I found myself more interested in the portraits than the landscapes and other works. Below, a few more.
The view above is a 1935 painting of Wilton House by Rex Whistler (1905-1944). Inside, the house is replete with great works of art in multiple media. Many members of the Herberts, the Earls of Pembroke and their families, were avid collectors.
Rembrandt's Mother Reading, c. 1629, by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), is one of the most famous paintings in the collection of Wilton House.
Above, Edward VI, school of Hans Holbein. The only son of Henry VIII, Edward VI (1537-1553) reigned only six years and died of lung disease at age fifteen. The first Earl of Pembroke served the Boy King as well as his half-sisters, Mary I and Elizabeth I.
Above are versions of Van Dyck's portraits of, left, the Children of Charles I, and right, Charles I. There are many more portraits of family and royalty in the Double Cube Room.
I found myself more interested in the portraits than the landscapes and other works. Below, a few more.
Above, Henriette de Querouaille, Countess of Pembroke, wife of Philip, 7th Earl, and sister of Louise, mistress of Charles II and mother of the 1st Duke of Richmond. The portrait was painted by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) and hangs on the chimney-piece in the Single Cube Room.
Catherine Woronzow, Countess of Pembroke, (1783-1856) second wife of the 11th Earl, married in 1808, and is referred to in the guide book as the "unsung heroine" of Wilton House. She was the daughter of Count Woronzow, Russian /ambassador to Britain. James Wyatt, architect, had made many changes to Wilton House beginning in the early 19th century, helping to turn the house into a modern residence. However, he had also gained the title "Destroyer" in some eyes. After he was dismissed in 1810, the Countess supervised the completion of the rebuilding and redecoration. One of her projects was to purchase William Kent furniture from the Wanstead House auction for the State Rooms; another was to design new landscape gardens. She was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence.
Elizabeth Spencer Herbert, Countess of Pembroke (1737-1831) and Her Son, by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1764.
Elizabeth Beauclerk (1766-93), first wife of the 11th Earl of Pembroke, was painted by Sir William Beechey.
Wilton House, near Salisbury in Wiltshire is renowned for its architecture, interiors, treasured artworks, and all the elegancies associated with the most distinguished of Britain’s stately homes. And, like some of the others, it is frequently the scene of major filming for cinema and television. The South Façade is the location of the State Apartments created by James Wyatt in the early 19th century, replacing the 17th century arrangement of rooms by Architect Inigo Jones (1573-1665) and his assistant Isaac de Caux.
Above, Wilton’s Double Cube Room plays Buckingham Palace in episodes of The Crown on Netflix. Below, it doubles for Pemberley in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice.
Two more films shot at Wilton, among many others. Below. left. The Madness of King George; right, Outlander, season two, used the Double Cube Room for the Palace of Versailles.
The Double Cube Room, originally called The King's Great Room, is sixty feet long by thirty feet wide and thirty feet high. The magnificence of the room defies description! The ceiling decoration is clearly in the baroque style.
The central ceiling panels show three views of the legend of Perseus painted by Emmanuel de Critz. The twelve-foot coving was decorated with swags, urns, and putti by Edward Pierce, a frequent collaborator with Architect Inigo Jones. They are dated c.1653.
Below, the painting for which the room was designed, a Family Portrait of the 4th Earl of Pembroke and his family by Van Dyck. Numerous other portraits by Van Dyck and his studio adorn the walls.
The Double- and Single-Cube Rooms were part of the State Rooms in which the monarch was to visit and mingle with Lord Pembroke, his family, friends, and retainers. The Single Cube Room, below, was the first of the State Rooms and led into the Double Cube. The furniture is by Chippendale, added in the 18th century.
Above, the Single Cube Room, 30 x 30 x 30 feet. Below, the Great Ante Room, added in the 18th century, and is sometimes thought of as James Wyatt's homage to Inigo Jones.
The King's Bed Chamber and King's Closet were redecorated in the 18th c. for the visit of George III and Queen Charlotte in 1778. Many priceless masterworks hang on the walls.
Returning to the currently used entrance on the North Front, visitors arrive in the Front Hall designed by James Wyatt in 1809. Who better to greet us than The Bard himself. According to the Guidebook, the statue "recalls the 2nd Earl's and his wife Mary Sidney's patronage of literary men and of Shakespeare above all."
Wyatt also redesigned the Upper Cloisters in a Gothic style to house treasured sculptures in natural light. The Dining Room, below, was very recently redesigned and redecorated. Sadly, I had forgotten my dinner invitation.
Numerous other rooms, more than one could count, are worthy of attention. I particularly liked the Large Smoking Room, redecorated by the current Lady Pembroke in 2017. The picture on the left below was taken before the new color scheme was installed. On the right is the yellow moiréed silk now on the walls. The huge bookcase, from the workshops of Chippendale, is a temptation I could hardly survive. What is tucked away inside?
I also found a picture, but did not actually see, the library, also recently redone and reserved for the private use of the family.
Imagine how much work you could get done here -- once you had examined the art and furniture and gazed out the windows for a month or two!
Next time, a look at more of the artwork at Wilton House.
Wilton is one of those fabled British Country Houses which almost defy description. Should one concentrate on the architecture, which includes Tudor, Elizabethan, Palladian, and Regency examples? On the interior, of amazing variety and stellar quality? The gardens? The collection of old master artworks? Or, how about the many stories of the history of the Herbert family, which is currently represented as residents by William Alexander Sidney Herbert, 18th Earl of Pembroke, his Countess and their four children?
The top photo shows the North Façade, dating from the Tudor era, the current public entrance to the house. Immediately above is the South Façade, the wing of the house probably designed by Architect Indigo Jones in the Palladian style in the 17th century. This area contains the sumptuous state rooms.
Above, the East Front, opening into the public lawns and gardens, dating before the mid-16th century. This was the original entrance to the house. You can see that even today, restoration work is necessary.
The West Front and its garden are the private areas of the Earl of Pembroke and his family. Below, the official portrait of William Herbert, 18th Earl of Pembroke, and his dog painted by artist Adrian Gottlieb. ‘Will’ is the latest of the long line of owners belonging to the Herbert family,
I am sorry to report that no photography is allowed in the house so in my posts, I will be mixing ‘borrowed’ photos, of which there are many on the web, with my own pictures. First, let’s look at the exterior and the gardens. Below, an aerial shot of the house with the south façade at the left.
Below, inside the cloisters, looking east at the inside of the East Front. The original house was built on the site of an 8th century priory. After Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, the site was ceded to Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke (of the new creation) in 1544. He constructed a house in the quadrangular style which through many remodelings, remains today, with a central open courtyard.
Above, looking east from the courtyard. Below, peeking out from inside the cloisters.
Today, visitors enter through the another courtyard facing the North Front, past the fountain and a grove of trees among the patterned plantings.
Behind us was the great gate, often a symbol of Wilton House.
Leaving the interior for another post, let's look at some of the gardens. I am particularly fond of Palladian Bridges – why I cannot imagine, but I find them charming. Below, the Wilton Palladian Bridge, constructed in 1737 by the 9th Earl of Pembroke, known as the “Architect Earl” and his assistant Roger Morris. It was designed to bridge the River Nadder in the style of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). It has been copied at least three times, at Stowe Landscape Garden (NT) in Buckingham and at Prior Park near Bath in England and at Tsarskoe Selo near St. Petersburg, Russia.
The inspiration for the Palladian Bridge is reputedly an unbuilt design for Venice’s Rialto Bridge, drawn by Andrea Palladio about 1570, pictured in a Capriccio by Canaletto, 1742, ©Royal Collection Trust.
The river Nadder is a chalk stream known for its trout flyfishing.
View from the bridge.
Below, the charming Japanese Garden, also known as the Water Garden with its red bridges and reflecting pools, was designed by Henry Herbert, 17th Earl of Pembroke, who died in 2003.
To conclude Part One, enjoy this view of Wilton House painted by Rex Whistler in 1935.
When I travel I tend to concentrate my photographs and subsequent posts on 'large' topics such as stately homes, cathedrals, cities, and so forth. Here is something a little different...some smaller discoveries you might enjoy.
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) sits in Dorchester, the county town of Dorset. Hardy's novels were set in nearby areas; The Mayor of Casterbridge used the town as the model for Casterbridge.
In Winchester Cathedral, these objects memorialize William Walker, a deep-sea diver who save the Cathedral from sinking into the wet ground on which it had been built beginning in the 11th century. Because workers could not dig underneath to buttress the stone walls without the trenches immediately filling with water, Walker, in his complete rig, worked in 20 feet of water, in the dark, to build sturdy supports that enabled the structure above to be saved. He labored for six years beginning in 1906, packing the foundations with more than 25,000 bags of concrete and 115,000 concrete blocks. He was honored in a special service of thanksgiving in 1912; sadly he died at age 49 in the influenza epidemic of 1918.
In the National Museum of the Royal Navy at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard near the flagship Victory, among the memorials to Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), are these Staffordshire pottery figures. The dying figure of Nelson is held by his Captain and a sailor in the Battle of Trafalgar. As much as he was admired, I find it hard to imagine such a grim bibelot on my parlor table.
The object at left above is a gravel roller for garden paths, keeping them dry and smooth for the dainty slippers of well-dressed ladies. It can be found in the Georgian Garden in Bath.
Maria Edgeworth's Inkstand has pride of place in the library at Chawton House in Hampshire. Edgeworth (1768-1849) wrote many novels, essays, and other works reflecting her Anglo-Irish heritage. Click on the photos to enlarge them.
The Great Hall in Lacock Abbey was created in the 1750's in the Gothic style. Among other features, a series of terracotta figures were placed in niches around the stone walls. The particular coronet-wearing skeleton was created by Austrian artist Victor Alexander Sederbach. Striking! And spooky.
On my first visit to the City of Manchester, I was eager to browse through the Art Gallery.
Which is more fascinating here, the artist or the sitter? The 1793 portrait of Ellis Cornelia Knight was painted in Rome by Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807). Kauffman's works are seen in many English stately homes and museums. Though Swiss- born, she worked mainly in England and Italy.
An amateur artist and author of several novels, Knight was a friend of Admiral Nelson and the Hamiltons in Naples and later in England became a companion to Queen Charlotte and later to Charlotte, Princess of Wales.
I am always on the look-out for the works of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). His painting style evolved over the years of his life from very realistic views, such as this one of the Thames countryside painted in 1809, to the abstract impressionism of his latest works. The picture is entitled Thomson's Aeolian Harp, with classical figures acting out the ode written by poet James Thomson.
Turner's style was influenced by the many times he portrayed marine scenes where the play of light changed with the clouds and the waves. This is Now for the Painter (meaning rope)--Passengers Going on Board, from 1827.
As might be expected, many of the paintings are Victorian masterworks. A favorite is Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-1873) who portrayed Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire in 1830-35. The label reads: Landseer "...sets the quiet power of the ever-flowing river against the ghostly image of the ruin to suggest the passage of time and the brevity of human life."
Landseer was well known for his realistic animal images, including this dead lion, The Desert, painted in 1849.
The Sirens and Ulysses was painted in 1832 by William Etty (1787-1849) showing a scene from Homer's ancient Greek poem The Odyssey. The label points out critics' frequent derision of Etty for nudity in his works, but it seems to me many historical and biblical paintings were filled with naked subjects, particularly the females.
I have given you only a tiny taste of the treasures to be found in the Manchester Art Gallery. I will leave you with this amusing view of the staircase filled with artwork, all under the watchful protection of Spiderman. I love such surprises--they prevent us from taking our culture much too seriously! Art is for enjoyment after all.
I don't know why I've visited so few cities in Britain, beyond London and Edinburgh...but this was my first foray into Manchester, and it was a treat. I have yet to see Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow, and several others. I was suitably impressed with the third largest UK city.
Above is the Manchester Art Gallery, of course the first on my list of local attractions.
The Art Gallery was not far from our hotel, a nicely updated Edwardian pile called The Midland. The room was big with a sitting area and a huge well equipped bathroom. Since we both were nursing headcolds, our schedule called for lots of sleep.
Manchester Town Hall, again evidence of its growth and prominence in the 19th Century.
Perhaps my favorite spot in Manchester was the John Rylands Library, a stunning neo-Gothic structure. It was impossibly Edwardian/Victorian in style and execution, yet it seemed completely modern and technologically cutting edge. How, you ask?
Despite the imposing (grim?) Victoriana of the structure and the main entrance, (above two pictures from Wikipedia), things inside are accessible, with necessary facilities, a bookstore and gift shop, restaurant, and search facilities.
My photo tells the story. A completely modern building has been wrapped around one side of the library to provide elevators and all other required conveniences. Bravo to the perspicacious souls who devised this scheme.
The library was designed by architect Basil Champreys for Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her late husband (above), a prosperous cotton merchant. Built between 1890 and 1900, it is now a part of the University of Manchester Library.
Among the many treasures held here are illuminated manuscripts, a Gutenberg Bible, and many more rarities. Mrs. Rylands purchased the collection of the 2nd Earl Spencer in 1892 to add to her contributions.
One place I had intended to visit was the home of author Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865), whose papers are held at the Rylands Library. Below is a picture of her home in a residential area known as Plymouth Grove. But alas, I failed to note the limited hours and thus I will have to return someday.
Visit Elizabeth Gaskell's House website: http://elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk/
Next week, a few selections from the Art Gallery.
Last summer I had the good fortune to visit Salisbury Cathedral twice. I've visited long ago, but I particularly enjoyed my visits in 2018 because on both occasions, the organ and choir were in full voice, once in rehearsal, the other time during a service.
The photo above was taken in the Cathedral Close in May, while that below was taken in mid July. Note how the lawn dried out in the torrid summer of 2018 in the UK.
The Cathedral was begun in 1220 and completed in a mere thirty-eight years, an amazing feat. The West Facade includes more than seventy statues, making a striking invitation to enter.
Facade of Salisbury Cathedral
The nave is unusually tall and narrow, and the ceilings have been repainted to approximate the appearance in the thirteenth century.
Cloisters were added in 1240.
Above, entering the Chapter House, built in 1263. It exhibits one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta, the document signed by King John in 1215 which acknowledges his sharing of power with the nobles. As one of the foundations of democracy, it is revered throughout the world.
This reproduction of the original shows what it looks like; to protect it, very low light is available and no photographs are allowed.
The windows of the Chapter House, however, are particularly beautiful in the sunshine.
The Salisbury spire is the tallest Church spire in the UK. I cannot resist including a few versions, below, of views of the Cathedral painted by the celebrated English artist John Constable, RA, (1776-1837). He painted the Cathedral from various viewpoints many times. Note the importance of the art museums in which they hang.
And there are more! What more perfect picture of England than these could you imagine?
Above, the Throne Room of the Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii. Last week, I tried to give a capsule version of how Hawaii developed its monarchy, which continued from 1810 to 1893. It was in the last two decades that the Iolani Palace was built and lived in by the monarch.
David, King Kalakaua (1836-1891) was chosen King in 1874. chosen. He was educated with the sons of chiefs, spoke fluent English, had a lively interest in science, and affection for native Hawaiian cultures He traveled in the US and Europe, spending time in London where he was received and entertained by Queen Victoria. Above portrayed in 1891 by artist William Cogswell, he wears the decorations awarded him by the rulers of six major nations.
The Grand Hall and Staircase in Iolani Palace. The ground floor was used for social gatherings. Below, the State Dining Room. Remember to click on the images for larger versions.
Above, the Blue Room, used for smaller receptions and entertainments. The Hawaiian Royal Family traveled extensively and visited with royalty all over the world.
Above and below, the King's office and Library.
Below, the Upper Hall,
Below, the King's Bedroom. The feathered standard on the left of the bed is a traditional symbol of Hawaiian royalty.
Above, the King had the latest technological advances installed: plumbing, telephone, and electricity. Below, the Queen's bedchamber.
Above, the Gold or Music Room. Note the gifted elephant tusks and the portrait of Queen Kapi'olani.
Queen Lili'uokalani (1838-1917), sister of King Kalakaua, succeeded her brother after his death in 1891. Lili'uokalalni was an artist and poet, and composed many songs, often based on traditional island themes. She was widely traveled and represented the King at Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in London in 1887. However, within a few years of both internal and external difficulties, she was forced to give up "...administration of Hawaii to a pro-annexation group Honolulu businessmen who promptly formed a Provisional Government," in the words of the palace guidebook.
Above, the Coat of Arms of the Hawaiian Kingdom. After attempts to re-form the monarchy failed, in 1895, the Queen was tried and imprisoned in her former palace, which was then known as the executive building of the Republic of Hawaii. Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States of America in 1959. The Royal Family's descendants and many others work hard to honor and support native culture and traditional customs.
The Queen was held in one of the upstairs bedroom for almost eight months before she was released. This quilt is displayed in the Imprisonment Room; quilting was one of the pastimes with which she occupied herself while in custody. Later she divided her time between homes in the U.S. and Honolulu.
On the grounds of the Iolani Palace is the Coronation Pavilion, constructed in 1883, and now used for band concerts and as a center for public celebrations. Below, the Palace as it stands today, under the care of Friends and the State of Hawaii, and open to the public.
Above, the Iolani Palace, Honolulu Hawaii
Below, the Throne Room
On a recent visit, my first, to Hawaii, I was pleased to visit this palace in the center of Honolulu, built in the 1880's. The palace boasted the latest in indoor flushing sanitary conveniences, electric lighting, and telephones, all installed at the behest of King Kalakaua (1836-1891).
I was very interested in reading about Hawaii’s history. The islands were created by the gradual accumulation of lava from underwater volcanoes deep below the Pacific Ocean. According to the sources I read, over millions of years the islands grew until they broke through the surface, one by one, thousands of miles from other land masses.
Scientists at the Bishop Museum (above) showed us evidence of a new island forming and in only 30,000 years (or was it 300,000?), the will be a new island emerging, already named Lo'ihi. The “new” land was composed of lava, which is sometimes solid rock, other times pulverized by wind and waves. Flora and eventually fauna arrived by wind, ocean currents, birds, and insects. Over millions of years, the islands developed in near isolation. The oldest of the islands is Kauai, which is also the greenest.
Below, Opaeka'a Falls, Kauai
Estimates vary, but human arrivals probably began less than two thousand years ago. People from far away islands in Polynesia came, probably in outrigger canoes (modern versions on the beach, below), an amazing feat. Each island was slowly inhabited but the details can be discovered only in legend and myth. The oral tradition is the only source of history before the 18th century. Some speculate that Spanish and/or Portuguese explorers stopped by before, but if so, the specific evidence is still undiscovered.
Captain James Cook (1728-1779) visited Hawaii two times on his third Pacific voyage in 1776-79. A skilled cartographer, his maps of previously little-known lands were met with great interest by the British. The artists and scientists on board his ships brought back the sketches and stories of distant and exotic lands, as well as many artifacts and plants, some of which were planted at Kew Gardens and elsewhere. Below, Cook, by Nathaniel Dance, 1775-76.
Cook himself was killed in Hawaii in what is commonly thought to be a partially accidental incident. A town on the big island is named Captain Cook (note the shot I snapped as our tour bus passed the post office). The spot where he was killed is marked by an obelisk, and a statue of Cook stands on the island of Kauai near his first landing.
It was not long before the Christian missionaries followed the explorers to all the areas visited, including the Hawaiian Islands, which Cook named Sandwich Islands. For several decades, the quarrels and occasional battles among the tribes living on the various islands continued. The pre-European- arrival culture of the islands is preserved in some locations, such as the Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park, below.
I've taken up way too much space to give you the interior of the palace this time, so come back next week for more.
I am taking down my Christmas Tree, wee though it is, and I thought I'd write a quick post about Twelfth Night, not a holiday widely celebrated around here, except in church, related to the Feast of the Epiphany. I naturally turned to Wikipedia and some articles from newspapers and discovered little agreement about what Twelfth Night is--or when!
What's a busy blogger to do? I thought it was simple. Twelfth Night marks the arrival of the Three Wise Men at the stable in Bethlehem to bring their gifts (who could turn down Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, whatever the last two are?) to the Christchild.
Well, yes, but...when do you start counting the 12 days? does the term refer to the eve of the twelfth day or its post-twilight? Should it be celebrated on January fifth or sixth?
What did Shakespeare say?
I found only further complications as I tried to sort out the play's cross-dressing characters and rogues such as Sir Toby Belch, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek. I learned it was first performed at the end of Christmastide as it was observed about 1602 on February 2. Go figure. Not any help at all. Thanks, Bill.
But I did learn from several sources that some people prone to superstition believe that taking Christmas decorations down after Twelfth Night is bad luck. Why take a chance? I am now returning to my other tasks. I have yet to make those resolutions for next -- whoops -- this year.
Victoria Hinshaw, Author