Archive for the ‘Walpole, Horace’ Category

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.

Bringing on the bling

July 14, 2010

Inkstand by William Plummer, 1786, engraved with the Chute and Barrett-Lennard (Dacre) arms. Image: Bonhams

We purchased this delicate boat-shaped inkstand at Bonhams in London on 30 June. It was once owned by Thomas Chute (1721-1790) of The Vyne, Hampshire, and it will now go back on display there.

View of The Vyne by Johann Heinrich Muntz (1727-98), c 1755. The view is slightly idealised, reflecting John Chute's plans for the house as well as the reality. ©NTPL

The Vyne was orinially a Tudor house owned by the Sandys family. In 1653 it was bought by Chaloner Chute (c 1595-1659), Speaker of the House of Commons. He employed the architect John Webb, a pupil of Inigo Jones,  to add the portico to the north front in the 1650s, the first of its kind on an English country house.

Bench designed by Mark Brazier-Jones on display on the staircase landing at The Vyne. Its shape and detailing seem to echo the silver inkwell shown above. ©National Trust

His descendant John Chute (1701-1776) was a friend of the collector Horace Walpole, and he was a member of the ‘Committee of Taste’ that helped to design Walpole’s famous Gothick villa at Twickenham, Strawberry Hill.

Baroque? Rococo? Neo-classical? Pieces by Mark Brazier-Jones in the setting of John Chute's staircase. ©National Trust

The Strawberry Hill circle was in the vanguard of the new antiquarian taste. At The Vyne John Chute refurbished some rooms in the Gothick style, while in others he employed a neo-classical idiom. The staircase, in particular, is a neo-classical tour de force.

You can probably spot the Brazier-Jones by now. ©National Trust

John Chute bequeathed The Vyne to the above-mentioned Thomas Chute, a distant cousin originally called Lobb who assumed the Chute name upon coming into his inheritance.

A chair combining the traditions of stamped leather, metalwork and horsemanship in the Oak Gallery. ©National Trust

The Vyne is currently hosting an exhibition by designer Mark Brazier-Jones (until 1 August), showing his avant-garde pieces in the context of John Chute’s radical eighteenth-century interiors.