Saturday, 24 January 2015

Empress' Chinese Museum, Fontainebleu

The Chinese Museum and the Salon were redesigned in 1863 to display the Empress Eugenie's collection of Oriental treasures. Many of the objects were acquired by Napoleon III and Eugenie from the sack and burning of the Summer Palace of the Manchu emperors near Beijing in 1860 by French and British troops as reprisal for the torture and murder of envoys under a prearranged truce.When it came to sharing the spoils "the army spontaneously expressed a wish  that all the precious objects from the Imperial Palace should be sent as a gift to Her Majesty the Empress who had placed the expedition under her patronage, providing the necessary items for treating the sick and wounded." The Empress is said to have been present when the crates containing somewhere between six and eight hundred jade, porcelain and bronze objects were opened. These items were added to the collection that also includes gifts  from the ambassador of the King of Siam who visited Fontainbleu in 1861, Japanese and Tibetan objects and other Chinese items confiscated from aristocratic families during the Revolution. the Museum maintains the arrangements devised by the Empress herself.

The Salon

Tibetan stupa with its statuette of Buddha from the Summer Palace

Chinese Museum

Monday, 19 January 2015

Pump Room, Bath

Since Roman times Bath's and before hot mineral springs have been attracting  visitors. Under the influence of Ralph Allen, postmaster and mayor; John Wood, architect; and Beau Nash, fashion and social arbiter, Bath became the most fashionable city in England in the Georgian period (1714-1830). Royalty, aristocracy and commoners all bathed in the waters that Queen Anne had made fashionable by her visit.

 The original Pump Room built in 1706 was too small to cope with the increasing number of visitors. The present room 85' long, 46' wide and 34' high was built in 1796 to cope with the demand from the fashionable for a  place to see and be seen. During the excavations  many of the remains of the Roman Temple of Minerva were unearthed.

An orchestra played in the gallery while the throng below drank the obligatory water. (The gallery was reached by a ladder.) at the other end of room, in in the alcove, in a niche above the clock is a sculpture  of Beau Nash, Master of Ceremonies in Bath.So great was his success that it has been said that two things in particular transformed Bath, the hot springs that pumped out a quarter of a million gallons of water every day and Beau Nash. The legendary gambler and socialite used his position to promote his love of gambling to the idle rich who needed to fill their days after taking the waters early every morning.

As Master of Ceremonies Beau Nash organised the balls,dances and other social functions and took responsibility for their smooth running. He awarded himself the title "King of Bath". He dressed for the part and led fashionable society with his elegant style. He advocated greater social integration of the classes. In Bath he established a code of conduct for behavior in public places, which relaxed the social conventions that still prevented integration elsewhere.

Visitors flocked the Pump Room everyday from 8am or 9am until 3pm, parading around the room taking the waters. Queen Charlotte was conveyed to the Pump Room, by sedan chair, everyday that she was in Bath.

But the Pump Room's most famous visitors were fictitious, Catherine Morland who visited the Pump Room with her benefactors, the Allens in Jane Austen's novel 'Northangar Abbey'.

"With more than usual eagerness did Catherine hasten to the Pump-room the next day, secure within herself of seeing Mr Tilney there before the morning were over, and ready to meet him with a smile;- but no smile was demanded- Mr Tilney did not appear. Every creature in Bath, except himself, were to be seen in the room at different periods during the fashionable hours, crowds of people were every moment passing in and out, up the steps and down; people whom nobody cared about, and nobody wanted to see; and only he was absent. "What a delightful place Bath is" said Mrs Allen as they sat down near the great clock, after parading the room till they were tired, "and how pleasant it would be if we had any acquaintance here."

Friday, 16 January 2015

Jupiter Artland "Weeping Girls"

'Weeping Girls' is a haunting , harrowing and yes, disturbing,  installation of painted bronze figures in Gala Hill Wood at Jupiter Artland. The figures were carved in wax by Laura Ford. They were cast in found objects at the foundry.

"The site I have picked at Jupiter has a quiet, melancholic atmosphere."

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Kew Palace

Kew is an unusual palace.  No gilded reception rooms, no glittering enfilade, no throne. Kew Palace acquired  its name from the brief period in the early 18th century when it became a royal residence. The "Dutch" house as it used to be known, dates from the 1603's when successful city merchant, Samuel Fortrey, built himself a villa by the Thames. The site he chose had been occupied by an earlier property, the remains of which include the vaulted cellars under the palace. The palace is a palimpsest built from reused  wood and stone.  Linenfold panelling that lines the walls of the anteroom dates from the early Tudor period; a chimney piece is Gothic. The date 1631 and the initials of Samuel Fortrey and his wife, Catherine are shown off above the entrance. The house built of rubbed and carved brick was embellished with pilasters in the Classical style. The palace was modernised with sash windows in the 1730's and first painted with the red ochre wash it has today.

 The Prince and Princess of Wales, son and daughter-in-law of George I (1714-1727) acquired  Richmond Lodge in 1716 and began embellishing the gardens at Kew. After their accession as George II (1727-1760) and Queen Caroline, the couple continued to  live at Richmond. Their growing family meant they needed more accommodation to house their children and retainers. Queen Caroline took the lease on the palace in 1728 as lodging for the three eldest daughters, princesses Anne, Caroline and Amelia, needed when the court was at Richmond. Soon after, Frederick, Prince of Wales bought the large 16th century house opposite the palace and employed William Kent to transform it into the White House, a modern Palladian mansion and at the same time when on to lay the foundations of the botanical gardens, introducing the chinoiserie garden pavilions, of which the Pagoda is the only survivor.

 When in 1751 the Prince of Wales was killed by a cricket ball, his eldest son aged ten years old, (future George III) and his younger brother were given the palace to set up their own small establishment, so giving the house the name of the Prince of Wales' House. On his accession George III and his wife used Richmond and Kew as a getaway and retreat. It became the royal routine to spend Friday and Saturday at Kew. Richmond Lodge was soon too small for their increasing family so the various houses at Kew were pressed into service, and  again Kew Palace was occupied by a Prince of Wales and his brother.

In 1788 George III suffered the first attack of the illness that was to blight the rest of his, long, life. At that time his illness was thought to be madness but is now understood to be porphyria. From November 1788 to March 1789 the King was kept hidden away from the public eye at Kew, in the White House. He did recover however and became able to resume a public life and then Kew became his midweek residence, to and from Windsor.

When the illness returned in 1801 Kew was recommeded as an ideal place for the King to recuperate, away from the public eye.While the King was incarcerated in the White House, Kew Palace was refurbished and redecorated in preparation for the Queen and her daughters. When the King could bare his isolation no longer he moved into Kew Palace to rejoin his family, and soon recovered. After the illness returned for a third time in 1804 he was brought back to Kew again.

George III.
A cast from the waxwork created from life by Madame Tussaud
for the King's Golden Jubilee of 1810.

The service wing on the west side was prepared for him, with a bedroom, a small gallery and library. The main part of the Palace was again refurbished, for his daughters, Queen Charlotte who was frightened of him stayed away. Poor George III declined into blindness. Then in 1818 the Queen was taken ill enroute to Windsor and forced to stay at Kew, a visit that lasted for months.She died at Kew on 17 November 1818, lying in state in the dining room, before being taken for burial at Windsor. 

The King's Dining Room was the original hall of the Fortreys  house.  Remnants of the original decoration include the strapwork plaster overdoor decoration. The chimney- piece was installed during William Kent's renovation in the mid-1730's.

King's Dining Room

The Queen's Drawing Room was the principal room of the house. As the Queen's health deteriorated she became too weak to leave Kew. The Queen's indisposition led to the Queen's Drawing Room being used as the unlikely venue for not one, but two royal weddings. On 11 July 1818 William, Duke of Clarence married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Coburg-Meiningen and Edward, Duke of Kent married Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield, a union that would produce the future Queen Victoria

Queen's Drawing Room

The Queens's Boudoir on the first floor was where the Queen and her companions spent their time doing "women's work", needlework, knotting and spinning. The furniture reflects the taste of the Queen and the princesses for the fashionable Greek-revival style.

Queen's Boudoir

Queen Charlotte's Bedroom did not follow the latest fashion, like her daughter's. After four nights unable to get into her bed, the Queen died sitting in the black horsehair armchair on 17th November 1818. Her husband at Windsor was unaware of his wife's death and George III was himself to die two years later.

Queen Charlotte's Bedroom

Princess Elizabeth as befitting her position as her father's favourite daughter who also did the running of the house, took the best room, the King's library, when the palace was prepared for the royal occupants in 1804-5. The walls were lined to create arched recesses in the style of John Soane.

Princess Elizabeth's Bedroom

The bedroom floor has been abandoned since 1818.

Bedroom Floor

After Queen Charlotte's death  at Kew in 1818 the royal family has avoided Kew Palace; not enough thrones....George IV considered demolition, his brother William IV planned to double its size........At the end of her reign George III's granddaughter opened the palace to the public. A royal relic in the botanic gardens.  A charming place that still has its ghosts.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Ice House, Inveraray

A small domed ice house at Inveraray Castle was built in 1785,  north of the stable block at Cherry Park.

The ice house was probably designed by Robert Mylne.

Doocote, Inveraray

Roger Morris, architect of Inveraray Castle for the 3rd Duke of Argyll drew up a contract on 2nd October 1747 'for a pigeon house to be built at the end of the back walk being a Circular building 20' Diam. & 42' high......for which he is to be paid Fourty  Eight pounds Ster.'

The whitewashed circular doocote has a rusticated entrance and a conical roof with a chimney on top.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Papal Apartment, Fontainebleu

The Papal Apartment is the most luxurious and splendid at Fontainbleu, after the sovereign's apartments. It was created in 1804 by the amalgamation of two smaller, adjoining suites for the visit of Pope Pius VII who came to France for the coronation of Napoleon.  It was named the Papal Apartment after this visit and his second stay, as a captive between 1812-1814. The only remaining memento of  Pope Pius in the apartment is his portrait by David. The opulent decor dates from the 1860's  and reflects  the tastes of Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie. They did however retain the earlier ceilings from the former chambers of Henri II and Anne of Austria.

The older section of the apartment occupies the wing linking the Horseshoe Pavilion and the Stoves Pavilion, designed by Primaticcio to provide a new apartment for Henri II. The apartment was later occupied by his widow, Catherine de' Medici, then by Marie de' Medici and after them by Anne of Austria, giving  the apartment its earlier designation, the "Queen Mothers' Wing". Later on the apartment housed the Dauphin and his wife and then was used to put up important guests, including in 1688, the exiled James II of Scotland and England and in 1717 by Tsar Peter I of Russia.

The newer section of the apartment extends into the Grand Pavilion built by Jacques-Ange Gabriel in 1754, the building that replaced the Stoves Pavilion. Anne of Austria's Apartment was handed on to Louis XV's daughters, the Mesdames Henriette and Adelaide and from 1748 also by Madame Victoire. Divided in two, Anne of Austria's Apartment was the occupied by  the Count of Provence, brother of Louis XVI. After the Revolution the Chateau housed a military academy which  remained there until the crowning of Napoleon as Emperor in 1804.After the Restoration Louis-Phillipe's eldest son, the Duke of Orleans lived there with his wife. The last inhabitant of the apartment was Napoleon III's cousin, the Grand Duchess of Baden.

Formerly an antechamber, the Officer's Room became the Salon of the Duchess of Orleans' ladies in waiting.

The Officer's Room

The Grand Duchess of Baden's Bedchamber has been used as a bedroom since 1770. It was refurbished in 1837 for the Duchess of Orleans. The last person to use the room was the Grand Duchess of Baden, Napoleon III's cousin.

Grand Duchess of Baden's Bedchamber

Next door to the bedchamber, the first dressing room was redecorated in the late 18th century.

First Dressing Room

Unchanged until the time of the Duke of Orleans, Anne of Austria's Bedchamber was redecorated for her around 1660. The magnificent coffered ceiling was painted by Charles Errard between 1662-1664. Turned into a salon during the Second Empire the room was hung with the Triumphs of the Gods tapestries woven by Gobelins around 1700.

Anne of Austria's  Bedchamber

The State Salon has a magnificent ceiling depicting the the planets,with the sun, Apollo in his chariot, in the centre. The ceiling had been constructed in 1558 for Henri II's Bedchamber in the Stoves Pavilion and features shields bearing the French coat of arms and Anne of Austria's monogram which means that it the room had become the first antechamber of Anne of Austria's apartment around 1660. In 1748 it became Madame Adelaide's Bedchamber before becoming the State Salon of Louis XVIII's apartment. The chandelier was brought here from the Tuileries.

State Salon