Monday, 29 June 2015

Kenwood Dairy

In 1789 William Murray, Lord Chief Justice, 1st Earl of Mansfield bought "the Singularly Valuable and truly desirable Freehold and Tithe Free Estate", Millfield Farm. The farm had been described in The Morning Herald in an advertisement that played on the arcadian sensibility then at the height of fashion as;

"The beautifully elevated situation of this estate, happily ranks it above all others round London, as the most charming spot where the Gentlemen and the Builder may exercise their taste in the erection of Villas, many of which can be so delightfully placed as to command the richest home views of wood and water and the distant views of the Metropolis, with the surrounding counties of Essex, Surrey and Berkshire."

The appearance of the Kenwood Estate today largely derives from the late 18th century, when the 2nd Earl of Mansfield employed Humphrey Repton to enhance the grounds. Louisa, daughter of Lord Cathcart had married Lord Stormont, the 2nd Earl Mansfield in 1776, as his second wife, 31 years his junior. She was passionate about agricultural improvement and it was she that was responsible for the dairies at Scone Palace and Kenwood.

The Kenwood dairy was designed for Louisa, Countess of Mansfield by George Saunders between 1794 and 1795. (It replaced the earlier dairy presided over by Dido Belle.) The dairy is composed of three pavillions, a small octagonal tea room, a 'Dairy House' and a 'Scullery' with an ice house underneath. Under Louisa's supervision the Dairy provided the house with milk, butter, cream and cheese.

The popularity of dairies in the 18th century had been influenced by the Queen Marie-Antoinette's dairies at the chateaux of Versailles and Rambouillet which Louisa may well have seen when her husband was ambassador to France.

It was most likely to have been Louisa who commissioned the painting of Kenwood's longhorn cattle.

J.C. Ibbetson, Long-horned cattle at Kenwood, 1797. (detail)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle  was the creation of Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll. He inherited the title from his brother on October 4, 1743, at the age of 61. He decided to to create for himself a completely new  castle. So he engaged the Palladian neo-Classical architect Roger Morris to design it for him. The castle he designed is a set on a square plan with turrets at each corner and a central tower that emerges through the middle of the building. 

The central tower incorporates a hall with two flanking stairs that rise from the entrance level. Running around the hall and stairs were three floors of rooms and a garret on top for the servants accommodation. The Armoury Hall takes its name from the amazing displays of weapons that elicited comment from Dr Johnson when he visited Inveraray in 1773.

The Dining Room was painted in the 1780's with images of the seasons from Herculaneum by two french painters Girard and Guinland..

The Tapestry Drawing Room is hung with Beauvais tapestries commissioned by the 5th Duke in 1785. Known as Pastorales draperies bleues et arabesques, after J.B.Huet, it is thought to be the only set of 18th century tapestries still hanging in the room for which they were made. The painting is of the 5th Duke's daughter, Lady Charlotte Campbell as 'Aurora', by John Hoppner. 

It comes as a wonderful surprise to find  a room of such sophisticated and exquisite 18th century Parisian taste should be found in such a remote location as Inveraray.

Torquil Campbell, the present, 13th Duke inherited the title in 2001. He uses the castle as his family home.

The decorative painting, by Girard was carried out between 1785 and 1788.  His painting on the shutters is exquisite. 

In the corner of the Drawing Room, concealed behind a pair of double doors, covered with tapestry is the China Turret. The display cabinets contain a wonderful collection of Oriental and European porcelain.

The 5th Duke commissioned Edinburgh born architect Robert Mylne to reconfigure and complete the interiors. Mylne reversed the castle, moving the main entrance from the south to the north side. The former entrance hall was converted into a saloon.

The MacArthur Room is named after the State bed of the MacArthurs of Loch Awe,  hung, of course, with the Campbell tartan. 

The Victorian Room commemorates the marriage in 1871 of Lord Lorne, later the 9th Duke, to Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Louise.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Panelling from l'Hotel de Breteuil, Musee Carnavalet

This panelling was taken from a house, the Hotel de Breteuil, built at the end of the 18th century on a new street, rue Millet, which not long after was renamed rue Matignon. The panelling was removed in 1923 and subsequently installed at the Musee Carnavalet.

The smallest room from the Hotel de Breteuil to have beeen saved was a circular room from the ground floor, although the lantern was not reconstructed.  The original colour scheme of the panelling, painted in delicate shades of grey with white highlights, mixed with forget-me-not blue has been authentically restored.

The Grand Salon was the most important room in the house. The colour scheme for this this room was not conserved, so the decor was chosen by the Musee Carnavalet to create a background in the style of the 18th century to highlight  the quality of the carving.

The Oval Boudoir was on the ground floor of the house.

The press in 1923 covered the removal of the panelling and spread the story that the house had been the home of Count Axel de Fersen when he returned to France to make a final attempt to spirit the royal family, and his lover, Marie Antoinette away to safety, in a flight that ended in ignominy at Varennes. A romantic story, perhaps it's true.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Linlithgow Palace Gatehouse

The outer gate or 'fore entrance' to Linlithgow Palace was built for James V c1535 and gave access to the peel or outer enclosure.

Proudly displayed above the arch are four carved  panels that signify  James V was a member of four of Europe's most prestigious orders of chivalry ;  the Order of the Thistle of Scotland, the Order of the Garter of England, the Order of St Michael of France and the Order of the Golden Fleece of Burgundy. (The original panels were replaced by replicas in the 19th century)

In December 2012 it was the entry to Chanel's "Scottish Spectacular" held in the ruins of the Palace.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Sham Ruin, Corsham Court

Behind the Elizabethan stables of Corsham Court is an extraordinary folly, the monumental Sham Ruin built by John Nash c1797.

The towering edifice, about 60' high and 100' long, was intended to convey an ancient ecclesiastical impression

It  may have been built with stone recycled from Chippenham Priory, including some of the window tracery and also some of the material from Capability Brown's Bath House at Corsham Court. That there are more windows on the north side shows that it was primarily intended to be seen from the big house, rather than from the town.

Small rooms in the bottom of the wall may have been used for grand accommodation for poultry.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Hotel de Soubise, Paris

Ravishing Rococo.

The Hotel de Soubise is a palatial mansion in the 3rd arondissement of Paris. Bought by Francois de Rohan, prince de Soubise in 1700 who engaged architect Pierre-Alexis Delamair to rebuild it. (His wife Anne de Rohan-Chablot was a mistress of Louis XIV whose affair was rumoured to have financed the project).

 Hercule Meriadec, prince of Soubise, (Francois' son)  engaged Germain Boffrand to remodel  the interiors, to glorious effect,  between 1735-1740.

The ceiling of the prince's bedchamber.

The prince's Cabinet; accessed by a jib door from his bedchamber.

The prince's (oval) Saloon The walls and ceilings are decorated with sinuous gilded boiserie tall looking glasses with ceilings and overdoors painted by some of the most important artists working in France during the reign of Louis XV; Francois Boucher,  Charles-Joseph Natoire and Carle van Loo.

The prince's Grand Cabinet.

On the piano nobile,  immediately above the prince's apartments are the apartments of the princess de Soubise. The princess's State bedchamber.

The princess's Salon.

The princess's withdrawing room.

The last prince of Soubise Charles de Rohan, duke of Rohan Rohan and the last male of his branch of the House of Rohan died in 1787. By a decree of Napoleon in 1808 the Hotel de Soubise became property of the State and today belongs to the National Archives.