Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden – 2015 exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery

St James' Park and the Mall attributed to British School (c1745)
St James' Park and the Mall attributed to British School (c1745)
On Friday, I was invited to attend a bloggers' event to preview the new exhibition at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace: Painting Paradise – The Art of the Garden.  The exhibition is now open and runs until 11 October 2015.

Exhibition poster outside the Queen's Gallery

A garden walk through time

The exhibition portrays the history of the garden using paintings and objects from the Royal Collection. As you walk through the exhibition rooms, you are taken on a chronological tour of the development of the garden, starting with Paradise and ending with The Horticultural Garden. The displays include some lovely touches, such as sprays of artificial flowers, an arbour and a pergola, which help to create the atmosphere of being in a garden.

Paradise

Paradise display in Painting Paradise exhibition

Seven couples in a garden by Bukharan artist (c1510) in  Khamsa (Quintet) of Nava'i manuscript by Mir 'Ali Sir Neva'i Haeva'i (1492)
Seven couples in a garden by Bukharan artist (c1510) in
Khamsa (Quintet) of Nava'i manuscript by Mir 'Ali Sir Neva'i Haeva'i (1492)
acquired by George III c1797
The Sacred Garden

Bower display for The Sacred Garden

Christ and St Mary Magdalen at the Tomb  by Rembrandt van Rijn (1638)
Christ and St Mary Magdalen at the Tomb
by Rembrandt van Rijn (1638)
The Renaissance Garden

The selection of items on display in this section includes a rare copy of Thomas Hyll’s book entitled The Profitable Arte of Gardening (1586) and a picture of the family of Henry VIII showing the Great Garden at Whitehall Palace in the background.

The Profitable Arte of Gardening by Thomas Hyll (1586)
The Profitable Arte of Gardening by Thomas Hyll (1586)
Detail from Family of Henry VIII by British School (c1545)  showing Great Garden at Whitehall Palace in background
Detail from Family of Henry VIII by British School (c1545)
showing Great Garden at Whitehall Palace in background
The Botanic Garden

Charles II Presented with a Pineapple by British School (c1677)
Charles II Presented with a Pineapple by British School (c1677)
The picture of Charles II and the pineapple is fascinating. Although it is said to be the presentation of the first pineapple grown in England, both the King and the man on the left, thought to be his gardener, John Rose, had died before this was achieved! The house in the background may be that of Dorney House, a large house near Oatlands Park. Unusually, Charles II is pictured wearing fashionable clothes rather than ceremonial robes.

In the cabinets before you enter the next garden phase, there are some beautiful decorative objects from the Royal Collection. My favourites are the pieces of porcelain by Chelsea Porcelain Works with detailed botanical designs. There is also a very elaborate Minton soft porcelain pen tray that was given to Queen Victoria when she was a girl.

Circular plate c1755 from the Chelsea Porcelain Works
Circular plate from the Chelsea Porcelain Works (c1755)
Minton soft porcelain pen tray (c1833)  belonging to the young Queen Victoria
Minton soft porcelain pen tray (c1833)
belonging to the young Queen Victoria
The Baroque Garden

The Baroque Garden exhibition room

The Baroque Garden includes a superb example of Georgian recycling - a cabinet made around 1785 incorporating 17th century Florentine decorative panels.

Cabinet by Adam Weisweiler (c1785) incorporating 17th century Florentine decorative panels
Cabinet by Adam Weisweiler (c1785)
Hampton Court

As might be expected from the Royal Collection, there are lots of pictures of royal gardens including several of Hampton Court. Of special interest is the pair of sundials on display which were originally in the gardens, but which have now been replaced with replicas to conserve the originals.

Detail from A View of Hampton Court by Leonard Knyff (c1703)
Detail from A View of Hampton Court by Leonard Knyff (c1703)
Enlarged section of A View of Hampton Court by Leonard Knyff (c1703) - the red arrows show the place of the sundials in the gardens of Hampton Court
Enlarged section of A View of Hampton Court by Leonard Knyff (c1703)
The red arrows indicate the places of the sundials in the gardens
One of a pair of horizontal sundials  by Thomas Tompion (c1699)  which stood in the gardens of Hampton Court.  Replicas now stand in their place.
One of a pair of horizontal sundials
by Thomas Tompion (c1699)
which stood in the gardens of Hampton Court.
Replicas now stand in their place.
The tulip vases were used to display flowers and bulbs at Hampton Court Palace.

Tulip vase by Adriaen Kocks (c1694)
Tulip vase by Adriaen Kocks (c1694)
Bushy Park

I particularly liked the picture of the water gardens at Bushy Park, later home to William IV.

A view of the cascade, Bushy Park Water Gardens by studio of Marco Ricci (c1715)
A view of the cascade, Bushy Park Water Gardens
by studio of Marco Ricci (c1715)
Detail from A view of the cascade, Bushy Park Water Gardens  by studio of Marco Ricci (c1715)
Detail from A view of the cascade, Bushy Park Water Gardens
by studio of Marco Ricci (c1715)
Buckingham House

Buckingham House attributed to Adriaen van Diest (c1705)
Buckingham House attributed to Adriaen van Diest (c1705)
The Landscape Garden

The fiirst Landscape Garden exhibition room

The Sunflower Clock

There is a magnificent porcelain sunflower clock made by the Vincennes Porcelain Factory c1752 which was acquired by George IV in 1819. The sunflower is the symbol of Louis XIV of France, the Sun King. Behind this exhibit hangs a Gobelins tapestry.

The Sunflower Clock from Vincennes Porcelain Factory(c1752)
The Sunflower Clock from Vincennes Porcelain Factory(c1752)
The pair of armchairs is embroidered with designs by Mary Moser.

One of a pair of armchairs embroidered with designs  by Mary Moser attributed to the Royal School for   Embroidering Females under Mrs Nancy Pawsey (c1780)  Chair attributed to Robert Campbell
One of a pair of armchairs embroidered with designs
by Mary Moser attributed to the Royal School for
Embroidering Females under Mrs Nancy Pawsey (c1780)
Chair attributed to Robert Campbell
The Georgian period is well-represented in the exhibition, particularly in The Landscape Garden. There are some lovely paintings and prints of gardens including those at Carlton House, Chiswick, Stowe, Kew and Windsor.

Carlton House

A view of the garden &c at Carlton House in Pall Mall  by William Woollett (1760)
A view of the garden &c at Carlton House in Pall Mall
by William Woollett (1760)
The Earl of Burlington's gardens at Chiswick

A view of the back part of the Cassina & part of the Serpentine   river, terminated by the cascade - Lord Burlington's gardens   at Chiswick after John Donowell (c1753)
A view of the back part of the Cassina & part of the Serpentine
River, terminated by the cascade in the garden of the Earl of Burlington
 at Chiswick after John Donowell (c1753)
The gardens at Kew

The Gardens at Kew by Johan Jacob Schalch (1759)
The Gardens at Kew by Johan Jacob Schalch (1759)
Detail from The Gardens at Kew by Johan Jacob Schalch (1759)
Detail from The Gardens at Kew by Johan Jacob Schalch (1759)
The palace in the next two pictures is not the building we now call Kew Palace, but rather the White House that used to stand opposite.

A view of the Palace form the Lawn in the Royal Gardens at Kew  by William Elliott after William Woollett (1763)
A view of the Palace form the Lawn in the Royal Gardens at Kew
by William Elliott after William Woollett (1763)
 view of the palace form the north side of the Lake at Kew  by William Elliott after William Woollett (c1766)
A view of the palace form the north side of the Lake at Kew
by William Elliott after William Woollett (c1766)
A view of the wilderness at Kew  by Edward Rooker after William Marlow (c1763)
A view of the wilderness at Kew
by Edward Rooker after William Marlow (c1763)
Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace - the garden front from  across the lake  by Caleb Robert Stanley (1839)
Buckingham Palace - the garden front from  across the lake
by Caleb Robert Stanley (1839)
Windsor

The garden of the deputy ranger's lodge, Windsor Great Park  by Paul Sandby (c1798)
The garden of the deputy ranger's lodge, Windsor Great Park
by Paul Sandby (c1798)
Detail from The garden of the deputy ranger's lodge,  Windsor Great Park by Paul Sandby (c1798)
Detail from The garden of the deputy ranger's lodge,
Windsor Great Park by Paul Sandby (c1798)
The hermitage at Frogmore by Samuel Howitt (c1802)   The hermitage was designed by George III's daughter, Princess Elizabeth
The hermitage at Frogmore by Samuel Howitt (c1802)
The hermitage was designed by George III's daughter, Princess Elizabeth
The Norman Gateway and Moat Garden, Windsor Castle  by Paul Sandby (c1770)
The Norman Gateway and Moat Garden, Windsor Castle
by Paul Sandby (c1770)
St James' Park

  Detail from St James' Park and the Mall (shown at top of this post)  attributed to British School (c1745)
Detail from St James' Park and the Mall (shown at top of this post)
attributed to British School (c1745)
The Horticultural Garden

Some of my favourite items in the exhibition are the books of Humphry Repton’s designs for the gardens at Brighton Pavilion. The illustrations are beautiful, though frustratingly we are limited to just the two pages which are open. How I longed to turn the pages and see the other designs!

Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton West Front of the Pavilion   towards the Garden by Humphry Repton (1806)
Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton - West Front of the Pavilion
 towards the Garden by Humphry Repton (1806)
Detail from Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton - West Front  of the Pavilion towards the Garden by Humphry Repton (1806)
Detail from Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton - West Front
of the Pavilion towards the Garden by Humphry Repton (1806)
Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton  West Front of the Pavilion  towards the Garden   by Joseph Constantine Stadler after Humphry Repton (1808)
Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton
West Front of the Pavilion  towards the Garden
by Joseph Constantine Stadler after Humphry Repton (1808)
The final room contains an interesting array of objects including some jewellery belonging to Queen Victoria, a child’s wheelbarrow and a pair of fans.

The Princess Royal's fan (1856)
The Princess Royal's fan (1856)
Detail from Queen Victoria's birthday fan (c1858)
Detail from Queen Victoria's birthday fan (c1858)
If you love historic gardens, or are interested in seeing more from the Royal Collection, then this is an exhibition not to be missed!

For more information, go to the Royal Collection website.

All items photographed © The Royal Collection Trust
All photographs © Andrew Knowles

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint – exhibition at the Wallace Collection

Mrs Mary Robinson by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1783-4)  © The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
Mrs Mary Robinson by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1783-4)
© The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
Last week, I visited a relatively little known museum, the Wallace Collection, for a special bloggers’ event to celebrate the opening of a new exhibition: Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint. The exhibition runs until 7 June 2015 and comprises two rooms displaying 20 Reynolds paintings – 11 belonging to the Wallace Collection and the remainder on loan.

Here is a short video of the exhibition:

video

Popular and experimental

Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) was a very fashionable portrait painter during the second half of the 18th century and the first President of the Royal Academy.

The exhibition is the culmination of a four-year research project into the Reynolds paintings owned by the Wallace. Using various techniques including X-ray and infrared imaging, the paintings have been investigated by experts at the Wallace with advice from the National Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art

X-ray image of the portrait of Mary Robinson shown   above.
X-ray image of the portrait of Mary Robinson shown
above. The X-ray shows that Mary's hand was
originally painted supporting her chin
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The research has given new insights into the way that Reynolds painted. Some of the images produced during the research are on display alongside the actual paintings. These reveal earlier details, from the position of Mary's hand, shown above, to old paintings that have been painted over.

The X-ray image of the Yale Center's portrait of Mary Robinson shown below reveals that the painting was not Reynold’s first attempt, but that underneath the existing painting is another, earlier painting, upside down.

X-ray image of the Yale Center's portrait of Mary   Robinson shown below.
X-ray image of the Yale Center's portrait of Mary
Robinson shown below. The X-ray shows another
portrait that has been painted over.
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Early paintings

The paintings on display include some of Reynold's earliest work such as his self-portrait, painted c1747-9, before he went on the Grand Tour and a canvas entitled Studio Experiments in Colour and Media.

Self-portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1747-9)  © The National Portrait Gallery, London
Self-portrait Shading the Eyes by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1747-9)
© The National Portrait Gallery, London
Studio Experiments in Colour and Media © Royal Academy of Arts, London
Studio Experiments in Colour and Media
© Royal Academy of Arts, London
Fancy paintings

The exhibition includes a number of fancy paintings – imaginative paintings of people, representing ideas rather than intended as portraits. These include The Strawberry Girl and The Age of Innocence.

The Strawberry Girl by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1772-3)  © The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Strawberry Girl by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1772-3)
© The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Age of Innocence by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1788)  © The Tate; Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Age of Innocence by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1788)
© The Tate; Photo © Andrew Knowles
Portraits

I particularly liked the two paintings of Mary Robinson, probably because she is the character with whom I am most familiar. The portrait owned by the Wallace Collection is shown at the top of this blog post and is very similar to that owned by the Yale Center for British Art (shown below) although this latter portrait is less finished.

Mrs Mary Robinson by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1783-5)  © The Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Mrs Mary Robinson by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1783-5)
© The Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Photo © Andrew Knowles
4th Duke of Queensbury (Old Q)   by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1759)  © The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
4th Duke of Queensbury ('Old Q') as Earl of March
by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1759)
© The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
Miss Jane Bowles by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1775)  © The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
Miss Jane Bowles by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1775)
© The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
Miss Nelly O'Brien by Sir Joshua Reynolds (c1762-4)  © The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
Miss Nelly O'Brien by Sir Joshua Reynolds (c1762-4)
© The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
There is a second portrait of Miss Nelly O'Brien and a lovely portrait of Miss Kitty Fisher which were on loan and could not be photographed.

Mrs Susanna Hoare and Child
by Sir Joshua Reynolds (c1763-4)
© The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
Mrs Mary Nesbitt by Sir Joshua Reynolds (c1781)  © The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
Mrs Mary Nesbitt by Sir Joshua Reynolds (c1781)
© The Wallace Collection; Photo © Andrew Knowles
Reynolds sometimes depicted his sitters in character, such as Mrs Abington as Miss Prue in Love for Love by William Congreve (below).

Mrs Abington as Miss Prue by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1771)  © The Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Mrs Abington as Miss Prue by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1771)
© The Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Wallace Collection is in Hertford House in Manchester Square, London and is open every day from 10am to 5pm. Admission to the museum, including the exhibition, is free.