John Singer Sargent – The British Portraits

 

John Singer Sargent, the son of an American doctor, was born in Florence in 1856. He studied painting in Italy and France and in 1884 caused a sensation at the Paris Salon with his painting of Madame Gautreau. Exhibited as Madame X, people complained that the painting was provocatively erotic.

The scandal persuaded Sargent to move to England and over the next few years established himself as the country’s leading portrait painter. Sargent had no assistants; he handled all the tasks, such as preparing his canvases, varnishing the painting, arranging for photography, shipping, and documentation. He commanded about $5,000 per portrait, or about $130,000 in current dollars. Following are portraits representative of Sargent’s prolific, and much prized, portraiture featurning British subjects.

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw
1892-93
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh
In late 1892, Sargent began work on the portrait of Lady Agnew, commissioned by Andrew Noel Agnew, a barrister who had inherited the baronetcy and estates of Lochnaw in Galloway. The sitter was his young wife, Gertrude Vernon (1865-1932).

 

Hon. Victoria Stanley – 1899
Winifred, Duchess of Portland (Winifred Dallas-Yorke) – 1902

Countess of Warwick and Son (Frances Evelyn ‘Daisy’ Maynard) – 1905

 

The Countess of Essex – 1906

 

Theresa (‘Nellie’) Marchioness of Londonderry – 1912

 

Sibyl Sasson-Countess of Rocksavage  (later Marchioness of Cholmondeley)  – 1913

 

Sir Philip Sassoon – 1923 (Sybil’s brother)
Tate Gallery, London

 

Mrs. George Nathaniel Curzon (Grace Elvina, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston) – 1925

 

The Hon. Lilian Maud Glen Coats, later Duchess of Wellington
For a complete online catalogue of the works of John Singer Sargent, click here.

HELLO, HANDSOME – COURTESY OF SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE

by Kristine Hughes Patrone

Recently, I was Googling portraits of the Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence (as one does) and the search returned images that were decidedly not Wellington. And I must say, some of the sitters were exceedingly handsome, and some of them were portraits I hadn’t seen before. So I Googled some more and you’ll find the results of my search below. Enjoy!

Portrait of Frederic Lock of Norbury Park, Surrey. Youngest child of William Lock, a London art critic. 
 
 
William Lock the Younger, elder brother to Frederic, above. 
 
From Yale Center for British ArtIt has been suggested that Lawrence’s sensitive portrait of the younger William Lock may be a study for an untraced portrait of the sitter exhibited as the royal Academy in 1791. Lock’s attire and hairstyle indicate a later dating however, and Lawrence did not usually make preliminary drawings for his paintings, preferring to prepare them by drawing directly on the canvas with chalk. . . . The sitter was the son of the connoisseur William Lock (1732-1810), was one of Lawrence’s first sitter and a close friend of the artist. The younger Lock (1767-1847) was a keen patron of the arts and an aspiring artist, but after viewing Rome he lost faith in his talent and gave up painting, though he continued to draw. 
 
Arthur Atherley MP 1772 – 1844
 
This portrait was painted by Lawrence when Atherley was an Eatonian. Afterwards, he went to Trinity College and went on to stand as MP for Southampton for four terms. He was a founding member of the Fox Club. He also served as a justice of the peace in Sussex and died at Tower House, Brighton. 
 
 
The finished portrait now hangs in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, but an unfinished sketch of the same subject, above, was recently purchased from a private owner by the Holburne Museum, Bath. You can read more about that here
 
 
John Arthur Douglas Bloomfield, 2nd Baron Bloomfield 1802 – 1879
 
Astonishingly, Wikipedia tells me that Bloomfield was privately educated and became an attache to Vienna at the age of sixteen. This may have been due, at least in part, to the position of his father, the 1st Baron Bloomfield, about whom Wikipedia says: “He was an Aide-de-Camp, then Chief Equerry and Clerk Marshal to the Prince of Wales and finally was Private Secretary to the King, Keeper of the Privy Purse, and Receiver of the Duchy of Cornwall from 1817 to 1822. One of issues that Bloomfield had to contend with a Private Secretary was King’s extravagant spending.” However, things did not end well for the elder Baron Bloomfield. You’ll find the story here.  
 
 
Richard Hart Davis Jr. 1791 – 1854
 
 
Charles William Bell
 
French video on Lawrence’s painting technique
 
 
Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux 1778 – 1868
 
Anti-slavery campaigner, attorney to Queen Caroline and one of the first Englishmen to fall in love with Cannes and make it into a popular resort. Like Wellington, Brougham was named by Harriet Wilson in her Memoirs. Unlike Wellington, he caved and paid the hush money her publisher demanded to keep his name out of the book. Brougham’s name is still familiar to us, as a style of coach was named for a vehicle he designed, which was carried on until recent memory as a style of automobile. Find his full biographical story here.
 
And finally . . . . .
 
Sir Thomas Lawrence, unfinished self portrait, circa 1825
 

 

The Wellington Connection – Beer

Once upon a time in England, an alehouse/tavern licence was very expensive and was based upon the size of the premises. Many who sought to open such an enterprise were financially prohibited from doing so until the Duke of Wellington’s Beer House Act of 1830 changed the playing field dramatically. The Act reduced the licence fee to two guineas, permitting the sale of beer and cider only. The main object of the Act was to reduce the consumption of spirits, such as gin and other strong liquors.

As the website Exeter Memories tells us: “During the 18th-century, the production and consumption of gin exploded, especially amongst the poor, causing violence and misery for many. Government attempts to prohibit the production of gin with the Gin Act of 1736 had little effect. Distilling changed from straight gin to “medicinal” spirits to circumvent the Act, and fanciful names such as Cuckold’s Comfort and My Lady’s Eye Water were used to describe the new drinks.

“The introduction of the Beer House Act of 1830 tried a different approach to reducing gin consumption and hence, public drunkenness. Anyone, on payment of 2 guineas to a magistrate could obtain a license to open a beer house. Permission was only granted for six days a week, with Sundays excepted. Only beer and cider could be sold.

“The result was a huge growth of beer houses and beer sellers, many from the front rooms of terrace houses and cottages. Another provision of the act was that existing taverns, inns and pubs could also brew their own beer on the premises. This had a knock effect, for there was a growth of demand for hops and barley for malting, thus bringing a new market for many farmers. Within eight years of the act being passed, 46,000 beer houses were opened, almost equalling the number of existing, pubs, taverns and inns.”

Midlands Pubs picks up the story from there – “Following the 1830 Act, beer production went through the roof. Large common brewers engaged travelling sales people to find new trading locations. These agents actively encouraged householders to open up a part of their property, usually the front parlour, in order to sell beer. They even offered to pay the two guinea licence on their behalf and would offer credit terms to their clients.

“Many of the new beer houses throughout the land named their pubs in honour of the Iron Duke. Their pub signs tended to display Wellington in his military roles and often celebrated his battle achievements that had captured the imagination of the public. However, more often than not, the new publicans were showing appreciation to the man who had helped them set up in business. Not all houses bought their beers from common brewers. Some chose to brew themselves whilst others employed a travelling brewer who would go from pub to pub producing the house ales.
“Naturally, some beer houses were more successful than others. Those who gained a reputation for their ales enjoyed good trade. The licensee would often use the profits to buy the neighbouring cottage into which the family would move whilst the existing house was expanded. Indeed, there are some pubs that have expanded into a full row of a terrace, the rooms being used as separate bar, parlour, smoke room, lounge and family room. The early beer house movement was all very laissez-faire.
“Although many beer houses were eradicated under later legislation, many survived and evolved into fully licensed premises. Accordingly, in addition to beer and cider, they were allowed to sell wines and spirits. 1869 was a key cut-off point, after which it was not so easy to obtain a full licence. Indeed, the 1869 Wine and Beerhouse Act was designed to curtail the number of pubs that were opening around the country. However, pubs that had obtained licences before this date did have a degree of protection in terms of magisterial control.
“Many houses that did not obtain a full licence managed to continue in business providing that the house conformed to all legislation and was kept orderly. These continued to simply sell beer and cider. For example, by 1890 almost half of Birmingham’s 2,178 public houses were beer houses. In fact, beer houses continued up until the 1950’s when finally a full licence was granted to those that had survived.”
The Duke of Wellington . . . what a guy!

Aristocratic Kennels

John Russel, 4th Duke of Bedford
Sir Joshua Reynolds

Aristocratic gentlemen have always enjoyed a good hunt, one of the finest being the Oakley Hunt, formed by the 4th Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey in 1793.

The Field Book (1833)  says: “The Duke of Bedford’s is an immense establishment, upon a scale of too great an extent for particular description; as it includes tennis court, riding house, etc., etc. In one stone-fronted building of two hundred and sixty-six feet in length, there are stalls for thirty-six hunters, and eleven loose boxes for sick or lame horses. The kennel is in length four hundred and five feet; having the boiling house in the centre, with feeding rooms adjoining, and a granary behind. On the right of the centre are apartments for two kennel-keepers, two long lodging-rooms for the hunting hounds; with flues running along the wall, to preserve an equal temperature in the severity of the winter season; spacious courts to each, furnished with a fountain in the middle, for the hounds to drink at; and water cocks fixed at proper distances, to cleanse the pavement when it may be required. Adjoining to these, are seven hospitals for sick and lame hounds, with yards to each. On the left, are divisions for litter, straw, and stores of any kind; with eleven apartments for bitches and puppies, and yards to each. There are, also, eleven of a similar description, for bitches in pup; and a large division for bitches at heat. In the front, is a reservoir of water which supplies the fountains and different cocks in the several yards within. Behind the whole, is a large airing ground, flesh-house, and all requisite conveniences. The huntsman’s dwelling is a handsome building adjoining. The number of hunting hounds kept in the kennel, is usually from sixty to seventy couples.”

The Oakley Hounds

Yet by the end of the eighteenth century, fox-hunting was feeling the pinch of costs. The Napoleonic Wars brought heavy taxes and the Duke of Bedford, with his Oakley hounds, was taxed on an additional twenty-five more servants and twenty-seven more horses on top of an existing twenty-six servants and thirty horses. On March 20th, 1798, the Duke wrote to Samuel Whitbread: ‘I will continue my subscription of 500 [pounds sterling] so long as the hounds are kept at Oakley and Mr Pitt leaves me the money’. Difficulties ensued, and in 1809 the Duke of Bedford’s eldest son rescued the hunt when the expense of the hounds totalled 2,850 [pounds sterling] per year. ‘You will be glad to hear Tavistock has determined to undertake the arduous task,’ the Duke wrote on April 4th, ‘although it is rather hard on him to exact the sacrifice of half his income for the gratification of a few gentlemen who are unwilling to contribute anything towards their own amusement.”


Thomas Goosey and the Belvoir Hounds Leaving the Kennels

Other titled kennel owners were the Duke of Rutland and the Duke of Richmond. From The Sportsman’s Library by John Mills 1845:

“The best constructed kennel, taking it in every point of view, that I have seen, is that belonging to His Grace the Duke of Rutland, at Belvoir Castle; although there are others upon a grander scale.


Belvoir Kennels

The superb edifice of the Duke of Richmond at Goodwood, cost no less a sum than thirteen thousand pounds, in its erection. His Grace was his own architect and builder; and the magnificent design, and the perfection of its arrangements, show how capable he was of accomplishing his task.



The kennels at Goodwood

 “The distribution of the building is in five compartments: two of them thirty-six feet by fifteen; and three more, thirty by fifteen. In each of these are openings at the top, for the admission of external air when necessary; and stoves, to qualify the air when too cold. There are supplies of water, and drains into a tank of great depth below, full of rain water; from the surface of which, to the rise of the earth, is eleven feet: so that no unpleasantness arises from stench; and the whole can be occasionally cleared off by drains to more dependent depths and dung pits, where it becomes contributory to the purposes of agriculture. Round the whole pavement, five feet wide, airing yards, places for breeding, and other conveniences make a part of each wing. To produce a uniformity of elegance, neatness, and perfection, the huntsman and whipper-in have each a parlour, kitchen, and sleeping-room, appropriated to their own particular purposes.”



The Belvoir Hunt 2003

As we have read, owning a working hunt kennel was costly then, and is even costlier now. Edmund Yates, in his book, The Business of Pleasure (1879) put it this way – “In summing-up the question of expense, it will be well to bear in mind the axiom of a well-known sportsman of bygone days, that `a master of hounds will never have his hand out of his pocket, and must always have a guinea in it;’ but it may be laid down as a principle that the expense generally depends upon the prudence, experience, and interest possessed by the owner of the pack and the stud. Two men have worked different counties in a season, one at the fourth of the expense incurred by the other, and the difference in sport has been inappreciable. It may, however, be taken as a fact, that the expenses of a fox-hound pack for hunting twice a week, including cost of hounds, horses, huntsmen, and stable-attendants, will be about fifteen hundred; and for three times a week, two thousand pounds.”

In our present day, the cost of owning and maintaining a pack is one obstacle – the political climate against hunting is another thing entirely. Still, the hunts, and hunters, hang on. The Oakley Hunt is still going and you can visit their website here. The Duke of Rutland’s Belvoir Hunt remains active, as well. Visit their site here. The kennels at Goodwood are now a private members club.

The English Mails Part Two

Fast mail coaches were introduced in 1784, with recognized mail routes springing up across the land soon after. There were two types of fast coach upon the road and with the exception of the wealthy, who travelled in their own carriage or by post-chaise, and of the very poor, who used wagons or slow night coaches, all passenger traffic was done by Mail or Stage coach. Stage and Mail coaches were alike in build, carrying four inside passengers and ten or twelve outsides. Mail bags were piled high on the roof, and luggage was carried in large receptacles called boots at either end of the vehicle. The box seat by the coachman, for which an extra fee was charged, was considered the most desirable and was frequently occupied by someone interested in horse flesh. Mail coaches, which were subsidized or owned by the Post Office, were painted uniformly, the lower part of the body being chocolate or mauve; the upper part as well as the fore and hind boots black; the wheels and under carriage a vivid scarlet. The Royal arms were emblazoned on the doors, the Royal cipher painted in gold upon the fore boot, with the number of the vehicle on the hind boot. The panels at each side of the window were embellished with various devices such as the badge of the Garter, the rose, shamrock or thistle.

The departure of the Mails was one of the most exciting sights in London. On its outward journey each coach collected passengers from whatever inn the vehicle was horsed at, and then dashed round at 8 p.m. to St. Martin’s le Grand to collect the mail. Coaches were called by name to receive their bags and the crash of the lid of the boot locking down on the special mails was the signal for each coach to speed away. Fast Stage and Mail coaches made their journeys in about the same time. It took 5 hours to travel from London to Brighton, 2 more to Southampton, 17 hours to Exeter, 19 to Manchester and 21 to Liverpool. This worked out to an average speed of 10 miles an hour. The coaches, besides galloping against each other, were always running against the clock, for lateness was punished by heavy penalties and loss of credit. The half-thoroughbred horses were kept in peak condition and during their stage of seven or eight miles were worked at fever pitch. The steadier wheelers were meant to act as a check upon their leaders, but more often than not the driver gave the wheelers their heads and the whole team sped along at a gallop.

In truly severe weather, the sufferings of the outside passengers was terrible. Once, when the Bath Mail changed horses at Chippenham one March morning, two of the outside passengers were found frozen to death, a third dying later. Postboys were frequently lifted out of their saddles near the point of death. The winter of 1836 was one of the worst on record, with Christmas storms closing all coach roads for several days. On December 26th, the Manchester, Holyhead, Chester and Halifax Mails were all stuck in snow drifts at Hockley Hill, near Dunstable, within a few yards of one another, and throughout the country stories of overturned coaches and dogged heroism on the part of coachmen and guards were recounted. In one instance a guard, leaving his snow bound coach, carried out instructions by taking the mails forward on horseback. Nine miles farther on he sent the horse back, but pushed on himself. Next morning he was found dead, a mile or two up the road, with the mail bag still tied round his neck.

Change of horses at each fresh stage was made quickly. Hostlers and stable boys were allowed a minute in which take out the old horses and harness up a fresh team, though some could manage the job in 50 seconds. Seats on a coach had to be secured in advance at the inn from which it started or where it stopped on the road. The traveller’s name was entered into a book and half the fare taken as a deposit. The fares by stage coach worked out to 2 1/2 to 3d a mile outside, 4-5d a mile for inside passengers. Mails coaches were dearer, averaging from 4 1/2d to 5d for outsides, 8-10d for insides.

The coachman wore beneath his coat a crimson travelling shawl, topped by a long waistcoat of a striped pattern and over that, a wide skirted green coat, ornamented with large brass buttons. Usually he wore on his head a wide brimmed, low crowned brown hat. He wore knee cord breeches, painted top boots and a copper watch chain. The real responsibility for the coach rested with the guard who, in the case of Mail coaches, had the added care of guarding the letter bags. In their red coats, with the gleaming brass horn at the ready, they collected fares from those who joined the coach on the road, saw that the schedule was kept to and were entrusted with the execution of commissions. In case of accident, the guard looked after the mails and the passengers, carrying the former by horse and arranging for a fresh coach for the latter if necessary. They were accustomed to journeys of up to 120 – 150 miles at a stretch and received about 10s a week in wages. Inside passengers were supposed to tip the guards 2s 6d, the outsides 2s, and the guard collected further tips for handling luggage or running errands.

Travelling post chaise was decidedly the favoured means. The chaise was a light and comfortable vehicle with two, or more commonly four wheels, drawn by two or four horses ridden by postboys. For great haste, four horses with two postilions were used. As with a Mail coach, the horses were changed at stages. There was room for only two passengers in a post-chaise, but most carriages had a dickey, or platform, at back for a groom. Principal turnpike gates out of London were found in Knightsbridge at the corner of Gloucester Road, in Kensington at the corner of Earls Court Road, at Marble Arch, Notting Hill, King’s Cross, City Road near Old Street, Shoreditch, Commercial Road, Kennington Gate and three more in the Old Kent Road.

An important London coaching inn was the Golden Cross in Charing Cross, near Nelson’s Column before 1830, when it was moved to face Craven Street. Coaches left here bound for Gloucester, Cheltenham, South Wales, Chester, Liverpool, Hastings, Dover, Stroud, Brighton, Halifax and other points. The Saracen’s Head stood at the top of Snow Hill, next to St. Sepulchre’s Church, with coaches leaving for many parts of England and Scotland. During the eighty years before its demolition in 1868, the inn had been kept by members of the Mountain family, the most prominent being Sarah Ann Mountain who carried on after her husband’s death in 1816. She despatched thirty coaches from her inn each day and set a record
with her “Tally Ho!” to Birmingham. She also built coaches for sale at 110 – 120 guineas each. The Tally Ho! served Canterbury, Liverpool and Birmingham, and was one of nine coaches on the London to Birmingham route. It’s team of four horses was changed at each of the ten stops made between London and Birmingham. The Tally Ho! normally made the 109 mile trip in eleven and a half hours, travelling at an average speed of 9.5 mph. During the famous London to Birmingham race which took place on May Day, 1830, the Tally Ho! made coaching history, setting a record by covering the route in seven and a half hours, travelling at an average speed of 14.5 mph. It should be noted that the coach carried no passengers during the race.

The Swan With Two Necks was the hub of much activity during the 17th and 18th centuries, serving London as a coaching, parcel and wagon office. The name is derived from Swan with Two Nicks, the nicks being the mark by which the birds of the Vintner’s Company were identified. The Inn was a terminus for northbound coaches and stood at the corner of Aldermanbury, where the Guildhall was and is located, with the Wax Chandler’s Hall being on the south side of the street. The Inn was demolished in 1845 when Lad Lane, St. Anne’s Lane, Maiden Lane and Cateaton Street were all widened during the building of Gresham Street.
William Chaplin, the “Napoleon of coach proprietors,” was born at Rochester, Kent, in 1787, son of a coachman-proprietor, and he himself started off driving the Dover Union. Marriage to the sister-in-law of James Edwards, `one of the largest proprietors on the Kentish routes,’ proved useful. He and Edwards allied in many ventures in Kent. He came to horse more and more coaches, until by 1827 he owned between three to four hundred animals and the Spread Eagle, Gracechurch Street. By 1835, he owned 1,200 horses and the Swan with two Necks. In 1838 he horsed 68 coaches with 1,800 horses, employing 2,000 men. He also acquired the Cross Keys and the White Horse, Fetter Lane, and opened the Spread Eagle coach office in Regent Circus. Chaplin was said to have had “immense energy, an equable temperament and great sagacity,” also, “a very good knowledge of the animals he governed as well as the bipeds with whom he was associated.” Never the less, Chaplin one day had a run in with George Denman, toll collector at Kensington Gate, who issued Chaplin a toll ticket bearing the improper amount. A fight broke out during which Denman took hold of Chaplin’s horses, prompting him to use his whip upon the toll keeper. Chaplin was later fined 12s and court costs. As with most well to do businessmen, Chaplin was known to grumble about the actual profits he made, stating in 1827 that, “I have not a shadow of a doubt that, were the coaching account of the nation kept regularly, the whole is decidedly a loss and the public have the turn.”