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John Varley at Harewood House

John Varley (1778 – 1842) was a key figure in the history of the development of British watercolours. From 1800 he studied at Dr Monro’s Academy and made early sketching tours to Wales from 1798 – 1802.  He was initially strongly influenced by Thomas Girtin. A founder member of the Society of Watercolour Artists in London in 1804, he would go on to exhibit over 700 works there. As a teacher, he impacted the next generation of watercolourists, counting among his successful pupils David Cox, Copley Fielding, John Linnell,
Samuel Palmer and Peter de Wint.

Varley first came into contact with Edward, Viscount Lascelles, son of the first Earl of Harewood and an avid collector of watercolours, in 1801. Two years later, in 1803, he visited Yorkshire and painted a number of accomplished views of Harewood House and one of the Castle.  This group of works was an important early commission for Varley. The watercolours displayed on this wall – Harewood House from the North West and Harewood House from the South West – are of considerable scale and ambition. They give far more architectural detail than the earlier more famous works by J.M.W Turner, also commissioned by Edward Lascelles.  The smaller Harewood House from the South by Varley shows the house from a distance, set within the landscape with a felled tree and woodsman in the foreground.  Boldly painted, it is undoubtedly influenced by Turner’s Harewood House from the South East but the tones are paler (displayed on the central wall).

It was only natural that the romantic medieval ruined castle, dating back to 1366, would attract visiting artists and it was painted by Varley, as well as his predecessors Turner and Girtin.  In Varley’s work, the castle is distant, partially covered in foliage and the broad landscape and foreground figures dominate the composition (displayed above the fireplace).

A further watercolour of the ‘model’ village at Harewood is also attributed to Varley or his circle (displayed next to the fireplace). The village drew the attention of the pastel painter, John Russell, who visited in 1802 and noted that the buildings were all ‘of stone, with a regularity and neatness that I never saw exceeded with a wide main street’, before being escorted through the arch by the steward to visit the house itself. Edward, Viscount Lascelles, who died in 1814, also owned an early view of Snowdon by Varley, but does not seem to have patronised him later in his career.  Varley went on to write a number of important books on watercolour painting, including Treatise on the Principles of Landscape Design (1816 – 18), and invented his own range of colours. This fine group of watercolours illustrates a key early commission when the artist was still painting views of country houses before developing an accomplished landscape style influenced by the 17th century artist Claude Lorrain.

Dining in Style – Victorian service in the State Dining Room

Visit Harewood to see a milliefiori service

Visitors to Harewood House this spring bank holiday (14th April – 17th April 2017) will be treated to a fantastic table display in the State Dining Room. Emulating a Victorian dinner service, the stunning table is decorated with beautiful millefiori glassware service and silver candelabra.

Daily throughout the spring bank holiday, our guides will be giving a free, introductory talk at 11:30 on food and drink for visitors in the State Floor.

About the Millefiori Service

Baccarat enamelled and gilt glass service in the Venetian-style with flower-sprays (millefiori) inset and gilt foliage. Cut star on plates, white foliage on wine glasses. Dated pre-1864 (as recorded in Hamilton Palace inventory).

The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers) used to describe a distinctive glass pattern. This flower like pattern is produced by heating a bundle of thin glass rods of different colours until the rods fuse together.  It is a term that came into common usage in the Victorian period and was included in the Oxford English Dictionary from 1849.

Visit Yorkshire to see porcelain and glassware at Harewood

This millefiori service at Harewood consists of 242 pieces: two tier centre pieces, vases and covers, tazzas, bowl, bowls on feet, small and medium plates, dishes, finger bowls, wine glasses, liqueur glasses, tumblers, water jugs and decanters.

This spring bank holiday you will see one third of the service laid out on the State Dining Room table.  The ‘service à la française’ was a style of dining popular in the Victorian period where various dishes for a meal are served at the same time, contrary to ‘service à la russe’, where dishes were brought to each guest by a footman.

On the State Dining Room table this spring you will also see sugared almonds, fruits and flavoured jellies, all common sweet treats served at a Victorian dinner party.

Below Stairs, you can see copper moulds used for jellies by 19th century chefs in the Old Kitchen.

A Unique Provenance

Tracing the provenance of items such as this service can be challenging. We found a reference in the Chesterfield House Inventory from 1920, (the London home of the 6th Earl of Harewood) as ‘coming from Hamilton Palace’.

From recent discussions with the Museum of Scotland, we know the service was originally purchased by the 11th Duke and Duchess of Hamilton for their new London townhouse before it was taken to Hamilton Palace in Scotland sometime between 1866 and 1870.

Hamilton Palace, located 10 miles from Glasgow, was seat of the Duke of Hamilton from 1642. The superb Hamilton Palace collection consisted of furniture, antiquities, fine and decorative art, and was so grand it rivaled the royal collection.

During the mid-19th century, much of the collection had to be sold due to debts of £1.5 million with the first major sale taking place in 1882.

In 1895, the 13th Duke of Hamilton, Lieutenant Alfred Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, inherited the dukedom, property and debts. These debts led to a final sale and auction which marked the ultimate dispersal of the Hamilton Palace collection in 1919.

The story doesn’t end there; the Palace itself was demolished in 1927 due to subsidence caused by coals mines owned by the Hamilton family.

Visit Leeds to see porcelain and glassware at Harewood House

This bank holiday (14th – 17th April 2017) the service is displayed as part of our year-long focus on Harewood’s Victorian history. See this service for a limited time only and enjoy all the Victorian Harewood displays throughout the House.

Collection of etchings by Victoria and Albert go on public display for the first time

Personal etchings by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were the subject of a ground-breaking privacy court case brought by the royal couple against a journalist in 1848.

Visit Yorkshire to see rare Victorian works at Harewood House

A book of etchings belonging to Harewood House will go on display for the first time in a major exhibition titled ‘Victorian Harewood’ (24 March – 29 October 2017). The exhibition features costumes from the ITV blockbuster series ‘Victoria’, which used Harewood House as a location standing in for both Buckingham and Kensington Palaces.

Visit Harrogate to see art made by Queen Victoria at Harewood House

Gifted to Princess Mary (daughter of King George V and wife to the 6th Earl of Harewood) on her wedding day from a descendant of Prince Albert’s private secretary, the book of 75 personal etchings of the royal couple’s children, pets, and each other, feature handwritten annotations by HRH Queen Victoria. It will go on display alongside beautiful objects owned by Queen Victoria including her pocket watch and writing set.

We spent a delightful, peaceful morning – singing after breakfast, and etching together”.
Queen Victoria, Friday 28th August, 1840.

Victoria and Albert were taught to paint by legendary artists Edwin Landseer and George Hayter. In 1848 Jasper Judge, a reporter, got hold of copies of the etchings via a print maker in London and threatened to publish them.

Visit Leeds to see art works by Victoria and Albert at Harewood

Prince Albert and Queen Victoria immediately sought legal advice and launched lawsuits and injunctions attempting to ban the display and protect his family’s privacy. These actions led to the first super injunction taking place; the Prince and Queen were successful and the display and never took place. Seen as the first injunction of its kind to protect the privacy and image of a high profile person, the actions of Victoria and Albert are now familiar in today’s celebrity world.

After the case, Barrister Sir J. Knight Bruce, noted that the printmaker’s actions had been “an intrusion not alone in breach of conventional rules, but offensive to that inbred sense of propriety natural to every man – if, intrusion indeed, fitly describes a sordid spying into the privacy of domestic life – into the home (a word hitherto scared among us)”. The case remains a defining judgement in the development of the law of copyright.

Professor Ann Sumner, Historic Collections Advisor at Harewood House explains, “This book of etchings is incredibly rare. It is a beautiful and personal collection by the royal couple who were known for protecting their privacy. It shows a beautiful insight not only into the private lives of Victoria and Albert and their family, but also the real talent that they both had for art.”

Sebastiano del Piombo, ‘Portrait of a Lady’ Returns to Harewood after 40 years

Visit Harewood in Yorkshire to see renaissance works by Sebastiano-del-Piombo

Sebastiano del Piombo’s ‘Portrait of a Lady’ returns to Harewood House for the first time in over 40 years

About the Artist

The Venetian painter Sebastiano del  Piombo (1485 – 1547) probably trained under Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione. In 1511 he left Venice for Rome, where the High Renaissance was flourishing. His work was influenced initially by Raphael, but he later met and began collaborating with Michelangelo. That partnership is currently the subject of an exhibition at the National Gallery in London – Michelangelo and Sebastiano until 25 June.

About the Lady

The painting most probably represents an idealized Venetian woman. It is closely related to another work in the Museo del Arte de Cataluna, Barcelona, which differs in background details and setting. There are also two other versions closer to the Harewood original, representing St Lucy, with the eyes of the sitter reflected in the cup. The Harewood painting may represent St Lucy but there is no evidence of reflected eyes in the cup here.

It has recently been suggested that the sitter is Vittoria Colonna, a renowned writer and member of the wealthy and powerful Colonna family, shown as Artemesia, a goddess associated with death, being in mourning for her young  husband Ferrante d’Avalos, Marchese of Pescara.  He died from wounds sustained at the Battle of Pavia in 1525.  This battle was one of the most important in Italian history, as Charles V and the Spanish forces overwhelmed the French and captured Francis I, whose portrait attributed to Titian, can be seen in the Gallery at Harewood.

About the Collector

Sebastiano’s paintings were popular in Britain from the early 19th century.  Portrait of a Lady was acquired by Henry George Charles Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, an outstanding collector of Venetian Old Master paintings and drawings in the early 20th century.  His collection was formed predominantly between the years 1917 to 1927, when he was advised by Tancred Borenius, a Finnish art historian.  The Portrait of a Lady, formerly in the collection of the Earl of Elgin of Broomhall in Fife, was an early purchase and was in the possession of Lord Lascelles by 1917, when he had the work conserved. The painting was originally hung at the Lascelles London home, Chesterfield House and, following the sale of that house, was moved to Harewood in the 1930s. By the 1950s, it hung in the Rose Drawing Room

The painting goes on display for the first time in over forty years on 24 March 2017 and has recently been especially conserved.

The National Gallery exhibition opens to the public on 15 March 2017.

Visit Harewood to see Sebastiano del Piombo art

Victorian Harewood – Contemporary Response to an Era

Harewood House, the main location for ITV’s blockbuster series Victoria, opens its magnificent doors on 24 March with an exhibition entitled Victorian Harewood.

The exhibition offers three contemporary art exhibitions influenced by Victorian Harewood alongside a close up view of the stunning costumes worn by many characters of Victoria, and a chance to see Harewood’s magnificent rooms, many of which are used as sets for the epic period drama.

credit Gavin Fernandes

The Empire Line is an exhibit of contemporary photography, by the photographer Gavin Fernandes, which will be shown in the Steward’s Room. The striking series takes fashion photography to look deeper at narratives of race, culture, history and the Victorian Empire.

credit Kathy Dalwood

A selection of 21st century re-interpretations of the Victorian bust by artist Kathy Dalwood from her Secret Society series will go in the China Room cupboards. Instead of sculpting in clay or stone the busts are made by direct casting from real things and found objects which are collaged together, moulded and cast in plaster.

Artist Steve Manthorp’s exquisitely detailed The Haunted Doll’s House based on M.R James classic ghost story of the same name, will go on display in The Old Library.

Sculptor Kathy Dalwood comments:

“As a child, I moved to Leeds because my father, sculptor Hubert Dalwood, was offered a Gregory Fellowship at Leeds University (a programme which invited artists and writers to be part of the creative community in Leeds).  My father had a very active role in the artistic community.   Leeds City Art Gallery and the Hepworth, Wakefield both hold his work in their collections.

My father was very much a landscape enthusiast so we often went on picnic day trips to the surrounding countryside and the Dales.  We usually drove via Harewood village but the house itself seemed remote, inaccessible and otherworldly   to me as a child.   Fast forward several decades and I finally get to see inside the spectacular edifice of my childhood imaginings – along with my sculpture!  The proposal to exhibit at Harewood felt like a way of reconnecting with Yorkshire,  with my father  and his work,  with my childhood and upbringing  and I am absolutely delighted that this particular collection of work – the plaster busts – allowed this serendipitous invitation to come my way.”

Nicola Stephenson, Exhibition Producer from Harewood House adds: “The juxtaposition of these three art collections really brings our house alive. They present questions to the viewer and pull you into curious stories, bringing the history and Victorian era sharply into a new focus.”