Friday, February 28, 2020

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany, (1733-1810) The Drummond Family (and dog) 1769.  The Yale Center for British Art tells us that of all the major artists working in 18C England, none explored more inventively the complexities of Georgian society & British imperial rule than Johan Zoffany (1733–1810). Born near Frankfurt, Zoffany trained as an artist in Germany & Italy. In 1760 he moved to London, where he adapted brilliantly to the indigenous art culture & patterns of patronage, creating virtuoso portraits & subject pictures that proved to be highly desirable to a wide range of patrons. Zoffany’s work provides an invaluable & distinctive appraisal of key British institutions: the art academy, the Court, the theatre, the families of the aristocracy & bourgeoisie, & the burgeoning empire. Despite achieving considerable success in England, Zoffany remained in many ways an outsider, scrutinizing British society & its customs & mores. Restless & drawn to a peripatetic existence, he traveled for extended periods in his native Germany, Austria, Italy, & India. After his death there was no move to situate Zoffany as one of the key figures in the burgeoning British school of art; this exhibition aimed to correct that oversight & demonstrated his central importance to the artistic culture of 18C Britain & Europe.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

1702 English Gardens - Staunton Harold in the County of Leicester. England


Staunton Harold in the County of Leicester. EnglandLeonard Knyff (1652-1722) and Johannes Kip (1653-1722) 1709 Britannia Illustrata 1724 ed pub by Joseph Smith 

Parks & Gardens UK tells us that Staunton appears in the Domesday book as one of 210 "lordships" granted to Henry de Ferraris by William of Normandy, after the Conquest.  It was then ‘enfeoffed' (leased) to a feudal Saxon underling, Harold de Lecha.  It became known as Staunton Harold to distinguish it from other Stauntons (stony towns) throughout the country.

There was a deer park at Staunton by 1324 & later, two - the Little Park & the Great Park.  The Little Park is believed to have occupied the present parkland & therefore is of particular importance at Staunton Harold as a continuous feature of the landscape from that date.

In 1423, Ralph Shirley, one of Henry V's leading commanders at Agincourt, married Margaret, Heiress of John de Staunton.  The Staunton estate was then in the ownership of the Shirley family until 1954.

There is no documentary evidence to suggest any designed landscape at Staunton Harold before the mid to late 17C, although there would have been gardens, orchards & farms to support the community associated with the house.  In 1611, George Shirley was created 1st Baronet Ferrers by James I.  In 1623, the Great Park was turned into farms.

In 1653, Sir Robert Shirley, the 4th Baronet, built a church next to the Hall.  It is a significant building as it is the only church built in England during the period of the Commonwealth. Shirley's son, who was created Baron Ferrers in 1677, & Earl Ferrers in 1711, set about "aggrandising the hotch potch of Jacobean and earlier buildings which he had inherited." He added a new north-east front to the Hall & laid out extensive formal gardens around it. The location of the Church would have dictated the position of these gardens, which might otherwise have been positioned to the south of the house.

A contemporary described Shirley as "a great improver of gardening & parking." Country Life in 1913 states that "it is probable that George London who had laid out the neighbouring gardens at Melbourne may have advised him.  London certainly knew the garden & writes in 1701 to Thomas Coke of Melbourne of two visitors setting out to see gardens & plantations proposing to see "My Lord Chesterfield's, Lord Ferrers' & the Duke of Devonshire's."

The Hall & Gardens were illustrated by Leonard Knyff (around 1702) & engraved by Kip (1706).  A 1995 report describes them from the engraving: "The main garden, terraces ranged either side of a broad axial path & with a canal across the bottom, lay north-east of the Hall.  A summerhouse at the east end of the main cross axis adjoined the west end of a predecessor of the present causeway bridge, to the south of which, past the chapel, extended the rectangular Church Pool.  West of the southern part of the Pool was a roughly square block of woodland, possibly a wilderness.  Further pools lay along the valley bottom north of the Hall gardens." 

Nichols quotes a Mr Wooley's description of the garden in 1712, from his MS History of Derbyshire as follows:  "It has a handsome new front towards the gardens... the gardens are well-watered with fountains & canals, very good aviaries, a decoy, & stations for a great many exotic fowls.  The park & woods about it are large & reach within half a mile of Caulk (sic) & a mile of Melbourne but being seated in a clay soil, it is somewhat dirty coming to it....the east end of the church abuts on a very large canal, the biggest in all the county."  According to Nichols, the gardens lie on the north west side of the house, but, in fact, they lie to the north-east "consisting of several parterres in easy descents from the house, which add a gracefulness to the one & the other."

The height of one of the fountains was enhanced by the water being thrown from & then spilled down over a prominent stone column, not unlike the giulio in the Octagon Lake at Stowe.  This can be seen on the Kip engraving.  According to Nichols, MacKay in his tour through England early in the reign of George I, calls Staunton Harold "a noble seat... & the gardens adorned with statues"  For the first half of the 18C, there were few changes.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) William Ferguson introduced as Heir to Raith 1769

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

1712 English Gardens - Upper Dowdeswell the seat of Lionel Rich Esq.


Upper Dowdeswell the seat of Lionel Rich Esq. Johannes Kip (1653-1722) The Ancient & Present State of Gloucestershire, pub by Sir Robert Atkyns 1712.  Bird's eye view of the manor house at Upper Dowdeswell, Gloucestershire; with formal gardens, vegetable gardens, & orchards.  A road passes to the right with a steep drop down to stream to the right.

Upper Dowdeswell was evidently the manor at Dowdeswell that Richard Beauchamp, perhaps the heir of Lord Beauchamp of Powicke, sold to John Carpenter, bishop of Worcester, in 1463 or 1464. The bishop's purchase was presumably part of his scheme for the re-endowment of the college of Westbury-onTrym, which held Upper Dowdeswell at the Dissolution. In 1544, the Crown granted it with the other property of Westbury college to Sir Ralph Sadler who sold it in 1549, to Richard Abington. Richard died in 1593, and his son Edmund in 1605, but Edmund's son Anthony had possession of the whole or part of the estate by 1588 and had a conveyance from his father in 1589. Anthony (d. 1631) was succeeded by his son John Abington, who in 1649, when under sequestration for royalist activities, sold the estate to Edward Rich, a lawyer. Edward died in 1681, and the estate was possibly retained by his widow Martha (d. 1684). Edward's grandson Lionel Rich held it in 1687, and at his death in 1736, was succeeded by his grandson Edward Gilbert Rich (d. 1753).


Monday, February 24, 2020

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) Warren Hastings and His Second Wife in Their Garden at Alipore 1784

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

1712 English Gardens - Shipton Moyne


Shipton Moyne the Seat of Walter Estcourt Esq Johannes Kip (1653-1722) The Ancient & Present State of Gloucestershire, pub by Sir Robert Atkyns 1712.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) Three Sons of John, 3rd Earl of Bute (and dog) 1763

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Friday, February 21, 2020

1712 English Gardens - Easington the Seat of Nathaniel Stevens Esq.


Easington the Seat of Nathaniel Stevens Esq. Johannes Kip (1653-1722) The Ancient & Present State of Gloucestershire, pub by Sir Robert Atkyns 1712.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) Three Daughters of John, 3rd Earl of Bute  The Tate tells us that John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute commissioned this portrait of 3 of his daughters as a pair with one of 3 of his sons.  The 3rd Earl was a great patron of the arts & formed an important collection, including paintings, prints & books. He was a close adviser & later favorite Prime Minister to the young King George III, although he resigned from that position in 1763, at around the time the Bute portraits were painted. Nevertheless he remained one of the most powerful aristocrats in Britain. It was probably Lord Bute who, following this commission, introduced Zoffany to the King & Queen, initiating a highly successful period of Royal patronage for the artist. In this animated portrait three of the daughters of the Earl are playing with pet squirrels. On the left is the youngest child, Lady Louisa Stuart (1757-1851), holding up a hazelnut to lure back one of the squirrels, which has become free of its tether. She wears a simple white dress with red shoes, which were fashionable attire for young girls around this date. The older girl, seated in the center dressed in an elegant coral red gown, is probably Lady Anne Stuart (1746-after 1779). Standing on the wooden garden bench & holding a string attached to the squirrel on the upper branch is Lady Caroline Stuart, (1750-1813). The girls succeeded through making "appropriate marriages" or by utilizing their good education. Louisa went on to become a much-admired writer, & her entertaining letters & biographical memoirs no doubt reflected a literary inheritance from her maternal grandmother, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Anne married in 1764, not long after the portrait was painted, & became Countess Percy & later Mrs. Andrew Corbet, while Caroline became Viscountess Carlow & Countess of Portarlington. The landscape setting for both paintings is the park at Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire, which had become a family seat in 1763. The Palladian Lodge seen on the right was probably a feature from Old Luton, destroyed when the house & grounds were later remodeled by Lord Bute. It adds a specific element to the landscape background, in contrast to Zoffany’s more usual imaginary or idealized backdrops. In his portraits of the Three Daughters of Lord Bute, the artist stresses the playful & slightly mischievous aspect of childhood, & succeeds in capturing the youngsters’ charm without undue sentiment.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

1712 English Gardens - Barrington (Park) in Gloucester, Seat of Edmund Bray, Esquire


1708-1715 House & Gardens at Barrington (Park) in the County of Gloucester Barrington the Seat of Edmond Bray Esq. Johannes Kip (1653-1722) The Ancient & Present State of Gloucestershire, pub by Sir Robert Atkyns 1712. 

Bird's eye view of Barrington Hall (Park),  in the county of Gloucester, with extensive grounds enclosed by wall; a river in foreground.  British History Online tells us that four estates in Barrington were enumerated in the Domesday Survey. The estates of Llanthony Priory in Barrington formed the manor of Great Barrington, (which the priory retained until the Dissolution. The priory was granted free warren there in 1292.  The Crown granted the manor in 1540 to John Guise of Elmore, who sold it in 1553 to Richard Monnington of Barrington and his son-in-law, Reginald Bray of Northmoor. The manor descended in the male line of the Bray family until 1735, passing from Reginald to his son Edmund (d. 1620), to Edmund's grandson Sir Giles (d. 1641), to Giles's son Sir Edmund (d. 1684), to Sir Edmund's son Reginald (d. 1688), to Reginald's son Edmund (fl. 1720).

In the mid-17C c. 35 people, including the owners of freeholds that had never been part of Great Barrington manor, held land in the open fields of Great & Little Barrington.  The open fields north of the river were two in the 16C, called Combe field & Slowe field,  and were supervised by two overseers.  Barrington Park had apparently been formed out of the open fields by 1412, when there were complaints by the copyholders that the Prior of Llanthony had deprived them of land and animals.  There may have been a deer-park as early as 1327, when an inhabitant of Great Barrington was surnamed 'at the leapgate.' One tenant was inclosing land in Great Barrington in 1567, & there appears to have been piecemeal inclosure during the next century & a half, including (to judge from the lines of former walls) the enlargement of the park. In 1704 there were still two open fields, but the process of inclosure was completed fairly soon afterwards.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) The Woodley Family (and dog)  The National Trust Collections tells us that William Woodley MP (1728-1793), the father of the group, became the Governor of the Leeward Islands for the first time (a post that he was to hold until 1771 & again from 1792 until his death). William was also Lt-Governor of Antigua (1768–88 & 1792–3). Both the motif of the greyhound (‘windhund’ in the artist's native German) coursing a hare & the relief of the Sacrifice of Iphigenia on the replica of the Medici Vase seem to be allusions to the prevailing trade wind in the West Indies. Both William Woodley & his wife (also his cousin) Frances Payne, Mrs Woodley (1737/8-1813) had colonial roots in St Kitt’s. She is holding their baby son, John Woodley (1766-1795), later Attorney-General of St Kitt's in 1826, to whom their elder daughter Frances Woodley, later Mrs Henry Bankes the younger (1760-1823), is offering a rose. The young child pointing to the greyhound is Harriet, or Hariot Woodley, who later married Thomas Pickard of Bloxworth (1765-1844) in 1788, & became an amateur artist. The young William Woodley (1762-1810), seen here chasing an insect, became President of St Kitts in 1807 & Lt Governor of Berbice in 1808.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Monday, February 17, 2020

1709 English Gardens - Williamstrip the Seat of Henry Ireton Esqr


Williamstrip the Seat of Henry Ireton Esqr Leonard Knyff (1652-1722) and Johannes Kip (1653-1722) 1709 Britannia Illustrata 1724 ed pub by Joseph Smith

Henry Ireton (c.1652-1711), of Williamstrip, was a grandson of Oliver Cromwell.  Ireton, the son of one of Cromwell’s generals, was a grandchild of the Lord Protector through his mother. Though his father, a regicide, had died in 1651, perhaps before Henry's birth, the family estates were confiscated after the Restoration & vested in the Duke of York.  After the Revolution of 1688, Ireton was taken into the royal household as an equerry to the King, with whom he served throughout the war in Holland.  Upon the death in 1692 of his father-in-law, the ex-Speaker Henry Powle, he acquired the manor of Williamstrip & other nearby properties not far from Cirencester.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) The Summer Children 1764  The children of William Brightwell Sumner (d. 1791) & his wife Catherine, daughter of John Holme of Holme Hill, Cumberland: George, William & Catherine. George was baptized in December 1760, & William & Catherine were born in 1762 & 1758 respectively.  William Brightwell Sumner was a highly successful member of the East India Company who resigned from the Council of India in 1767 & used the fortune he had built to acquire the estate of Hatchlands, East Clandon, Surrey, originally built by Adam for Admiral Edward Boscawen. He was later appointed High Sheriff of Surrey in 1777. George, his eldest son, inherited Hatchlands on his father's death. He likewise became a member of the Council of India & was successively Member of Parliament for Ilchester (1787-90); Guildford (1790-96, 1806 & 1830-1); & Surrey (1807-26). He married, on 17 November 1787, Louisa, daughter of Colonel Charles Pemble, Commander-in-Chief of the East India Company's forces at Bombay, & assumed the additional surname of Holme on inheriting Holme Hill, Cornwall, from his uncle Thomas Holme, in 1794. William, his younger brother, became a banker but died prematurely in 1796, while his sister, Catherine, is recorded as having married James Laurell in 1776.  The movements of the Sumner family between England & India are unclear. Both George & Catherine are recorded as having been baptized in Calcutta (1760 & 1759 respectively), but their parents were in England at some point in the early 1760s, William Brightwell Sumner returning to India in 1763 & his wife apparently following later in 1764.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

1712 English Gardens - Henbury the seat of Simon Harcourt Esq.


Henbury the seat of Simon Harcourt Esq. Johannes Kip (1653-1722) The Ancient & Present State of Gloucestershire, pub by Sir Robert Atkyns 1712.


Friday, February 14, 2020

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) The Shakespeare Temple at Hampton House, with Mr. and Mrs. David Garrick (and dog) 1762  Eva Maria [performing name Violette] (1724–1822), dancer, & David Garrick (1717–1779), actor & playwright, Garrick was perhaps one of the most famous men of his day & possibly the first true "self-publicist" & celebrity. An actor of skill & energy he transformed the 18C stage, revolutionizing not only theater production, but its moral & social status as well. He brought about a renaissance of the work of William Shakespeare, & his 1769 Shakespeare Jubilee, held at Stratford-upon-Avon, cemented the bard’s position as the greatest dramatist in the English language. Garrick, who had been tutored as a young man by Samuel Johnson.. His promotion of Shakespearean theater took on a more active role when he assumed the management of the Drury Lane Theatre.  In 1755, he commissioned the leading architect of the day, Robert Adam, to erect a temple in Shakespeare’s honor in the grounds of his villa at Hampton-on-Thames, for which he commissioned a life size marble statue of the bard from Louis-Fran├žois Roubiliac (now in the British museum), visible here through the open doorway. In early 1762, shortly after the painter's arrival in Britain, David Garrick commissioned Zoffany to paint a scene from his play The Farmer’s Return, with Garrick himself in the role of the Farmer & Mrs Bradshaw as the Farmer’s Wife. Garrick invited Zoffany to stay with his family at their villa in Hampton-on-Thames in the summer of 1762, a privilege he did not extend to any other major artist, & it was here that the present conversation piece was executed. Garrick & his wife are set against the backdrop of Garrick’s Shakespeare Temple (designed by Robert Adam & erected in 1755-56 in homage to the great bard). Playing among the columns of the temple is a small boy, probably Garrick’s nephew George, the son of Carrington Garrick, whilst entering from the right a servant brings out a tray of tea.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.