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Article

David Blayney Brown

(Howland)

(b Great Dunmow, Essex, Nov 6, 1753; d Coleorton, Leics, Feb 7, 1827).

Amateur painter and draughtsman, collector and patron. He was the quintessential amateur, whose interests extended to literature and drama as well as to art; he became the leading arbiter of taste of his day. The painter Thomas Hearne described him as the ‘supreme dictator on works of art’. While Beaumont strongly supported new trends in poetry and did much to foster the careers of William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, he maintained essentially 18th-century standards in his connoisseurship. His love of art had begun at Eton College, where he was taught drawing by Alexander Cozens; it was confirmed in 1771 by a meeting with the engraver William Woollett and Hearne, then Woollett’s pupil. Subsequently Beaumont was guided by a succession of distinguished artists including John Robert Cozens, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, Richard Wilson, Thomas Jones, Joseph Farington, Benjamin West, Thomas Girtin and John Constable. His own work, of which there is a large collection in the ...

Article

Kim Sloan

[de Grey]

English family of architects, patrons and collectors. Principally noted for their interest in garden design and architecture as represented in the family estate at Wrest Park, Beds, many generations of the family were active as statesmen and parliamentarians. Among the important works of art once owned by the family are Claude Lorrain’s Coast View of the Embarkation of Carlo and Ubaldo (Toronto, A. G. Ont.) and Anthony van Dyck’s portrait of the Balbi Children (London, N.G.). In 1676 Anthony, 11th Earl Grey (b 1645; d 19 Aug 1702), designed and built a new north front for the Elizabethan house at Wrest; during the late 1680s he began making Baroque formal gardens to the south of it. His son, Henry Grey, 12th Earl of Kent (b 1671; d 5 June 1740), whose Grand Tour in 1690–91 had included a visit to Rome, inherited the estate on his father’s death and resumed work on the gardens in ...

Article

French, 18th – 19th century, male.

Born 18 July 1758, in Courtrai; died 12 January 1835, in Paris.

Painter, picture dealer. Church interiors, architectural views.

Pierre Joseph Lafontaine was first a student of Kaplan Van Neste, a distinguished connoisseur, who had him accepted by the academy in Courtrai, and then he worked with Jean Douelle. He concentrated especially on the painting of church interiors. He went to Paris, where he seems to have had some success. Taunay, Demarne, Swebach and Drolling worked on some of his pictures. Bryan's ...

Article

Michael McCarthy

(b Arbury, Warwicks, May 30, 1719; d Arbury, Nov 25, 1806).

English politician, architect, draughtsman, patron and collector. In 1734 he succeeded his brother as fifth baronet. He was educated at Westminster School and University College, Oxford, and set out on a Grand Tour after graduating in 1739. He made an intensive study of Imperial Roman remains in France and Italy. His record of ruins in Provence is the most complete and exact of the 18th century. In Italy he made the fullest visual record of the disposition of works of art in the Uffizi and other collections and of the remains of Roman tombs along the Appian Way (drawings, Warwick Co. Rec. Office; priv. col.). Newdigate’s style is remarkably close to that of Piranesi, although they did not meet until 1775, during Newdigate’s second Grand Tour, when Newdigate purchased from him the two candelabra that he subsequently presented to Oxford University, along with 12 bound volumes of Piranesi’s prints (all Oxford, Ashmolean). In the same year ...

Article

Roberta J. M. Olson

(b Bologna, 15 May ?1775–7; d Turin, March 6, 1860).

Italian painter, architect, designer and collector. At the age of 12 he began to frequent the house in Bologna of his patron Conte Carlo Filippo Aldrovandi Marescotti (1763–1823), whose collections and library provided his early artistic education and engendered his taste for collecting. From 1795 he worked on several decorative schemes with the theatre designer and decorator Antonio Basoli (1774–1848), and it was perhaps in theatre designs that Palagi was first exposed to an eclectic range of motifs from exotic cultures. He was influenced by the linear, mannered style of Felice Giani, with whom he frequented the important evening drawing sessions at the house of the engraver Francesco Rosaspina (1762–1841). Beginning in 1802, he participated in the informal Accademia della Pace, Bologna, as well as studying at the Accademia Clementina, and was elected to the Accademia Nazionale di Belle Arti of Bologna in 1803...

Article

Alain Gruber

(b Besançon, Oct 25, 1745; d Besançon, Aug 1, 1819).

French architect and stage designer. He was the son of Pierre-François Pâris, a master builder turned architect. He was brought up in the modest court of the Prince-Bishop of Basle at Porrentruy in Switzerland, where from 1750 his father was official architect and topographer. He went to Paris probably in 1760 to study under the architect Louis-François Trouard, and after three unsuccessful attempts at the Prix de Rome in 1766, 1768 and 1769, he obtained the support of the Marquis de Marigny and the Duc d’Aumont with his project for entertainments at the wedding of the Dauphin and Marie-Antoinette, planned for 1770. He then went to the Académie de France in Rome as tutor to Trouard’s young son. During his five years there he associated with Cardinal de Bernis, Charles de Wailly, Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Bergeret de Grancourt and contributed to the Abbé de Saint-Non’s Voyage pittoresque with drawings of antique monuments at Pompeii, Paestum, Herculaneum and elsewhere. He also travelled through Italy, from Sicily to Venice and the Piedmont, and kept travel journals of considerable interest. His many portfolios of architectural drawings were highly successful on his return to Paris and brought him employment: improvements to the Duc d’Aumont’s residence on the Place Louis XV (...

Article

(b ?London, March 3, 1737; d Pisa, Jan 19, 1793).

English architect and patron. He was educated at Cambridge University, where he became friendly with the medievalists William Cole (1714–82) and Thomas Gray (1716–71). He travelled to Spain and Portugal in 1760 and there compiled a journal that gave the first descriptions in English of a large number of Iberian Gothic antiquities. Circulated privately, the manuscript contributed to the scholarship of English antiquaries. Pitt’s work as a Gothic Revivalist includes decoration (1762–4) at Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, nr London, for Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford; refurbishment (1764–8) at Carlisle and Norwich cathedrals; and alterations (1783) at Holywell House, St Albans, Herts. Pitt’s uncle, Charles Lyttelton, Bishop of Carlisle and President of the Society of Antiquaries, encouraged his nephew’s Gothic interests, and family connections provided Pitt’s most important commissions. Between 1765 and 1777 Pitt built garden buildings, including the Corinthian arch for his cousins, the Grenvilles, at Stowe, Bucks, and adapted an Adam design for the south front of the house. Pitt’s career illustrates the importance of the tradition of the amateur architect among leading 18th-century families and their interest in new stylistic possibilities....

Article

Pomposa  

Charles B. McClendon

Italian former Benedictine abbey near the mouth of the Po River and 45 km north of Ravenna in the province of Emilia Romagna. Although first documented in ad 874, a monastic settlement probably existed there at least two centuries earlier. Pomposa rose to prominence in the 10th and 11th centuries through the support of the Holy Roman emperors. Over the course of the 14th century, a notable series of wall paintings in three different buildings were sponsored despite the monastery’s waning fortunes. In 1663 the monastic community was suppressed by papal decree. The site was secularized in 1802 and became property of the Italian state after 1870.

The proportions of the wooden-roofed basilican church, along with the polygonal outline of its main apse, reflect influence from nearby Ravenna and Classe and suggest a date in the 8th or 9th century. An elaborate pavement of mosaic and cut stone (opus sectile...

Article

David Watkin

(b Goring on Thames, Oxon, Sept 10, 1753; d London, Jan 20, 1837).

English architect and collector. Soane has long been recognized as the most original architect in Britain, and possibly in Europe, around 1800. Intent on returning to first principles, he developed a personal language of strange and often bizarre poetry that found no real imitators and, although steeped in the Classical tradition, he reduced the orders to a system of incised lines that are a parallel to the fundamentalist doctrines of the Abbé Marc-Antoine Laugier. At the same time he bathed his interiors in light from hidden sources in a manner that, while ultimately Baroque, may owe something to Piranesi.

Born in modest circumstances as the son of a bricklayer, Soane was trained for four years from 1768 by the inventive architect George Dance (ii) before working in the office of Henry Holland from 1772 to 1777. Later in his career Soane developed his architectural ideas in close but informal association with Dance, his ‘revered master’, with whom he shared a preoccupation with toplighting and a concern to create what Dance called ‘unshackled’ architecture. In ...

Article

R. Windsor Liscombe

(b Norwich, Aug 31, 1778; d Cambridge, Aug 31, 1839).

English architect, writer and collector . A ‘profound knowledge of the principles both of Grecian and Gothic architecture’ generated the career of Wilkins, who was also remembered as ‘a most amiable and honourable man’. He promoted the archaeological Greek Revival in Britain and a Tudor Gothic style. More intellectual than imaginative, his architecture was distinguished by a deft and disciplined manipulation of select historical motifs, a refined sense of scale and intelligent planning, outmoded by the time of his death. Besides his architecture and extensive antiquarian writings, Wilkins assembled an eclectic art collection and owned, or had a financial interest in, several theatres in East Anglia.

The theatres and Wilkins’s architectural bent were inherited from his father, a Norwich architect also called William Wilkins (1751–1815), who assisted Humphry Repton from 1785 to 1796 and established a successful domestic practice, mainly in the Gothick style. His eldest son was educated at Norwich School, then at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, from which he graduated Sixth Wrangler in ...