Development of Country Houses into Exhibitions

2088 words (8 pages) Essay in Arts

18/05/20 Arts Reference this

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1. 

    The Long Gallery is a very important space in a country house. The purpose of it is to provide a large area for entertainment and exercises, as well as holding social and political activities.[1] Paintings, portraits, expensive furniture, and souvenirs brought back from continental tours are placed along the walls to show off the wealth, power and connections of the master of the house, which the visitors would admire.[2]

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    For the functional purposes, the master and his family of Temple Newsam might parade back and forth along with the gallery or work out there to keep themselves healthy.[3] He might also invite his family and friends to participate in leisure activities or parties.[4] He might even conduct serious events like deliberating political issues with his allies.[5] It provides a perfect place to view the garden and nature through the windows as well.[6]  As can be seen, the Long Gallery is a neutral ground lies between public and private rooms, with multiple uses.

    Apart from being functional, the gallery holds a more significant symbolic meaning. With regards to the decoration of the Long Gallery, the furniture is arranged along the wall. As it is the traditional way since the 18th century and the master of the house wanted the guests to focus on his glamorous collection of paintings instead of the furniture.[7] Placing furniture in the middle of the gallery would draw the attention away and obstruct the pathway. While the portraits of royal families and master’s family hanging on the wall are aimed at demonstrating the status and power of the master.[8] It also shows the master’s pride in owning the paintings and his loyalty to the king or queen.[9] For the ceiling plasterwork in the gallery of Temple Newsam, King George I is in the center with his family members around. It has a similar function as the portraits on the walls, which is to receive or impress the sovereign.[10] Especially it was designed by the time that Jacobite Rebellion happened, it displayed great support to the sovereignty of the King during the tough time.[11]

    In the 18th century, the state rooms in Castle Howard were filled with tapestries and expensive textiles.[12] It showed the importance of the rooms by using different colors of decorations. The textiles in the rooms are blue and red colors which were very expensive to make.[13] They occupied the most important spaces with colorful furniture and marble tabletops.[14] Expensive tapestries and rich fibers were used to cover the walls.[15] Chinese wallpapers that showcase the wealth of the master were also used to decorate the room.[16] High quality of curtain and bed hangings were chosen to adorn the room as well.[17] These costly colorful ornaments have brought the feeling of luxury and lavishness, which displayed the wealth and power of the master as well as their taste of designing the house.[18] The state rooms were decorated magnificently because they were used to entertain the king or queen.[19] The state bed in the state bedchamber was therefore the most opulent furniture in the house.[20] It was decorated with gold-laced crimson velvet and beautiful ostrich feathers so that the state rooms were up to the standard for the royal family to stay.[21]

    The function of the state room may only alter a bit afterward until the fire struck in 1940.[22] The fire has damaged many rooms and destroyed lots of interior decoration.[23] George Howard decided to open the house as a tourist spot after renovating it.[24] To satisfy the use of the public and family, the walls of the rooms have re-decorated with new fabrics. The state drawing room has turned to the music room.[25] It is now a place for the Howard family to play music. Besides, the state bedchamber has turned to the Crimson dining room, which is decorated with 18th century artworks.[26] It provides a grand place for the family to have meals and host banquets.

   After the terrible catastrophe, Castle Howard has experienced a change in function, but it also preserves its history with evolution. Tourists are able to understand the history of the house whilst the family can stay at the house comfortably.

3.

    The purpose of the State Apartment in Harewood House when it was first built, might be for living and sleeping.[27] The State Bedroom has a bed in the room for resting, and a service passage behind the wall, where the servants can access to the bedroom conveniently to serve their master.[28] It also has the function of welcoming important visitors and having private meals.[29] It is the inner private room that visitors have to be invited to enter. Next to the State Bedroom, Ante Room is a waiting room for visitors to wait for entering the State Bedroom.[30] It would be a great honor to be invited into the State Bedroom. If the visitors are not treated as important, the Ante Room would become the meeting room where the master would receive visitors’ requests.[31] The State Dressing Room on the other side might be designed for dressing as well as socializing.

    However, the State apartment has served differently now. Before it has opened for tourists, the bed only served two honorable guests, Queen Victoria, and Grand Duke Nicholas.[32] It shows this bedroom in Harewood House is very much a fashion rather than being functional for living. The State Bed in the room was dismantled before and was restored in 1999.[33] Nonetheless, Timorous Beasties added a silk blanket with a new fashion of printed pattern on the bed.[34] The Ante Room has also become a dark room to exhibit contemporary artworks thus losing all the original interior designs. The State Dressing Room has turned into Spanish Library during the Victoria period.[35] As a result, the State apartment has no longer be functioned and became places to display contemporary art. The historic meaning of the State Apartment has been torn apart with these changes. Tourists visited the house would unable to feel the history and see the past century of collections of the apartment, and be distracted by incompatible contemporary arts. With full respect to the Lascelles family, this is probably a perfect way to display their taste of art by placing them in the house for exhibition, but it also ruined the original ideas of the house.

Bibliography

  • Castle Howard, anteroom information board, 12 July 2019.
  • Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.
  • Castle Howard, guide book, 12 July 2019.
  • Coope, Rosalys, ‘The ‘Long Gallery’: Its origins, development use and decoration’, Architectural History, 29 (1986), 43-84.
  • Girouard, Mark, The Formal House: 1630-1720, Life in the English country house: a social and architectural history (Yale University Press, 1978).
  • Harewood House, state bedroom information leaflet, 17 July 2019.
  • Harewood House, state bedroom information board, 17 July 2019.
  • Harewood House, Spanish library information leaflet, 17 July 2019.
  • Littlejohn, David and Littlejohn, Sheila, The fate of the English country house (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).
  • Temple Newsam, long gallery information leaflet, 10 July 2019.

[1] Rosalys Coope, ‘The ‘Long Gallery’: Its origins, development use and decoration’, Architectural History, 29 (1986), 43-84 (p. 59-61).

[2] David Littlejohn and Sheila Littlejohn, The fate of the English country house (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 21.

[3] Coope, p. 60.

[4] Coope, p. 59.

[5] Coope, p. 60.

[6] Coope, p. 59.

[7] Temple Newsam, long gallery information leaflet, 10 July 2019.

[8] Coope, p. 62.

[9] Coope, p. 63.

[10] Littlejohn, p. 22.

[11] Temple Newsam, long gallery information leaflet, 10 July 2019.

[12] Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.

[13] Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.

[14] Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.

[15] Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.

[16] Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.

[17] Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.

[18] David Littlejohn and Sheila Littlejohn, The fate of the English country house (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 29.

[19] Littlejohn, p. 29.

[20] Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.

[21] Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.

[22] Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.

[23] Castle Howard, anteroom information board, 12 July 2019.

[24] Castle Howard, cabinet room information board, 12 July 2019.

[25] Castle Howard, guide book, 12 July 2019.

[26] Castle Howard, guide book, 12 July 2019.

[27] Mark Girouard, The Formal House: 1630-1720, Life in the English country house: a social and architectural history (Yale University Press, 1978), p.128.

[28] Harewood House, state bedroom information leaflet, 17 July 2019.

[29] Girouard, p.128.

[30] Girouard, p.128.

[31] Girouard, p.128.

[32] Harewood House, state bedroom information leaflet, 17 July 2019.

[33] Harewood House, state bedroom information leaflet, 17 July 2019.

[34] Harewood House, state bedroom information board, 17 July 2019.

[35] Harewood House, Spanish library information leaflet, 17 July 2019.

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