Garnitures at the V&A

Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust HousesV&A Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, until 30th April 2017

Set of Chinese porcelain vases, 17th century, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Set of Chinese porcelain vases, 17th century,
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This exhibition is a partnership between the National Trust and the V&A and is well worth visiting.

It consists of a mixture of ceramic and silver vases that truly do reflect the wealth and taste of their original owners in the 17th to 19th centuries when the garniture had its heyday. Garnitures usually consist of an odd number of vases which are united by their decoration and they would be displayed symmetrically on mantelpieces, on door cases and on the top of furniture.

Covered pot-pourri vase from Upton House, Warwickshire, soft-paste porcelain, 1762 – 64, Chelsea factory, London, England. © National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

Covered pot-pourri vase from Upton House, Warwickshire, soft-paste porcelain, 1762 – 64, Chelsea factory, London, England.
© National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

The first such sets were made up from pieces of Chinese porcelain in the 17thcentury but eventually they were made as sets in both China and Japan and of course from the 18th century onwards by British and European porcelain factories.  The decline in the popularity of garnitures meant that many were split up – a Sevres set from Upton House proves this point – and so complete sets are rare nowadays.

Three-piece ‘Hamilton’ vases from Saltram, Devon, about 1770 – 80, black basalt, Wedgwood and Bentley, Etruria, Staffordshire, England. © National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

Three-piece ‘Hamilton’ vases from Saltram, Devon, about 1770 – 80, black basalt, Wedgwood and Bentley, Etruria, Staffordshire, England.
© National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

The National Trust’s External Adviser on Ceramics, Patricia Ferguson, who has worked alongside the V&A’s senior curator Reino Liefkes, said: : “This display promises to change the way you see historic vases; they were almost always designed to be part of a set”.  She is also the author of the accompanying V&A and National Trust exhibition book: Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust Houses.

Five-piece chimney garniture from Blickling Hall, about 1804 – 7, soft-paste porcelain, Barr, Flight and Barr factory, Worcester, England. © National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

Five-piece chimney garniture from Blickling Hall, about 1804 – 7, soft-paste porcelain, Barr, Flight and Barr factory, Worcester, England.
© National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/garnitures

A Cautionary Tale

Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London SE 10, until 17th April 2017

'Emma as La Penserosa', 1791-92 by Sir Thomas Lawrence ® The Abercorn Heirloom Settlement Trustees; Bryan F. Rutledge B.A.

‘Emma as La Penserosa’, 1791-92 by Sir Thomas Lawrence
® The Abercorn Heirloom Settlement Trustees; Bryan F. Rutledge B.A.

This is an exhibition that has exceeded my expectations and one I had been looking forward to since I learnt of it.

It is I think very much a story of a beautiful young woman that has resonance today – a tale of humble beginnings, of becoming a “celebrity” but ending in disillusionment and obscurity.

Berlin service: Teapot depicting Emma Hamilton ® National Maritime Museum, London. From the Clive Richards Collection

Berlin service: Teapot depicting Emma Hamilton
® National Maritime Museum, London. From the Clive Richards Collection

Born in Cheshire in 1765, daughter of a struggling blacksmith Emma came to London in her thirteenth year and became part of the Covent Garden world which mixed high society with the sexual underworld. Aged sixteen she became the mistress of Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh and as readers of my blog ‘Unravelling Uppark’ (06/06/14) will know Emma danced naked on the dining room table there to entertain his friends. However when she fell pregnant Fetherstonhaugh chucked her out and she returned to Cheshire and gave birth to a daughter.

'Emma dancing the tarantella' c.1791 by William Lock ® The Jean Kislak Collection

‘Emma dancing the tarantella’ c.1791 by William Lock
® The Jean Kislak Collection

Fortunately she had made the acquaintance of Charles Greville, a son of the Earl of Warwick, and he took her under his wing, installing her in his house just off the Edgware Road in London, an area more rural then than it is today. It was there that Greville introduced her to the painter George Romney.  She was, as the wonderful paintings shown in the exhibition amply prove, a perfect Muse for the artist.

Emma as Circe, 1782, by George Romney ® The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Emma as Circe, 1782, by George Romney
® The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

She also met Greville’s uncle Sir William Hamilton and it was on to him that Greville passed Emma when he tired of her by sending her to Naples where Hamilton was British envoy. Naples was a major stopping-off place on the Grand Tour and thanks to Hamilton’s patient teaching and her own talent she created her famous “Attitudes” which brought scenes from paintings and sculpture to life. She achieved even more of a celebrity status which was crowned when Hamilton married her in 1791.

Gold and micro-mosaic necklace belonging to Emma ® National Maritime Museum, London

Gold and micro-mosaic necklace belonging to Emma
® National Maritime Museum, London

Her new position as an envoy’s wife meant that she had to play a political role too and in this Emma was fortunate that the Neapolitan King’s wife Maria Carolina, a sister of Marie Antoinette, liked her and made a confidante of her.

Horatio Nelson, 1758 -1805, Vice Admiral of the White by Johann Heinrich Schmidt ® National Maritime Museum, London

Horatio Nelson, 1758 -1805, Vice Admiral of the White by Johann Heinrich Schmidt
® National Maritime Museum, London

However in 1798 the arrival of Admiral Nelson, following his victory at the Battle of the Nile, was the beginning of what would be one of the great love affairs of history.  It was one fraught with dangers as her infidelity rocked society and it was not helped by Emma’s giving birth to Nelson’s child whom they named Horatia.

Emma, Lady Hamilton, 1761 - 1815 by Johann Heinrich Schmidt ® National Maritime Museum, London

Emma, Lady Hamilton, 1761 – 1815 by Johann Heinrich Schmidt
® National Maritime Museum, London

They acquired a house at Merton in Surrey and set up home their but because of Nelson’s naval duties he was frequently away.  His death at the Battle of Trafalgar 21st October 1805 brought it all crashing down. Life became difficult in every way and her attempts to maintain her lifestyle and position led to her being imprisoned for debt in 1813 in the King’s Bench Prison.  Thanks to funds being provided she was released but had to flee to Calais to escape her creditors and it was there in January 1815 she died after months of illness in the same poverty as she had been born.

Gold 'fede' or betrothal ring, one of a pair exchanged by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson and Emma ® National Maritime Museum, London

Gold ‘fede’ or betrothal ring, one of a pair exchanged by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson and Emma
® National Maritime Museum, London

This somewhat salutary tale is beautifully told through pictures, objects, jewellery, furniture, prints, costumes and personal letters.  It really does give a wonderful insight into her life and times and explains why she remains so beguiling a figure. She is one of those people from history you would really want to meet!

'View of Merton House showing Lady Hamilton and Horatia in the grounds' ® National Maritime Museum, London

‘View of Merton House showing Lady Hamilton and Horatia in the grounds’
® National Maritime Museum, London

 

http://www.rmg.co.uk/emmahamilton

The 2017 Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair

The Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair, supported by Wetherell and NFU Mutual Godalming, Westminster Ballroom, London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London W1, 5th – 8thJanuary 2017

Rare French Empire ormolu mantle timepiece of chariot form with white enamel dial forming the wheel, surmounted by Amour being pulled by two dogs, c1810, from Richard Price.

Rare French Empire ormolu mantle timepiece of chariot form with white enamel dial forming the wheel, surmounted by Amour being pulled by two dogs, c1810,
from Richard Price.

I always enjoy both writing about and visiting this fair as it makes a great way of starting a new year.  There is a tempting mixture of paintings, watercolours, silver, jewellery, sculpture, clocks and watches, glass, ceramics, rugs and 20th century design to be seen and purchased.

Allium flower hand-forged galvanised steel with blown glass, 2.5m or 3.2m, from QEST scholar Jenny Pickford,

Allium flower
hand-forged galvanised steel with blown glass, 2.5m or 3.2m,
from QEST scholar Jenny Pickford,

This year the fair will also be showing the skills and works of craft scholars from QEST (The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust). So you may well be digging deep into your pockets!

Egyptian Amulet of Bes, 2cm long x 1.9cm wide, Ptolemaic period, 332–30 BC, from Ancient & Oriental

Egyptian Amulet of Bes,
2cm long x 1.9cm wide, Ptolemaic period, 332–30 BC,
from Ancient & Oriental

 

Spanish, Andalusian School, early 19th century Spanish Guerilla Encampment, Peninsular War oil on panel 23½" x 31½" Original Spanish, early 19th century, carved and indistinctly signed G.... ? on a rock lower centre. Indistinctly inscribed in Spanish on an envelope lower centre, the last word possibly being "Linares". Original Spanish, early 19th century, carved and gilded frame, from Atelier

Spanish, Andalusian School, early 19th century
Spanish Guerilla Encampment, Peninsular War
oil on panel
23½” x 31½”
Original Spanish, early 19th century, carved and indistinctly signed G…. ? on a rock lower centre.
Indistinctly inscribed in Spanish on an envelope lower centre, the last word possibly being “Linares”.
Original Spanish, early 19th century, carved and gilded frame,
from Atelier

 

Gilt decorated amethyst decanter with matching stopper, Russian, c1790, from Fileman Antiques

Gilt decorated amethyst decanter with matching stopper,
Russian, c1790,
from Fileman Antiques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Harcourt Tiara, 18ct yellow gold and platinum tiara entirely set with fine white diamonds, c1900, from The Gilded Lily

The Harcourt Tiara,
18ct yellow gold and platinum tiara entirely set with fine white diamonds, c1900,
from The Gilded Lily

 

Mid 19th century walnut stool with tapestry top on raised cabriole legs, c1860, from S&S Timms Antiques

Mid 19th century walnut stool with tapestry top on raised cabriole legs, c1860,
from S&S Timms Antiques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lincs sycamore and acrylic colours, 7'' high x4''x4'' from QEST scholar Joey Richardson

Lincs
sycamore and acrylic colours, 7” high x4”x4”
from QEST scholar Joey Richardson

 

View from the Dining Room by Susan Ryder RP NEAC oil on canvas signed 30" x 36" from Manya Igel Fine Arts

View from the Dining Room by Susan Ryder RP NEAC
oil on canvas
signed
30″ x 36″
from Manya Igel Fine Arts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temple Guardians, signed E Bouret bronze and ebonised wood, 39cm high, dated 1871 from Hickmet Fine Arts

Temple Guardians, signed E Bouret
bronze and ebonised wood, 39cm high, dated 1871 from Hickmet Fine Arts

 

A rare George III silver drum tea caddy by Andrew Fogelberg, made in London in 1773, 4.5" x 4" diameter (base), 13oz, from Mary Cooke Antiques

A rare George III silver drum tea caddy by Andrew Fogelberg, made in London in 1773,
4.5″ x 4″ diameter (base), 13oz,
from Mary Cooke Antiques

 

 

http://www.mayfairfair.com