its more recent incarnations.

The meaning of furniture

May 21, 2013
Jewel coffer and secrétaire by Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806), veneered in grey-stained sycamore with marquetry of other woods on a carcase of oak, late 1770s. Victoria and Albert Museum, inv. no. 1106-1882, bequeathed by John Jones. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Jewel coffer and secrétaire by Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806), veneered in grey-stained sycamore with marquetry of other woods on a carcase of oak, late 1770s. Victoria and Albert Museum, inv. no. 1106-1882, bequeathed by John Jones. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Last Friday I attended an excellent seminar at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London entitled Furniture: Making and Meaning. This seminar was celebrating the new Dr Susan Weber Gallery of Furniture (which I posted about earlier) and to investigate issues around materials, making and design.

Japanese tiered box decorated with clam shells used in the shell matching game (kai awase) in high-relief lacquer (takamaki-e), 19th century. Victoria and Albert Museum, inv. no. 822:1-1869. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

One of the exciting features of this seminar was a set of talks about the construction and the tactile and visual effects of a French 18th-century jewel cabinet and a Japanese 19th-century lacquer box. The objects had been brought to the auditorium to star as ‘live’ performers, with a camera on hand to project close-ups  on the screen for all to see.

Bone armchair by Joris Laarman (b. 1979), Carrara marble dust mixed with resin, designed with algorithms based on bone and tree growth, 2008. ©Joris Laarman Lab

Bone armchair by Joris Laarman (b. 1979), Carrara marble dust mixed with resin, designed with algorithms based on bone and tree growth, 2008. ©Joris Laarman Lab

The day also included talks on the ‘reception history’ of carving, plywood and shagreen, and a stimulating discussion with three contemporary designer-makers.

What I particularly took away from this event was a vivid awareness that furniture is never just furniture: it is simultaneously social attitude, consumption pattern, political ideology, technical development, personal taste and manufacturing process. And I was inspired by the fact that all those ways of looking at furniture are just as relevant to historical collections as they are to the latest creations.

Animals of the forest

May 14, 2013
Study of a hare, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 87 by 57 cm. ©Dreweatts

Study of a hare, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 87 by 57 cm. ©Dreweatts

The four drawings shown here were made by Philip Webb (1831-1915), the Arts & Crafts architect and designer, as studies for a tapestry entitled The Forest which was woven by Morris & Co in 1887.

The Forest, tapestry, woven wool and silk on a cotton warp, designed by William Morris, Philip Webb and John Henry Dearle, woven at Merton Abbey by William Knight, John Martin and William Sleath, 1887, 121.9 by 452 cm. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London, purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund

The Forest, tapestry, woven wool and silk on a cotton warp, designed by William Morris, Philip Webb and John Henry Dearle, woven at Merton Abbey by William Knight, John Martin and William Sleath, 1887, 121.9 by 452 cm. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London, purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund

The finished tapestry is in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The National Trust is now trying, with the V&A’s blessing, to raise the funds to purchase these drawings for the Arts & Crafts collection at Wightwick Manor.

Study of a fox, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 89 by 58 cm. ©Dreweatts

Study of a fox, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 89 by 58 cm. ©Dreweatts

Philip Webb was one of the leading architects and designers of the 19th century. He worked in fruitful collaboration with his friend and business partner William Morris (1834-1896).

Study of a lion, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 85 by 72 cm. ©Dreweatts

Study of a lion, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 85 by 72 cm. ©Dreweatts

Webb designed Morris’s first house, Red House in Bexleyheath. He also designed wallpaper, stained glass, textiles and furniture for Morris’s decorating company, Morris, Marshall & Faulkner, later Morris & Co.

Detail of the Trellis wallpaper design conceived by William Morris and incorporating birds drawn by Philip Webb. ©National Trust Images/Jonathan Gibson

Detail of the Trellis wallpaper design conceived by William Morris and incorporating birds drawn by Philip Webb. ©National Trust Images/Jonathan Gibson

In 1896 the four animal drawings were acquired by Laurence W. Hodson (1864-1933), a Wolverhampton industrialist and philanthropist who lived at Compton Hall, one mile from Wightwick Manor. Wightwick was donated to the National Trust by Sir Geoffrey Mander (1882-1962) and his second wife Rosalie Glynn Grylls, Lady Mander (1905-1988), in 1937. Ever since the Mander family and the National Trust have worked together to develop the collection of Arts & Crafts and Pre-Raphaelite art and design in the house.

Study of a raven, by Philip Webb, pencil and watercolour on paper, c. 1887, 66 by 49.5 cm. ©Dreweatts

Study of a raven, by Philip Webb, pencil and watercolour on paper, c. 1887, 66 by 49.5 cm. ©Dreweatts

We are trying to raise about £192,000 to acquire this set of four drawings. Any donations made through our Just Giving page, whether large or small, will be hugely appreciated.

Keeping up with the Jansens

May 7, 2013
Dutch family taking tea, c. 1680, attributed to Roelof Koets II (c. 1650-1725). ©Sotheby's

Dutch family taking tea, c. 1680, attributed to Roelof Koets II (c. 1650-1725). ©Sotheby’s

The 17th-century Dutch family shown in the painting above are clearly very proud of their tea things. The wife and the child are dressed to the nines and the splendid Javanese lacquer table is filled expensive-looking tea utensils.

Javanese lacquer table in the Duchess's Private Closet at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Javanese lacquer table in the Duchess’s Private Closet at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

At this time the drinking of tea was still a relatively exotic and glamorous activity in Europe – perhaps reflected in the fact that it is the husband in the painting, the head of the household, who demonstratively holds the teapot. And it was obviously deemed appropriate to have a trendy oriental lacquer table to go with this trendy oriental drink.

Javanese lacquer table in the Balcony Room at Dyrham Park. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Javanese lacquer table in the Balcony Room at Dyrham Park. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Javanese lacquer tables from that period haven’t survived in large numbers, but they can still be found in a few English and German public collections.  I have just published a little article about them in the May 2013 issue of the National Trust’s Arts, Buildings and Collections Bulletin.

Global stories in domestic spaces

April 30, 2013
Chinese ivory model of boat, at Osterley Park (NT771742.2). ©National Trust Collections

Chinese ivory model of boat, at Osterley Park (NT771742.2). ©National Trust Collections

Osterley Park recently hosted an oral history event for local Hounslow residents. There are significant Sikh and Tamil communities living near Osterley, and the event sought to explore the connections between their heritage and the collection at Osterley, which is rich in Asian objects.

Japanese lacquer cabinet, early 18th century, on an English giltwood stand, at Osterley (NT771821) ©National Trust Collections

Japanese lacquer cabinet, early 18th century, on an English giltwood stand, at Osterley (NT771821) ©National Trust Collections

Participants learned about the Child family of Osterley, who were deeply involved in the trade between Britain and Asian in the 17th and 18th century. In addition people were encouraged to bring in objects that had a personal or cultural significance, and to share their thoughts and feelings about them.

Indian embroidered silk valance (NT772441) on the bed in Mrs Child's Bedroom at Osterley. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Indian embroidered silk valance (NT772441) on the bed in Mrs Child’s Bedroom at Osterley. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Objects can appear strange and exotic, of course, and the lure of the unknown seems to have been one of the reasons behind the popularity of Asian goods in 18th-century Britain.

Massive Chinese porcelain lidded vase, mid 18th century (NT771446.1) at Osterley. ©National Trust Collections

Massive Chinese porcelain lidded vase, mid 18th century (NT771446.1) at Osterley. ©National Trust Collections

Equally, the collection at Osterley demonstrates how people try to ‘own’ the unknown, both literally by collecting exotic objects, and symbolically by having their coats of arms put on them and by fitting them into familiar decorative schemes.

Mandarin duck from the Osterley menagery, in William Hayes's 'Portraits of Rare and Curious Birds and their Descriptions from the Menagery of Osterley Park', 1794. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Mandarin duck from the Osterley menagery, in William Hayes’s ‘Portraits of Rare and Curious Birds and their Descriptions from the Menagery of Osterley Park’, 1794. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Oral history events such as this one are part of the Global Stories in Domestic Spaces project, sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and masterminded by the East India Company at Home research team.

One of a set of Chinese porcelain dishes decorated with the Child coat of arms (NT771442), early 18th century with later additions, at Osterley. ©National Trust Collections

One of a set of Chinese porcelain dishes decorated with the Child coat of arms (NT771442), early 18th century with later additions, at Osterley. ©National Trust Collections

This event will also feed into the exhibition Trappings of Trade: A Domestic Story of the East India Company which will be on view at Osterley between July and November this year.

Reframing China

April 26, 2013
Chinese mirror painting depicting two women sitting at the water's edge, in an English rococo frame, possibly late 1750s, at Saltram (inv. no. NT872228.1). ©National Trust Images/Rob Matheson

Chinese mirror painting depicting two women sitting at the water’s edge, in an English rococo frame, possibly late 1750s, at Saltram (inv. no. NT872228.1). ©National Trust Images/Rob Matheson

A while ago I mentioned some of the different ways in which Chinese pictures have been framed in the west.

Chinese picture on paper showing a dance performance in a palace courtyard, in an English rococo frame, at Shugborough Hall, mid 18th century (inv. no. NT1271100.4). ©National Trust Collections

Chinese picture on paper showing a dance performance in a palace courtyard, in an English rococo frame, at Shugborough Hall, mid 18th century (inv. no. NT1271100.4). ©National Trust Collections

While doing some research on the forthcoming catalogue of the Chinese wallpapers in the houses of the National Trust I recently came upon a few more examples of this phenomenon.

Chinese mirror painting depicting a landscape with a woman sitting at the water's edge and a town in the distance, in a neoclassical frame, at Osterley Park, c. 1760 (inv. no. NT771801). ©National Trust Collections

Chinese mirror painting depicting a landscape with a woman sitting at the water’s edge and a town in the distance, in a neoclassical frame, at Osterley Park, c. 1760 (inv. no. NT771801). ©National Trust Collections

Chinese pictures have an interesting an puzzling relationship with Chinese wallpaper. The popularity of Chinese pictures in Europe in the late 17th century, which were sometimes mounted into the wall paneling, seems to have stimulated the development of purpose-made Chinese wallpaper during the 18th century.

Chinese picture on paper depicting a stage in the production of silk, with a Chinese paper border and mounted as wallpaper at Erddig in the 1770s. ©National Trust Collections

Chinese picture on paper depicting a stage in the production of silk, with a Chinese paper border and mounted as wallpaper at Erddig in the 1770s. ©National Trust Collections

Even at the end of the 18th century, though, Chinese pictures were still being used as ‘wallpaper’, alongside ‘proper’ Chinese wallpaper. As ever, the marketplace has a habit of creating diversity and disrupting clear-cut, teleological stories.

Painted pomp

April 23, 2013
Portrait of Lady Anne Sackville, Lady Beauchamp (1586–1664) or Frances Prynne or Prinne, Lady Seymour of Trowbridge (d.1626), attributed to William Larkin, at Petworth House (inv. no. NT486187). ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Portrait of Lady Anne Sackville, Lady Beauchamp (1586–1664) or Frances Prynne or Prinne, Lady Seymour of Trowbridge (d.1626), attributed to William Larkin, at Petworth House (inv. no. NT486187). ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Over the weekend I visited an excellent small exhibition at the Holburne Museum in Bath, entitled Painted Pomp, about portraiture and fashion in the Jacobean period.

Ushak carpet at Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire (inv. no. NT42883). ©National Trust Collections

Ushak carpet at Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire (inv. no. NT42883). ©National Trust Collections

The exhibition includes nine full-length portraits by William Larkin (early 1880s-1619) of relatives of Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk (1561-1626). The paintings originally hung at Charlton Park, Malmsbury, a seat of the Earls of Suffolk and Berkshire, and were given to the nation in 1974. They are now in the care of English Heritage at Kenwood in north London.

In this post I am showing some other portraits by and after Larkin in various National Trust collections.

Portrait of Francis Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Trowbridge (c.1590-1664), in the style of William Larkin, at Petworth House (inv. no. NT486188). ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Portrait of Francis Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Trowbridge (c.1590-1664), in the style of William Larkin, at Petworth House (inv. no. NT486188). ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The pictures document some of the extravagant and highly crafted fashions of the period, such as pinked silk, embroidered shirts, punto in aria (‘stitches in the air’) lace collars and shoes and gauntlets trimmed with gold and silver thread.

Ushak carpet at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire (inv. no. 653287). ©National Trust Collections

Ushak carpet at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire (inv. no. 653287). ©National Trust Collections

It is interesting to see how the men are sometimes more gorgeously attired than the women. This was clearly an age when ‘power dressing’ meant dressing as flamboyantly as possible.

Portrait of Mary Curzon, Countess of Dorset (1585 -1645), by William Hamilton RA (1751-1801) after William Larkin, at Kedleston Hall (inv. no. NT108775). ©National Trust Images/Ian Blantern

Portrait of Mary Curzon, Countess of Dorset (1585 -1645), by William Hamilton RA (1751-1801) after William Larkin, at Kedleston Hall (inv. no. NT108775). ©National Trust Images/Ian Blantern

Prominently visible in the portraits are the Turkish Ushak rugs, expensive status symbols in the early 17th century, and the exhibition includes an actual Ushak rug.

Ushak carpet at Chastleton House, Oxfordshire (inv. no. NT1430658). ©National Trust Collections

Ushak carpet at Chastleton House, Oxfordshire (inv. no. NT1430658). ©National Trust Collections

There are also a few surviving items of Jacobean clothing on show, as well as two replica costumes made for use at Shakespeare’s Globe, London.


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