Thursday, October 31, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

William Hogarth (1697-1764) A Fishing Party in the garden.  And, of course, a dog is in attendance.

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 early 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.   Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & colonial 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, October 30, 2019

Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione's 1688-1766 Western-style gardens in China -


Giuseppe Castiglione (Jesuit Italian artist, 1688-1766) Guanshuifa zhengmian, view upon the Great Waters, front.

Giuseppe Castiglione (Italian artist, 1688-1766), was a Jesuit lay brother who served as a missionary in China, where he became a painter at the court of the emperor.  The Jesuits in China asked for a painter to be sent to the imperial court in Beijing.   Castiglione volunteered; and in 1715, the 27-year- old Castiglione arrived in China.  

Emperor Quianlong (Ch'ien Lung) enhanced the vast Summer Palace region in Beijing by having Castiglione design gardens & buildings for the Yuanmingyuan or Old Summer Palace. Castiglione designed Western-Style buildings in the imperial gardens of the Old Summer Palace.  Between 1747-1759, Castiglione’s designs for the Yuen-Ming Yuen, Garden of Perfect Clarity, both the buildings & gardens, were presented to the Emperor for approval & execution. The gardens were set in the midst of a multitude of jets of water, cascades and fountains. Unfortunately, French & English forces plundered Yuanmingyuan in 1860 and only ruins remain. 

Working under the Chinese name Lang Shining, Castiglione served at the Qing court for 51 years, spanning the 3 emperors of the Kangxi, Yongzheng & Qianlong periods, before he died in 1766.   

See

A Suite of Twenty Engravings of the Yuan Ming-Yuan Summer Palaces and Gardens of the Chinese Emperor Ch'ien Lung. (published 1786) at NYPL Digital Gallery.

Twenty views of the European Palaces in the Garden of Perfect Brightness


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

William Hogarth (1697-1764) The Fermor Children A Children's Tea Party in a garden.  1730. Practicing for a socially proper adulthood including tea, flower garlands, & garden urns.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described an ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual or a family.  With no social media or digitally aided 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 early 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.   Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & colonial 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, but "more natural" 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 really 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, October 28, 2019

Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione's 1688-1766 Western-style gardens in China -


Giuseppe Castiglione (Jesuit Italian artist, 1688-1766) Fangwaiguan zhengmian, main façade of Belvedere.

Giuseppe Castiglione (Italian artist, 1688-1766), was a Jesuit lay brother who served as a missionary in China, where he became a painter at the court of the emperor.  The Jesuits in China asked for a painter to be sent to the imperial court in Beijing.   Castiglione volunteered; and in 1715, the 27-year- old Castiglione arrived in China.  

Emperor Quianlong (Ch'ien Lung) enhanced the vast Summer Palace region in Beijing by having Castiglione design gardens & buildings for the Yuanmingyuan or Old Summer Palace. Castiglione designed Western-Style buildings in the imperial gardens of the Old Summer Palace.  Between 1747-1759, Castiglione’s designs for the Yuen-Ming Yuen, Garden of Perfect Clarity, both the buildings & gardens, were presented to the Emperor for approval & execution. The gardens were set in the midst of a multitude of jets of water, cascades and fountains. Unfortunately, French & English forces plundered Yuanmingyuan in 1860 and only ruins remain. 

Working under the Chinese name Lang Shining, Castiglione served at the Qing court for 51 years, spanning the 3 emperors of the Kangxi, Yongzheng & Qianlong periods, before he died in 1766.   

See

A Suite of Twenty Engravings of the Yuan Ming-Yuan Summer Palaces and Gardens of the Chinese Emperor Ch'ien Lung. (published 1786) at NYPL Digital Gallery.

Twenty views of the European Palaces in the Garden of Perfect Brightness



Sunday, October 27, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

1742 William Hogarth, (English artist, 1697-1764) & George Lambert (English artist, 1700-1765) Family with Son & Dog in the Garden at Chiswick House.  Another couple lounges by the side of the water below.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described an ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual or a family.  With no social media or digitally aided 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 early 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.   Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & colonial 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, but "more natural" 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 really 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, October 26, 2019

Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione's 1688-1766 Western-style gardens in China -


Giuseppe Castiglione (Jesuit Italian artist, 1688-1766) Xieqiqu beimian, north façade of Palace of the Delights of Harmony

Giuseppe Castiglione (Italian artist, 1688-1766), was a Jesuit lay brother who served as a missionary in China, where he became a painter at the court of the emperor.  The Jesuits in China asked for a painter to be sent to the imperial court in Beijing.   Castiglione volunteered; and in 1715, the 27-year- old Castiglione arrived in China.  

Emperor Quianlong (Ch'ien Lung) enhanced the vast Summer Palace region in Beijing by having Castiglione design gardens & buildings for the Yuanmingyuan or Old Summer Palace. Castiglione designed Western-Style buildings in the imperial gardens of the Old Summer Palace.  Between 1747-1759, Castiglione’s designs for the Yuen-Ming Yuen, Garden of Perfect Clarity, both the buildings & gardens, were presented to the Emperor for approval & execution. The gardens were set in the midst of a multitude of jets of water, cascades and fountains. Unfortunately, French & English forces plundered Yuanmingyuan in 1860 and only ruins remain. 

Working under the Chinese name Lang Shining, Castiglione served at the Qing court for 51 years, spanning the 3 emperors of the Kangxi, Yongzheng & Qianlong periods, before he died in 1766.   

See

A Suite of Twenty Engravings of the Yuan Ming-Yuan Summer Palaces and Gardens of the Chinese Emperor Ch'ien Lung. (published 1786) at NYPL Digital Gallery.

Twenty views of the European Palaces in the Garden of Perfect Brightness



Friday, October 25, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

1731 William Hogarth, (English artist, 1697-1764) Ashley Cowper with his Wife and Daughter and Dog spending an evening in a garden.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described an ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual or a family.  With no social media or digitally aided 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 early 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.   Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & colonial 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, but "more natural" 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 really 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, October 24, 2019

Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione's 1688-1766 Western-style gardens in China - elaborate garden & gate


Giuseppe Castiglione (Jesuit Italian artist, 1688-1766) Xianfashanmen zhengmian, façade of gate leading to Hill of Perspective

Giuseppe Castiglione (Italian artist, 1688-1766), was a Jesuit lay brother who served as a missionary in China, where he became a painter at the court of the emperor.  The Jesuits in China asked for a painter to be sent to the imperial court in Beijing.   Castiglione volunteered; and in 1715, the 27-year- old Castiglione arrived in China.  

Emperor Quianlong (Ch'ien Lung) enhanced the vast Summer Palace region in Beijing by having Castiglione design gardens & buildings for the Yuanmingyuan or Old Summer Palace. Castiglione designed Western-Style buildings in the imperial gardens of the Old Summer Palace.  Between 1747-1759, Castiglione’s designs for the Yuen-Ming Yuen, Garden of Perfect Clarity, both the buildings & gardens, were presented to the Emperor for approval & execution. The gardens were set in the midst of a multitude of jets of water, cascades and fountains. Unfortunately, French & English forces plundered Yuanmingyuan in 1860 and only ruins remain. 

Working under the Chinese name Lang Shining, Castiglione served at the Qing court for 51 years, spanning the 3 emperors of the Kangxi, Yongzheng & Qianlong periods, before he died in 1766.   

See

A Suite of Twenty Engravings of the Yuan Ming-Yuan Summer Palaces and Gardens of the Chinese Emperor Ch'ien Lung. (published 1786) at NYPL Digital Gallery.

Twenty views of the European Palaces in the Garden of Perfect Brightness



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

George Stubbs (1724-1806) 'Eclipse' with William Wildman and His Sons John and James 1769.  In th 18C, "when all of England was crazy about thoroughbred horseracing, & everyone from aristocrats to commoners felt the thrill of placing bets on the fastest horses, a prosperous cattle salesman named William Wildman became the proud owner of a young horse named Eclipse. & what a horse he was! In 18 races, no horse was ever able to overtake him.  They say that the chestnut-colored foal with the streak of white on his face was born in the royal stables of a duke during a rare eclipse of the sun on April 1, 1764. After the duke’s death, the colt was sold at auction to Mr. Wildman, who arranged to have George Stubbs paint a portrait of his splendid horse. Seated in front of a dark oak tree, Mr. Wildman looks as small as his young sons, while his horse stands tall & strong against a bright sky. The white marking or “stocking” on Eclipse’s right hind leg makes him look like part of the family. Eclipse was an unruly temperamental horse who galloped with his nose so close to the ground that he was almost impossible to ride.  Nevertheless, his extraordinary speed, strength, & stamina aroused the betting instincts of an Irish adventurer & gambler named Dennis O’Kelly, who realized that Eclipse could make him a lot of money. Soon after purchasing Eclipse from Mr. Wildman, O’Kelly placed his bets on a four-mile race, boldly predicting “Eclipse first, the rest nowhere.” Sure enough, Eclipse won that race, leaving all of his challengers more than 240 yards behind, a distance officially called nowhere. Today nearly 95% of all thoroughbred racehorses are direct descendants of Eclipse."  See: Art To Go blog of the Baltimore Museum of Art May, 2013

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, October 22, 2019

Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione's 1688-1766 Western-style gardens in China - Garden at entrance to Palace


Giuseppe Castiglione (Jesuit Italian artist, 1688-1766) Haiyantang dongmian, east façade of Palace of Calm Seas

Giuseppe Castiglione (Italian artist, 1688-1766), was a Jesuit lay brother who served as a missionary in China, where he became a painter at the court of the emperor.  The Jesuits in China asked for a painter to be sent to the imperial court in Beijing.   Castiglione volunteered; and in 1715, the 27-year- old Castiglione arrived in China.  

Emperor Quianlong (Ch'ien Lung) enhanced the vast Summer Palace region in Beijing by having Castiglione design gardens & buildings for the Yuanmingyuan or Old Summer Palace. Castiglione designed Western-Style buildings in the imperial gardens of the Old Summer Palace.  Between 1747-1759, Castiglione’s designs for the Yuen-Ming Yuen, Garden of Perfect Clarity, both the buildings & gardens, were presented to the Emperor for approval & execution. The gardens were set in the midst of a multitude of jets of water, cascades and fountains. Unfortunately, French & English forces plundered Yuanmingyuan in 1860 and only ruins remain. 

Working under the Chinese name Lang Shining, Castiglione served at the Qing court for 51 years, spanning the 3 emperors of the Kangxi, Yongzheng & Qianlong periods, before he died in 1766.   

See

A Suite of Twenty Engravings of the Yuan Ming-Yuan Summer Palaces and Gardens of the Chinese Emperor Ch'ien Lung. (published 1786) at NYPL Digital Gallery.

Twenty views of the European Palaces in the Garden of Perfect Brightness



Monday, October 21, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

George Stubbs (1724-1806) Captain Samuel Sharpe Pocklington with His Wife, Pleasance and possibly His Sister, Frances 1769.  The principal sitters are Captain Samuel Sharpe, who assumed the name & arms of Pocklington on his marriage in 1769, & his wife, Pleasance Pykarell, who had changed her name to Pocklington as a condition of inheriting the manor of Chelsworth, Suffolk, from her cousin, Robert Pocklington. The identity of the lady on the left is perhaps Samuel's unmarried sister, Frances. The picture is a marriage portrait. Pleasance is dressed in her white wedding gown & is offering a posy of flowers to her husband's horse. Samuel, standing elegantly cross legged, is wearing the uniform of the Third Foot (later the Scots) Guards, in which he had served since 1760 & from which he seems to have resigned shortly after his marriage. As so often with Stubbs, the figures & horse are contained within a gentle, rhythmical, horizontal design, equally characteristically echoed & continued in a further plane by the dark trees that fill the picture surface.  The whole composition has an air of artificiality, exemplified by Pleasance's pose.

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, October 20, 2019

Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione's 1688-1766 Western-style gardens in China - E Reservoir with topiaries


Giuseppe Castiglione (Jesuit Italian artist, 1688-1766) Xushuilou dongmian, east façade of Reservoir

Giuseppe Castiglione (Italian artist, 1688-1766), was a Jesuit lay brother who served as a missionary in China, where he became a painter at the emperors' courts.  In the early 18C, the Jesuit missionaries in China requested Rome to send a painter to the imperial court in Beijing.   Castiglione volunteered; and in 1715, the 27-year-old Jesuit brother arrived in China.  

During Castiglione's lengthy stay in China, Emperor Quianlong (Ch'ien Lung) decided to enhance the vast Summer Palace region in Beijing by having Castiglione design gardens & buildings for the Yuanmingyuan or Old Summer Palace. Castiglione designed Western-Style buildings in the imperial gardens of the Old Summer Palace.  Between 1747-1759, Castiglione’s designs for the Yuen-Ming Yuen, Garden of Perfect Clarity, both the buildings & gardens, were presented to the Emperor for approval & execution. The gardens were set in the midst of a multitude of jets of water, cascades, and fountains. Unfortunately, French & English forces plundered Yuanmingyuan in 1860, and only ruins remain. 

Working under the Chinese name Lang Shining, Castiglione served at the Qing court for 51 years, spanning the 3 emperors of the Kangxi, Yongzheng & Qianlong periods, before he died in 1766.  

See 

 A Suite of Twenty Engravings of the Yuan Ming-Yuan Summer Palaces and Gardens of the Chinese Emperor Ch'ien Lung. (published 1786) at NYPL Digital Gallery.

Twenty views of the European Palaces in the Garden of Perfect Brightness


Saturday, October 19, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

George Stubbs (1724-1806) An Unidentified Gentleman Driving a Lady in a Phaeton 1787.  Stubbs was classified in his lifetime as a sporting painter, & as such was excluded from full membership of the rather snooty Royal Academy. He is best remembered for his paintings of horses & his conversation pieces which also contained some fine horses. In the 1740s, he lived in York & supplied some intimate illustrations for a treatise on midwifery. He settled in 1750s Lincolnshire, where he obsessively researched his major publication, "The Anatomy of the Horse." Early clients for his sporting & racing paintings included many of the noblemen who founded the Jockey Club, & many who wished they were members.

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, October 18, 2019

A military encampment at the Garden at the British Museum 1780


View of the Emcampment in the Museum Garden. August 5th, 1780. by James Fittler Published by George Knowles (after Paul Sandby) 1780


Thursday, October 17, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

George Stubbs (1724-1806) 'A Conversation' Members of the Milbanke and Melbourne Families with Horses & Dog 1770.  Stubbs was classified in his lifetime as a sporting painter, & as such was excluded from full membership of the rather snooty Royal Academy. He is best remembered for his paintings of horses & his conversation pieces which also contained some fine horses. In the 1740s, he lived in York & supplied some intimate illustrations for a treatise on midwifery. He settled in 1750s Lincolnshire, where he obsessively researched his major publication, "The Anatomy of the Horse." Early clients for his sporting & racing paintings included many of the noblemen who founded the Jockey Club, & many who wished they were members.

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, October 16, 2019

The Garden of the British Museum, Montague House c 1780


Paul Sandby (English map-maker turned landscape painter, 1731-1809) The Garden of the British Museum, Montague House c. 1780

Montagu House was the original British Museum housing the collection of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753). Sloane had bequeathed his large collection of some 71,000 objects to the king, George II, to preserve it for the nation, a gift that was accepted in June 1753. An Act of Parliament set up the British Museum, which opened to the public on 15 January 1759. Trustees had purchased in Montagu House in 1755, which had been built for Ralph Montagu, who lived there with his family.  Behind the house was a large formal garden laid out in the French style with grass, gravel walks, fountain, & ornamental sculpture.

The gardens had become neglected by the time Montagu House was purchased for the museum; and the Trustees employed a gardener, Mr Bramley, for "Rolling, Mowing, Watering, Planting, Digging, Pruning the Trees." By the end of 1755, it was reported that "The whole garden has been mowed, weeded and cleared of the Anthills; the Gravel Walks and borders restored, the Slopes made less steep and together with the borders planted; the Kitchen Garden trenched; a Tool House built in it; and the Basin repaired."  Now restored, the gardens were opened to visitors on 11 March 1757, proving so popular; that the Trustees issued season tickets for admission to the restored garden, although, like the Museum, it was admission free.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Arthur Devis (English Painter, c1712-1787) The Rookes-Leeds family

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, October 14, 2019

1756 Garden Folly - Actor David Garrick's (1717-1779) Temple to Shakespeare


Johann Joseph Zoffany (German-born artist, 1733-1810) David Garrick & his Wife by his Temple to Shakespeare at Hampton

Actor David Garrick's (1717-1779) Temple to Shakespeare is a garden folly erected in 1756, on the north bank of the River Thames at Hampton, London. It was built by Garrick to honor playwright William Shakespeare (1564-1616), whose plays Garrick performed to acclaim throughout his career. During his lifetime Garrick used it to house his extensive collection of Shakespearean memorabilia to entertain his family & guests.

View of the Seat of the late David Garrick Esqr. at Hampton, with the Temple of Shakespeare in the Garden from The Modern Universal British Traveller; or A New Complete, and Accurate Tour through England, Wales, Scotland, and the Neighbouring Islands. [London: J. Cooke] 1779. 

Garrick built the temple on land adjoining a villa, which he had bought in October 1754, to serve as his country retreat. The villa's riverside garden was separated from the main property by a road, so Garrick commissioned an elaborate grotto-tunnel under the road, illuminated by 500 lanterns, to allow him & his guests private access to the lawn from the house.

On 4 August 1755, his writer neighbor Horace Walpole (original name Horatio Walpole (1717-1797),  wrote to a friend: "I have contracted a sort of intimacy with Garrick, who is my neighbour...He is building a graceful temple to Shakespeare: I offered him this motto: Quod spiro et placeo, si placeo tuum est."  A year later, Walpole wrote in another letter: "He has built a temple to his master Shakespear [sic], and I am going to adorn the outside, since his modesty would not let me decorate it within."  Walpole donated a grove of Italian cypresses to plant in the garden.

Hampton House in Middlesex, the Seat of Mr Garrick after Metz, (1783) by John Walker, Exhibited Royal Academy 1796-1800.

The temple was widely admired in its time; & its idyllic prospect so moved Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), that he gushed to Garrick: "Ah, David, it is the leaving of such places that makes a deathbed so terrible."

One of Garrick's guests, the letter-writer Mary Granville Delany (1700-1788), described the scene at one such entertainment in a letter of 1770: "We had an excellent dinner nicely served, and then went over directly into the garden – a piece of irregular ground sloping down to the Thames, very well laid out, and planted for shade and shelter; and an opening to the river which appears beautiful from that spot, and from Shakespeare's Temple at the end of the Improvement, where we drank tea, and where there is a very fine statue of Shakespeare in white marble, and a great chair with a large carved frame, that was Shakespeare's own chair, made for him on some particular occasion, with a medallion fixed in the back. Many were the relics we saw of the favourite poet."

Daylesford View of the Seat of the late David Garrick Esqr. at Hampton

In August 1774, the temple & gardens were the centrerpiece of Garrick's elaborate silver jubilee celebrations to celebrate 25 years of marriage. The London Chronicle reported: "Last night Mr Garrick gave a splendid entertainment or Fete Champetre at his gardens at Hampton. Signior Torre conducted a most brilliant fire-work; an elegant concert of music was performed; and the company, which consisted of a great number of Nobility and Gentry, expressed the utmost satisfaction on the occasion. The temple of Shakespeare, and gardens, were illuminated with 6000 lamps, and the forge of Vulcan made a splendid appearance."

 Engraved print from Beauties of England & Wales by John John Britton (1771-1857) and E. W. Brayley.

Garrick also opened the temple & garden to the public for special occasions. Each May Day, seated on the chair accompanied by his wife, he would give the poor children of Hampton money & cakes. A woman who attended one such May Day event later recalled: "When I was called up, I took my six [children] into the Temple, where Mr Garrick was sitting by the fine bust with great cakes before him; he took down all their names, and then gave a shilling and a piece of plum-cake to every individual one; not even leaving out poor babes in their mothers' arms."


Sunday, October 13, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Gawen Hamilton (1698-1737) The Garden Produce is in as Elegant Party visits Local Greengrocer

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, October 12, 2019

1710 Greater London Garden


Studio of Marco Ricci (Venetian artist, 1676-1730) Cascade, Gardens Bushy Park, a Baroque-style garden of pools, cascades, basins & a canal, that together originally extended almost 1km across the northern part of Bushy Park. The Water Gardens boast a number of grottoes, 4 grand pools, & a cascade.

In 1729, the garden designer, Stephen Switzer, wrote: "Without doubt, one of the best works of that kind in England, and perhaps as good as any else where."  

These gardens were built for Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, who lived at Upper Lodge and was keeper of Bushy Park from 1709-1715. He was a career politician who created the joint stock company that was to become the Bank of England. He was a friend of Sir Isaac Newton and part of a circle of writers that included John Dryden and William Congreve.   

Halifax diverted the Longford River into the upper pond, which fed the cascade and the other water features. The Longford River is an artificial waterway, created for King Charles l in 1638-9 to bring water from The River Colne at Longford to Hampton Court. 

Samuel Molyneux, noted in 1714, about the Cascade,  "Not very high but little and yet beautifully dispos'd so as to fall between two fine pieces of Grotto Work where are places left for Paintings representing two Caves in which the little walks round the Basin of the Cascade and the Paintings are removable so as to be taken away in Winter." 

Stephen Switzer wrote about the Water Gardens in 1729, "This very handsome rural Design is supply'd by a Branch of the River Colne; which, though not affording a perpetual Current, yet is never wanting to give Spectators a peculiar Pleasure. The design is so well known, that I need not expatiate or enlarge upon it; but is, however, of so rude an' rustick a Manner that it may well serve as a Patten or Model to any that shall be disposed to make use of Water Works." 


Friday, October 11, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Francis Wheatley (1747-1801) The Wilkinson Family & their Dog.

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, October 10, 2019

1712 Gardens at Berkley Castle the seat of the Earle of Berkley


Berkley Castle the seat of the Earle of Berkley Johannes Kip (1653-1722) The Ancient & Present State of Gloucestershire, pub by Sir Robert Atkyns 1712.

Berkeley Castle is in the town of Berkeley, Gloucestershire. The castle has remained within the Berkeley family, since they reconstructed it in the 12C, except for a period of royal ownership by the Tudors. It is traditionally believed to be the scene of the murder of King Edward II in 1327.  The first castle at Berkeley was a motte-and-bailey, built around 1067 by William FitzOsbern shortly after the Conquest. This was subsequently held by 3 generations of the Berkeley family.  In 1153–54, Fitzharding received a royal charter from King Henry II giving him permission to rebuild the castle.  Fitzharding built the circular shell keep during 1153–56, probably on the site of the former motte. The building of the curtain wall followed, probably during 1160–90.  Much of the rest of the castle is 14C.  Gardens in this depiction are primarily utilitarian providing vegetables & fruits to the owners.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Francis Wheatley (1747-1801) The Oliver and Ward Families; and, of course, a dog is in attendance. c 1778

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, October 7, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Francis Wheatley (1747-1801) The Browne Family fishing & sketching at the Garden Lake

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, October 6, 2019

1720 English House & Grounds


1720 Unknown artist, View of the South Aspect of Belton House, Lincolnshire, with the House Porter plus a deer park, swans, dogs, a hunt, & a carriage.


Saturday, October 5, 2019

18C Personal Branding - Garden Conversation Pieces

Charles Philips (1708–1747) Thomas Hill (Harwood) (1693–1782), and His First Family

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 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.