Archive for the ‘Northumberland’ Category

A portrait of Dame Jane Wilson for Wallington

April 7, 2015
Portrait of Jane Weller (1749-1818) aged sixteen, English School. ©Bellmans

Portrait of Jane Weller (1749-1818) aged sixteen, English School. ©Bellmans

We have just bought this portrait of Jane Weller (1749-1818) at auction at Bellmans, West Sussex. Jane’s daughter Maria married Sir John Trevelyan, 5th Bt. in 1791, and this picture will now join the collection at Wallington, the Trevelyan ancestral home.

The portrait is said to show Jane aged sixteen – and so would appear to have been painted in about 1765. She looks a bit younger than that to me, but this may be due to the relatively naive style of the unknown painter.

The white flowers on her pink dress are a nice touch, echoing the real flowers she holds in her hands – and which in turn may reflect an interest in natural history, which would become more evident later.

Portrait of Jane Weller, Lady Wilson (known as 'Dame Jane'), with Charlton House, Greenwich, in the background, by R.C. Saunders, after Giovanni Trossarelli. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Jane Weller, Lady Wilson (known as ‘Dame Jane’), with Charlton House, Greenwich, in the background, by R.C. Saunders, after Giovanni Trossarelli. ©National Trust, image provided by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Jane was an heiress, the beneficiary of several family fortunes. In 1767 she married Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson, 6th Bt., a soldier and politician. This picture shows her in later life, in front of Charlton House, Greenwich, which she had inherited from her great uncle, the Rev. John Maryon.

A recent photograph of Charlton House, Greenwich. ©Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust

A recent photograph of Charlton House, Greenwich. ©Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust

The Jacobean mansion of Charlton House still survives. One of Jane’s descendants, Sir Spencer Maryon Wilson, sold it to London County Council in 1925 and it is now in the care of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust. It has also lent its name to the local Charlton Park rugby club.

Group of stuffed birds in the Museum at Wallington. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Group of stuffed birds in the Museum at Wallington. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Jane was a pioneer beetle expert, or coleopterist. She enjoyed going on beetle and fossil hunting expeditions and assembled a collection of natural history specimens which formed the basis of the ‘museum’ still at Wallington.

A sense of drama

September 20, 2012

Portrait of Elizabeth Delaval, Lady Audley (1757-1785), holding a book, with a water-spaniel, in a landscape. Accepted in lieu of inheritance tax by H.M. Treasury and allocated to the National Trust for display at Seaton Delaval Hall, 2009. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The recent catwalk show at Seaton Delaval Hall discussed in the previous post was inspired by some of the dashing and dramatic women who grew up and lived at the house in the 18th-century.

Portrait of Sophia Delaval, Mrs Jadis (1755-1793), holding a Claude glass to the landscape. Accepted in lieu of inheritance tax by H.M. Treasury and allocated to the National Trust for display at Seaton Delaval Hall, 2009. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The family was known at the time as the ‘gay Delavals’ because they encouraged travelling players to call at the house, put on plays themselves and subjected visitors to practical jokes.

Portrait of Sarah Delaval, Countess of Tyrconnel (1763-1800) with a white peahen, in a landscape. Accepted in lieu of inheritance tax by H.M. Treasury and allocated to the National Trust for display at Seaton Delaval Hall, 2009. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

There are stories of bedroom walls suddenly being hoisted up like theatre scenery, of a bed being flooded with water and of a bedroom with upside-down furnishings designed to unsettle guests who had had too much to drink.

Portrait of Frances Delaval, the Hon. Mrs Fenton Cawthorne (1759-1839), with a watercolour of a rose, in a landscape. Accepted in lieu of inheritance tax by H.M. Treasury and allocated to the National Trust for display at Seaton Delaval Hall, 2009. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

These slightly naive but rather vivid portraits, attributed to Edward Alcock (fl. 1757–1778), show just a few of the 18th-century Delaval women: four of the five daughters of John Hussey Delaval, Lord Delaval, and his wife Susanna Robinson.

Dressing up at Seaton Delaval

September 18, 2012

©National Trust /Jane Hall

Seaton Delaval Hall has just hosted a Georgian-style catwalk show billed as Dressed Up @ Delaval.

©National Trust /Jane Hall

Models showed a collection of 25 outfits created by costume designer Paul Shriek, inspired by the dashing and spirited ladies of the Delaval family.

©National Trust /Craig Richardson

Helen at Design Inspiration was at the show and has done a great post about it.

©National Trust /Maureen Ritson

The costumes were made by students and volunteers from Newcastle College, Walbottle High School, Seaton Sluice Middle School, a group meeting at Astley Community High School and Blyth-based Northern Butterflies.

©National Trust /Mark Warr

Techniques used included proggy matting, embroidery, knitting, quilting and dyeing.

©National Trust /Maureen Ritson

Visitors to Seaton Delaval can try the dresses on and imagine themselves as outrageous 18th century aristos.

©National Trust /Maureen Ritson

Dresed Up @ Delaval is the centrepiece of a project at Seaton Delaval Hall, jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Trust, that highlights the lives of those who lived and worked there in the eighteenth century.

©National Trust/Jane Hall

I am amazed by how these costumes simultaneously channel Blade Runner, François Boucher and Gothic Lolita.

©National Trust /Craig Richardson

In a follow-up post I will show some of the portraits of the women whose sense of style inspired this catwalk show.

The power of packaging

May 27, 2011

Shortbread packaging with a design by Adrian Johnson ©Adrian Johnson/Studio H

Recently I began to notice the striking new designs on the boxes of biscuits sold in National Trust shops. It turns out that the graphics have been designed by design consultancy Studio H, who commissioned artist Adrian Johnson to provide illustrations for them.

Biscuit packaging with designs by Adrian Johnson. ©Adrian Johnson/Studio H

Johnson’s work, which is bold and yet gently whimsical, seems to be building on the style of British modernism of the 1940s and 1950s.

To make the designs more specific to the National Trust, Studio H asked Johnson to incorporate visual references to Hidcote Manor, Little Moreton Hall and Seaton Delaval Hall – can you spot them?

Icons designed by Rob Hall of Studio H. ©Rob Hall/Studio H

Rob Hall of Studio H has designed a range of ‘icons’ in a similar romantic modernist style. These icons can be used in different combinations for different products.

Rob Hall's icon designs used in various configurations on National Trust chocolate packaging. ©Rob Hall/Studio H

All this is part of a programme to refresh the National Trust’s corporate brand. The main brief was to give the range of products more visual coherence while at the same time reflecting the huge diversity of what the organisation looks after.

Carl Laubin at work

May 25, 2011

The initial sketch for Vanbrugh's Castles. ©Carl Laubin/Plus One Gallery

Last week I posted about Carl Laubin’s forthcoming exhibition at the Plus One Gallery. Today I want to show some images that allow us to look over the artist’s shoulder as he was painting Vanbrugh’s Castles.

The composition scaled up and transferred onto canvas. ©Carl Laubin/Plus One Gallery

The idea for this painting evolved out of Laubin’s previous work, Vanbrugh Fields. The artist now wanted to give the Blenheim Bridge a more central role. Instead of using a Claudean tree to balance the composition he created a steeply rising bank of buildings on the right side of the painting.

Blenheim Bridge emerges. ©Carl Laubin/Plus One Gallery

An initial sketch was developed into a working drawing, which was then scaled up and transferred onto canvas.

As the compsition is filled out, the Temple of the Four Winds appears too dominant. ©Carl Laubin/Plus One Gallery

As the painting developed, certain problems of composition and scale became apparent. For instance, Laubin felt that the Temple of the Four Winds in the right foreground (in reality at Castle Howard, North Yorkshire), didn’t feel quite right there.

The Temple of the Four Winds is removed. ©Carl Laubin/Plus One Gallery

It was removed to the middle ground and replaced by the demolished Bagnio from Eastbury.

More detail is added, but something still seems to be lacking. ©Carl Laubin/Plus One Gallery

But this in turn seemed to reduce the depth of the composition.

Trying out a reduced version of the Temple. ©Carl Laubin/Plus One Gallery

Experimenting with a less prominent version of the Temple of the Four Winds sketched onto an acetate overlay, Laubin found a better place for it further down in the lower right corner. This also gave the Blenheim Bridge more breathing space.

The final version of Vanbrugh's Castles. ©Carl Laubin/Plus One Gallery

How amazed Vanbrugh would have been to see his oeuvre laid out like this, as a kind of palatial hill town. I am very grateful to Carl Laubin for allowing us this glimpse into his studio – indeed, into his imagination.

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.

Magician of the north

April 25, 2011

Lord Armstrong seated in the inglenook of the Dining Room at Cragside, by Henry Hetherington Emmerson. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

In the early nineteenth century Newcastle-upon-Tyne was a hotbed of intellectual and scientific enquiry, centred around the Literary and Philosophical Society. Into this environment William George Armstrong (1810-1900) was born, the son of a merchant’s clerk and a coal-owner’s daughter. His fascination with water and his aptitude for experimentation was to propel him onwards and upwards in the world of Victorian engineering.

A youthful portrait of Armstrong hangs above the fireplace in his study at Cragside. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Armstrong demonstrated a model of his new hydraulic crane at the ‘Lit & Phil’ in 1845. Two years later he was using them at his works at Elswick on the Tyne.

Armstrong entertaining the Princess of Wales and her daughters at Cragside in 1884. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Armstrong went on to build a huge shipbuilding, hydraulic machinery and armaments business, employing a workforce of 25,000 at Elswick. His company created the Japanese navy as well as helping to quench the thirst for armaments of the British Empire. He was the first engineer to be raised to the peerage.

Cragside, built for Arsmtrong by Norman Shaw and incorporating the latest technology. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

Henrietta Heald has recently published the first full-scale biography of Armstrong, entitled William Armstrong, Magician of the North. Heald argues that his reputation as an arms manufaturer has, in recent times, overshadowed his other achievements.

The wonders of electric lighting at Cragside, as shown in a contemporary illustrated newspaper. ©NTPL

But Armstrong’s inventions were also put to pacific ends. The hydraulic mechnanisms he created still move Tower Bridge in London and the Swing Bridge in Newcastle. His country house, Cragside, in Northumberland, was the first to be lit by hydro-electricity. Armstrong was also a pioneer in the investigation of solar power.

A Chinese cloisonné vase converted by Armstrong into an electric lamp. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

More about Armstrong can be found on this dedicated website. His taste in art can be sampled in the Cragside pictures and sculpture list.

James Paine interiors

January 14, 2011

The Saloon at Uppark, West Sussex, probably designed by James Paine. The compartmented ceiling and the pedimented chimneypiece are typical of Paine. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The previous post showing Gibside Chapel designed by James Paine gave me the idea to feature some of his interiors.

The Drawing Room at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire. The chimneypiece and ceiling were designed by Paine, while the doorcases and sofas are slightly later additions by Robert Adam. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Paine seems to have been born in Andover, Hampshire, in 1717 as the youngest child of a carpenter.  

Detail of the chimneypiece designed by Paine in the Dining Room at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire. The grotesque decoration on the wall is by Adam. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

He appears to have studied at the St Martin’s Lane Academy in London and then to have come into contact with the circle of the 3rd Earl of Burlington, the promotor of Palladian architecture.

The top-lit Stair Hall by Paine at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Paine built up a succesful architectural practice, both in Yorkshire and the north-east as well as in southern England.

The Dining Room at Felbrigg, created by Paine in 1752. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Although he worked within the context of Palladianism, he emphasized the need to make classical architecture fit contemporary needs. Top-lit staircase halls were one of his specialities.

The Staircase Hall at Uppark, another example of Paine's compact, top-lit staircases. The red baize door leads to the servants' quarters. ©NTPL/Geoffrey Frosh

In his earlier interiors Paine mixed Palladian with Rococo, but later he also adopted the newly fashionable neoclassical style.

Paine's Rococo ceiling of the Staircase Hall at Uppark. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Elegant chimnneypieces were another signature element of Paine’s, for which he ran a dedicated workshop.

For this post I consulted the guidebooks for Felbrigg Hall, Kedleston Hall, Nostell Priory, Uppark and Wallington as well as the entry on Paine by Peter Leach in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Roundhead relic

August 13, 2010

The Fairfax Jewel, at Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland. ©NTPL/John Hammond

At the end of 2009, around the time that the National Trust acquired Seaton Delaval Hall, we also purchased this set of enamel miniatures, dubbed the Fairfax Jewel, which has a historical connection to the house.  The miniatures were painted by Pierre Bordier, a seventeenth-century Huguenot artist.

The purchase of the Fairfax Jewel was funded by generous grants from the Art Fund and Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement.

One of the miniatures in the Fairfax Jewel showing the royalist forces being routed at Naseby. ©National Trust

The enamels were originally set into a gold watchcase which was presented to the Parliamentarian general Sir Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Baron Fairfax, after his victory against the royalist forces at Naseby in 1645. One of the enamels depicts that victory.

One of the miniatures in the Fairfax Jewel showing Fairfax on horseback in front of the battle of Naseby. ©National Trust

The back of it has been painted with Fairfax on his horse Chessnut while the battle rages in the background.

Equestrian portrait of Charles I, by the studio of Van Dyck and a later hand, at Petworth, West Sussex. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Ironically, the way Fairfax is shown is modelled on equestrian portraits of Charles I by Van Dyck – the political divide between Parliament and the King clearly didn’t prevent them from using the same iconography.

The Cabinet at Strawberry Hill.

The Jewel was later owned by Horace Walpole and kept as part of his antiquarian collection at Strawberry Hill. It was subsequently acquired by Sir Jacob Astley, 6th Baronet, recognised as the 16th Baron Hastings in 1841 and who inherited Seaton Delaval. By this time the miniatures had been set into the present plaque.

Sir Jacob Astley, 6th Bt and 16th Lord Hastings, in Van Dyck costume by H.W. Pickersgill. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Astleys had been on the royalist side in the Civil War, but as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries Lord Hastings let his historical interests prevail over his family allegiance.

Other posts about Seaton Delaval can be found here.

Ups and downs at Seaton Delaval

July 21, 2010

Admiral George Delaval (c 1667-1723) by Godfrey Kneller. ©NTPL/John Hammond

As part of the National Trust’s work to inventorise the collections at Seaton Delaval Hall, most of the portraits there have recently been photographed, so I can show some here.

The forecourt and north front of Seaton Delaval Hall. ©NTPL/John Hammond

As mentioned in previous posts, Seaton Delaval was acquired by the National Trust in 2009 the help of many individuals, charitable trusts and companies, and also through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme, and with generous grants from organisations like the Art Fund.

During its history the house has seen a remarkable series of ups and downs, some of which still remain to be fully unravelled. John Goodall has a made a first attempt with his interesting article in the 7 April 2010 issue of Country Life.

The imposing stables at Seaton Delaval. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

It was Admiral George Delaval who commissioned the house from John Vanbrugh in 1720. He died unexpectedly in 1723, however, before the work was finished.

His nephew and heir, Captain Francis Blake Delaval, carried on adding to the house, although it is not clear who oversaw the work and when various things were done.

A partially hypothetical view of the north front by Arthur Pond, 1745. ©NTPL/John Hammond

A pair of paintings by Arthur Pond dated 1745 seem to record what had been built as well as what was being planned at this time. The wings encompassing the forecourt, which include the stables, were in fact completed, but some other elements were not.

Sir Francis Blake Delaval (1727-1791), after Joshua Reynolds, c 1760. ©NTPL/John Hammond

In 1752 Captain Delaval was succeeded by his son Sir Francis, whose spendthrift ways caused further work to the house to be halted.

John Hussey Delaval, first Baron Delaval (1728-1808) in Van Dyck costume, by W. Bell, 1774. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Sir Francis sold Seaton Delaval to his younger brother, John Hussey Delaval, first Baron Delaval. He was a succesful entrepreneur who developed the coal and mineral resources at Seaton. He added the statues to the hall and began work on the wings on the south front, but again they don’t seem to have been completed.

After the death of his brother Edward Hussey Delaval in 1814 the estate devolved onto the Astley family.

Watercolour of the south front by P. Abbott dated 1809, showing the south-west wing in an unfinished state. ©NTPL/John Hammond

In 1822 a fire gutted the house and since that time the central block has been left empty, although it was re-roofed in 1860. During the Second World War the east wing was used to house prisoners of war.

The post-war rose garden at Seaton Delaval. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

In 1946 Edward Astley, 22nd Baron Hastings, moved back into the west wing and over the following years did much to restore the house and the garden. He moved into Seaton Delaval permanently in 1990.

Following his death in 2007 his son, Delaval Astley, 23rd Baron Hastings, sold Seaton Delaval to the National Trust.