Prized Possessions: Dutch Masterpieces from National Trust Houses, The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2, until 16th September 2018

A Magus at a Table by Jan Lievens (Leyden 1607 ¿ Amsterdam 1674)

A Magus at a Table, Jan Lievens, 1631-2 © National Trust Images – Angelo Hornak

What a glorious summer but regrettably mine was less so as for the last 8 + weeks have been lost to a persistent, debilitating infection which has taken ever stronger courses of antibiotics to overcome – so fingers crossed victory is in sight.  It has meant that I am very behind in my writing. I should perhaps remember to ‘take the waters’ when next visiting Bath!

ST KATHERINE'S CHURCH, UTRECHT by Pieter Jansz Saenredam (1597-1665), at Upton House, Warwickshire

St Catherine’s Church Utrecht, Pieter Jansz Saenredam, 1636 © National Trust Images

I have visited six of the dozen houses from which this delicious selection of Dutch paintings has been garnered but sadly, so far, not the rest of them. Seeing those pictures that I know again was very much a journey into the past because in some cases it is almost fifty years since I first saw them and yet their beauty and the skill of the artist’s use of paint – for example Ter Borch’s exquisite rendering of a dress (Polesden Lacey) or Cuyp’s Dordrecht sky (Ascott) – has kept them fresh in my mind’s eye.

SELF PORTRAIT WEARING A WHITE FEATHERED BONNET by Rembrandt van Rijn.

Self-Portrait Wearing a White Feathered Bonnet, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1635 © National Trust Images – Chris Titmus

Portraits (people and houses), landscapes, genre scenes, interiors and still-lifes are among the subjects that make up the works on view. In some cases artists collaborated such as in the landscape from Petworth where the painter Hobbema has worked with Adriaen van de Velde who contributed the figural elements to the composition.

The Duet ('Le corset bleu') by Gabriel Metsu (Leyden 1629 ¿ Amsterdam 1669)

The Duet, Gabriel Metsu, 1660-7 © National Trust Images – Christopher Hurst

It is a wonderful journey back into the Dutch 17th century and it makes it easy to understand why ever since they were first painted such works have been so avidly collected and admired, including by  Sir Thomas William Holburne, founder of the Museum.

 

After the Holburne the exhibition will move on to the Mauritshuis in The Hague in October 2018, and then come to Petworth House in West Sussex in January 2019.

 

 

www.holburne.org

Chippendale at Wilton

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South East facade of Wilton House. Copyright (c) Wilton House

Wilton House, near Salisbury, is an absolute delight combining architecture, fine interiors, paintings, sculpture and furniture with elegant gardens and the earliest Palladian Bridge in England. It has been the home of the Herbert family (Earls of Pembroke) since 1544.  It is famous for its suite of State Rooms which were designed by Inigo Jones and Isaac de Caux in the 17th century – many of you will recognise the Double Cube Room which has been used as a location for many films and television programmes but nothing quite prepares you for the wow factor of entering it for the first time.

In celebration of the Chippendale tercentenary the Earl and Countess have commissioned a small booklet that highlights Chippendale pieces within the house, including those which can be firmly attributed to his workshop. You will see many of these as you go around the house.

Chippendale at Wilton

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The 10th Earl commissioned the architect Sir William Chambers to rebuild his London home, Pembroke House and also to provide designs for rooms. It is known from Chippendale’s Director that he provided furniture for these rooms.

Sadly the family papers no longer have any itemized accounts from Chippendale but a receipt for fifteen hundred pound eleven shillings certainly indicate the furniture maker had had a major commission. Other bills show that the firm was still patronised after Chippendale’s death when it was being run by his son Thomas Chippendale the Younger.

Among the items that are definitely ascribed to Chippendale’s workshop are the pair of bookcases in the Large Smoking Room which are en suite with the superb ‘Violin’ bookcase which can be seen in the view of the room. Elsewhere chairs, sofas, hall lanterns, tables, picture frames and pelmet boards remind us of Chippendale’s great design talent.

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The Large Smoking Room at Wilton House. Copyright (c) Will Pryce.

All in all I think the best word to sum up Wilton House is sublime!

 

http://www.wiltonhouse.co.uk/

Thomas Chippendale 1718-1779

Thomas Chippendale 1718-1779: a celebration of British craftsmanship & design, until 9th June 2018, Leeds City Museum

Free admission

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Chippendale Exhibition Leeds City Museum 2018

It is with a deep chagrin that I very belatedly write about this major exhibition celebrating this great English furniture maker and designer. I had hoped that I would have been able to visit Leeds to see the show but personal reasons intervene.

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Chippendale Exhibition Leeds City Museum 2018

There is no better place than Leeds to see this show as Chippendale was born just down the road at Otley in 1718 – I well remember seeing the commemorative sign there when I lived in Leeds many years ago. I hope that this selection of images will entice you to dash up to Leeds or look at the tercentenary website where many of the houses associated with his oeuvre are mentioned.

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Chippendale Exhibition Leeds City Museum 2018

I shall be reviewing the catalogue published to celebrate this tercentenary and exhibition and also writing about Wilton House where Chippendale furniture bought by the Earls of Pembroke is highlighted in a special publication.

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Chippendale Exhibition Leeds City Museum 2018

 

 

http://chippendale300.co.uk/exhibition/

The Salisbury Museum: Goliath, until 1st June 2018

Goliath 5 April 2018The name Goliath conjures up various images in one’s mind – large imposing, strong, unbeatable – and therefore you could be excused for envisioning a statue even larger than Michelangelo’s ‘David’ in Florence. Well the celebrated sculptor Johannes von Stumm, a former President of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, offers a different approach.

Goliath 1 May 2018His ‘Goliath’ stands on the ‘Wessex Plinth’ outside Salisbury Museum and its form recalls the standing stones of this area. It is of West Country granite combined with a glass head which recalls the actual fragility of Goliath against the stone from David’s sling.

Politics is a vocation where one can see “Goliath-like” figures rise to an almost unassailable prominence and then as most recently seen in this Government be brought down quickly but fortunately not as permanently as David did so many centuries ago.

 

 

www.salisburymuseum.org.uk 

www.vonstumm.co.uk

www.gardengallery.uk.com

BOOK REVIEW: Longford Castle

Longford Castle: The Treasures & The Collectors

Amelia Smith

 ISBN: 9781910787687

Publisher: Unicorn

£40.00

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I first learnt about Longford Castle and some of its treasures in an article in the 1968 Country Life Annual and have wanted to know more about it ever since. Well now both you and I can find out more in this fascinating book which is both well-written and well-illustrated.

 

Dating from Elizabethan times the house was acquired by the Bouverie family in 1717 and the story of how they built up the outstanding art collection which consists of Old Masters and family portraits – think Holbein, Claude, Reynolds and Gainsborough – is skilfully interwoven with the tale of the furnishings and decorations of the castle’s rooms which form the backdrop to the paintings.  It really is a celebration and a history of this great collection and house and is such a delight. It is a book I will return to time and time again!

 

http://unicornpublishing.org/

Labour to scrap Westminster Council’s tall building plans if elected in May

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Westminster Labour Group are committing to scrapping the Conservative Council’s proposed approach to tall buildings if Labour are elected to run Westminster at the May 3rd Council Elections.

In March 2017 Westminster Council launched a consultation on its plans entitled Building height: Getting the right kind of growth for Westminster where it extolled the potential benefits of increasing the number of tall buildings across Westminster. After initial resident anger the Council has delayed coming forward with its final plans as part of the delayed Westminster City Plan process- the results of which risk not being announced before the election.

Westminster Labour is open to exploring increased density or the addition of one or two floors to existing buildings in appropriate locations if such development delivers clear benefits for local residents. However it is strongly opposed to the elements of the Council’s current approach that could see the spread of…

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Interesting reading!

Labour believes that under Conservative control Westminster Council has put the needs of property developers first for far too long. For decades they have let developers get away with building far fewer ‘affordable’ homes than required under Westminster’s planning policy, they have pushed through controversial schemes and promoted an approach to architecture based on the […]

via Westminster Labour pledge to clean up the planning system by ending hospitality from developers — labourwestminster