BOOK REVIEW: Longford Castle

Longford Castle: The Treasures & The Collectors

Amelia Smith

 ISBN: 9781910787687

Publisher: Unicorn

£40.00

Longford full jkt draft latest.indd

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/

Stepping Back in Time

Step this Way: the Red Drawing Room opened up, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire,  until 23rd October 2016

View from the Oval Hall, Waddesdon, Photo John Bigelow Taylor ©The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

View from the Oval Hall, Waddesdon,
Photo John Bigelow Taylor ©The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

This year visitors to Waddesdon retrace the footsteps of the 19th century guests of Baron Ferdinand. Entering through the main door they cross the Vestibule and enter directly into the Red Drawing Room which is the central room on the south side of the house.  Here guests would congregate before going into dinner in the Dining Room on the left-hand side.

The Red Drawing Room, Waddesdon Manor (C) The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor photo Dereck Pelling (4)

The Red Drawing Room, Waddesdon Manor
(C) The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor photo Dereck Pelling (4)

The Red Drawing Room has been brought back very much as it was in Baron Ferdinand’s time, including the tapestry covered chairs – a necessity since as many as forty guests may have been invited – and a screen decorated with monkeys.

View of the Red Drawing Room from Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s Red Book, 1897; ©The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor (2)

View of the Red Drawing Room from Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s Red Book, 1897;
©The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor (2)

In order to facilitate this year’s “change” the 17th century Savonnerie carpet which is one of the one’s ordered by Louis XIV for the Grande Galerie of the Louvre has been removed and replaced with an eyemat conservation floor that is an exact copy of the original carpet and this allows visitors to get closer to the paintings and furniture.

Savonnerie, Carpet, 1683 Photo P J Gates © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Savonnerie, Carpet, 1683
Photo P J Gates © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Looking through the windows, which now have special blinds which filter out damaging UV radiation to protect light-sensitive materials and textiles but allow light into the room, one sees the Terrace which the Baron’s guests would have been able to access through the central doorway.

The Red Drawing Room, Waddesdon Manor (C) The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor photo Derek Pelling (3)

The Red Drawing Room, Waddesdon Manor
(C) The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor photo Derek Pelling (3)

Looking out across the terrace visitors will see the parterre which this year has specially been planted with an Apollo’s head motif which was inspired by the one on the Red Drawing Room’s carpet.  Closer inspection of this attractive design can be made after you have toured the house.

Waddesdon Layout 2016 - final Carpet bedding

Waddesdon Layout 2016 – final Carpet bedding

http://www.waddesdon.org.uk

‘Experiments in Paint’

Joshua Reynolds:’Experiments in Paint’, The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1, until 7th June 2015

Joshua Reynolds,  Sir Joshua Reynolds, c. 1747-49,  © National Portrait Gallery, London

Joshua Reynolds,
Sir Joshua Reynolds, c. 1747-49,
© National Portrait Gallery, London

I have to admit to being a fan of the work of Sir Joshua Reynolds, a founder and the first president of the Royal Academy, indeed my first holiday project at school was on him. So imagine my delight in the current exhibition at the Wallace Collection and, like many others, I have visited it more than once and will certainly return again.

Joshua Reynolds,  The 4th Duke of Queensberry ('Old Q') as Earl of March, 1759  © The Wallace Collection

Joshua Reynolds,
The 4th Duke of Queensberry (‘Old Q’) as Earl of March, 1759
© The Wallace Collection

Although many of his clientele were establishment figures of the day, Reynolds was keen to experiment with materials and the methods of creating his paintings as the twenty on view, together with X-ray images and archival sources reveal. You will discover compositional changes, his sometimes unusual choices of materials and how he built up the image on canvas.

Joshua Reynolds, Studio Experiments in Colour and Media © Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Joshua Reynolds, Studio Experiments in Colour and Media
© Royal Academy of Arts, London.

As well as works from the Wallace collection there are also loans from the UK, Europe and the USA so that one can gets a wide survey of his works, whether portraits, historical or “fancy” subjects. As Reynolds said in 1784 “A room hung with pictures is a room hung with thoughts”

The Strawberry Girl Joshua Reynolds,  The Strawberry Girl, 1772-3,  © The Wallace Collection,  Photo: The National Gallery, London

The Strawberry Girl
Joshua Reynolds,
The Strawberry Girl, 1772-3,
© The Wallace Collection,
Photo: The National Gallery, London

Hopefully see you there!

Joshua Reynolds,  Mrs Mary Robinson, 1783-4,  © The Wallace Collection,  Photo: The National Gallery, London

Joshua Reynolds,
Mrs Mary Robinson, 1783-4,
© The Wallace Collection,
Photo: The National Gallery, London

wallacecollection.org