Friday, April 17, 2015

Mr. Fawkes's New Gallery

In light of the recent movie about J. M. W. Turner, it seems appropriate to return to the great artist of the Regency. Indeed, the Regency would be greatly diminished had Turner not existed; its sensibility and style would be irrevocably altered.

But we approach Turner this time from the point of view of  one of his most ardent supporters, Walter Fawkes.

I can do no better than to quote Wikipedia for the basics of Fawke's biography:

Walter Ramsden Hawkesworth Fawkes (2 March 1769 – 24 October 1825) was a Yorkshire landowner, writer and Member of Parliament (MP) for Yorkshire from 1806 to 1807.

Fawkes is be best remembered, however, as the intimate friend and one of the earliest patrons of J.M.W. Turner, the artist. Turner had a welcome and a home at Farnley Hall, Fawkes's Wharfedale residence, whenever he chose to go, and used to spend months at a time there. Mr. Ruskin has borne eloquent testimony to the influence of Fawkes, Farnley, and Wharfedale on the genius of Turner, and the Turner collection still existing at Farnley Hall contains about two hundred of the artist's choicest works.
JMW Turner and Walter Fawkes at Farnley Hall by John R Wildman
In 1819 Walter Fawkes decided to display his collection of Turner's work along with the paintings of other British artists. He set up a gallery in his home in Devonshire Place and Turner prepared a drawing of the room.
Every major magazine of the time reviewed the exhibition when it opened in the spring of 1819. And they were delighted.

From The New Monthly Magazine, June 1, 1819 

The Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres had a little trouble getting to the exhibit, and felt it important enough to catalogue their efforts:
 March 27, 1819
 April 24, 1819
 May 1, 1819

A year later The Repository of Arts reported again on the exhibit, but made no secret of its disappointment in the limited access available.
From Ackermann's Repository of Arts, June 1820

Given the criticism that Turner's work sometimes garnered, we are fortunate that far-sighted, intelligent people such as Walter Fawkes recognized greatness when they saw it.

Mr. Fawkes's Gallery must have been a wonderful thing to visit; a delight for a spring nearly two hundred years past.

'Til next time,


Friday, March 13, 2015

"Observations on Fancy-Work"

With considerably fewer entertainment options available than in our current day, the Regency lady was left with only a few courses open to her for the occupation of her leisure at home. She could read, draw, or undertake plain or fancy sewing. But her leisure time was extensive, and myriad handicraft projects were devised and published by such magazines as Ackermann's Repository of Arts. Here is one such craft, given several pages in the June 1810 issue of the journal.

 Of course, Ackermann's shop offered for sale all the materials needed to complete these crafts.

There were eight pages of embossed ornaments illustrated, from the simplest of forms to the very most intricate designs from classical inspirations.

If you would like to see all eight pages, let me know and I can email them to you.

'Til next time,


Friday, February 20, 2015

The Death of a Duke (and what to wear)

As Prince Edward Augustus, the fourth son of George III and his queen Charlotte, spent part of nearly ten years in Canada between 1791 and 1800, I feel a connection with him that I do not with the other royal princes of the era.

Prince Edward Duke of Kent and Strathearn By William J. Weaver Province House Nova Scotia
Known after 1799 as Duke of Kent and Strathearn, Edward was born in November of 1767 and died January 23, 1820. In 1818, following the death of his niece and heir to the throne Princess Charlotte, Edward like two of his brothers rushed into marriage. 

His choice of bride was Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. And his was the lucky marriage. A daughter was born to the couple in May of 1819, Alexandrina Victoria; she later became the renowned Queen Victoria.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Commander-in-Chief, North America, 1791-1802  (1818)  GeorgeDawe
In February of 1820, Ackermann's Repository of Arts magazine published a notice of his death. It offers a respectful and flattering precis of the Duke's life and passing.
The same edition of The Repository of Arts published plates of appropriate mourning dresses, and a page of text ensuring that the ladies of the day were dressed well in their sorrow.

The Duke's father, George III, died only six days after his son in January of 1820. No doubt the mourning dresses donned for the duke were suitable for a king as well.

Though the death of the Duke of Kent was overshadowed no doubt by his father's passing, his place in history was assured. He had fathered the great Queen Victoria.

Until next time,


Friday, January 30, 2015

Fashionable Sportsmen

In my last blog, "T. W." in writing to the editor of The Sporting Magazine, in May 1802, made the point that not all Fashionable Sportsmen were sportsmen in the true meaning of the phrase. Rather, they were less than honourable gentlemen, and might better have been called "coxcombs", "loungers" or even "ramshackle fellows".
"T. W." went on at length:

no one else can reach the fire...

And there you are, a contemporary account of a sort of man who was not a sportsman at all, but a much less admirable sort of fellow.

'Til next time,


Thursday, January 15, 2015

British Sport and Fashionable Sportsmen

Regency sport--stalking, shooting, fishing, fox hunting, horse racing, coursing--was very different from what we today call sport or sports. It called for a level of involvement in nature that is foreign to us, and a heavy dependence on that essential of the age, the horse.

The Sporting Magazine was a necessity for any gentleman calling himself a "crack sportsman", a "blood", or a "Corinthian". The magazine's subtitle is worthy of note:
 The Sporting Magazine or Monthly Calendar of the transactions of The Turf, The Chase, and every other Diversion interesting to the Man of Pleasure, Enterprize and Spirit"
But even the august publication of Rudolph Ackermann, The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashion and Politics, included a column "British Sports" in every issue, with a fine plate illustrating some aspect of the activities of the field and stream. The column even waxed lyrical, with sporting poetry that included such lines as
The plates that appeared in The Sporting Magazine and Ackermann's Repository were detailed, accurate and evocative of the sentiments expressed in the lines above:

"Going Out" from Repository of Arts January 1810

A winter sport--snipe shooting
The plates also display the animals necessary to 'sport', both the pursued and the pursuers:

Hare from Repository of Arts

Spaniels from Repository of Arts
Despite the celebration of outdoor life in both magazines, in 1802 a letter to the editor of The Sporting Magazine made some interesting points:

 Next time, his thoughts on the Fashionable Sportsman. They are not at all flattering!

'Til then,

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Happy Holidays!

 Wishing you peace, joy and the love of family and friends this Christmas...

See you in the New Year!