Saving Mr. Turner’s Country Retreat

Posted in films, on site by Editor on November 3, 2014

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With the UK release of Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner, the Turner House Trust hopes to raise the profile of the painter’s house in Twickenham, which badly needs restoration. From the press release (14 October 2014) . . .

There cannot be many people who are unaware of the imminent general release of Mike Leigh’s award-winning Mr Turner, the biographical film of one of the supreme masters of landscape, England’s JMW Turner. What is less widely known is that Turner might have pursued a different career as an architect and that he designed and built a country villa for use by himself and his father. Completed in 1813, Sandycombe Lodge near the Thames between Richmond and Twickenham, was Turner’s retreat to escape the hectic London art world and the hurly-burly of his own household.

Mike Leigh together with actors Timothy Spall, highly praised for his portrayal of Turner, Paul Jesson as Turner’s father and Nick Jones as Sir John Soane, visited this three-dimensional Turner creation in the early stages of their work on the film.

Although the film is set later in Turner’s life, the director and actors wanted to learn as much as possible about the man behind the pictures. From here he would sketch along the Thames on foot, fish on the river and occasionally entertain his friends including Sir John Soane, architect and fellow-fisherman, whose influence is apparent throughout Sandycombe.

Grade 2* listed Turner’s House is largely unspoilt apart from some later additions, but seriously threatened by damp and long neglect it is now on English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register and badly in need of restoration.

Turner’s House Trust is appealing to the nation for help to save it from dereliction. “With additional damage caused by extreme weather conditions in recent years, this is now urgent. We have generous promises of grants and funding, which we must match in order to proceed,” said Catherine Parry-Wingfield, chairman of Turner’s House Trust. “With every pound we are closer to saving this Turner ‘treasure’ for future generations, but we still have a long way to go. We hope that, as this new film will no doubt inspire people to visit the artist’s wonderful masterpieces in our galleries, they will also support a lasting legacy for his country home to be enjoyed by future generations.”

The 2013 Georgian Group Architectural Awards

Posted in on site, the 18th century in the news by Editor on August 14, 2014

The most recent architectural awards from The Georgian Group were announced last October (yes, I realize the posting is long, long overdue), with nominations open for the 2014 awards until September 19.CH

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The Georgian Group’s Architectural Awards, sponsored by international estate agents Savills and now in their twelfth year, recognise exemplary conservation and restoration projects in the United Kingdom and reward those who have shown the vision and commitment to restore Georgian buildings and landscapes. Awards are also given for high-quality new buildings in Georgian contexts and in the Classical tradition.

Entries for the 2014 awards are now being accepted. There is no entry fee. Schemes must be in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man or Channel Islands and must have reached practical completion between 1st January 2013 and 1st August 2014. For the purpose of the Awards, the term ‘Georgian’ embraces the period of classical ascendancy in Britain and is taken to mean 1660–1840. The owner’s consent is a condition of entry. Please send a description of your project with a selection of images to robert@georgiangroup.org.uk or to The Georgian Group, 6 Fitzroy Square, London W1T 5DX by 5pm on Friday 19 September 2014.

More information is available here»

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More information about the 2013 results and additional pictures are available here»

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Restoration of a Georgian Country House

Townhead, Slaidburn, Lancs (pictured above)
By and for Robert Staples
Early C18 stone house. Previously on buildings at risk register, acquired by present owners 2010, conservatively restored using traditional methods.

Hadlow Tower, Tonbridge, Kent
Thomas Ford and Partners for The Vivat Trust
1832 by Walter Barton May as part of a now largely demolished country house. 185ft Gothic folly in brick with covering of Roman cement. On World Monuments Fund Watch List by 2003. Now restored and refaced, with lantern (removed after storm damage in 1987) rebuilt.

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Rotunda (May 2013)Restoration of a Georgian Interior

Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London (shown at right)
RHWL for The Really Useful Group Theatres
Restoration of Grand Saloon, The King’s and Prince’s Staircases and the Rotunda. Redecoration with advice from John Earl, Lisa Oestreicher and Edward Bulmer to match as closely as possible Benjamin Dean Wyatt’s original design. Installation of copy of Canova’s Three Graces in the Rotunda.

Great Fulford, near Exeter, Devon
Ceiling by Geoffrey Preston for Francis Fulford
New decorated plaster ceiling for the C17 double cube Great Dining Room. The original ceiling collapsed C19 and the room was then abandoned until C20; in 1960 a temporary ceiling composed of acoustic tiles was installed to make the room habitable. The 1700 picture hang has also been largely reinstated.


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Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting

Mostyn House, 42 Vale Street, Denbigh
Milrick Ltd for John and Janis Franklin
1722 townhouse, restored in project initiated by Denbighshire County Council and part-funded by Townscape Heritage Initiative with HLF support. Main elevation fully returned to its original appearance, with removal of pebbledash and excrescences (later oriel window to first floor and bay windows to ground floor). Façade limewashed. Internally, lost oak panelling and missing section of oak staircase re-created.

116 High St, Boston, Lincolnshire
Anderson and Glenn for Heritage Lincolnshire
1728 merchant’s townhouse, later bank; by end of C20, gardens concreted over and house officially at risk and near to collapse. Compulsorily purchased by local authority and restored by building preservation trust supported by Architectural Heritage Fund and HLF. Envelope conserved and some lost features reinstated. Interior fitted out for office use and premises for small businesses built in grounds, giving a boost to a part of Boston cut off by a 1960s ring road.

107 Great Mersey Street, Liverpool L5
Brock Carmichael for Rotunda Ltd
1820s house, the only Georgian building left in Kirkdale area of Liverpool, near docks. In atrocious condition and on buildings at risk register by 2003, Urgent Works Notice served in 2007. HLF-funded project to restore envelope and restore or replace internal fabric.

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Reuse of a Georgian Building

St. Helen’s House, Derby (shown at right)
Brownhill Hayward Brown for Richard Blunt
1766 by Joseph Pickford, Grade I, one of the finest C18 townhouses to survive in a provincial city. Sold by the Strutt family to Derby School in the 1860s, in educational use till 2004, since when vacant and formally at risk. Bought by Richard Blunt in 2006, now restored and converted to office use, the recession having put paid to a planned hotel conversion.

Norwood House, Beverley, East Riding
Elevation Design for The Brantingham Group (specialist advice from Patrick Baty)
1765, Grade I townhouse, acquired by local authority 1907 and used as a girls’ school until 1990s, then disused; deteriorated to the point where it was formally at risk. Arson in 2004 damaged the Rococo drawing room and the 1825 Grecian library. Subject to unsympathetic proposals but now sensitively restored and let in its entirety to a culinary school who use it in part as a restaurant.

Stable block, Sulby Hall, Northants
JWA Architects for Mr and Mrs Sandercock
1790s, attributed to Soane. Sulby Hall was demolished in 1952 and the surviving stable block was subsequently in various uses including as a store for farm equipment and grain. By 2005 it was ruinous and roofless. Natural England initiated restoration as part of a management plan for the owners’ mixed farm and the stable block, fully restored, is now used as a stable yard for stallions in a national breeding programme.

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Maze Main

Restoration of a Georgian Garden or Landscape

Repton pleasure grounds, Woburn, Beds (pictured above)
Woburn Abbey gardeners for The Duke of Bedford
Restoration, and re-creation where lost, of the Georgian pleasure gardens and garden buildings, including Holland’s Chinese dairy, Repton’s pagoda, temple, aviary and cone house and Wyatville’s Camellia House.

Cow Pond, Windsor Great Park, Berkshire
Russ Canning for The Crown Estate
Part of the ten-year Royal Landscape Project to reinstate the lost historic landscapes of Windsor Great Park. Cow Pond, part of Wise’s 1712 plan for the Park and taking the form of a canal, was overgrown by 2008 and had regressed to swamp. Restoration included dredging and draining, construction of a Baroque footbridge and arbour and new planting.

Sir James Tillie Mausoleum, Pentillie Castle, Saltash, Cornwall
Cliveden Conservation for Ted Coryton
1713, in ruinous condition and covered in vegetation when Pentillie bought by present owners in 2007. Fully restored following archaeological survey, damaged Tillie statue repaired, vault excavated.

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New Building in the Classical Tradition

Onslow Park, near Shrewsbury, Salop
Craig Hamilton for Mr and Mrs John Wingfield
Schinkelesque country house on established estate. Five-bay, the centre three bays slightly recessed with arched openings to ground floor, forming an arcade on the garden front. Rendered with stone dressing. Top-lit stair hall with gallery and spiral cantilevered staircase.

Oval cricket ground, London SE11 (new forecourt pavilion)
Hugh Petter of Adam Architecture for Surrey County Cricket Club
Forecourt pavilion in brick with Bath stone dressing, replacing functional C20 banqueting suite. Central portico articulated with stone columns with bespoke Prince of Wales feather capitals and surmounted by stone urns.

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Giles Worsley Award for a New Building in a Georgian Context

8B Aubrey Road, London W8
Craig Hamilton Architects for Mr and Mrs Andrew Deacon
New classical mews house replacing former mews in grounds of 25 Holland Park Avenue (1820s). Soanean echoes, especially in recessed arches and rectangular sculpture gallery. Public façade composed of pediment and Diocletian window above full-width front door imitating typical mews garage door.

A lodge for a country house in Gloucestershire
Craig Hamilton for a private client
Classical lodge in stone on cruciform plan, each axis terminating at either end in a broken pediment; deep block-modillion cornice.

Trinity Church Terrace, Trinity Street, Borough, London SE1
By and for London Realty
Terrace of ten five-storey houses, forming infill development adjoining Trinity Church Square and designed to harmonise with existing context.


Open House London 2014

Posted in exhibitions, on site by InternMK on August 10, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 9.50.13 PM

From Open City:

Open House London 2014
London, 20–21 September 2014 

Forty Hall, the 17th century estate, is one of the 800 properties included in the Open House London programme.

Forty Hall, the 17th-century estate, is one of the 800 properties included in the Open House London programme.

Open House London, created and delivered by the independent non-profit organisation Open-City, is the capital’s largest annual festival of architecture and design. Now in its 22nd year, it is a city-wide celebration of the buildings, places and neighbourhoods where we live and work. By providing free and open access to 250,000 across 30 boroughs to more than 800 outstanding examples of historic and contemporary buildings, on-site projects and public spaces, it remains the most powerful medium for engaging everyone in a better appreciation of their city.

A full listing of the included sites will be posted on 15 August 2014 at the event website


Eighteenth-Century Encounters: Lövstabruk, Sweden

Posted in on site by yonanm on July 31, 2014


by Michael Yonan

In traveling through the forested plains of eastern Sweden, one encounters a Nordic rural idyll. Abundantly verdant, dotted with charming red houses, and home to the occasional moose, it is a region seemingly far removed from the bustle of Stockholm or the university culture of nearby Uppsala. The presence of scattered Viking runestones in the landscape only adds to the feeling of having traveled far from the modern world. Yet as one enters the front gates of Lövstabruk, a beautifully preserved eighteenth-century mining estate, it becomes apparent this was in its time no remote backwater but that, instead, it kept in touch with the most current continental developments in the sciences and arts.

Truthfully, the realization didn’t come entirely as a surprise when I visited Lövstabruk in May. Virtually every Swedish dix-huitièmiste speaks of the town with great affection, and many conveyed the belief that one finds there something very Swedish indeed. That interested me greatly, since one of Sweden’s more remarkable eighteenth-century qualities was its cosmpolitanism, its participation in cultural developments we associate mostly with other places. The best known to art historians is the Swedish connection to France. Yet that’s just the beginning of a much larger history of Swedish cultural exchange, of which Lövstabruk is a prime example.

To understand this place, one needs to be familiar with the Swedish institution of the bruk. The word has no exact English equivalent; it can mean forge, mine, or mill. In Sweden the bruk was a major impetus for small-scale civic development based on Sweden’s immensely rich mineral and metal deposits. The largest of the nation’s many mines was the Great Falun Mine (Stora Kopparberg), which operated for a millennium and at its peak supplied Europe with two-thirds of its copper. Lövstabruk was an ironworks that processed ore from the nearby mine at Dannemora. Interestingly, the region’s miners were a mixture of native Swedes and émigré Walloons who relocated to work in the industry. One can find in Sweden today the legacy of mass Walloon migration in the occasional French or French-sounding name.

IMG_4314For art historians, Lövstabruk is most interesting because of its material legacy. The nobles overseeing the estate originated in the Netherlands, and it was they who expanded Lövstabruk’s footprint after a 1719 fire. Notable among them was Charles de Geer (1720–1778), who began collecting books and natural specimens for the library at Lövsta. De Geer published a comprehensive multivolume study of insects—modeled after Réaumur and Linnaeus—and oversaw an extensive building campaign that resulted in many of Lövstabruk’s architectural glories. The manor house contains a series of rococo rooms hung with dozens of beautiful eighteenth-century portraits. The musical culture at Lövstabruk was also world-class; the de Geers collected musical scores from Amsterdam and Paris for use in local concerts. But the jewel of Lövstabruk is unquestionably the library, designed by Swedish architect Jean-Eric Rehn (1717–1793). Housed in a separate little building immediately overlooking the central waterway and garden, the library gives the impression of having been left untouched since 1780. It
perfectly evokes the nobleman–scholar–entrepreneur ideal so
cherished during the Enlightenment.

IMG_4312Postal deliveries to this little Swedish town must have been incredible indeed, containing as they did drawings by Watteau and Boucher, scores by Handel and Vivaldi, and the latest volumes of Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie. I spotted Mme de Graffigny’s Lettres d’une péruvienne and books by Montesquieu and Rousseau on the library’s shelves. This give-and-take between such a distinctively local institution, the bruk, and the larger international culture is what makes Lövstabruk so distinctive. Recently, historian Göran Rydén has described Lövstabruk as an architectural metaphor for eighteenth-century Sweden as a whole: “a local community reaching out to a much wider global setting,” as well as “a place consuming commodities from other global places.”1 That interaction between the local and the global produces a “provincial cosmpolitanism,” to use Rydén’s term, the effects of which shaped the formation of Swedish society. To a visitor like me, it seems correct to claim that Lövstabruk was a microcosm of the eighteenth-century world.

1. Göran Rydén, “Provincial Cosmopolitanism: An Introduction,” in Sweden in the Eighteenth-Century World, ed. Göran Rydén (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), p. 5.

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Michael Yonan is the president of HECAA and author of Empress Maria Theresa and the Politics of Habsburg Imperial Art (Penn State Press, 2011). From January to June 2014 he was research fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala.


Royal Kitchen Garden Opens at Hampton Court Palace

Posted in on site by Editor on July 24, 2014


Historic Royal Palaces press release (11 June 2014). . .

Made legendary by Henry VIII, undisputed king of the joust, Hampton Court Palace’s enormous tiltyard saw some of the most significant moments of his long and often scandalous reign. Horses thundered, colours fluttered in the breeze, and the court gathered in their finery to watch the displays of pride and chivalry. By 1702 however, with the passion for royal tournaments long faded, Queen Anne had ordered the site to be dug up and cropped with “severall varietys of Eatables, the most proper for Her Majesty’s Use.” The kitchen garden, covering six acres, fed the Queen and her court not only at Hampton Court, but at royal residences across the capital.

This summer, Historic Royal Palaces will be turning back the clock at Hampton Court to return the garden to its eighteenth century heyday, recreating the pathways and planting pattern laid down by the palace’s Georgian gardeners. Based on historic evidence and John Roque’s plan of 1736, it will be as true to the period as possible, right down to the now rare heritage varieties of fruit and vegetables which will be grown there.

This new addition to the palace’s world famous gardens will allow visitors to explore the untold history of food production at Hampton Court, with on-site displays helping to showcase some of the traditional techniques employed by royal gardeners to tend crops fit for a king. Herbs and vegetables familiar to the palace’s Georgian cooks will be reinstated, from Italian celery to borrage, skirret and swelling parsnips. Apricots, nectarines and even peaches will return to the garden in their original fan shapes, while the garden’s very own melonry, complete with hot beds of straw and manure, will also be recreated by the palace’s team of expert gardeners.

Importantly, the garden will be open to the public free of charge, and will provide a valuable educational resource for the local community, as well as the hundreds of visitors and school groups who enjoy the palace every day. As the garden matures, Historic Royal Palaces hopes to be able to run vegetable growing classes at the palace—reconnecting the Great Kitchens at Hampton Court with the locally sourced produce which once stocked them.

Vicki Cooke, Hampton Court Palace’s Kitchen Garden Keeper, said: “The reinstated Kitchen Garden at Hampton Court is the realisation of a massive amount of research, planning and labour by the team, and will give visitors a real taste of the work involved in supplying a royal kitchen. Our ambitious planting scheme showcases a whole range of less well known fruit, vegetables and herbs which would have gone into the lavish meals prepared for the monarchs who lived here, and will mean that each passing season brings new crops waiting to be discovered.”

The opening of the Royal Kitchen Garden is part of a wider celebration of the Georgians across Historic Royal Palaces in 2014, to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian Accession to the British throne.

On Site | The International Museum of the Reformation in Geneva

Posted in on site by Editor on June 9, 2014


Geneva’s Maison Mallet (to the left), built between 1772 and 1725, houses the International Museum of the Reformation; it stands next to the thirteenth-century St. Pierre Cathedral, the front of which is dominated by a mid-eighteenth-century portico. The photo comes from the museum’s website.

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The Other Side of the Story: The International Museum of the Reformation in Geneva
By Tobias Locker

Art historians are—at least to generalize from my own experience—rarely surprised by museums. And yet, sometimes we visit an institution where subject, setting, and presentation complement each other so favorably that they transform the visit into an inspiring experience. I was recently surprised in such a way at Geneva’s International Museum of the Reformation. The visit expanded and enriched my view of the Reformation, which is sometimes cast as less important than Roman Catholicism for understanding the Baroque, even as it was the trigger for the Counter Reformation. The Museum tells the other side of the story, the one of an influential religious movement inspiring the arts and mentality of the early modern period.

The International Museum of the Reformation was inaugurated in 2005, next to St. Pierre Cathedral in the Maison Mallet, a hôtel particulier, modelled entre court et jardin and built between 1722 and 1725, after plans of the architect Jean-François Blondel (uncle and mentor of Jacques François Blondel, the architectural theorician and author of the famous multivolume works De la distribution des maisons de plaisance… and l’Architecture Française…). At its opening, the museum still had much in common with the original nineteenth-century project of presenting Geneva as the seat of the Calvinist Reformation. But today the focus is—as its name suggests—much wider, extending the narrative of historic Protestantism into the twenty-first century.

Besides offering a fine impression of a prestigious home of a wealthy eighteenth-century Genevan citizen, the museum’s presentation succeeds on multiple fronts. While relatively small, it gives a good idea of the different currents of the Reformation. On its ground floor figures like Martin Luther, John Calvin, the Huguenots, and John Knox are explained while the lower level addresses the development of reformed religions from the nineteenth century to the present in a global context.


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I was particularly impressed by installations allowing visitors to experience the rooms of the Maison Mallet while also employing a varied array of media to make the visit fresh and exciting. The Grand Salon, for example, presents chairs grouped around tables with imbedded screens. A film explaining the essential ideas of the Reformation alternates between these screens and two pier-glasses, which themselves turn into screens during parts of the presentation. I found the multimedia display entertaining and clever; the process of watching the film was made more active as the eye was forced to also experience the room, and, for me, the installation provides a rare case in which Philippe Starck’s translucent ‘Louis Ghost’ chairs serve as an appropriate solution, lightening the density of the room while still acknowledging the eighteenth-century setting.

I was also intrigued by the way the exhibition works well for very different intellectual levels. From a scholarly point of view, the information is satisfying, even as the presentations (in both French and English) are easy to understand. The film in the Grand Salon, for instance, is narrated from the point of view of a child, a ‘customer group’ that in my eyes often is not considered sufficiently. Likewise, some dioramas with cutout copies of engravings animated by the turn of a crank handle are positioned at the height of small children.

The efforts of the museum were rewarded in 2007 with the prestigious Museum Prize of the Council of Europe. The International Museum of the Reformation is well worth a visit, and the quick 45-minute walk-through you originally had in mind might extend into a longer visit. If you have energy and time left afterward, you could visit the adjoining St. Pierre Cathedral and the archaeological site under the present thirteenth-century structure, with ruins of earlier churches dating back to the fourth century (the site’s importance was recognized with a Europa Nostra Award in 2008).

Tobias Locker is an art historian and lecturer based in Barcelona/Spain. His research focuses on furniture and decorative arts of the eighteenth century in Europe.

Opening Dates for Frogmore House and Garden for 2014

Posted in on site by Editor on May 19, 2014

Press release (23 April 2014) from the Royal Collection Trust:

Frogmore. Photo by Gill Hicks from Wikimedia Commons, 2006.

Frogmore. Photo by Gill Hicks from Wikimedia Commons, 2006.

Frogmore House and Garden—the charming royal retreat set within Windsor Castle’s magnificent private Home Park—will open to the public on 3, 4 and 5 June, as part of the annual Charity Garden Open Days, and on 16, 17 and 18 August 2014.

Built in the 17th century, Frogmore became a royal residence in 1792 when George III purchased it for his wife, Queen Charlotte. Since then successive monarchs have enjoyed the tranquil surroundings and delightful interiors. Although it is no longer an occupied royal residence, it is frequently used today by the Royal Family for private entertaining.

The interior of Frogmore House bears testimony to the interests and talents of the generations of the royal family who have resided there. Queen Charlotte’s passion for botany is particularly evident. She commissioned Mary Moser, the renowned 18th-century flower painter, to decorate one of Frogmore’s principal rooms to resemble an arbour open to the skies. The result was said to be the Queen’s favourite room in the house. George III and Queen Charlotte’s third daughter, Princess Elizabeth, continued the floral theme and decorated The Cross Gallery, which spans the entire breadth of the building, with painted flower garlands.

Victoria, Duchess of Kent, lived at Frogmore for almost 20 years and works by the Duchess and her daughter, Queen Victoria, can be seen on display within the house. Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor during her long widowhood. Watercolours painted by her daughters, the Princesses Victoria and Louise, can also be seen at Frogmore.

The gardens at Frogmore House are one of its most enduring attractions. In 1867, Queen Victoria wrote “this dear lovely garden. . . all is peace and quiet and you only hear the hum of the bees, the singing of the birds.” First laid out for Queen Charlotte in the 1790s with 4,000 new shrubs and trees, it is based on a model ‘picturesque’ landscape. Garden features such as a Gothic Ruin, designed with the assistance of her daughter, Princess Elizabeth, were added shortly afterwards.

The design and planting scheme seen today incorporates additions made during Queen Victoria’s reign, and that of Queen Mary’s, who redesigned the gardens and introduced numerous flowering trees, shrubs and grasses, and some 200,000 bulbs. Numerous trees and shrubs, presented on the occasion of Her Majesty The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, were subsequently added. Today, visitors can enjoy gentle garden walks and views of Queen Victoria’s Tea House, the white-marble Indian Kiosk, and the 18th-century lake.

Frogmore House and Garden are open on 3, 4 and 5 June in aid of the National Gardens Scheme, The Leprosy Mission and Parkinson’s UK respectively, and on 16, 17 and 18 August. Tickets and visitor information: www.royalcollection.org.uk.

Candle-lit Theater

Posted in journal articles, on site by Editor on April 19, 2014

Michael Hawcroft’s article in the current issue of French Studies should be useful for anyone thinking about candles and early modern lighting conditions, particularly  in the theater. At a more immediately experiential level, The Globe’s new Wanamaker Playhouse (opened since January) serves as the ideal venue.


Les Farceurs italiens et français, ca. 1670
(Paris: Collections Comédie-Française)

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Michael Hawcroft, “New Light on Candles on the Seventeenth-Century French Stage,” French Studies 68 (2014): 180–92.

Abstract: Modern accounts of the seventeenth-century French stage have repeatedly asserted that plays were divided into short acts of some twenty to thirty minutes in performance because the candles that lit the theatres had to be snuffed at frequent intervals. This article claims that there is no evidence for this assertion and aims to evoke the technological constraints of candle usage at the time so as to suggest that candles could be managed in such a way that they did not actually dictate dramaturgical practice. The article considers seventeenth-century theoretical discussion of the division of plays into acts: such discussion never alludes to candles, but refers to historical precedent and spectator attention spans as perceived explanations for the phenomenon of act division. It aims to adduce compelling evidence against the traditional view and concludes that the snuffing of candles took advantage of the opportunity offered by act division, but was never its cause.

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The Wanamaker Playhouse as described by Andrew Dickson for The Guardian:

Andrew Dickson, “New Globe Playhouse Draws Us inside Shakespeare’s Inner Space,” The Guardian (7 January 2014).

Crafted from oak and lit by candles, the Globe’s new playhouse isn’t just a jewel box of a theatre—it’s also a time machine

The new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse—an offshoot of the modern Globe, named in memory of its founder—aims to bring the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in from the cold, creating an indoor playhouse closely modelled on the one his company began to use in 1608, across the Thames at Blackfriars. Although it’s not the first time someone has attempted the feat—US scholars constructed a rival Blackfriars in the unlikely setting of a small city in Virginia 13 years ago—this will be the most authentic version yet, accurate (or as close as is possible) down to every hollow-bored oak pillar and trompe-l’oeil fresco. The whole project has cost £7.2m: one reason it’s taken the Globe nearly two decades to get around to building it. . . .

The first shock, after descending from the attic, is how tiny the auditorium feels: while the Globe can accommodate 1,500 people, with up to 700 jostling on foot, the Playhouse seats just 340. But this only makes it more intimate, says academic Farah Karim-Cooper, who chairs the research group that has steered the project. “The proximity is unbelievable,” she says. “You can get intimacy in the Globe—and when that happens it’s beautiful. But here, it’s really something.” . . .

But the greatest indoor breakthrough was something we now take for granted: control over light, impossible in the open air until the invention of gas lighting in the late 18th century. The Playhouse will be illuminated exclusively by candles, with artificial electronic daylight filtering through internal ‘windows’. The team hopes this will be the new space’s true revelation. The Jacobeans used candles made from animal fat, but the Globe have gone for pure beeswax, costing up to £500 per show. . .


Portraits and Other Pictures Return to Osterley

Posted in exhibitions, on site by Editor on March 5, 2014

From the UK’s National Trust:

Rare portraits and Other Works of Art Now on Display at Osterley Park and House in West London


William Dobson’s self-portrait on display at Osterley together with the portraits of Robert and Sarah Child and The Music Lesson by Sir Peter Lely. ©National Trust/Chris Lacey

Once described by Horace Walpole as the ‘palace of palaces’, Osterley Park and House’s spectacular interiors were created in the 18th century by the Child family, the owners of Child’s Bank. But for over sixty years their portraits have been absent. Now a major ten-year loan marks the return of the Child family to the house they so lovingly transformed with rare items of furniture and over twenty paintings including many portraits of family members. Among the most famous artworks to return is a self-portrait by William Dobson (1611–1646), court painter to King Charles I, which was bought by the family in the early 18th century and has not been on public display at Osterley  since 1949.

The family portraits

Francis Child III — He succeeded to Osterley in 1756 and began transforming the house with the help of fashionable architect Robert Adam.
Robert Child — Francis’ brother, he inherited Osterley Park and House in 1763 and continued to employ Adam who worked at Osterley until 1781.
Sarah Jodrell — Robert’s wife and a woman of many accomplishments which included her exquisite embroidery, examples of which can be seen at Osterley Park and House.

Alan Ramsay (1713-84) portrait of Francis Child III (1735-63). ©National Trust/John Hammond

Alan Ramsay, Portrait of Francis Child III (1735-63). ©National Trust/John Hammond

Sarah Anne Child — Robert and Sarah’s beloved daughter and a talented musician, whose harpsichord is still on display in the house. She was disinherited from her father’s fortune for eloping to Gretna Green to marry the Earl of Westmorland.

Claire Reed, Osterley’s House and Collections Manager explains: “This is an exciting moment as it really feels as though the family are returning to Osterley. We have beautiful interiors and fascinating objects at the house but until now visitors couldn’t see the faces behind the names of those who made this such a wonderful place.”

Other art works include The Music Lesson by Sir Peter Lely and a large painting of Temple Bar, a detailed London scene depicting the area close to the location of Child’s Bank. Rare pieces of lacquer furniture and other treasured family objects will also be on display, telling stories of the fashions and tastes for collecting in the 18th century.

Osterley Park and House was first opened to the public by the 9th Earl of Jersey in 1939 following a steady stream of requests to see inside the house. It was then transferred to us in 1949. This ten-year loan has been made by the trustee of the Earldom of Jersey Trust, following consultation and backing from the 10th Earl of Jersey.

Also see the posting at Emile de Bruijn’s Treasure Hunt (27 February 2014)»

Exhibition | Medicine and the Eighteenth Century

Posted in exhibitions, on site by Editor on January 8, 2014

As noted by Hélène Bremer, from the Château de Seneffe:

Le XVIIIe et la Médecine
Château de Seneffe, Hainaut, Belgium, 5 October 2013 — 21 April 2014

bannerhumeur (1)L’exposition « Le XVIIIe et la Médecine » sort des sentiers battus par son contenu et son approche scientifique. Elle présente le thème de la médecine non pas uniquement du point de vue purement médical mais bien dans le contexte de la vie de l’époque. En tant que témoins privilégiés- et avec l’apport des instruments scientifiques, d’objets mis en relation avec les thématiques abordées, d’extraits littéraires,…-nous racontons l’existence d’une société en pleine évolution sociologique.

Découvrir ce que signifie la médecine au XVIIIe siècle c’est lever le voile sur différentes pratiques peu conventionnelles, c’est aborder le corps et l’esprit sous différents angles, c’est observer les avancées en la matière qui vont bousculer les tabous et révolutionner les façons de penser et de voir d’une façon plus rationnelle. C’est comme un kaléidoscope de découvertes inattendues et surprenantes. Le XVIIIe avait à cœur de replacer l’homme, en tant qu’être humain, au centre de la société. Les individus sont alors en quête de bien être, comme aujourd’hui. Et depuis, tout continue.


Château de Seneffe
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons, May 2007)

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According to Wikipedia:

In 1758 the ‘Seigneurie de Seneffe’ was bought by Joseph Depestre, a Walloon merchant who earned a fortune by selling goods to the Imperial Austrian troops stationed in the Austrian Netherlands. Depestre’s new status as a wealthy and influential individual was also confirmed by the acquisition of noble titles such as ‘Seigneur de Seneffe’ (Lord of Seneffe) and ‘Count of Turnhout’. The new castle designed by Laurent-Benoît Dewez had to match with Depestre’s new noble status. It was erected between 1763 and 1768 in a novel neoclassical style. When Joseph Depestre died in 1774 the decoration of the château and the embellishment of the park were continued by his widow and his eldest son Joseph II Depestre. . .


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