Archive for the ‘North Yorkshire’ Category

The wonder of the north

November 12, 2015


The extraordinary landscape garden at Studley Royal is the subject of a major new book by Mark Newman.

The cascade and the fishing tabernacles at Studley Royal, created in the 1720s. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

The cascade and the fishing tabernacles at Studley Royal, created in the 1720s. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Based on many years of research, this book charts at the history of Studley Royal from its origins to the present day, while devoting most attention to the development of its pioneering garden in the eighteenth century.

The rustic bridge at Studley Royal, built in the 1720s. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The rustic bridge at Studley Royal, built in the 1720s. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

John Aislabie (1670-1742) may have been a blatantly venal government minister – he was was convicted of corruption following the collapse of the South Sea Bubble in 1720 – but he had a sophisticated taste in landscape design.

Statue of Bacchus in front of the Temple of Piety, probably built in the early 1730s, at Studley Royal. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Statue of Bacchus in front of the Temple of Piety, probably built in the early 1730s, at Studley Royal. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Following his banishment from politics he poured his energies into Studley Royal. He bent the landscape to his will, but at the same time allowed for a degree of naturalness and irregularity, which was new at the time.

The Octagon Tower at Studley Royal, completed in 1735. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The Octagon Tower at Studley Royal, completed in 1735. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Studley represents the early phase of the English landscape garden, juxtaposing formality and informality, architecture and foliage, water and greenery, light and shade.

View over the half moon pond and the weir at Studley Royal towards Fountains Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

View over the half moon pond and the weir at Studley Royal towards Fountains Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

His son William Aislabie (1700-81) continued to develop the landscape, incorporating the medieval ruins of Fountains Abbey into it and creating the ‘Chinese woods’ further up the valley.

The seven bridges walk at Studley Royal, near the area formerly known as the 'Chinese woods'. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

The seven bridges walk at Studley Royal, near the area formerly known as the ‘Chinese woods’. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

The book can be purchased via the National Trust online shop.

Upward thrust at Beningbrough

March 22, 2012

State bed, probably made in the early eighteenth century for James, 3rd Viscount Scudamore, by Francis Lapierre and at Holme Lacy until brought to Beningbrough in about 1918 (inv. no. 1190812). ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Seeing these images of the baroque state beds at Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire, reminded me of the upward thrust of much baroque decoration.

The State Bedchamber at Beningbrough. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The beds with their elaborate canopies happily echo the vertically oriented panelling of the rooms crowned by intricately carved friezes. You are encouraged to look up, and be amazed.

Carving over one of the doors and in the frieze of the State Bedchamber. ©NTPL/Horst Kolo

The beds originally came from Holme Lacy in Herefordshire, latterly the seat of the Earls of Chesterfield. The 10th Earl of Chesterfield sold Holme Lacy in 1909 and bought Beningbrough in 1917.

State bed probably made by Francis Lapierre for Holme Lacy in the early eighteenth century. Given to the National Trust by the Art Fund in memory of Graham Baron Ash of Wingfield Castle, Suffolk, 1980 (inv. no. 1190874). ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The red state bed came to Beningbrough at around that time. The blue state bed was sold by the Chesterfields when they left Holme Lacy but rejoined its twin at Beningbrough in 1980.

The Blue Bedroom at Beningbrough. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Both beds were probably made by the émigré French upholsterer Francis Lapierre (active 1683 – d. 1714) and are in the style of Daniel Marot (1661-1752), the court architect and designer who popularised baroque decoration in Britain.

The Hall at Beningbrough. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

So here the story here is not just about art history, social history and family history, but also about the visual and spatial interaction between objects and spaces.

Nunnington re-imagined

August 9, 2011

The Oak Hall, Nunnington Hall, by Jane Pinkney. Chris Beetles Gallery, London

Illustrator Jane Pinkney was recently invited to be artist in residence at Nunnington Hall, North Yorkshire.

The Oak Hall. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

Pinkney is well known as the illustrator of books such as The Mice of Nibbling Village, Mouse Mischief and Mouse Time.

The Oak Bedroom, Nunnington Hall, by Jane Pinkney. Chris Beetles Gallery, London

She grew up on the rural outskirts of Barnsley, Bradford and Middlesbrough. Her father’s interest in botany inspired her own fascination with the natural world. Pinkney combined a prodigious talent for drawing with a vivid, nostalgic imagination.

The fireplace in the Oak Bedroom. ©NTPL/Mike Williams

Now her watercolours are being exhibitied for the first time in this selling exhibition at Nunnington, organised in collaboration with the Chris Beetles Gallery. The show includes both older work and new pictures inspired by the house.

The Panelled Bedroom, Nunnington Hall, by Jane Pinkney. Chris Beetles Gallery, London

The exhibition runs at Nunnington Hall from 9 August until 18 September 2011. 

The Panelled Bedroom. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

The book The Mice of Nibbling Village has also been brought out in a new edition by the National Trust.

Studley dredged

October 22, 2010

The Cascade at Studley Royal. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

The water gardens at Studley Royal, North Yorkshire are a rare surviving example of early-eighteenth-century landscaping in the grand manner.

They were created by John Aislabie (1670-1742), an ambitious politician who became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1718. He was implicated in the South Sea Bubble in 1720 – the credit crunch of its day – and as a result was barred from public office. Aislabie subsequently poured his energies into the creation of the Studley gardens.

View of the Lake and Cascade c. 1760 by Balthazar Nebot, showing how the different elements of the landscape were intended to interact, including the reflective quality of the water. ©NTPL

Studley is also remarkable as one of the first gardens where formal landscaping was combined with a natural setting. The intentionally created vistas between the different pavilions interact with the topography of the wooded valley. In addition, the enlarged and formalised sheets of water reflect the sky, add light and enhance the sense of space.

The Lake at some point before 1890. ©National Trust

As the water gardens are part of the course of the river Skell, the lakes and ponds have always been prone to silting up, and they need to be regularly dredged. In spite of this, the appearance of the Lake remained more or less unaltered until the second half of the nineteenth century.

Recent aerial view of the Lake, showing how two of the vistas were being blocked by the island. ©National Trust

At some point between 1854 and 1890 an island appeared in the Lake, probably created from dredged silt. Although an artificial island can of course serve a useful picturesque function, in this case it obscured the vistas down the Canal and to the Half Moon Pond.

The Lake with the island still in place. ©National Trust

Recently it became necessary for the Lake to be drained and dredged once again, so that the dam containing it could be inspected.

Based the historical evidence mentioned above, collated by gardens curator Christopher Gallagher, the decision was taken to also remove the island and open up the vistas again.

The drained Lake in spring 2010. ©National Trust

The work was undertaken this year and has just been finished.

The newly opened-up view, September 2010. ©National Trust/Ian Gilkinson

The trees that had slowly encroached towards the edge of the Lake have also been cut back, so that the bank could be shored up and the original lakeside walk reestablished.

More information and videos about the project can be found here.

A Yorkshire treasure house

October 6, 2010

The east front of Nostell Priory. ©NTPL/Matthew Antrobus

In my previous post I featured a major painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger which we are trying to purchase for Nostell Priory. One of the reasons we want to keep the painting at Nostell is that it has a long connection to the house, which gives it added meaning and value.

The library at Nostell, remodelled by Adam and with furniture by Chippendale - the desk is one of his masterpieces. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Nostell is one of the treasure houses of Yorkshire. It was decorated by Robert Adam, and Thomas Chippendale supplied much of the furniture.

A scene from The Tempest (Act I, Scene II) by William Hogarth, acquired from the Winn family in 2002 with the help of the Art Fund. ©NTPL/John Hammond

But there is also an extraordinary collection of paintings at Nostell, evidence of the collecting of several generations of the Winn family.

Sir Rowland and Lady Winn in the library at Nostell (see the photograph of the same room above), attributed to Hugh Douglas Hamilton, 1770. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Sir Rowland Winn, 5th Baronet, not only commissioned Adam and Chippendale, but was also an avid collector of paintings.

All the building and collecting rather overstretched Sir Rowland’s finances, but by the time his grandson Charles Winn inherited Nostell in 1805 the family fortune had been sufficiently restored to allow for further acquisitions.

Adoration of the Magi by the Master of St Severin, photographed following conservation. ©National Trust

Charles Winn was a scholar with an interest in antiquities and old master paintings. The National Trust recently purchased an Adoration of the Magi by the early sixteenth century German painter known as the Master of St Severin, which was originally brought to Nostell by Charles Winn.

The artist hesitating between the arts of Music and Painting, by Angelica Kauffman, 1791 or 1794. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Even in the twentieth century the Winn family was still collecting. Angelica Kauffman’s wonderful self-portrait hesitating between Music and Painging was bought for Nostell by the 2nd Lord St Oswald in 1908.

The ceiling in the Tapestry Room, designed by Adam and with paintings by Zucchi. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

There is a connection between Kauffman and Nostell through her husband Antonio Zucchi, who was commissioned by Adam to produce decorative paintings for various rooms in the house.

The Procession to Calvary by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Image Robert Thrift

The Brueghel we are trying to acquire is an important part of this extraordinarily rich mixture of architecture, art and design. Please support the campaign to keep it at Nostell.

Let’s save the Nostell Brueghel

October 4, 2010

Image Robert Thrift

An amazing painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger with a provenance from Nostell Priory is up for sale. The National Trust and the Art Fund have just started a joint campaign to purchase this picture, so that it can remain on public view at Nostell.

Image Robert Thrift

The painting, dated 1602, shows Christ being taken to Calvary to be crucified. But Christ himself is almost lost in the milling crowd. Some of the people are dressed in pseudo-Biblical costume, and others are wearing seventeenth-century Flemish dress.

Image Robert Thrift

On the left we can see Jerusalem bathed in sunshine. It looks rather like a Netherlandish town, complete with church spires and a windmill. 

Image Robert Thrift

On the right the procession winds its way towards Calvary, with the sky darkening ominously above. Mary Magdalene and other women can be seen grieving at the foot of a tree that has lost its leaves.

Image Robert Thrift

Close by, two little children sit cosily together by the side of the road watching the procession go past. These little everyday details make it seem as if the passion of Christ is taking place right here, right now.

Image Robert Thrift

The Art Fund have already contributed £500,000 to the campaign, and we hope to raise the remaining £2.2 million by Christmas. Click here to discover more about the picture and to make a donation.
To enable as many people as possible to see the Nostell Brueghel during the fundraising campaign, the painting will be on view at the National Gallery in London from 5 October to 9 November 2010, and then at the York Art Gallery from 18 November until Christmas.

Saved by love

February 25, 2010


Circle of Joseph Highmore, portrait of William, formerly 4th Baron Widdrington

The man in this portrait, William, 4th Lord Widdrington, looks like a characteristically self-assured Georgian gentleman. In fact, by the time the picture was painted he had lost his title and estates because of his involvement in the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. 

Nunnington Hall. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

He had actually been condemned to death as well, but his former lover, Catherine Graham, pleaded on his behalf and he was reprieved at the eleventh hour. He then married her, and they lived the rest of their lives at Catherine’s ancestral home, Nunnington Hall, North Yorkshire.

The portrait was purchased by the National Trust at the Newton Hall sale at Christie’s South Kensington, London, on 20 January. Funds for the purchase came from several generous bequests. 

The Oak Hall at Nunnington (some of the furnishings have recently changed). The painting on the wall includes Catherine Graham as a child, on the left. ©NTPL/Mike Williams

Newton Hall had been the Widdrington seat, and after its forfeiture by the Crown it was eventually bought by the Cook family. One of the Cooks married a great-niece of the last male Widdrington, and their son eventually changed his surname to Widdrington. The portrait we have acquired must have ended up at Newton Hall through this convoluted family inheritance. 

The Oak Bedroom at Nunnington (some of the furnishings have recently changed). ©NTPL/Mike Williams

It is not clear if the picture originally hung at Nunnington. However, it was decided to bid for it because the National Trust did not own a portrait of Widdrington in later life, after his marriage to Catherine. And of course it represents an affecting tale of love overcoming all, the kind of story, one imagines, that could be turned into a historical novel or a major motion picture. 

Fireplace in the Oak Bedroom. The embossed leather on the screen is a remnant of the seventeenth-century wallcovering. ©NTPL/Mike Williams

The painting will need to undergo some conservation work. It will go on display at Nunnington as is while further funds are being sought.