The Sculptor Chantrey

by Victoria Hinshaw

For those of us who love to poke around in British palaces, castles, stately homes, museums and all sorts of historical sites (that’s probably all of us), with a special interest in the Georgian and Victorian periods (most of us??), sooner or later we will begin to notice the recurring name of Francis Chantrey, a sculptor whose works are simply all over the place.

 

Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey, by Thomas Phillips, 1818 (NPG)

Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey (1781-1841) was not only a renowned and prolific artist, but also a philanthropist who left a bequest for the purchase of artwork for the nation.  The income from investing the £105,000 from his legacy has been used to purchase hundreds of artworks by British artists for the nation’s museums and continues to this day.

 

Chantrey self portrait, 1810, Tate Britain

 

The UK’s National Portrait Gallery has hundreds of works by Chantrey himself, from sketches executed as preparation for his sculptures, to marble busts of leading men of his generation.

Drawings Chantrey made of Sir John Soane, preparatory work for the bust Chantrey sculpted which today can be seen in Sir John Soane’s Museum, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, below.

Close-up of the bust of Sir John Soane
Last year, at the Yale Center for British Art, Diane Gaston, a well-known Regency author, and Victoria posed with a Chantrey bust of George IV.
As so often in Georgian-era portraits, the subject is wearing a Roman-style toga.  And without being unrealistic, somehow the expression on the King’s face seems to me quite representative of his character.  Unlike the overly flattering pictures by others, particularly Sir Thomas Lawrence, this Chantrey bust gives us a hint of the dichotomy in George IV: one the one hand selfish, narcissistic and extravagant — but on the other hand, a great builder and  connoisseur of the arts.
This Chantrey bust is one of several similar versions he and his studio produced, dated 1827.
Chantrey’s equestrian statue of George IV
George IV and the royal family were frequent patrons of Chantrey.  His bronze state of Geogbe IV on horseback can be found in Trafalgar Square, as above. Below is George IV in the center of the Grand Vestibule of Windsor Castle’s State Rooms, flanked by mounted knights.
The magnificent statue of the mounted Duke of Wellington by Chantrey stands outside the Royal Exchange in the City of London.

Below, a sketch of the pedestal made by Chantrey for the Wellington statue.

 

 

Chantrey’s sketch of the Duke of Wellington for a bust.

 

Born near Sheffield, Francis Chantrey was the son of a carpenter and became an apprentice to a woodcarver.  His skill and talentset him apart, and he was given lessons in painting.  He was a able to earn enough as a portrait painter to move to London, where by 1804, he was included in exhibitions at the Royal Academy
Chantrey Self-Portrait, NPG
 In a few years, he devoted himself mainly to sculpture.  He married in 1807, and soon was doing commissions for naval officers and the Greenwich Hospital.  He visited Italy in 1819 and associated with the leading artists of his day.  He was knighted in 1835 by William IV.  When he died, he was buried in a tomb he had constructed for himself in St. James Church, near Sheffield.

Above, the Marble Hall at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, the estate of the earls of Leicester.   On either side of the staircase (on the right behind the piano) are two busts by Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey.

Reproduction of a marble bust of Coke of Norfolk (1754-1842), by Chantrey, from 1829, which can be purchased from the estate at their website: http://www.holkhamsculpturereproductions.co.uk/
Coke of Norfolk, a great agricultural innovator, was the great nephew of Thomas Coke, and Coke of Norfolk was named 1st Earl of Leicester of the Seventh Creation in 1837.

Below, the reproduction of Chantrey’s marble copy of a bust of Thomas Coke, first Earl of Leicester (1697-1759) of the Sixth Creation. created by Louis Francoise Roubilliac (1705-1762).  Both busts were sculpted to stand among the large collection of classical busts acquired by Thomas Coke and displayed at Holkham.

 

Above, Sir Joseph Banks in the British Museum, Botanist, Trustee and Benefactor, by Sir Francis Chantey, dated 1826.

Also displayed in the British Museum, Chantrey’s bust of his collaborator and mentor, the famous 18th c. sculptor Joseph Nollekens (1737-1823).

Besides the dozens of busts Chantrey sculpted, which were highly prized and sought after, he did some touching works which displayed his skill in composition as well as compassion.

The Sleeping Children, 1817, above, in the Litchfield Cathedral, was commissioned by the widowed mother of the two dead girls, Mrs. Ellen-Jane Woodhouse Robinson.  Most observers find it the finest of Chantrey’s works.

The Royal Collection

The lovely portrayal of Dorothea Jordan was commissioned  from Chantrey by King William IV and completed in 1834. It has been displayed in Buckingham Palace since 1980.  Mrs. Jordan, a leading actress of her day, was the long-time mistress of William IV when he was Duke of Clarence and bore him ten children, known by the surname FitzClarence.

Bridgeman

This drawing of the anteroom of Chantrey’s sculpture gallery (30 Belgrave Place) shows its design by Sir John Soane for his friend, the sculptor.

 

Pen, Brush and Chisel: The Studio of Sir Francis Chantrey by artist Sir Edwin Landseer (1803-73), Royal Collection

This charming portrait of Mustard, Chantrey’s terrier, and his sculpting tools was presented to Queen Victoria by Lady Chantrey in 1842. According to the description in the Royal Collection, “The painting was commissioned in April 1835 by Chantrey, who sent Landseer a humorous letter, supposedly from Mustard. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1836 when it was admired by Queen Victoria.”  After Chantrey’s death, his widow presented the painting to the Queen.

 

Queen Victoria, marble, 1841, by Sir Francis Chantrey, Royal Collection
Chantrey created portraits of four British sovereigns.  Above, his last work, a bust of Queen Victoria,  was Prince Albert’s  favorite portrayal of his wife

Also in the Royal Collection is this watercolour on ivory by Andrew Robertson (1777-1845), dated 1800. Purchased  by Queen Victoria in 1880, it portrays Chantrey “Half-length, standing, facing slightly to the right, wearing a grey studio coat and dark blue waistcoat and holding a hammer, chisel and yellow dustcloth, beside his bust of George IV; grey-blue eyes, grey-brown hair; red curtains background.”

The painting above is The Burial of Sir Frances Chantrey  by artist Henry Perlee Parker, 1841. It was  badly damaged in a flood in 2007 at the Weston Park Museum, Sheffield, and had to be dried for more than a year before it was conserved.  Chantrey is buried in St. James Church, Sheffield, near the village of his birth.

Secret Southwark

Sometimes, the most interesting bits of history are right in front of us, but remain hidden from view because we’re just too busy to take proper notice of them. Below, we point out a few of the hidden historical gems to be found in Southwark.

Originally, street bollards were adapted from the French cannons captured at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. They were placed on street corners to stop the iron wagon wheels of carts from mounting the kerbs and doing damage and became so useful that bollards were installed throughout the City. Once the stock of authentic French cannons had been exhausted,  copies were made and can still be seen on the streets of London today. The bollard pictured at left is an original French cannon which stands on the Southbank near to Shakespeare’s Globe. For more information and photos, visit Bollards of London.

Hardly a secret since it’s now a cheesey tourist attraction, the Clink Prison (1 Clink Street, Bankside) is still of note. The Clink Prison Museum is built upon the original site of the Clink Prison, which dates back to 1144 making it one of England’s oldest, if not the oldest Prison.
Owned by the Bishop of Winchester, the Clink Prison was used to control the Southbank of London known as “The Liberty of The Clink.” This area housed much of London’s entertainment establishments including four theatres, bull-baiting, bear-baiting, inns and many other darker entertainments, including prostitution, smuggling and murder – a fact that meant that the Clink was never short of inmates. In fact, it’s still housing prisoners – in August 2006 an employee accidentally locked two tourists in the basement museum when locking up for the night and going home. They were released later that night after pressing the fire alarm. And they thought “You’ll be thrown in the Clink” was just an old saying.

 
 
 
The Ferryman’s Seat, Bear Gardens, Bankside is close by where Shakespeare’s Globe now stands. Long ago when London’s only river crossing was the London bridge, ferrymen waited to take people from one side of the shore to the other. On the South Bank stood many “Stews” the old name for brothels that were lined along this side of the river on the South Bank, as well as actors and troubadours who preformed at the Rose and the Globe theatres and the large crowds who came for the nearby bear baiting ring. Now set into the side of a modern building, the ferryman’s seat stands in exactly the same spot where the ferrymen rested between fares.

The Southwark War Memorial in Borough High Street was sculpted by Philip Lindsey Clark (1889-1977), a Captain during WWI who won the DSO before going back to study at the Royal Academy. This work of 1924 shows a soldier tramping through mud, while reliefs on each side show a biplane dogfight and a naval battle. A weeping wife and mother decorate the reverse.

Again not exactly a secret, since it’s still a popular pub and meeting place, The George Inn on Borough High Street is the last of London’s galleried coaching inns. For centuries, Borough High Street was the terminus for coaches travelling to London from the south when the old London Bridge was too narrow for them to cross into the City. Passengers used to eat and sleep here while they waited to board the horse-drawn coaches which handled long distance travel in the days before the railways. Rooms occupied the galleries that encircled the courtyard where the coaches stopped while the horses were changed and the passengers got on and off. The George dates from 1676, when it replaced an earlier inn destroyed by fire. While the northern and central wings were demolished for the railway in 1889, the southern wing remains intact. In 1937, it was taken over by the National Trust, which oversaw its repair and restoration.

London Bridge Station has the honour of being the oldest railway station in London. It opened on 14 December 1836 as the terminus of the London and Greenwich Railway, the first steam-powered railway in London and the first in the world designed specifically to carry passengers. It ran along a viaduct consisting of 878 arches originally intended to be rented out for housing. Since 1839, when the London and Croydon Railway began operation, the station has consisted of two parts, each of which has been altered and expanded many times. Having suffered bomb damage during the Second World War, the station was rebuilt and reopened in 1978.

Brooke and I actually came across Hopton’s Almshouses in June, when the gardens were alive with gorgeous roses. The Almshouses were founded by fishmonger Charles Hopton, who died in 1730. The 26 almshouses for ‘poor decayed men’ of the parish were erected in 1746-9 and opened in 1752. The residents, who included gardeners, watermen and fishermen were also granted £6 per year and 32 bushels of coal. In 1825 two extra houses were added. The complex includes two garden squares with centre lawns and roses, edged with shrubs. Outside the gates is a drinking fountain and cattle trough. The almshouses were rebuilt and modernised in 1988 and are used for housing, administered by The Anchor Trust.

The Continuing Story of "Mad Jack" Mytton

From Famous Racing Men by Willmott-Dixon Thormanby (1882):

The incidents of Mytton’s romantic and eventful life have been narrated with tolerable fidelity but questionable taste by his friend, C. J. Apperley (the famous “Nimrod”) . . . . John Mytton was born on the 30th of September, 1796, at the family seat of Halston, in Shropshire, three miles from Oswestry, and was left fatherless at two years of age. His mother spoiled him, and by the time he was ten years of age the young heir was what is called a regular pickle. He was expelled from Westminster and Harrow in succession. At the former school he spent £800 a-year, exactly double his allowance, and wrote, when he was only fourteen years of age, to Lord Eldon, the then Lord Chancellor, requesting an increase of income, as he was going to be married. The Lord Chancellor replied—” Sir, if you cannot live on your income you may starve, and if you marry I will commit you to prison.” At the age of nineteen he entered, as a cornet, the 7th Hussars, and joined that regiment in France with the army of occupation. But as there was no more fighting, Cornet Mytton was at leisure to enter into all kinds of youthful mischief. One of his feats was borrowing £3,000 of a banker at St. Omer one day and losing half of it at an E. 0. table in Calais the next.

John Scott, 1st Lord Eldon
He also lost 16,000 napoleons to a certain captain at billiards, which sum he was unable to pay at the moment. But this score was wiped off in a more agreeable manner. The colonel of Mytton’s regiment, the then Earl of Uxbridge, forbade his paying the money, and the captain in question was afterwards implicated in a transaction which went far to prove that Lord Uxbridge was morally right. When Mytton came of age he found himself possessed of an estate of about £10,000 a-year and £60,000 of accumulated cash, but a large portion of the latter had to go towards liquidating his already numerous debts. Quitting the army, he married, at the age of twenty-three, Harriet, the eldest daughter of the then lately deceased Sir Tyrrwhitt Jones, Bart., of Stanley Hall, Shropshire. The bridegroom was attended by the Earl of Uxbridge and the Earl of Denbigh, K.G., and the wedding was one of the events of the season. The issue of their union was only one daughter. Mrs. Mytton died a few years after her marriage, and there can be no doubt that her death was accelerated, if not actually caused, by her husband’s insane conduct and cruel neglect.
                                                            Henry Paget, Lord Uxbridge

John Mytton was physically a fine animal: in height about 5ft. 9in., in weight 12st., with magnificent shoulders, a splendid chest, and an arm the biceps muscle of which was larger than that of Jackson’s, the celebrated pugilist, who was believed to be the most powerful man of his time in England. He was fond of displaying his strength, but it was perhaps fortunate that he steadily refused to learn boxing.

In dress Mytton was peculiar, not to say eccentric. He never wore any but the thinnest and finest silk stockings, with very thin boots or shoes, so that in winter he very rarely had dry feet. To flannel he was a stranger from the time he left off petticoats. Even his hunting-breeches were without lining; he wore one small waistcoat, always open in the front from the second of the lower buttons, and about home he was as often without a hat as with one. His winter shooting gear was a light jacket, white linen trousers without lining or drawers; and in frost and snow he waded through all water that came in his way. These, however, are not exceptional marks of hardihood, we know men of the present day who go as lightly clad through all the seasons. But Mytton went further than this. He would sometimes strip to his shirt to follow wildfowl in hard weather, and once actually laid himself down in the snow with absolutely not a stitch on him but his shirt to await the arrival of the ducks at dusk.
Curiously enough, extravagant though he was in other respects, Mr. Mytton made no great show in his establishment at Halston. There was every comfort but no display, and had he conducted all his affairs with the same regularity and simplicity as his menage at his ancestral seat he would never have run through upwards of half-amillion of money in less than fifteen years as he did. But it was not difficult to find where the screw was loose in his expenditure. His foxhounds were kept by himself and upon a very extensive scale, with the additional expenses of hunting two countries. His racing establishment was on a still larger scale, for he often had from fifteen to twenty horses in training at the same time, and seldom less than eight. His average number, indeed, of thoroughbred stock at home and from home, including brood mares and yearlings, was about thirty-six, which probably cost him something like £6,000 a-year. His game preserves, too, were a severe drain upon his income; for besides such items as £1,500 in one bill to a London dealer for pheasants and foxes alone, there was the formation of miles of plantations which this game went in part to stock, and which he employed a staff of fifty labourers to keep in order. He was a great friend, too, to the tailors, having frequently in his wardrobes as many as a hundred and fifty pairs of breeches and trousers, with a proportionate number of coats and waistcoats. In his cellars there were “hogsheads of ale, standing like soldiers in close column, and wine enough in wood and bottle for a Roman emperor.” He made his own malt, and “John Mytton, Licensed Maltster,” was painted in large letters over the malt house door. How much he spent on post horses it is impossible to guess; but almost every post boy in England knew “Squire Mytton” and lamented his fall. He never stayed at an inn without giving the waiter a guinea, and he would never pay a tradesman’s bill until he had received a writ. A strange unaccountable creature he was, who though always making a great pretence of
“enjoying life,” seems really never to have derived enjoyment from anything.
A summary of Mr. Mytton’s actual racing career may be comprised in a few words. He had too many horses in the first place, and too many of them not good enough to pay their way. It isevident he was anxious to have good ones from the prices he paid; but he bought several of that sort after their day had gone by; for example, Comte d’Artois, Banker, Longwaist, &c. He had, however, several good winners, old Euphrates at their head, and Whittington, Oswestry and Halston were esteemed very “smart” horses in the racing world. Indeed, it is believed that in some hands they would have proved trump cards. As for himself as a racing man he was too severe upon his horses: they rarely came out fresh after Chester and one or two other places. He seldom backed his horses to any serious amount, generally not at all. His stables were upon Delamere Forest, in Cheshire; his home-stud groom, Tinkler, was a careful nurser of young racing stock, but do what he would, Mr. Mytton was never able to breed a good racehorse.
It would be out of place to discuss here Mr. Mytton’s conduct towards his wives, of whom the second fared no better than the first. His brutality was inexcusable, and the most charitable supposition is that it was the result of a morbid insanity. For the last twelve years of his life it may safely be stated that he was never sober. His daily quantum of port wine was from four to six bottles; but even in spite of this excess he would probably have lived far longer than he did had he not in an evil hour discarded port for brandy. Even his adamantine constitution, “perhaps the hardiest ever bestowed upon man,” as ” Nimrod” says, was not proof against that. He went from bad to worse, till in the year 1830 the world heard without surprise that “it was all up with Jack Mytton.” Everything that could be sold was sold, and he retired to Calais with just a small pittance sufficient to keep body and soul together. There he completed the wreck of his magnificent physique by drinking brandy till he really was a raving lunatic. On partially recovering his senses, he came over to England, when he was arrested and thrown into the King’s Bench Prison, beyond the gates of which he was destined never to pass alive. For there he died in misery and squalor in the thirtyeighth year of his age. And so ended the mournfullest, the maddest, the most utterly wasted career of which the annals of the turf contain any record.
The (very sad) End

The True Story of Regnecy Eccentric "Mad Jack" Mytton

John `Mad Jack’ Mytton was born in 1796, the son of a Shropshire squire. Though he had a rather typical upbringing, John Mytton seems to have gone out of his way in order to earn the name “Mad Jack.” He drank several bottle of port each morning to “forestall the bad effect of the night air” and was also known to drink eau de cologne when nothing else was to hand. He drove his four horse gig recklessly, often stripped bare whilst fox hunting and arrived at one dinner party on a bear and dressed as a highwayman to hold up his guests as they left his house on their ways home. He is reputed to have kept 2,000 dogs and more than 60 finely-costumed cats, but Jack’s specialty seems to have been horses – A favourite horse ‘Baronet’ had full and free range inside Halston Hall, and would lie in front of the fire with Jack. And, he is said to have ridden his horse into the Bedford Hotel, up the grand staircase and onto the balcony, from which he jumped, still seated on his horse, over the diners in the restaurant below, and out through the window onto the Parade.

Once, he set fire to himself once in order to cure his hiccups. He survived, inherited Hallston Hall estate and a fortune worth about £500,000 a year by today’s standards, but ended his life at the age of thirty-seven in the King’s Bench debtor’s prison in Southwark.

                                                                         Copyright@Hallston Hall Estate

From the Halston Hall Estate website:

John ‘Mad Jack’ Mytton ‘invested’ £10,000 to become MP for Shrewsbury, handing out ten pound notes in order to buy votes, but spent less that half an hour in the House of Commons. Madcap pranks made Mytton a legend in his own lifetime. A drunken friend was put to bed with two bulldogs and a bear. Mytton went duck shooting by moonlight on Halston’s frozen lake, dressed in only his nightshirt. Disguised as a highwayman, complete with his blazing pistols, he ambushed departing guests on the Oswestry road. One biographer relates further details regarding the bear incident, adding that Mytton  rode the bear into his drawing room in full hunting costume. “The bear carried him very quietly for a time; but on being pricked by the spur he bit his rider through the calf of his leg.” ‘Mad Jack’ lost his money, but not his friends. Three thousand people attended his funeral. He is buried in the Chapel at Halston.”

Buried at Halston he may be, but the Mytton & Mermaid Hotel at Atcham is not only named for Mad Jack, but claims to be home to his ghost, which is reputed to appear each year on September 30, Mad Jack’s birthday. His funeral procession stopped at the Mytton, then a coaching inn, on the way to Halston Chapel. Fittingly, the Jack Mytton Way was opened in 1993 and covers 100 miles of spectacular Shropshire countryside. It is one of the longest bridleways in the country and is used by horse riders, cyclists and walkers, none of whom, we presume, have a penchant for leaping from balconies.

More anecdotes of Mad Jack’s life from Famous Racing Men by Willmott-Dixon Thormanby coming soon.

THE DUCHESS OF WELLINGTON

 

Catherine (Kitty) Pakenham married Arthur Wellesley on 10 April, 1806. To say that their marriage was not a happy one would be an understatement. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the story, you can read Kitty’s biography and gain some insight into the relationship between the Duke and Duchess on Wikipedia. Wellington moved in circles that were not unfamiliar to Kitty, yet she never fit in and, more importantly, never made the slightest effort to do so. None of Wellington’s friends became her friends, which is stranger still, as the Duke had several ladies in his circle who could have been an asset to Kitty, both personally and politically. In this post, we’ll be gaining insight into what Kitty’s contemporaries thought about her via their letters and diary journals.

From Princess Lieven (below) to Metternich, March 1, 1820 – I have been obliged to promise the Duke of Wellington to visit him in the country (Stratfield Saye, above) tomorrow. You have no idea how much it bores me and puts me out. He has unfortunately taken it into his head that his house is the most comfortable in the world. Well, there are two very definite drawbacks to that comfort. It is always cold there, and his wife is stupid. What’s to be done?

 

Mrs. Arbuthnot, October 27, 1825 – . . . I think the Duke’s unfortunate marriage has pursued him even in his relations with his children. He dreads their inheriting her narrow mind and he says, instead of directing them to useful pursuits or uging them to read or to occupy their time, she is continually seeking out for them the most trivial and childish amusements. She certainly is the silliest woman I have ever met with, and I must own I think she now does not appear to have the slightest desire to please him. She does not comply with any of his fancies in the arrangement of his house, and in truth it is so bad a menage it is quite disagreeable to be in the house. It is hopeless, too; if she had good sense all would  now be right, for what he now wants is a comfortable home, but she is totally unfit for her situation. She is like the housekeeper and dresses herself exactly like a shepherdess, with an old hat made by herself stuck at the back of her head, and a dirty basket under her arm. The Duke says he is sure she is mad.

Lady Shelley – The Duchess of Wellington “sat apart from her guests, dressed, even in winter, in white muslin, without any ornaments, when everyone else was in full dress . . . She seldom spoke, but looked through her eyeglass lovingly upon the Duke, who sat opposite to her.”

Mrs. Arbuthnot – February 16, 1830  . . . . . He (the Duke) is entirely occupied and engrossed with public matters, cannot look after his private affairs and there is no one who can do it for him, for his wife has not sense enough and rather encourages his servants and people to cheat him. Not that she is extravagant in herself for she is generally dressed like a beggar, but from mere folly.

Kitty’s health began to fail and she became seriously ill in 1831, when she was confined to her bed at Apsley House (above), where the Duke of Wellington kept vigil at her bedside. At one point, Kitty ran a finger up his sleeve to find if he was still wearing an amulet she had once given him, “She found it, as she would have at any time these past twenty years, had she cared to look for it” remarked Wellington.

Kitty was visited by friends such as Maria Edgeworth and lingered for some time before passing away on 24 April. In a bittersweet twist, it appears that the Duke and Duchess of Wellington finally had a meeting of minds at the end, for Wellington afterwards remarked, “How strange it was that people could live together for half a lifetime and only understand each other at the end.”

Sadder still, within the Duke’s circle, Kitty’s death was merely mentioned as an afterthought:

Mrs. Arbuthnot – June 18, 1831 – . . . . I have omitted to mention the death of the Dss of Wellington, which happened on the 24th of April. She had been ill very long and without any hope of recovery, so that it was a relief at last. She died in London and was buried at Stratfield Saye.

Join us as we visit Apsley House on Number One London’s upcoming tours.