Monday, February 18, 2019

Garden & Grounds to attract a Queen - Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire

Kenilworth Castle dated 1620 by Unknown Artist

David Wilkes for the Daily Mail, London, 4 September 2014

Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire was "Built to woo the Virgin Queen... There is no doubt the views from the top of the 100ft tower, which boasts what were then the biggest glass windows in a secular building in Tudor England, are impressive enough to make you go weak at the knees.

"Whether they also made Queen Elizabeth I swoon into the arms of her favourite Robert Dudley in the spectacular quarters he created for her exclusive use at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire remains a mystery as intriguing as the rest of their relationship.


"There was, believes the Head Curator at the castle, Dr. Jeremy Ashbee, an antechamber between the two sets of rooms where Dudley, the handsome and flamboyant Earl of Leicester, could well have ‘lurked’ until Elizabeth was free of other company before popping in to see her alone. From there it is just a few short steps into the regal boudoir, where no one was normally allowed except the Queen and her ladies in waiting.


"We do not know whether their relationship was ever physical,’ said Dr Ashbee. ‘But they had known each since childhood, shared passions for riding and dancing, and it was no secret in Court circles that he was a suitor for the queen’s hand in marriage. Indeed, Dudley built the tower expressly to win her hand...’


"Their relationship - portrayed by Cate Blanchett and Joseph Fiennes in the 1998 film Elizabeth - was much talked about after Dudley’s first wife Amy broke her neck and died after apparently falling down the stairs at Cumnor Place, Berkshire, in 1560.


"Debate raged over whether Dudley had got rid of her as an obstacle to his relationship with the monarch. Dudley, who was also the Master of the Horse, overseeing all the queen’s equestrian needs for travel and hunting, was granted Kenilworth Castle by Elizabeth I in 1563.


"At a cost equivalent to tens of millions of pounds in today’s money, he began building the tower for her there in 1570. Elizabeth stayed at the castle 4 times during her summer ‘progresses’ away from London. Her last visit in 1575 caused particularly intense speculation about their relationship as she stayed for 19 days from July 9 to 27 - the longest she ever stayed at any courtier’s house.


"Dr Ashbee said: ‘We know from documentary evidence when the tower was built was right in the middle of the period when Dudley was getting her to come there. People referred to it as ‘the Queen’s lodge.' ‘She was 41 and he 42 during the 1575 visit and it has long been thought this was his last throw of the dice to get her to marry him. He even commissioned portraits of the queen and himself specifically for that visit, which might have been intended to hang in the dancing chamber above her bedroom.,,’


"Dudley failed, however, to win the queen’s hand, his chances having probably not been helped by him fathering an illegitimate son by Lady Sheffield in 1574. Elizabeth never returned to Kenilworth and he married Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex, in 1578.


"But the queen evidently retained an affection for him and kept a letter he wrote to her shortly before his death in 1588. Its contents were mere pleasantries, but she wrote on the back ‘His last letter’ and kept it in a casket of treasured possessions by her bed until her death in 1603."

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bathing in Garden Parks in 17C-18C Europe

Jan Frans van Bloemen (Flemish artist, 1652-1749) A Classical Landscape with Ladies Bathing near a Fountain

 Nicolas Lancret (French artist, 1690-1743) Women Bathing


Jean-Baptiste Pater (French artist, 1695–1736) Bathing Party in a Park 1730s


Joseph Frans Nollekens (Flemish artist, 1706-1748) Park Scene with Ladies Bathing


Georg Heinrich Hergenröder (German artist, 1736-1794) Ladies Bathing at Garden Terrace

Friday, February 15, 2019

Thursday, February 14, 2019

1625 A Garden in the Background - 17C Dutch Girl

1625 Unknown Artist of the Dutch school, Girl with cherries & doll.  She is on the verge of nature, but it is nature controlled as a formal garden.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Dutch artist Frans Hals c 1582-1666 paints a couple in a Garden

1622 Frans Hals (Dutch artist, c 1582-1666) Married Couple in a Garden


1622 Frans Hals (Dutch artist, c 1582-1666) Married Couple in a Garden Detail

1728 Garden writer Batty Langley 1696-1751

Batty Langley  Written by Mike Rendell

I love this blog posting by Mike Rendell about Batty Langley who wrote of English gardens in the 1st half of the 18C.  In fact, his entire blog, Georgian Gentleman, is fascinating!  Batty Langley's books often appeared in colonial British American libraries in the 18C.
Batty Langley, print made by J. Carwitham, 1741

"Many know of Capability Brown, some know of Humphry Repton, but one name largely overlooked is Batty Langley. Batty was baptised at Twickenham on 14th September 1696, the son of Daniel & Elizabeth Langley. His father was a jobbing gardener who seems to have been working for a David Batty, so the name may have been given to the baby in tribute to this patron. Batty Langley grew up in his father’s footsteps, keen on gardening but determined to spread his wings rather than pottering around with a spade & pruning knife.

"At the age of 23 Batty married, but his wife Anne died after producing 4 children from 7 years of marriage. He remarried & went on to sire another 10 children, to whom he bequeathed such fanciful names as Euclid, Vitruvius & Archimedes…

New Principles of Gardening, or, the laying out and planting parterres, groves, wildernesses, labyrinths, avenues, parks, c. London A. Bettesworth and J. Batley, 1728.

"Batty Langley received a commission to do some design work for Thomas Vernon at Twickenham Park. There he encountered a large sandpit & managed to convert “this perfect nuisance” into “a very agreeable beautiful” spiral garden, using hornbeam hedges. It was the start of a fascination with shapes & serpentine mazes which led him in 1728 to publish his oeuvre “New Principles of Gardening; or The Laying out & Planting Parterres, Groves Wildernesses, Labyrinths, Avenues Parks etc”

"The sub-title gave claim to the fact that the methods described in the book were more ‘Grand & Rural’ than anything before, listing “Experimental Directions for raising the several kinds of fruit trees, Forest Trees, Ever Greens & Flowering shrubs with which gardens are adorn’d.”

New Principles of Gardening is profusely illustrated with 28 copperplate engravings.

"The book contained very little new, but the illustrations were influential in bringing to people’s attention the use of shapes & winding vistas – he wanted gardens to lead the visitor through the design, rather than have everything in full view. There should be surprises around each corner or, as he put in the introduction: ‘Nor is there any Thing more shocking than a stiff regular Garden; where after we have seen one quarter thereof, the very same is repeated in all the remaining Parts, so that we are tired, instead of being further entertain’d with something new as expected.’

"In other words it marked a move away from the rigidly, geometrical knot gardens favoured by the Elizabethan & Stuart gardeners, even if the world was not yet ready for the picturesque gardens of Capability Brown. Batty loved mazes, but often introduced swirls & patterns far removed from the traditional honeycomb designs.

Inspired by the gardens at Versailles Langley occasionally suggested improvements to their design

"In some ways his ideas were right at the start of the rococo movement; the problem was that this self-publicist thought that he was now the arbiter of taste in all areas of everyday life. He brought out books on carpentry & furniture design, prompting Horace Walpole to utter “All that his books achieved, has been to teach carpenters to massacre that venerable species, & to give occasion to those who know nothing of the matter, & who mistake his clumsy efforts for real imitations, to censure the productions of our ancestors, whose bold & beautiful fabrics Sir Christopher Wren viewed & reviewed with astonishment, & never mentioned without esteem.”

"He submitted a design for a new Mansion House in London in 1735, only to have it described in the ‘St. James’s Evening Post’ as ‘a curious grotesque temple, in a taste entirely new…’ Undeterred, he pursued his ideas of “arti-natural” gardens, linked with what is now termed “Batty Langley Gothic” architecture. He felt that his writhing shapes & flowing designs were ‘exceeding beautiful in building, as in ceilings, parquetting, painting, paving, &c.’


"He published numerous tomes on building techniques, & on architecture under such inspiring titles as ‘The Builders Compleat Assistant’ (1738); ‘The City & Country Builder’s & Workman’s Treasury of Designs’ (1740); ‘The Builder’s Jewel, or the Youth’s Instructor & Workman’s Remembrancer’ (1741); ‘Ancient Architecture, restored & improved, by a great variety of Grand & Useful Designs’ & in 1748 ‘A Survey of Westminster Bridge, as ’tis now Sinking into Ruin.’


"In general though, he was ridiculed for his designs for buildings. But for his gardening book he deserves to be remembered. ‘Arti-natural’ may not have been revolutionary but at least Langley encouraged trees to have a natural form rather than being pollarded out of existence. Look at a serpentine shape or a paisley design, & remember Batty Langley with affection.


"He died at his Soho home in London in 1751."

Sunday, February 10, 2019

1622 Frans Hals c 1582-1666 - Couples in Gardens

1622 Frans Hals (Dutch artist, c 1582-1666) Married Couple in a Garden

1622 Frans Hals (Dutch artist, c 1582-1666) Couple in a Garden Detail

Friday, February 8, 2019