Archive for the ‘Cliveden’ Category

Carl Laubin, capriccio painter

May 18, 2011

Carl Laubin, Vanbrugh Fields ©Carl Laubin/Plus One Gallery

Carl Laubin is an artist who is passionate about architecture. Many of his works are in the tradition of the capriccio, or imaginary landscape. Laubin combines an element of fantasy with a meticulous attention to detail, using historical sources to document the buildings he is painting.

Laubin will be having an exhibition at the Plus One Gallery in London from 8 June until 2 July 2011. Among the works on show will be Vanbrugh Fields, a painting celebrating the buildings of Sir John Vanbrugh. The capriccio format allows Laubin to depict the architecture as it was designed rather than as it was eventually built (or not built), in its ideal state.

Carl Laubin, National Trust capriccio. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Castle Howard (top right, on the hill), for instance, is shown with its now demolished entrance gate. The bridge at Blenheim (lower right) has its intended grand superstructure, which was never completed after the Duchess of Marlborough fell out with the architect.

As a tribute to Vanburgh’s conservation efforts at Blenheim, Laubin shows a whisp of smoke coming out one of the chimneys at Woodstock Manor (far right, just below the brow of the hill) – Vanburgh admired the picturesque building, lived in it for a while and wanted to preserve it, but the Duchess had it swept away. And can you spot Seaton Delaval Hall, which the National Trust acquired last year?

Carl Laubin, Fallen beech with prospect of Cliveden. ©NTPL

The National Trust commissioned a few paintings from Laubin some years ago, including National Trust capriccio, showing the buildings of architectural significance owned by the NT. Fallen beech with prospect of Cliveden commemorates the damage done by the great storm of 1987.

I will follow this up next week with a post showing the successive stages of development of another recent painting by Laubin, Vanbrugh’s castles.

Amazed at Cliveden

April 8, 2011

The newly planted maze at Cliveden. ©National Trust/Clare Kendall

Today Alan Titchmarsh and Lord Astor will open a new maze at Cliveden, in Buckinghamshire. In fact, it is a recreation of a yew maze that was created there in 1894 by Lord Astor’s great-grandfather, William Waldorf, 1st Viscount Astor.

©The Astor family

The maze had ceased to be maintained in the mid-twentieth century, but the original plan resurfaced in 2005 and that led to a plan to recreate the maze.

©National Trust/Clare Kendall

The area was cleared and levelled and the paths were laid out.  Finding enough yew trees was the greatest challenge of the project, but last autumn 1,100 twelve-year-old yew trees arrived and were planted over a twenty-day period.

©National Trust/Clare Kendall

The yews will fill out more over time, but the maze is now ready for visitors to explore – and get lost in.

The Long Garden at Cliveden. ©National Trust/Liz Ward

Other recent developments in the garden include the opening up of long-lost vistas and footpaths and the re-instatement of historical planting schemes.

Andrew Mudge, the Head Gardener at Cliveden, who has master-minded the maze project. ©National Trust/Clare Kendall

A video clip about the maze on the BBC website can be seen here.

A few snails thrown in

June 2, 2010

A visitor inspecting the a Roman sarcophagus at Cliveden. The carved reliefs depict scenes from the story of Theseus and Ariadne. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

In response to a previous post about the Roman sarcophagus at West Wycombe, a reader has asked about the sarcophagi at Cliveden, in Buckinghamshire. As he surmised, they were indeed brought to Cliveden by William Waldorf Astor, first Viscount Astor (1848-1919).

William Waldorf Astor by Sir Hubert von Herkomer. ©NTPL/John Bethell

Astor had inherited a huge fortune based on New York real estate. In the 1880s he was appointed United States Minister to Italy, and while there he conceived a passion for art and architecture. In true plutocratic style, Astor was somewhat reclusive and prone to paranoia.

The south front of Cliveden. The Borghese balustrade acquired by William Waldorf Astor can be seen below the terrace. ©NTPL/Nick Meers

In 1891 Astor moved himself and his family to England, reputedly saying that ‘America is not a fit place for a gentleman to live.’ He purchased Cliveden from the first Duke of Westminster in 1893 and embellished it with numerous works of art and antique furnishings. 

Eighteenth-century Italian sculpture of Beatrice, a Commedia dell'Arte figure, in the Long Garden at Cliveden. ©NTPL/Ian Shaw

An amazing discovery has recently been made at Cliveden. As a group of volunteers went around cleaning the statues in the garden, they spotted tiny unfamiliar-looking snails that seemed to live in the crevices of the stone. 

The tiny Papillifera papillaris, the 'Cliveden snail'. ©National Trust/Mark Telfer

Snail guru Janet Ridout Sharpe was called in, and she identified the creatures as Papillifera papillaris. They have little spindle-shaped shells that are generally only 11 mm long. This snail has no English name, as it normally lives around the Mediteranean.

A section of the Borghese balustrade, home of the Papilliferas. ©National Trust

Most of the snails seemed to live on or near the Borghese balustrade, which sits between the terrace and the parterre. This balustrade was purchased by Astor from the Villa Borghese in Rome in 1896 and shipped to Cliveden. It seems that with his purchase Astor got some free snails thrown in – a natural import along with an architectural one. They have thrived at Cliveden in apparent harmony with the other wildlife there, and this species has now been dubbed the Cliveden snail.


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