Exhibition | Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate
Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 14 March — 3 September 2017
Curated by Alexandra Loske
A new display at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery will showcase rarely-seen views of the Royal Pavilion Estate dating back to the 1760s, as well as cutting-edge digital reconstructions of how it might have looked. According to curator Dr Alexandra Loske,“This display will survey the Royal Pavilion and its estate as it was and might have been, featuring rarely-seen views alongside discarded designs and recent digital re-creations. It will give visitors an opportunity to see unfamiliar, unusual and lost images, sourced almost exclusively from the city’s own archives and collections.”
Illustrations from the earliest printed books about the estate will sit beside unrealised designs, early municipal maps, and 20th-century plans and images. Highlights include
• Images of the Estate before the Royal Pavilion was built, and early designs commissioned by the Prince Regent by Henry Holland (1786, Marine Pavilion).
• Unrealised designs by Humphry Repton (published 1808), who George, as Prince of Wales, appointed to apply his romantic style to the Marine Pavilion and its grounds. When his beautiful, hand-produced ‘Red Book’ of designs failed to win him a commission, he had the book published for commercial sale, with fewer than 250 copies thought to have been printed. Delicate ‘overlays’ pasted onto the images provided before-and-after perspectives, with Repton’s ambitious proposals including a glass corridor around the entire East Lawn, an aviary, a pheasantry, a water feature and a clearer view of the sea.
• Lost designs and aquatints giving a lively impression of the Royal Pavilion Estate in the 18th and 19th century, sourced from the city’s collection and early popular guide books.
• Depictions of fashionable Georgian society in and around the Estate, in rare watercolours, prints and drawings from the city’s collection.
• 1830s drawings by Joseph Henry Good, who was commissioned by William IV to survey the Royal Pavilion Estate and drew up around 200 architectural plans. Detailed plans of now-lost servants’ quarters and the area around the South Gate will give a new perspective on everyday life for staff on the estate.
• Detailed digital 3D images of lost areas and structures of the Royal Pavilion Estate by RPM volunteer Colin Jones, largely based on the Good plans (will also be available online).
• Photography of the Estate’s use in the 20th century, including images from World War II and never-before-seen inter-war designs for the Royal Pavilion Garden.
• Real and imagined views of the Estate in popular culture, including illustrations and cover designs for books like Malcolm Saville’s children’s adventure story The Long Passage (1954) and Georgette Heyer’s popular novel Regency Buck (1935).
Alexandra Loske has sourced almost all the display’s inclusions from the city of Brighton & Hove’s own archives and collections. She said, “We’re keen to really make use of the city’s incredible collections and keep making new items available for the public to see.”
The display will accompany RPM’s project to digitise Humphry Repton’s Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton (1808) and John Nash’s The Royal Pavilion at Brighton (1826) and to publish the books online. It also comes as RPM works with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Brighton & Hove City Council to realise a future vision for the Royal Pavilion Estate, starting with a major refurbishment of Brighton Dome’s Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre. Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate will form part of Royal Pavilion & Museums’ Regency Summer season in 2017, which will also include Jane Austen by the Sea at the Royal Pavilion and Constable and Brighton at Brighton Museum.