Excavating the Burial Ground at St James’ Gardens in London

Posted in on site by Editor on June 26, 2017

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With thanks to Nick Grindle for noting this work:

St James’ Gardens—the former site of a late 18th- and 19th-century burial ground—will be excavated this summer in connection with the construction of Britain’s ‘High Speed 2′ (HS2) rail link from Euston to Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds. The burial ground was used by the parish of St James’ Piccadilly, with the first recorded burial taking place in 1790. The burial ground was closed in 1853 and turned into public gardens in August 1887. Notable internees in St James’ Gardens include Lord George Gordon, Matthew Flinders, and the painter George Morland.

Wired reported on the project in September 2015.

More information on the archaeological work is available here»






Bedford Square Festival, 2017

Posted in on site by Editor on June 23, 2017

From the Paul Mellon Centre:

Bedford Square Festival
London, 28 June — 1 July 2017

The Paul Mellon Centre is part of in the inaugural Bedford Square Festival taking place in and around the Square between 28th June and 1st July 2017.

Bedford Square Festival is a collaboration between five of the cultural institutions that reside on Bedford Square, Bloomsbury. In September of 2016, representatives from these institutions—Paul Mellon Centre, Architectural Association, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Yale University Press, and New College of Humantities met to the discuss the idea of putting on a free collaborative event in the Square.

The aim was to work together to create a series of free events to promote the culture based around the Square whilst collaborating with each other to create a sense of community. We wanted to open the doors of the grand facades of the buildings in the Square and celebrate the themes that the Institutions are known for—Art, Publishing, Architecture, Culture, Education, Writing, and more.

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Lots of the events look fascinating, such as this one at Sotheby’s Institute of Art:

Kiddell Collection: An Object Handling Session with Elisabeth Bogdan
Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London 29 June 2017, 10am

This session is an introduction to the Kiddell Collection (also colloquially known as ‘The Black Museum’). The Collection is a fascinating accumulation of fakes, forgeries and reproductions that was built up over a number of decades by Sotheby’s Auction House former Director, Jim Kiddell, and now on permanent loan to Sotheby’s Institute. Originally formed as a pedagogic handling tool for auction house specialists, the Collection today continues to support student enquiry. Importantly, it also is of scholarly interest to specialists, scholars and collectors, who regularly use the Collection to further their knowledge, and who contribute to its evolving interpretation and authentication.

Lis Bogdan’s specialist teaching includes 18th- to 20th-century European and American design, decorative arts, and architectural history. Previously Lis was senior lecturer at Southampton Solent University, and has taught at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Bogdan is a former Trustee of the Design History Society.

More information, including a full schedule, is available here»





New Railings at Monticello

Posted in on site by Editor on May 9, 2017

As Gardiner Hallock explained last year on Monticello’s website, “Jefferson’s Terrace Railings to be Reconstructed” (3 March 2016),

The Chinese-inspired railings around Monticello’s terraces date to ca. 1940. After almost 80 years the elaborate wooden panels have weathered to the point where repairs are no longer feasible. While the existing railings will be missed, the project is an exciting opportunity to accurately reconstruct an important Jefferson-era feature. . .

Gil Schafer includes a photo (shown above from a screen shot) of the new railings via Instagram:

The new terrace railings at @tjmonticello, built to replicate Jefferson’s original design, in his original color, are finally complete. They replace the white Chippendale railings that had been there for decades, but actually not what Jefferson had designed and built there originally. As a board member who loved the old (but not authentic) design, it was a hard decision at first. But the truth of history must always prevail and I now love the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s restoration of them. It allows the dependencies to visually separate from the house, which perhaps was Jefferson’s original idea in painting the railings green and making them distinct from those on the house itself.
#Monticello #thomasjefferson #gastonandwyatt #restoration








Study Day | Owen Hopkins on Hawksmoor

Posted in on site by Editor on April 29, 2017

Study day arranged by Martin Randall Travel:

Owen Hopkins | Hawksmoor: The Six London Churches (LD296)
London and Greenwich, 16 May 2017

Christ Church Spitalfields (Hawksmoor), from Some London Churches, illustrated by G. M. Ellwood (1911).

From the West End to Greenwich by coach to see all six extant churches: St George’s Bloomsbury, St Mary Woolnoth, Christ Church Spitalfields, St George-in-the-East, St Anne’s Limehouse, and St Alfege. Also visit Thomas Archer’s contemporaneous St Paul’s Deptford. 9:20am to approximately 5:20pm; return to central London by river bus; from £210.

Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661–1736) dropped from public consciousness while Wren and Vanbrugh did not. In so far as he was known before the 20th century he was reviled for just those qualities which lead to passionate attachment to his creations now—boldness, massiveness, Baroque vigour, dissident classicism, and sculptural imagination.

Yet he is probably an even greater architect than his documented buildings show; it is highly likely that he is the author of some of the finer parts of buildings long attributed to others. He was Wren’s assistant for over twenty years and also collaborated with Vanbrugh. The Baroque flowering of Wren’s late works should probably be ascribed to Hawksmoor, while his professionalism and artistry were key to turning the soldier-playwright into a great architect.

Taken together, his greatest achievement remains the six London churches built in accordance with the 1711 Act of Parliament. This specified fifty new churches; only twelve were built, not least because Hawksmoor’s extravagant ambition absorbed an undue proportion of the funds. Remarkably, they all survive, though one is a (well-preserved) shell after the Blitz. The journey by coach takes in St George’s Bloomsbury, St Mary Woolnoth, Christ Church Spitalfields, St George-in-the-East Stepney, St Anne’s Limehouse, and St Alfege Greenwich. Thomas Archer’s contemporaneous St Paul’s Deptford is also included.

Owen Hopkins is Senior Curator of Exhibitions and Education at Sir John Soane’s Museum and former Architecture Programme Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts where his exhibitions included Urban Jigsaw, Mavericks: Breaking the Mould of British Architecture, and Nicholas Hawksmoor: Architect of the Imagination. He is author of four books including The Architecture and Afterlife of Nicholas Hawksmoor.


Chatsworth House Acquires Bird’s Eye View of the Estate

Posted in on site by Editor on April 27, 2017

Jan Siberechts, A View of Chatsworth, ca. 1703; the painting is now on display at Chatsworth in the Green Satin Room
(Chatsworth House Trust)

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Press release, via Art Daily:

Visitors can now discover how Chatsworth appeared in the early eighteenth century thanks to the acquisition of an important major landscape painting giving a detailed bird’s eye view of the estate. The Directors of the Chatsworth House Trust announced the arrival of an important addition to the Devonshire Collection: A View of Chatsworth by Jan Siberechts, painted circa 1703. Until now a painting of the house and garden in the 1st Duke’s time was missing from the collection. This large scale, detailed painting is now on display at Chatsworth, with a series of landscape paintings of the house and garden detailing major changes through the past 400 years.

The Duke of Devonshire said, “I am extremely excited that this landscape has joined the Devonshire Collection. It will be of great interest to our visitors as it portrays on a grand scale a complete view of Chatsworth, house, garden and park as built and laid out by the 1st Duke and this enables us all to know so much more about Chatsworth at the very beginning of the eighteenth century.”

Jan Siberechts, A View of Chatsworth, ca. 1703 (Chatsworth House Trust).

This bird’s eye view of Chatsworth originally belonged to Admiral Edward Russell, later 1st Earl of Orford, a close friend and political colleague of the 1st and 2nd Dukes of Devonshire. It passed by descent to his great-niece Letitia Tipping who married the 1st Lord Sandys in 1725 and has remained in the Sandys family until now. Previously catalogued as by an unknown late seventeenth-century English artist, A View of Chatsworth has recently been reattributed by Omnia Art to Jan Siberechts, who specialised in painting bird’s eye views of English country houses in this period. Siberechts is known to have worked for the 1st Duke of Devonshire as payments to the artist are recorded in the Chatsworth archives, and a number of watercolours by Siberechts exist showing views of Derbyshire near Chatsworth.

His view of Beeley near Chatsworth of 1699, which shows the meeting of the rivers Derwent and Wye, is in The British Museum.

Chatsworth’s Curator of Fine Art, Charles Noble advised the Directors of the Chatsworth House Trust said, “I am absolutely thrilled to have been a part of this acquisition from a leading landscape artist working in England at the turn of the eighteenth century. It is of historical importance both in art and to Chatsworth.”





Buckingham Palace Slated for £369Million Renovation

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on November 22, 2016


Buckingham Palace, London. The East Front, originally constructed by Edward Blore and completed in 1850, acquired its present appearance following a remodeling in 1913 by Sir Aston Webb (Photo by David Iliff, April 2009, License: CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons).

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As reported by Stephen Castle for The New York Times (19 November 2016) . . .

The boilers are shot, the water pipes sag, and the 60-year-old cabling is a fire hazard. Buckingham Palace, home to Queen Elizabeth II, may not exactly be falling down, but it badly needs refurbishing, the British government said on Friday, citing “a serious risk of fire, flood and damage.” Renovations on the building will start in April and will take a decade to complete, at a cost of £369 million ($456 million). The announcement adds to the list of prestigious structures in Britain that need work, including the crumbling Palace of Westminster, home of the British Parliament.

The building that would become Buckingham Palace was built in the early 1700s and became a royal residence when George III bought it in 1761. The queen carries out most of her official ceremonial and diplomatic duties as head of state in the palace. She would not have to move out while the work was in progress, officials said. . . .

The full article is available here»

Writing for The Guardian, Caroline Davies addresses in more detail the financial arrangements, including the controversies around spending £369 million in a time of austerity.



London’s Blue Plaques Turn 150

Posted in anniversaries, on site by Editor on November 12, 2016


From English Heritage:

London’s famous blue plaques link the people of the past with the buildings of the present. Now run by English Heritage, the London blue plaques scheme is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world and celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. Across the capital over 900 plaques, on buildings humble and grand, honour the notable men and women who have lived or worked in them.

The official blue plaques app is now available to download for free for iPhone and Android. Use the app to follow guided walks around Soho and Kensington, or explore all of the 900 plaques by finding ones nearby and searching for your favourite figures from history. From Sylvia Pankhurst’s former home in Chelsea to Jimi Hendrix’s flat in Mayfair, let English Heritage’s blue plaques guide you through the streets of London. Download the free app now from the Apple App Store for iPhone or the Google Play Store for Android.

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Frank and Sue Ashworth have been making the Blue Plaques from their home since 1986; for photos, see The Daily Mail (2 May 2016).

Katie Engelhart recently wrote about the Blue Plaques for The New York Times (10 November 2016).





2016 Georgian Group Architectural Awards

Posted in on site by Editor on November 9, 2016


Wimpole Gothic Tower, Cambridgeshire, designed in 1749 and built 1768–1772; photo, following restoration, from Treasure Hunt, Emile de Bruijn’s blog on National Trust Collections (18 August 2015). The posting includes additional views and lots more information. In May, the restoration project received a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s highest honor in the heritage field.

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As recently announced, the 2016 Georgian Group Architectural Award for Restoration of a Structure in the Landscape went to Wimpole Gothic Tower:

Restoration of a Structure in the Landscape: Wimpole Gothic Tower

The Gothic Tower, designed to look like a picturesque medieval ruin, is based on a sketch by the architect Sanderson Miller in 1749 for his patron, Lord Hardwicke, the owner of Wimpole. The design was later realised in an amended form under the supervision of the great landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown from 1768 to 1772. In the following centuries, the ruin suffered extensive and gradual damage with many important characteristics being completely eroded while public access to the Tower and landscape was near enough impossible. Located in the magnificent parkland of Wimpole Estate, the Gothic Tower presented a complex conservation challenge for the National Trust. The work called for repair of the structure, stabilization of the stonework and reinstatement of missing components of the building, while preserving the weathered beauty and original ‘ruined’ appearance.

Wendy Monkhouse, National Trust Curator in the East of England, said, “We’re delighted to have been recognized by the European Commission and Europa Nostra for the work we’ve done on the Gothic Tower—it’s the most prestigious heritage award in Europe, and it means a lot to the National Trust and to the staff and volunteers at Wimpole. Many people know and love the magnificent mansion and the eighteenth-century farm, but the Tower was an almost forgotten ruin—a kind of sleeping beauty, literally surrounded by briar roses and nettles. Now, with its reinstated crenellations triumphant on the main Tower, it sits once more at the focal point of the landscape designed by Capability Brown, whose tercentenary we are celebrating this year.”

Additional Awards
• Restoration of a Georgian Country House: Combermere Abbey
• Restoration in the Public Realm: Sheffield non-Conformist Chapel
• The Brown Tercentenary Award: Compton Verney
• New Building in the Classical Tradition: A Chapel in South East England
• Restoration of a Georgian Interior: Crichel Grange

Details for winners and commended sites are available here»






The Coach Gallery at Versailles Open Once Again

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on June 6, 2016


Baptism Sedan of the Duc of Bordeaux 
(Château de Versailles)

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The coaches at Versailles are once again on view:

The Coach Gallery of the Palace of Versailles, situated in the King’s Great Stables and closed to the public since 2007, will once again be opening its doors in the spring of 2016, thanks to sponsorship by the Michelin Corporate Foundation. This recently restored collection of coaches is one of the largest in Europe but is still very little known by the general public, and will be on display in a new and fully redesigned space.

Designed to be noticed, the carriages of Versailles are artistic masterpieces. Ostentatiously luxurious and extravagantly decorated with gold and sculpted detail, they were produced by the best artists of the French Court, including architects, carpenters, sculptors, cabinet-makers, bronze workers, chasers, gilders, upholsterers, embroiderers, and trimmings suppliers.

Besides its artistic quality, the collection is also a sort of ‘Vehicle Exhibition from the 18th and 19th centuries’, containing the finest prototypes and cutting-edge advances in French coach-making in terms of comfort, level of performance, and technique including traction, steering and suspension, and the first coupés and convertibles.

In addition, each coach tells a bit of French history through dynastic or political events such as christenings, marriages, coronations or funeral ceremonies. Above all else, the collection is a living testimony to life in the French Court and sumptuousness during the Ancien Régime, the French Empire, and the Restoration.

Visitors will discover these magnificent vehicles up close, such as the Berlins from the marriage of Napoleon I, the coach from the coronation of Charles X and the funeral carriage for Louis XVIII. They will also see finely decorated harnesses with gilded bronze, litters, the small coaches belonging to Marie-Antoinette’s children and an incredible collection of fantastical sledges made during the reign of Louis XV.

During the Ancien Régime the royal stables were located in the King’s Small Stables and Great Stables, a pair of buildings built opposite the Palace of Versailles by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Pearls of classic French architecture, these two constructions were designed to house the horses and coaches of the King and the Court as well as the thousand or so people who formed the Institution, including horsemen, drivers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, saddlers, doctors and even musicians.

At the time of the revolution, hundreds of vehicles that once served the King and Court were sold and dispersed, and then re-used during the War in the Vendée and to serve the needs of the revolutionary government. In 1837, when Louis-Philippe turned the Palace of Versailles into a museum dedicated to ‘All the glory of France’, he re-assembled the collection of historical Coaches.

The success of the exhibition Roulez Carrosses! in 2011–13 at the Arras Musée des Beaux-Arts revealed both the richness of the exhibition and the public’s interest in these works of art. It also brought to light the need to exhibit them in the Palace of Versailles and make them permanently available to the public.

The exhibition space is composed of two galleries and currently covers nearly 1000 m², allowing the collection to be comfortably spread out. The scenography will respect the spirit and architecture of the setting: the Royal Stables built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart between 1679 and 1682.

New Book | Fashionable Encounters

Posted in books, on site by Editor on June 5, 2016

This collection of essays appeared in 2014, but I learned of it just a a few days ago—thanks to Michael Yonan’s Instagram: he’s in Denmark this week, participating in Attingham’s Study Programme. I’m hoping to start a list of Instagram feeds relevant to eighteenth-century art and architecture in the coming weeks, so please feel free to send me any of your favorites! -Craig Hanson

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From Oxbow Books:

Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen, Marie-Louise Nosch, Maj Ringgaard, Kirsten Toftegaard, and Mikkel Venborg Pederson, eds., Fashionable Encounters: Perspectives and Trends in Textile and Dress in the Early Modern Nordic World (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2014), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-1782973829, £40.

9781782973829_1At the heart of this anthology lies the world of fashion—a concept that pervades the realm of clothes and dress, appearances and fashionable manners, interior design, ideas and attitudes. Here sixteen papers focus on the Nordic world (Denmark, Norway, Sweden Finland, Iceland, the Faroe Isles and Greenland) from 1500 to 1850. This was a period of rapid and far-reaching social, political and economic change, from feudal Europe through political revolution, industrialisation, development of international trade, religious upheaval, and technological innovation—changes impacting on every aspect of life and reflected in equally rapid and widespread changes in fashion at all levels of society. These papers present a broad image of the theme of fashion as a concept and as an empirical manifestation in the Nordic countries in early modernity, exploring a variety of ways in which that world encountered fashionable impressions in clothing and related aspects of material culture from Europe, the Russian Empire, and far beyond. The chapters range from object-based studies to theory-driven analysis. Elite and sophisticated fashions, the importation of luxuries and fashion garments, christening and bridal wear, silk knitted waistcoats, woollen sweaters and the influence of the whaling trade on women’s clothing are some of the diverse topics considered, as well as religious influences on perceptions of luxury and aspects of the garment trade and merchant inventories.

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Prologue (Mikkel Venborg Pedersen)
1  The World of Foreign Goods and Imported Luxuries: Merchant and Shop Inventories in Late 17th-Century Denmark-Norway (Camilla Luise Dahl and Piia Lempiäinen)
2  Foreign Seductions: Sumptuary Laws, Consumption and National Identity in Early Modern Sweden (Eva I. Andersson)
3  Fashion from the Ship: Life, Fashion and Fashion Dissemination in and around Kokkola, Finland in the 18th Century (Seija Johnson)
4  Creating fashion: Tailors’ and Seamstresses’ Work with Cutting and Construction Techniques in Women’s Dress, ca. 1750–1830 (Pernilla Rasmussen)
5  Silk Knitted Waistcoats: A 17th-Century Fashion Item (Maj Ringgaard)
6  Fashioning the Early Modern Swedish Nobility, Mirrored in Preserved 17th-Century Liturgical Textiles (Lena Dahrén)
7  Reflections on Dress Practices and How to Get to Know the Past (Bjørn Sverre Hol Haugen)
8  The Queen of Denmark: An English Fashion Doll and Its Connections to the Nordic Countries (Cecilie Stöger Nachman)
9  At the Nordic Fringe of Global Consumption: A Copenhagen Bourgeois’ Home and the Use of New Goods in the Mid-18th Century (Mikkel Venborg Pedersen)
10  The Theft of Fashion: Circulation of Fashionable Textiles and Garments in 18th-Century Copenhagen (Vibe Maria Martens)
11  Bolette-Marie Harboe’s Bridal Dress: Fashionable Encounters Told in an 18th-Century Dress (Kirsten Toftegaard)
12  Luxurious Textiles in Danish Christening Garments: Fashionable Encounters across Social and Geographical Borders (Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen)
13  Fish-bones and Fashion: The Influence of Whaling on Women’s Clothes in Early Modern Europe (Christina Folke Ax)
14  From Doll Cups to Woollen Sweaters: Trends, Consumption, and Influentials in early 19th-Century Southern Disko Bay, Greenland (Peter Andreas Toft and Maria Mackinney-Valentin)
15  Abundance to Asceticism: Religious Influences on Perceptions of Luxury in Denmark and Great Britain in the 18th Century (Juliane Engelhardt)
16  Circulating Images of Unmanliness and Foreignness: Collector Niclas Holterman and European Caricatures in Sweden around 1800 (Patrik Steorn)