The (long) eighteenth century in The Burlington:
The Burlington Magazine 155 (December 2013)
E D I T O R I A L
• Richard Shone, “Home is Where the Art Is,” p. 807.
Houses once occupied by distinguished residents are a special strand of the heritage industry that increasingly dominates a nation in thrall to all aspects of the past. We are constantly being exhorted to save and preserve this or that—a factory, a view, a manor house, a pier, a site of outstanding natural beauty, the historic habitat of wildlife, or, indeed, of the famous dead. Some of the shrines we visit are more larded with authenticity than others. Inevitably, the further back in time the illustrious lives were lived, the fewer objects there are likely to be which were familiar to the inhabitants. Was this her chair; was this really his easel? The aspic of preservation continually wobbles between the authentic and the fake. We do not always know—are not always told—whether something is ‘of the same period’ or ‘similar to’ or a ‘replica of’ what may or may not have been originally there, under the eye, the hand, the bottom or the feet of the presiding genius. Much depends on the piety of heirs and descendants, the
changing ownership of the house and the fluctuating stakes of fame. . . .
The latest appeal for an artist’s house has much to recommend it and should attract supporters beyond British shores. It concerns the restoration and preservation of J.M.W. Turner’s rural retreat at Twickenham, west London. This is an exceptional project and not simply a matter of tidying up and putting a blue plaque on the front. Turner designed this house himself, and plans for it abound in sketchbooks of c.1810–12, after he had purchased two plots of land near the Thames. The intention is to remove later additions (not serious) and reveal its compact interior, obviously influenced by his friend John Soane’s house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. For Turner, Sandycombe Lodge was for rest and recreation such as fishing (when he could ‘angle out the day’) and hosting friends on excursions for picnics, rather than for long residence and staying guests. Turner sold the house in 1826 and the adjoining meadow in 1848 (to the Windsor, Staines and South Western Railway). Under the auspices of the Turner’s House Trust, the appeal for £2 million is well underway, with support already assured from the Heritage Lottery Fund, among many other organisations and private donors, although further funding is still needed.2 It is expected that the public will be able to visit in 2016.
2. For an entertaining and informative account of the house, see C. Parry-Wingfield, with Foreword by A. Wilton: J.M.W. Turner. The Artist and his House at Twickenham, London 2012. Donations can be sent to the Trust at 11 Montpelier Row, Twickenham, tw1 2nq, or at www.turnerintwickenham.org.uk.
The full editorial is available here»
A R T I C L E S
• Gauvin Alexander Bailey and Fernando Guzmán, “The Rococo Altarpiece of St Ignatius: Chile’s Grandest Colonial Retable Rediscovered,” pp. 815–20.
An examination of the Rococo altarpiece of St Ignatius in Santiago, Chile, and of the European influences on this great retablo.
• David Pullins, “Dating and Attributing the Earliest Portrait of Benjamin Franklin,” pp. 821–22.
A re-evaluation of a painting now found to be the earliest known portrait of Benjamin Franklin, added to an earlier figure of a man by Robert Feke (c.1746–48).
R E V I E W S
• Elizabeth Goldring, Review of Laura Houliston, ed., The Suffolk Collection: A Catalogue of Paintings (English Heritage, 2012), p. 835.
• Michael Rosenthal, Review of Leo Costello, J.M.W. Turner and the Subject of History (Ashgate, 2012), p. 836.
• Basile Baudez, Review of the exhibition Soufflot: Un architecte dans la lumière, pp. 850–51.
• Xavier F. Salomon, Review of the exhibition Il Gran Principe Ferdinando de’ Medici (1663–1713) collezionista e mecenate, pp. 851–53.
• Angela Delaforce, Review of the exhibition Da Patriarcal à Capela Real de São João Baptista, pp. 855–56.
• Jamie Mulherron, Review of the exhibition Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800, pp. 856–58.
Sir William Bruce, Kinross House, Perth and Kinross, 1685
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The Historic Houses Association and Sotheby’s are delighted to announce that the 2013 Restoration Award has been awarded to Kinross House, Scotland’s first neo-classical Palladian mansion. Built in 1685 by Sir William Bruce, one of the foremost architects of the classical form, the historic house was in need of extensive restoration when its present owner, Mr Donald Fothergill, acquired the property in 2011. In a labour of love, Kinross House and Gardens have been saved from disrepair and meticulously restored to their former glory. Six other applicants from across the UK have been commended or shortlisted for this year’s Award (as listed below).
The entire roof, every single pipe, and every single wire in the 55 room property had to be replaced. Working with sensitivity and respect, and using traditional products and craftsmanship wherever possible, the restoration team remodelled every room drawing inspiration from the house’s own history, historic furniture and artworks. The project also enabled parts of the interior of the house to be completed for the very first time – such as the pediments above the door and the fireplaces in the Grand Salon – elements which Sir William Bruce had been unable to finish by the time of his fall from royal favour and financial ruin.
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In line with Sir William Bruce’s vision for the house 350 years ago, the original seventeenth century garden designs have also been reinstalled – restoring the long lost historic views, geometries and horticultural plans which were so integral to Bruce’s neo-classical design. As well as functioning as a contemporary home, the house is now open to the public for the first time in its history, available for special events, weddings and tours.
“The major restoration programme which has been undertaken over the past two years at Kinross has saved and revitalised this hugely important house from deterioration and possible future loss. The scale of the renovation is magnificent, and the house can now be seen by more people than perhaps ever in its long history – it is terrific to see the house coming back to life and being filled once again. Active use of the house is already having a beneficial effect on employment and incomes in the surrounding area. I would also like to congratulate all those projects which the judges have commended as well as those on the shortlist”
– Richard Compton, President of the Historic Houses Association
“This is an heroic restoration of the grandest classical house in Scotland. To see an owner devote such love, care and attention to a house which will continue as a home, is a thorough vindication of the aims of the award “
– Harry Dalmeny, Chairman of Sotheby’s UK
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C O M M E N D E D P R O P E R T I E S
Allerton Castle, Yorkshire
England’s most elegant and important Gothic revival stately home was previosuly owned by Prince Frederick (the Grand Old Duke of York), brother to King George IV. Dr Gerald Arthur Rolph has dedicated some 25 years to restoring this important Grade I listed house including recent major restoration following a fire in 2005 which destroyed one third of the castle.
Blenheim Palace Vistor Centre
July 2012 marked the opening of a new visitor’s centre at Blenheim – the largest development seen at the Palace for over 200 years. Located in the East Courtyard of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the new centre has been expertly crafted to seamlessly integrate with its historic surroundings.
Bodnant, Furnace Farm
Unused for 40 years, Furnace Farm, based on the edge of the famous Garden at Bodnant, had deteriorated nearly beyond the realms of repair. Sensitively restored by owners Michael and Caroline McLaren, the farm has been respectfully converted into a Welsh food centre, wine shop and restaurant. Welsh materials and workmanship were used wherever possible.
Rise Hall, Yorkshire
After the Second World War, Rise Hall was used as a girl’s convent school, though 50 years on it had begun to creak under the strain of skeleton maintenance. The present owners, Graham Swift and Sarah Beeny, purchased the house 12 years ago, embarking on a restoration project to ensure a sustainable future for the property. One or two rooms have been left in their original state to demonstrate the exhausting lengths the owners have gone to in order to rescue this house.
S H O R T L I S T E D P R O P E R T I E S
The Hyde, Tenbury Wells
This Grade II* medieval hall dating from around 1300 is one of the earliest hall houses in the country. Although it was extensively remodelled in the 1840s and again in the 20th century, the house began to reveal the secrets hiding behind its Victorian façade during recent restoration work. Saved from near total loss by owners Lord and Lady Clifton, the house has been sensitively restored using traditional techniques and materials, and displays many of the original features.
The Grove, Essex
The Grove, built in 1754, stands in the centre of a park and pleasure gardens designed by Humphry Repton, the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century. Its Coach House, designed to match the elegance of its surroundings, was built in 1840. Now transformed into residential accommodation, the Coach House has been into returned into an integral part of The Grove estate once more.
Eighteenth-Century Encounters: Bratislava, Slovakia
By Michael Yonan
Panorama of Bratislava from the Castle
(Photo by Stano Novak, Wikimedia Commons, 2006)
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Bratislava? Is that in Russia?
It was a typical response to my telling friends that this year’s European peregrinations would take me to Vienna, Paris, and Bratislava. The first two need no introduction; Bratislava does. Despite being the capital and largest city of Slovakia and a cultural center in Central Europe, it is nowhere near as well known as Prague or Budapest, nearby cities with some shared history. Although Bratislava has developed in the two decades since Communism’s fall, it still feels somewhat neglected and lags behind its peers. And yet therein lies Bratislava’s considerable charm. During my week there, I was repeatedly impressed by the beauty of the old city and its many attractions for specialists of eighteenth-century art. I left convinced that it is the forgotten gem among European capitals.
Today Bratislava is a Slovak city with an appropriately Slavic name. Its cultural history, however, is extraordinarily complex even for this region, and the city displays significant influence from its Czech, Austrian, and Hungarian neighbors. For much of its history, it was known principally by its German name, Pressburg, and it has been home to a sizeable German-speaking minority for centuries. A resident from 1777 to 1783, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt produced many of his ‘Character Heads’ while living there. Under Habsburg leadership, Bratislava was the administrative capital of Hungary, and major Hungarian noble clans – including the Esterházy, Pálffy, and the Erdődy families – built grandiose palaces. Maria Theresa was crowned King of Hungary there (that’s not a misprint: it was King of Hungary), afterward riding on horseback to a nearby hill, where with sword held aloft, she swore to defend the Hungarians against military invasion. She also renovated the local castle with rococo apartments, the most important eighteenth-century Habsburg decorative project outside of Austria. Unfortunately, the apartments burned in a fire at the castle in 1811; we know their appearance today from preparatory drawings. Unlike Budapest, which has a distinctly nineteenth-century look, central Bratislava feels firmly entrenched in earlier eras. Its winding streets, plentiful palaces, church after ornately-adorned church, and mysterious alleyways and staircases provide precisely the historical ambience many of us relish in Europe.
As an example of its eighteenth-century architecture, there is the beautiful Mirbach Palace, located in the city center at Františkánske námestie 11. Its current name comes from a twentieth-century owner, but the building dates from 1768–1770, when the prosperous local brewer Michal Spech built for his family an impressive palatial residence that easily competes with the noble architecture nearby. The architect’s identity is unknown. What I love about this building is the beautiful rococo ornamentation incorporated onto its façade. These forms are lifted directly from prints, particularly by Cuvilliés, but they have a prominence here not always seen on eighteenth-century façades. And, interestingly, the rococo forms are kept rather abstract, with no special iconographical additions that would alert passersby to the inhabitants’ business or pedigree. Its beauty is all the more evocative by being located on a narrow cobblestoned street, a typical streetscape of central Bratislava.
Inside the Mirbach Palace is the Bratislava City Art Museum, which holds a sizeable collection and mounts rotating exhibitions. Not far away is the Slovak National Gallery, Slovakia’s most important art institution. Here one can enjoy a comprehensive collection of eighteenth-century works by artists including Franz Palko, Franz Anton Maulbertsch, and Johann Michael Rottmayr.
While I’m plugging Bratislava, let me add in closing that the Slovaks give the Czechs some serious competition in the realm of beer (as explored by Mark Pickering earlier this year for The Guardian). With brewing skills of this caliber, it’s no surprise that Michal Spech could afford to build a gorgeous rococo abode.
All photos except the first, panoramic view are by the author.
From The Art Newspaper (11 July 2013) . . .
Anglican Court Says Benjamin West Altarpiece Can Go to Boston
City of London church to sell the masterpiece to fund repairs
By Martin Bailey
A Church of England court has ruled that Benjamin West’s altarpiece, Devout Men Taking Away the Body of St Stephen, 1776, which was made for one of the most important churches in the City of London can be sold for display in the US. The $2.85m painting is being bought by an anonymous foundation, which is due to lend it to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (The Art Newspaper, April 2013, pp6–7 and June 2013, p3). West was born in America, but worked in England.
In his judgment, delivered on 10 July, Judge Nigel Seed, chancellor of the consistory court of the Diocese of London, ruled that St Stephen Walbrook should be allowed to sell the masterpiece. The painting had been removed from the church in around 1987, in what he described as “perceived illegal actions”, and has since been kept in storage. . .
The full article is available here»
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As a starting place in the scholarly literature:
Jerry D. Meyer, “Benjamin West’s St Stephen Altar-Piece: A Study
in Late Eighteenth-Century Protestant Church Patronage and English
History Painting,” The Burlington Magazine 118 (September 1976): 634-41.
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel, Germany
Photo, 2005, Wikimedia Commons
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From UNESCO (23 June 2013) . . .
Sites in Germany and Italy Bring to 19 the Number of Sites Added to the World Heritage List
Two new sites and one extension to a Polish site were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on Sunday afternoon, bringing to 19 the total number of sites added to the List during the 37th session taking place in Phnom Penh.
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, Germany
Descending a long hill dominated by a giant statue of Hercules, the monumental water displays of Wilhelmshöhe were begun by Landgrave Carl of Hesse-Kassel in 1689 around an east-west axis and were developed further into the 19th century. Reservoirs and channels behind the Hercules Monument supply water to a complex system of hydro-pneumatic devices that supply the site’s large Baroque water theatre, grotto, fountains and 350-metre long Grand Cascade. Beyond this, channels and waterways wind across the axis, feeding a series of dramatic waterfalls and wild rapids, the geyser-like Grand Fountain which leaps 50m high, the lake and secluded ponds that enliven the Romantic garden created in the 18th century by Carl’s great-grandson, Elector Wilhelm I. The great size of the park and its waterworks along with the towering Hercules statue constitute an expression of the ideals of absolutist Monarchy while the ensemble is a remarkable testimony to the aesthetics of the Baroque and Romantic periods.
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Also from UNESCO:
Inspired by the dramatic topography of its site, the Hercules monument and water features of the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe created by the Landgrave Carl from 1689 combine in an outstanding demonstration of man’s mastery over nature. The monumental display of rushing water from the Octagon crowned by the massive Hercules statue via the Vexing Grotto and Artichoke Basin with their hydro pneumatic acoustic effects, Felsensturz Waterfall and Giant’s Head Basin down the Baroque Cascade to Neptune’s Basin and on towards the crowning glory of the Grand Fountain, a 50-metre high geyser that was the tallest in the world when built in 1767, is focused along an east-west axis terminating in the centre of the city of Kassel. Complemented by the wild Romantic period waterfalls, rapids and cataracts created under Carl’s great-grandson the Elector Wilhelm I, as part of the 18th-century landscape in the lower part of the Bergpark, the whole composition is an outstanding demonstration of the technical and artistic mastery of water in a designed landscape. Together with the 11.5m high bronze Hercules statue towering above the park and visible from many kilometres, which represents an extraordinary sculptural achievement, they are testimony to the wealth and power of the 18th- & 19th-century European ruling class.
Criterion (iii): The towering statue of Hercules and the water displays of the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe are an exceptional symbol of the era of European Absolutism.
Criterion (iv): The water displays of Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe are an outstanding and unique example of monumental water structures. Cascades of similar size and artificial waterfalls of comparable height can be found nowhere else. The Hercules statue, towering over the 560 hectare park, is both technically and artistically the most sophisticated and colossal statue of the Early Modern era. The ensemble of water features with their monumental architectural settings is unparalleled in the garden art of the Baroque and Romantic periods. (more…)
As reported by BBC News (10 July 2013) . . .
A fire has damaged the landmark 17th-century Hotel Lambert in Paris. Dozens of firefighters tackled the blaze, which broke out overnight on the roof of the riverside mansion in the centre of the French capital. The building was being renovated after its purchase by a Qatari prince in 2007. Located on the World Heritage-listed Seine embankment, the mansion was once home to the 18th-century philosopher Voltaire.
It took six hours for the fire brigade to put out the blaze, which started in an area below the rooftop which emergency services found difficult to access. A large portion of the roof has been destroyed. A spokesman for the fire service, Lieutenant Colonel Pascal Le Testu, said 650 square metres (7,000 sq ft) of the roof had gone, along with a section of a central staircase. Some of the brickwork on the front of the building has collapsed. Renowned fresco ceiling paintings by Charles Le Brun in the Gallery of Hercules were also “severely damaged by smoke and water”, Lt Col Testu said. . .
The full article is available here»
Press release (20 May 2013) . . .
Sir William Wentworth, Chapel of Bretton Hall Park, 1744
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
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Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is campaigning to save one of the oldest surviving buildings on the Bretton Estate and transform it into a gallery space. The 270-year-old YSP Chapel is in an urgent state of repair and must be restored soon, in order to keep it open to the public. The Park’s fundraisers have secured financial support from English Heritage, Country Houses Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation and The Pilgrim Trust but are £100,000 short of the £500,000 needed to complete the full restoration plan. They are now asking visitors and supporters to give whatever they can to help reach the total.
Andy Carver, Director of Development at YSP said: “At a time when public funding is becoming increasingly scarce, we depend on the people and organisations that love YSP to give us their financial support. Restoring the chapel is an important and exciting project for us; it will mean that we can keep this historic building open for future generations to enjoy and allow us to programme new exhibitions of sculpture in the beautiful, tranquil space. At the moment, the conditions in the chapel aren’t suitable for some types of art works and structurally it is deteriorating quite badly. The restoration will bring the building back to its former glory and give us a unique and versatile space for exhibitions and events.”
Built in 1744 by Sir William Wentworth, the Georgian sandstone chapel is a historically important part of the Bretton Estate. Nestled within the YSP Country Park, the Grade II* listed building was at the heart of life on the estate during the 18th and 19th centuries. Renovation plans include replacing the roof, making extensive structural repairs and installing heating. An improved path from YSP Centre and disabled access to the building is also in the pipeline. (more…)
I earlier noted the Huguenots of Spitalfields Festival taking place now in London (8-21 April), but Alicia Weisberg-Roberts usefully draws our attention to this gem, the Anna Maria Garthwaite House, by Christ Church, which will be open for visits on Tuesday, 16 April, in conjunction with the festival (the celebration is occasioned by the 250th anniversary of Garthwaite’s death). Photographs of the interior are available at Spitalfields Life, an amazing blog generally. For details and tickets see the Huguenots of Spitalfields Festival.
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From Spitalfields Life:
Anna Maria Garthwaite, the most celebrated texile designer of the eighteenth century, bought this house in Spitalfields when she was forty years old in 1728, just five years after it was built. Its purchase reflected the success she had already achieved but, living here at the very heart of the silk industry, she produced over one thousand patterns for damasks and brocades during the next thirty-five years.
The first owner of the house was a glover who used the ground floor as a shop with customers entering through the door upon the right, while the door on the left gave access to the rooms above where the family lived. For Anna Maria Garthwaite, the ground floor may also have been used to receive clients who would be led up to the first floor where commissions could be discussed and deals done. The corner room on the second floor receives the best light, uninterrupted by the surrounding buildings, and this is likely to have been the workroom, most suited to the creation of her superlative designs painted in watercolours – of which nearly nine hundred
are preserved today at the Victoria & Albert Museum. . . .
Keep reading here»
From the Editor
For those of you who will be in Cleveland this week for ASECS, these two items might be of interest: The Dunham Tavern Museum and Mitsuko Uchida’s performance of Mozart with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Admittedly, I’m an easy sell for house museums. Built in 1824, the Dunham House is Cleveland’s oldest building. Rufus and Jane Pratt Dunham arrived in 1819 from Massachusetts, farming fourteen acres in the Western Reserve (previously known as ‘New Connecticut’, the region had been claimed by Connecticut as early as 1662 and finally turned over to the Connecticut Land Company only in 1800). Positioned on a stagecoach route, the house also functioned as a tavern during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. As for the history of the museum, it’s entirely typical of this sort of site: preservation plans and renovations took place in the 1930s; it became a Cleveland Landmark in 1973 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It seems to be open only Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.
British pianist and conductor Mitsuko Uchida has garnered an impressive array of critical recognition within the past few years: Dame Commander of the British Empire, an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford, and a Grammy award. It’s especially fitting to hear her in Cleveland, for she served as artist-in-residence with the city’s Orchestra from 2002 to 2007, and her 2011 Grammy came in connection with her performance of Mozart also in Cleveland. She performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, K453; Divertimento in B-flat major, K137; and Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K503 — April 4-6, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8:00.
As some of you may have noticed, it’s eighteenth-century Greenwich that stands in for nineteenth-century Paris in Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables. And the elephant also returns us to the XVIIIe siècle; see the 24 May 2011 posting from the ‘Lost Paris’ series of the blog, Culture & Stuff). Thanks to Jennifer Germann for the suggestion. -CH
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From Architectural Digest:
Cathy Whitlock, “The Sets of Les Misérables,” Architectural Digest
Through dramatic set design and a pitch-perfect cast, the legendary story of a nation in turmoil comes to vivid new life in Hollywood’s adaptation
. . . Academy Award–winning director Tom Hooper and production designer Eve Stewart collaborate for the fourth time, having also worked together on the visually stunning and award-winning The King’s Speech, among other productions. In Les Mis, the duo translate the environs of the book, which include majestic French mountain ridges and the bleak Parisian streets of 1832, in all their glory via London’s Pinewood Studios in a shoot that lasted just 12 weeks . . .
The stately grounds of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, were transformed into the Place de la Bastille, the square where the Bastille prison stood. Originally conceived by Napoléon as a symbol of victory, the 40-foot-tall elephant is front and center at French commander Jean Maximilien Lamarque’s funeral procession and and the subsequent student uprising. Producer Cameron Mackintosh was so fond of the pachyderm that after production he had it moved it to his home in England. . . .