This article explores the exemplary surviving print room at Woodhall Park in Hertfordshire, created in 1782 for Sir Thomas Rumbold. A professional named “R. Parker” pasted more than 350 prints around the walls of this interior; the results were then carefully recorded in a catalogue and set of elevation diagrams. The first section, “Space”, analyses the print room within the broader context of the house, in order to connect exterior and interior, explore the relative qualities of “public” and “private” space, and consider neoclassical style as worked out in various media. The second, “Display”, unpacks the pasted scheme, looking at the relationship between “background” images and “starring” works, and that between iconography and pattern-making. The final part explores “Making”, analysing the processes by which prints were selected, trimmed, given paper borders, and arranged around the walls. This discussion considers both the degree to which the intermedial object of the reproductive print was translated into a trompe l’œil painting or sculpture in such schemes, and the creative work of collaging at play. The analysis in this article weaves together textual discussion with still and moving images, film, and animation. Combining these techniques, it aims to provide full documentation and analysis of the scheme, and to engage with embodied, mobile, and temporally determined viewing experience in both the house and the print room.
The Print Room: Prints and HousesDOI
Print rooms are situated in a rich and yet complex position between various sub-disciplines of art history. My focus here is on the fashion for the print room as it emerged in Britain and Ireland in the 1750s.1 The vogue for trimming reproductive prints, pasting them around the walls of a room, and embellishing them with printed borders reached a fashionable peak in the second half of the eighteenth century. Typically relying on published series interspersed with selected “starring” images, these were trompe l’œil paper galleries, the prints “hung” from bows and rings, interspersed with floral swags and festoons, with sculptural prints sometimes placed on the dado rails below. Some of the earliest evidence for these rooms comes from the correspondence of Mary Delany, when she wrote to her sister in late June 1750, telling her that she had spent a rainy day at the house of her friends and neighbours, the Veseys, just outside Dublin, making “frames for prints”.2 The following April, she was in the throes of creating her own print room at Delville, thanking her brother for sending “six dozen borders … where I have not pictures, I must have prints; otherwise, I think prints best in books”.3 Within the following two decades, the trend had become so established that a number of printmakers and publishers had started to cash in on and feed the fashion: old printed material was repackaged as suitable for such schemes; new decorative prints were designed and published for the express purpose of adorning these rooms.4 The extent of their engagement is amply evidenced in the 1774 catalogue of the printmaker Robert Sayer, with one section devoted to “fine prints in sets” with which “to ornament Rooms, Staircases, &c. with curious borders representing frames, a fashion much in use”, and another to those borders and other ornaments “necessary for fitting up print rooms”.5 Only twelve houses in Britain and Ireland today contain intact print rooms, but collections and archives contain traces of the many which have long since been destroyed or dismantled.DOI
The print room is a phenomenon which needs to be approached broadly from two key perspectives. On the one hand, we have the prints themselves. These are embedded in a number of period-specific contexts: the elaboration of print techniques, processes, subjects, and types in the eighteenth century; increasingly complex and sophisticated modes of production, marketing, and distribution; the expanded print trade in operation across Europe.6 Then, there is the business of what was done with prints in this era, whether contained “in books”, used as “pictures”, or refashioned through a wealth of intermedial creative practice, including extra-illustration and japanning.7 Studies of extra-illustration intersect with histories of the book, both in terms of the publications from which many prints derived, as well as those which they were used to adorn, as shown in recent work by Lucy Peltz and Luisa Calè.8 Japanning, meanwhile, leads the researcher into the realm of the decorative arts and furniture, as prints were used to adorn objects ranging from “the superb cabinet, to the smallest article of the toilet”.9 Such diverse practices were linked by the physical processes of cutting and trimming, of pasting and pressing. And they were pan-European. The distinctive form of the British and Irish print room was one manifestation of a much broader vogue for découpage.10DOI
Thinking about print rooms requires engagement with print culture and these practices, but this also takes us from objects to spaces, and into the terrain of the eighteenth-century country house.11 This connects with the social history of country houses as pioneered by Mark Girouard, inviting questions as to how these displays—striking in effect, heavy with visual information—related to the individual lives and social practices which unfolded in the rooms they adorned.12 But the print room also needs to be interleaved with the stylistic history of the country house and its interiors. In the swags, festoons, and trophies which proliferated in its heyday, the print room engaged with the vogue for the grotesque, most fully embodied in the contemporaneous fashion for “Etruscan” rooms.13 Print room displays also need to be aligned with the history of wallpaper. Not only was their creation reliant on the rise of paper hanging in the eighteenth century, but their history is also intimately intertwined with both that of Chinese paper schemes, and the parallel development of those wallpaper designs which replicated the print room effect in single sheets.14 However, this needs to be offset by the fact that print rooms were about iconography as well as pattern making; about reproduced paintings and sculpture as well as ornamentation, and, as such, also connect with spaces such as the gallery and the cabinet. They have rightly been understood as “paper museums”;15 as (predominantly) monochrome galleries which made good use of the dissemination of increasingly physically and financially available reproductive prints in the period, as well as functioning as decorative schemes. This leads us back to print culture, completing the circle.DOI
That print rooms appear in publications about prints, about country houses, and about interior design and wallpaper underscores their intersectionality.16 Yet, they also have a marginality born of that intersectionality. This article focuses on the case study of Woodhall Park in Hertfordshire in order to unpack these overlapping media and themes. At its core sit three key issues, which I use to structure the discussion: space, display, and making. Entwined digital components, developed through collaboration with the filmmaker Phil Poppy, are key to this exploration, underpinning engagement with embodied and mobile experience, balancing the informative with the perceptual, and enabling interaction with both the original print material from which the display at Woodhall Park was crafted and the processes by which the room was made. While digital technology has most commonly been used in scholarship on interiors and decoration for purposes of reconstruction, the Woodhall Park print room is a remarkably intact and well-documented scheme.17 Here, technology can be focused instead on both extending analysis of the display and exploring the kinaesthetic encounter. The aim is to facilitate a more extensive engagement with and understanding of the material, but in full acknowledgement of the digital as an avatar. Remediation and manipulation within the digital provide a parallel experience of, rather than direct access to, this space and its materials and processes. As such, it is embedded within the analysis of this article. Indeed, I intend this to be the kind of performative explication of an argument which has long been at the heart of the discipline of art history, from the slide lecture onwards: art history as “engaged performance”.18
The Print Room: Woodhall ParkDOI
The print room at Woodhall Park, completed in 1782, offers particularly rich material for such analysis. This is an extensive scheme, consisting of well over 350 prints pasted around the walls, adorned with numerous decorative elements, showing full engagement with the height of the fashion (figs. 1 and 2).19 It is also unusually well documented. Surviving archival material is not only revealing about the processes of creation, but also provides a degree of surety about the (largely original) appearance of the room which is unrivalled. Finally, a meticulous conservation project undertaken by Allyson McDermott in the mid-1990s enables a fuller experience of and engagement with the display than is possible with those in worse states of repair.20 The prints are still notably darkened, and the necessary infills of plain, toned handmade paper create visual interruptions, but—of the surviving examples—Woodhall presents the best opportunity for analysing the creation, use, and experience of the eighteenth-century print room.
Thomas Rumbold purchased the Woodhall estate from the Boteler family in 1774, for the sum of £87,000. Rumbold could easily afford this, having made a vast fortune through the East India Company over the previous two decades. When he had resigned his post with the company in 1769, and returned to Britain, he was reputed to be worth between £200,000 and £300,000.21 However, the estate was without a house, as John Boteler’s Tudor manor house had been destroyed by fire a few years earlier. Rumbold called on the architect Thomas Leverton to provide designs, and his 1777 elevation for the new house was exhibited the following year at the Royal Academy (fig. 3).22 However, Rumbold had continued his East India Company career while back in England, becoming a director in 1770, and he returned to take up the position of Governor of Madras a couple of months before Leverton’s design went on view at the Academy’s rooms in Pall Mall. Despite this, work on Woodhall continued apace in his absence, from February 1778 to January 1781. His attorneys were allocated £14,155 for the contract, and they made a series of substantial payments to Leverton while their employer was away. They had the power to accept unanticipated building expenses, and even to make decisions, approving the final elevation design as “much more beautiful than the former one”.23 As well as the money paid to Leverton (both for his own work, and that which he subcontracted), large sums were also issued to Ince and Mayhew for bespoke furniture for the new house.24 Even more than the ledgers for Rumbold’s account with the bankers, Gosling and Sharpe, the extent of the expenditure at Woodhall is highlighted by the figures included in a document which survives in the parliamentary archives.25 On Rumbold’s return from India, a bill was moved for inflicting pains and penalties, accompanied by another restraining him from leaving the country. A committee was established, chaired by Henry Dundas, to look into both Rumbold’s corrupt dealings with the zamindars and the Nawab of Arcot, and the charge that his undiplomatic dealings in India had provoked the war in the Carnatic. As part of this process, Rumbold was required to produce a full digest of his property. Sums of £12,250 6s. ½d. and £9,250 6s. 1½d. are cited for “sundries for Building the Mansion House and other Buildings on ye Estate in Herts”.26 One debt to Ince and Mayhew amounts to “about” £3,541 17s. 3d.; another specifies £1,241 17s. 3d. spent on “Household Furniture” provided by the firm in late 1781 and 1782.27
Understanding the Woodhall Park print room requires study of Leverton’s designs and other documentary sources, in addition to the surviving fabric of the house. This facilitates engagement with the original conception, and with the effects of the (relatively minor) changes over time (fig. 4). The building today reveals that the exhibited design of the west front was broadly implemented in full: a central, seven-bay block, three-storey high, with a pitched roof and full-height central portico. On the Palladian model, single-storey wings extend to each side: the print room is contained within the south wing to the right in the elevation, lit by the second and third windows as one’s eye moves across to the side pavilion. But comparison between design and extant building immediately flags one of the most notable subsequent changes to the structure: the addition of another storey to the side wings in the 1790s, in order to provide additional accommodation. The other key change was the subsequent inversion of the house’s orientation, moving the entrance to the east. This effectively shifted the print room to the back of the house, looking out towards the landscape into which the west door now effectively ejects the visitor who has passed through the building.
Turning from Leverton’s elevation to the ground plan creates a sensation of moving up and over the building, gaining a downward view through the structure (fig. 5).28 The bulk of that central block becomes more notable, and the articulation of the façade with windows, niches, balustrades, and sculpted relief panels is tempered by the realisation that these features result in minimal projection and recession. But the plan also provides room identifications, and the standard Palladian structure of the architecture is now aligned with a similarly typical arrangement of living space. That deep, central rectangular block is filled, as one would expect, with the principal rooms of the house: the hall, saloon, drawing room, library, and so on. The service areas are—for hierarchical as well as practical reasons (distancing from servants, odours, and fire hazards)—located in the wings. The north wing initially screened an open court, as well as housing the dairy, brewhouse, washhouse, and laundry; the south wing contained the kitchen, housekeeper’s room, butler’s apartments, and storeroom, as well as the print room. The plan also, crucially, identifies the print room as originally a “billiard room”: a function confirmed in sale catalogues of 1799 and 1801.29
The print room is thus not part of the corps de logis, set among the public rooms. Its position to one side of the main block of the house—connected by a corridor and a lobby, but clearly apart—near the butler’s rooms—indicates this as a relatively more privately oriented and informal space. This accords with its designated function as a site of male sociability and entertainment; with the informality of this as an environment for play and attendant conversation.30 Indeed, several print rooms from the period were located in a similar position. That at Wanstead, for example, was on the basement floor, below the piano nobile, along with the family’s own apartments, servants’ rooms, and service areas.31 The print room at Heveningham Hall in Suffolk, meanwhile, was positioned on the opposite side of the central block to the main state rooms, again adjacent to spaces for servants. It functioned as a small dining room where Sir Gerard Vanneck, the owner, would eat when alone.32 And the print room at Calke Abbey used to be more tucked away than it is today. Until the 1930s, stairs would lead visitors straight up to the principal, first-floor rooms. The “Characture [caricature] room”, situated next to Sir Henry Crewe’s study and other family rooms on the ground floor below, along with the servants’ quarters, would thus have originally seemed more sequestered within the house.33DOI
Thus contextualised, the significations of the position of the print room in the ground plan of Woodhall can be aligned with its social meaning and purpose. However, this is also a notably high and dominant space among its immediate companions in the south wing, and would have had an effectively dramatic impact as the visitor arrived through the corridor, and then the lobby, with a sense of the servants’ quarters lying ahead. The room itself would have felt more enclosed without the door subsequently punched through to the right of the fireplace: a contained space to be entered, offering an activity to be joined, immersed in a dense and striking display of prints around all four walls, without the immediate invitation of onward progress. However, its height, as well as the level of lighting, would have been amplified by the original glazed dome in the centre of the ceiling.34 The billiard table would almost certainly have been placed directly below this skylight, thus illuminated from above as well as by the two west-facing windows, also making the display of prints much more visible in daylight hours. Those images on the walls would logically have complemented the purpose of the billiard room, shifting between providing a backdrop to the play and offering focal points between shots with the cue, available for the players to peruse and likely discuss.35DOI
The glazed dome would also have tightened the relationship between the billiard/print room and the rest of the house, recalling other skylights, especially that which illuminates the staircase hall, previously encountered by any visitor. This relationship underscores another key point about the print room in this context of spatiality. As these are such distinctive spaces, and because of a long-standing tendency within the history of country houses and interiors to compartmentalise, to atomise features, it can be easy to overlook their connectedness with other rooms in a building.36 The synergies between the effects of the print room and the stuccowork, paintwork, and ironwork in this hall are striking: foliate and floral tendrils, classical figures, and urns abound.37 Many of these motifs continue in the “Etruscan saloon” (as designated in the sale particulars), joined here by beribboned swags—the typically limited palette of brown, red, ochre, and cream chiming again with the print room’s monochromaticity.38 Indeed, the white figures in wreathed oval medallions in the spandrels provide an almost exact counterpart to the Richard Dalton sculptural prints in the corners of the print room’s coving.39 The type of print display created at Woodhall Park can thus be situated within a much broader and well-known story of Neoclassicism, looking back to the antique of Pompeii and Herculaneum via Raphael and the Renaissance. This is the style so vividly evoked in the preface to the Adams brothers’ Works in Architecture, billed as “gracefully formed” and “delicately enriched”, its “grace and beauty” achieved through a “mixture of grotesque stucco, and painted ornaments, together with the flowing raniçeau, with its fanciful figures and winding foliage”.40DOI
DOI A variety of media intersect here: forms and motifs inflected by but continued across different materials, the specialities of a range of artists and craftsmen working in conjunction. Within the print room itself, egg and dart detailing, fluted friezes adorned with rosettes, and swag and drop motifs connect paper borders and ornaments with the sculpted and moulded architectural features of the fireplace, skylight, and built-in bookcase. But a still fuller assessment of the spaces of Woodhall requires consideration of the furniture provided by Ince and Mayhew, as the relationship between architecture, decoration, and furnishings was particularly intimate in such later eighteenth-century houses. Here, we find a further proliferation of antique classical iconography, urns, festoons, and ribbons.41 A 1925 Country Life photograph shows an oval-backed settee and three matching armchairs, adorned with more swags, here of carved drapery, suspended from bows (fig. 6).42 A chest of drawers translates these motifs into painted form, with panels of ribbons and foliage, and another swag and drop frieze interspersed with more rosettes.43
The print display at Woodhall Park is particularly dense, but also immaculately organised, symmetrical around both the key architectural features of the room (the door, the two windows, the fireplace, and the built-in cupboard) and the large print pilasters used to break up the areas of wall still further (figs. 7 and 8). A large number of paper decorative elements have been added to make the scheme both more unified and, somewhat conversely, more ornate. The reproductive prints are framed with a wide variety of borders; they are suspended from rings, bows, and other devices, and are surrounded by floral swags and trophies. Paper candelabra and urns “sit” on the dado rail and the mantelpiece.44 The elaborate display is offset by its restriction to the upper three-quarters of the walls, above the dado and panelling, necessary in order to take knocks and scrapes from furniture, but also providing a respite to the eye. The prints continue up into the wide coving, but this is a more steadily paced display of large prints of heads from a series engraved by Giovanni Cattini after Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, published in Venice in 1744.45 They are interspersed with exceptionally large floral swags, compiled from up to forty appliqued sections each, linked to provide an unbroken sequence running between those four statue prints in the corners.46 The space shows full engagement with the trompe l’œil tradition, evident throughout print rooms, with the conceit of the framed images “hung” on the walls, and the two-dimensional images of sculpture and decorative objects “placed” on three-dimensional architectural features. The prints are also effectively projected forward into space by the receding effect of the cool, pale blue walls.47
Reconstruction of lost or altered displays is core work for art historians, but the Woodhall Park print room is almost entirely original in both its fabric and organisation, as proved by four surviving record drawings of the elevations and an associated catalogue.48 The drawings, housed in an album titled “Plan of the Pictures”, are beautiful objects in their own right, carefully drawn and amplified with a light watercolour wash (figs. 9 and 10). They are functional, in numbering 287 of the reproductive prints in support of the associated catalogue (a later transcript of the original document), but they are also evidently presentation rather than working drawings. The sculptural and architectural prints are not identified, likely underscoring these as of lower status, but this material helps with identifying most of the images in the room, tells us which prints were originally on the wall to the right of the fireplace (removed when the door was inserted), and flags a very few later alterations.49
In the drawing of the south wall, the frieze which runs along the top of the fireplace has been supplanted by a vital, but ultimately tantalising piece of information: “Design’d and Finished by R. Parker 1782”. Although print rooms have long been considered the domain of amateurs, it transpires that the one at Woodhall was the work of a contracted professional. There are certainly a number of examples which support an established image of elegant ladies (largely) whiling away leisure time with their scissors, not least the displays at Lucan House and Delville noted in the introduction.50 But, once the fashion had become established, professionals began to offer their services, and the possibility of acquiring a print room without extensive personal time and effort. Thomas Chippendale’s firm, for example, counted this among their jobs at Mersham-le-Hatch, Sir Edward Knatchbull’s new house in Kent. As well as providing large quantities of furniture and putting up wallpaper, the company charged £14 10s. in 1767 for “Cutting Out the Prints Borders & Ornaments & Hanging Them” in a dressing room. The prints themselves were provided by Knatchbull, or another party, but Chippendale did also charge for the paper borders, corners, festoons, masks, and so on, used to ornament the scheme.51 This is the closest recorded parallel to the situation at Woodhall Park, but, unfortunately, “R. Parker” has left nothing like the paper trail provided by Chippendale, and has proved elusive to date. However, the fact that possibilities include a carver, a cabinet maker, and gilder indicates that he was likely one of the various craftsmen subcontracted to collaborate on Woodhall, perhaps providing this as one service among others.52DOI
Parker’s display is typical in balancing the use of series of prints and showcased works: the former sometimes a foil to the latter; at other times the source of those centrepieces. Engagement with this arrangement relies on the temporal process of looking, as some viewing needs to have been undertaken before the dynamics of framework and feature, background and foreground, become fully apparent. Various factors are at play in recognising the focal points. There is the hierarchy of the wall space, in which intuitive understanding of the centre as privileged over the periphery, and the middle over the upper and lower, is called upon. The hearth—drawing the eye as a dominant sculpted feature, the body as the source of warmth, and the mind as the sign of hospitality and home—inevitably directs particular attention to the prints above. Size clearly matters, as does the addition of a more or less elaborate border, with or without corner pieces, and the degree of ornateness in the “hanging” device chosen. Reshaping has mostly been reserved for subordinate prints towards the outside of groups, thus taking a more pronounced role in pattern making, and a more minor role in the “paper museum” (while participating in both). Finally, subject matter is key in two principal ways. On a basic level, a print attracts more attention if the main elements in its composition are larger, fewer, and more striking. Greater tonal contrasts and more dramatic lines play their part. But there is also an important appeal here to the “educated eye”. A vital part of the experience of this print room relies on traditional knowledge of the canon of Old Masters, and “celebrated works” in particular collections.53 Looking towards the south wall, for example, the familiarity of Annibale Carracci’s Madonna del Silenzio (a major acquisition for the Royal Collection in 1766), or Anthony van Dyck’s portrait of the children of Charles I (of which there are numerous versions in British collections) ensure they leap out to those “in the know” (fig. 11).54 This is a layered process, in which the display both relies on and confirms connoisseurial knowledge for its effect, the pleasure and affirmation engendered by recognition of images enhancing aesthetic response to the structured display.
Series of prints were widely available in the eighteenth century, not least for commercial reasons. They saved publishers time and money in the selling process, and served as attractive commodities in the marketplace, whether sold ready to be bound as books, with the possibility of framed display, or expressly for print rooms.55 They were invaluable in helping to structure print room schemes: facilitating symmetry and providing a number of often thematically united prints of the same dimensions. They could provide strands of coherence in the display and encourage viewer engagement in tracing sets run across the walls. And, on a pragmatic note, the availability of series also meant that a good number of prints could be acquired in one fell swoop: invaluable when creating a display running into several hundreds. This last factor was surely in mind when Rumbold’s attorneys paid for subscriptions to two substantial publishing projects in the few years leading up to the creation of the print room at Woodhall. On 23 October 1778, they laid out £11 for the “Voy:Pictoursque”: Jean-Claude Richard, Abbé de Saint-Non’s celebrated illustrated Voyage Pittoresque ou Description des Royaumes de Naples et de Sicile.56 While the text for the four volumes of this major publishing project was published from 1781 to 1786, the plates were issued in livraisons (parts) from March 1778 onwards.57 Thirty-four of Saint-Non’s prints were used in the display at Woodhall, including topographical views, reproductions of various paintings in Neapolitan churches and palaces, and some antique images from Herculaneum. A later entry in the attorneys’ minutes, dated 16 March 1780, records a payment of £12 12s. “To Jos. Robinson[?] in full for Tableaux Topographiques”.58 This refers to Jean-Benjamin de Laborde and Beat-Fidel von Zurlauben’s Tableaux Topographiques, Pittoresques, Physiques, Historiques, Moraux, Politiques, Littéraires, de la Suisse, published in four volumes by Jacques-Gabriel Clousier from 1780 to 1788. As in the case of Saint-Non’s publication, this was produced in Paris, with the bankers, Biddulph and Cox, handling subscription monies in London.59 This monumental publication contained 430 images, eighty-eight of which were used at Woodhall Park, ranging from landscape, genre and historical scenes, through to portraits of notable Swiss figures.DOI
Analysing the walls, it is clear that these two series were used to provide the bulk of the display (fig. 12). They are often used interchangeably, paired and grouped together, the transition between prints from the Voyage Pittoresque and Tableaux Topographiques eased through matched shaping and shared borders. Together, they effectively underpin the structure of the walls, providing a framework against which to display the more notable prints. Prints from these two series generally appear in the top and bottom registers around the room, and in clusters framing more prominent images. On the east wall, for example, the uppermost prints predominantly consist of Swiss landscapes from the Tableaux, framing Domenico Cunego’s print after Gavin Hamilton’s Juno on the left, and Robert Strange’s etching and engraving after Guido Reni’s Cleopatra on the right.60 In each case, a strikingly posed female figure is thus set off by paired views of bridges, valleys, rivers, and gorges, broadly reduced to generic alpine scenes, denuded of the letterpress which provides the specific locations. They thus recede to the status of foils to the higher status works.
DOI Small oval portraits taken from the Tableaux Topographiques similarly function as predominantly formal framework, intermixed with similar portraits taken from George Kearsley’s Copperplate Magazine.61 With no apparent connection between Rumbold and Switzerland, it seems that the particular names and accomplishments of these Swiss soldiers, artists, historians, and medics are of no importance.62 Predominantly, the portraits in the room are dotted around the walls to break up the arrangements of larger prints: simple head and shoulders images to contrast with the more complex figurative works and landscapes. Indeed, as “suspended” from the bottom of those larger prints in a number of cases, they function on a par with the decorative festoons and tassels. However, there is one notable exception among these various portraits, where the significance and recognisability of the sitter, and the central placement of the image, ensures that it leaps to attention once noticed. This is a profile portrait of George III, after Allan Ramsay, taken from the Copperplate Magazine.63 Suspended from a candelabrum placed on a bracket, this gives a respectful, if relatively modest, nod to the reigning king (fig. 13).DOI
Series are not, however, necessarily background. The Piazzetta heads in the coving demonstrate this, with their striking formal qualities, privileged and separated off in this upper register, their significance underscored by the fact that every plate from the set of fourteen has been utilised. The twenty-one prints from Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Vedute di Roma are another case in point, and worth dwelling on in some detail.64 This etched series of images of Rome was started by Piranesi in 1747, published both individually and in groups, and continued until his death in 1778. By then, a complete set would have consisted of the title page and 134 views. The Vedute consistently catch the eye as one moves around the print room at Woodhall, not least as larger than most of the other prints arrayed on the walls. The need for substantial images to offset more readily available smaller prints in such a scheme was noted by Lady Louisa Conolly when she was working on her print room at Castletown, near Dublin. She wrote to her sister, Lady Sarah Bunbury, on 14 February 1768, to ask: “at any time that you chance to go into a print Shop, I should be obliged to you, if you will buy me, five or Six large Prints, there are some of Teniers engraved by LeBas, which I am told are larger than the common size”.65 Piranesi’s Vedute fell into this desired category.DOI
The Piranesis also attract particular attention as consistently prominently positioned: most notable is the exterior view of the Pantheon in a prime location over the fireplace on the south wall. But just as much attention has been paid to formal synergies between these compositions as with those lower-status prints from the Voyage Pittoresque and Tableaux Topographiques, their prominence in fact enhanced by the kinds of compositional echoes which elsewhere serve primarily to create a formally pleasing backdrop. On the east wall, for example, two landscape-format Piranesis have been centrally placed in both the left- and right-hand sections. In each case, an exterior view of a basilica, seen at a sharp angle from the right, has been positioned above an interior view of a nave, showcasing Piranesi’s love of spectacular perspectival effects.66 Four more Piranesis have been featured in the central section of that wall, including a view of Trajan’s column paired with a similarly portrait-format print of the column of Marcus Aurelius in the Piazza Colonna.67 All these relationships have clearly been carefully planned and thought through.DOI
As well as their dramatic formal qualities, substantial size, and prominent placement, the visibility of Piranesi’s Vedute owes much to the recognisability of both the prints and the famed sites in Rome which they depict. Indeed, the multiple appearance of the Pantheon in the room—interior and exterior, viewed both near and from across the Piazza della Rotonda—underscores the sense of perambulation around sites of such renown in this period of the Grand Tour that a nod of recognition seems perhaps more invited than close study of their forms.68 The Vedute were immensely popular across Europe in the eighteenth century, framing general perceptions of ancient and modern Rome.69 As a result, it is not surprising to find that these Piranesis were used in other print rooms as well. There are ten in the display at Blickling Hall in Norfolk, including the exterior view of the Pantheon again in a prominent position.70 The print room at Bretton Park in Yorkshire, now destroyed, was solely decorated with these prints (including that etching of the Pantheon yet again), densely displayed without borders or, indeed, any intervening space.71 The scheme at Beaufront in Northumberland is also long gone, but was once, according to the 1st Duchess of Northumberland, “fitted up with Prints (chiefly Piranesis) on a Buff Colour paper”.72DOI
The prominence of the Piranesis at Woodhall, together with the use of the Tableaux Topographiques and Voyage Pittoresque prints, underscores the fact that this is not only a paper museum, it is also a paper Grand Tour. Many tourists to Italy visited Switzerland, most typically on their way home, and Naples and Rome were key destinations.73 This also contextualises the two central prints on the east wall, which take the viewer to a third major Italian site for travellers: plates 6 and 7 from Giuseppe Zocchi’s Vedute … della Città di Firenze, published in 1744.74 These are not only very substantial and central prints, they are also positioned at eye level, and are further emphasised by their particularly finely detailed rocaille borders of leaves, shells, and garlands.75 The virtual tour constructed through the topographical views in the room is echoed here in reduced form, as one is presented with complementary views up and down the Arno. In the left-hand plate, we look eastwards from the north bank towards the Ponte Santa Trinità. That view includes the position on the south bank from which the second, more proximate view towards the same bridge has been taken, inviting the viewer imaginatively to navigate the river. Use of this pair, isolated from the rest of Zocchi’s series, commutes them into “starring works”, more of the ilk of the Madonna del Silenzio (fig. 14).
Movement of the body and eye within the Woodhall print room is thus extended to remembered or imagined movement around the key tourist routes of Europe—at least for those with the ability to recognise the most significant sites. Rumbold and his family did go on a Grand Tour, but not until a few years after the print room was created, in 1786. Thus, this trip in print would have presented itself as, at first, access to unseen sites of knowledge and privilege, and only later as memento.76 Awareness of Rumbold’s status as a nabob, and one of particularly dubious reputation at that, leads inexorably to conjecture that this statement of taste and learning—this reference to a rite of elite passage—was aspirational, perhaps defensive. It evokes the traditional position of the young male aristocrat inheriting the family estate, rather than that of a nouveau riche whose wealth had deeply problematic origins.DOI
But the statement of taste and learning at Woodhall goes beyond the tour of countries and their landscapes, of cities, squares, and their key buildings, to major works of art within those buildings. As well as plates from the Voyage Pittoresque which show artworks housed in sites such as Naples Cathedral and the Charterhouse of San Martino, we significantly find all the prints from the final series with which I want to engage here: Gavin Hamilton’s Schola Italica Picturae, published in Rome in 1773.77 This was a lavish publication, consisting of a frontispiece and thirty-nine reproductive engravings after sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italian Old Master paintings. Some of the finest engravers in Rome at the time, including Domenico Cunego and Giovanni Volpato, worked on the project for Hamilton over four years, creating prints after canonical works by artists such as Guido Reni, Correggio, Domenichino, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian. It was a highly desirable commodity. In the year of its publication, Joshua Reynolds wrote to Benjamin West, “beg[ging] to know if Mr West can inform him where Mr G. Hamilton’s Prints are to be sold”.78DOI
Series such as the Piranesi Vedute are easily recognisable as a set, so that, once two or more have been noticed, the viewer is effectively invited to locate others around the walls. The images from the Schola, however, are only detectable as a series to those in the know. Otherwise, these fragment into celebrated Italian Renaissance Old Master pictures, familiar compositions attracting the eye as one looks around the room. One of the largest clusters is to be found on the south wall above the fireplace, ten of Hamilton’s plates encircling Piranesi’s view of the Pantheon, joined at the top by the Madonna del Silenzio (fig. 15). These are clearly to be looked at in some detail, but are still organised with attention to compositional echoes, size, and shape. The prints after Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam and The Temptation and Expulsion from Eden form a pair in both their elongated landscape format and their mutual origin in the Sistine Chapel, while Cunego’s etching and engraving after Ludovico Carracci’s Birth of John the Baptist only shares its broad dimensions with its pendant: Volpato’s print of Paolo Veronese’s Feast at the House of Simon.79 There appears to have been no ready companion for Cunego’s print after Ludovico Carracci’s Providence, and so this has been coupled with another by the same printmaker, which sits comfortably within this scheme: Gavin Hamilton’s own Innocentia.80 Notably, the principle of using shaping in the outer parameters of print groups is applied even here: plates after Correggio’s Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine of Siena and Federico Barocci’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt have been trimmed into octagons.81
Juxtaposing Antonio Capellan’s prints after Correggio and Barocci as used at Woodhall Park, cut into octagons, and unmodified impressions draws attention to the decisions and processes which have gone into the creation of this print room: to Parker’s handiwork. Engagement with material and technique always implicates manufacture, but the survival of unmodified materials renders it particularly vivid and accessible here, the business of “reverse-engineering” production encouraging us to “linger with patience in the space of making”.82 That accessibility is enhanced in this case by the fact that the physical processes at stake are non-specialist. That is emphatically not to deny the dexterity, time, and care involved, but the evident stages of cutting, pasting, and positioning connect with common craft practices. While the materiality of specialist printmaking techniques has to be conveyed by demonstrations, and perhaps hands-on experiments with a burin or an acid bath, the creation of a print room with the resulting engravings and etchings can speak readily to many viewers. Study of the kinds of tools that would have been used both enhances that immediacy and underscores the fundamental nature of the basic actions, if not the skill and patience required: small, scalpel-like knives and delicate scissors.83DOI
Four of the sides of the Capellan prints come from the original image; the other four result from a blade being used to slice diagonally through the corners (figs. 16, 17, 18 and 19). The painters’ compositions, translated by the engraver, have been usurped by the desire to temper the rigidity of the right angles in this part of the display, to amplify the rotational dynamic of the ring of prints around Piranesi’s Pantheon, and to pick up on the undulating forms of the candelabra “placed” on the mantelpiece. In the case of the Barocci, nothing of much significance has been lost. But in that of the Correggio a substantial part of the sword with which St. Catherine was beheaded by Emperor Maxentius has been cut away, downgrading this element of the original painting. The eye is no longer led down that weapon, instead resting more sustainedly on the image of the Christ child placing a ring on the saint’s finger.
The process of cutting has also trimmed away the discrete number at the top right of each plate which indicates its position in the running order of the Schola. This underscores the setting aside of Hamilton’s sequencing in deference to the alternative priorities of the display. And it has removed all of the letterpress which originally ran below the image, including the name of the original artist and whereabouts of the painting, the identity and location of the engraver, and the date of the print’s publication. The material supporting the “tracking” system within the international print market—that key information about designers, engravers, and publishers—is thus lost.84 But text has also been excised that, on unmodified prints in both separate sheets and bound copies of Hamilton’s series, would have framed the viewer’s response. The letterpress beneath the scene of the Virgin, Christ Child, and St. Catherine gives only the basic title, but that below Barocci’s picture provides a relevant quote from the Gospel of Matthew: “Accepit puerum, et matrem ejus nocte, et secessit in Aegyptum”; “he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt”.85 The verse reminds the viewer of Joseph and Mary’s flight, and its urgency, as well as the moment of rest which is the focus of the image: Joseph passing some berries to his son; Mary taking some water; the donkey standing placidly by. The sense of respite from the journey becomes more dominant once the letterpress has been trimmed away, and the image left to speak for itself.DOI
The print has thus been dislocated from its original source, and information gives way to visual effect. The reworking of such impressions for inclusion in a print room constitutes a second process of translation to that undertaken by Capellan, and one that demands serious scrutiny.86 This is a process evocatively described by David Pullins as a “productive act of destruction”.87 The print has been altered from an intermedial object in which text and iconography interact, to pure image. This is in line with the conceit of the paper museum, as the impressions are rendered as akin to paintings in a room, amplified by their added frames and the trompe l’œil hanging devices. The lettering would be hard to decipher much above eye level, and would no doubt look decidedly messy if retained, but its removal, above all, also shifts the print from being something one might keep in a portfolio, in a library, into a picture to be displayed on a wall.DOI
It was most common for text to be trimmed away in this fashion when creating a print room, but Woodhall Park is a rare case as that lettering has a legacy, in the form of the catalogue which accompanies the elevation drawings.88 The entries at first seem opaque, but a little investigation reveals that the cataloguer (perhaps Parker himself) simply transcribed whatever text was originally to be found immediately below the image, barring publication lines. The recording process was thus intimately connected with the making of the room, as the text must have either been transcribed before the prints were cut into shape, or subsequently, using strips of paper excised from the impressions. Owing to the variability of the arrangement of letterpress, the entries provide different kinds of information: attributions, titles, keys, dedications, and verses.89 Matching the recorded letterpress with that on extant impressions gives the process of cataloguing, as well as that of cutting, a striking immediacy. This is enhanced as one follows the work of the cataloguer around the room. They started with the coving, before moving to the long east wall, working down each of the three sections in turn, left to right. The south, west, and north walls followed in turn. The reading dynamic is countered, however, by a strong emphasis on pairings, so that a broadly left-to-right pattern of recording is fragmented by a jumping between pendant images, whether on either side of a central print, or either side of a section of wall. The visual logic and patterning of the display thus ultimately triumphs.DOI
The first stage of the making process—emphasised in this juxtaposition with extant unmodified plates and underscored by the transcription of the excised letterpress in the catalogue—is about loss and waste. However, the next stage concerns addition, most evident in the framing of the prints with those paper borders increasingly produced specifically for that purpose in the period. In a few cases, the decorative surround of the original print has been used to provide an integrated frame (fig. 20). However, the vast majority have been adorned with those borders, often mimicking the designs of wooden and gilt painting frames, which became widely available from the 1750s onwards. These were sold as strips, generally by the dozen. It is the use of these borders which completes the transformation of the intermedial object of the print into a two-dimensional, monochrome version of a painting, which can then be “hung” on the wall.
François Vivares was the most prolific producer of print room material in the period. By 1760, he was advertising a “Great Variety of Borders, Festoons, Trophies, &c.” in the press, his catalogue explicitly linking this material to print rooms: “all Sorts of the best Borders, Festoons and Trophies, Etc. Likewise all Sorts of Prints for Hanging Rooms”.90 Vivares’s business supplied at least half of the twenty border designs used at Woodhall, and also he may well have been the source of some of the prints. The fact that the same conjunction of Vivares’s border and Piranesi Vedute is also to be found at Blickling could indicate that these vistas of Rome were acquired from his business, and that the combination was on his recommendation. As well as making prints into pictures, their paper frames add considerably to the decorativeness of and pattern making in the print room. They help to unite prints through the display: sometimes linking a series (the same border is used for all the Piazzetta heads in the coving, for example); sometimes connecting prints from different sets (as with plates from the Voyage Pittoresque and the Tableaux Topographiques). However, they foster variety as well as unity, amply demonstrated by the six different borders used for the prints from the Schola arrayed around Piranesi’s Pantheon, above the hearth.DOI
Borders would be selected, cut from their sheets, and then fitted around the plates. But it is easy to overlook the degree of creative engagement at stake in this apparently simple process. Curved designs and complete round or oval paper frames could be purchased, but creators of print rooms often cut small lengths of the more widely available straight borders to negotiate prints of these shapes. Furthermore, a complex border might be used whole or split, providing thicker or thinner frames for respectively larger or smaller prints. The same paper border might be used in one orientation on one print, and then reversed for another. Internal portions could be excised to allow the paintwork of the wall to show through, creating porosity, tempering the boundary between print and support, and lightening the effect—or not. Corner pieces could be used if desired, and the hanging devices available on the market ranged from lions’ and satyrs’ masks through to rings and bows, both ribbon and cord.DOI
Within the basic drive to frame and hang, the degree of creativity here is striking. The options available through selection, orientation, excision, and addition, and combinations of those processes, seem obvious when viewing the results, but likely primarily presented themselves through the act of making. But the business of taking apart and recontextualising, creating new entities, also extends to the reproductive material in the room. It is worth considering again that section of the display immediately above the fireplace in this context. The prints after Old Masters such as Correggio and Barocci dominate here, and attract most scrutiny. The conceit of the candelabra “sitting” on the mantelpiece offers a different attraction in its wit, and the adjustment of the eye that is always required by a trompe l’œil effect. The various hanging devices, floral and husk festoons, and diminutive prints linked by tiny paper chains create ornamentation that essentially replicates the decorative idiom of the Etruscan style in print. But it is also worth setting some of those smaller impressions against their source: a couple of pages of images from the Voyage Pittoresque, included in a chapter “De La Découverte d’Herculanum avec un détail sommaire de ses differèntes Antiquités” (figs. 21 and 22). As used at Woodhall, they cease to be illustrative to an accompanying text. They have been removed from their larger sheets, fragmented, reordered, and combined with small portraits to become a largely decorative component of the display, offsetting the more substantially proportioned and prioritised prints after Italian Renaissance paintings. The sum of the parts from Saint-Non’s publication is thus reduced to its component elements.
The Voyage Pittoresque is here dismantled, but prints are elsewhere reconfigured and amalgamated to create new objects. Of note is a dominant element in the centre of the west wall, between the windows: the frontispiece from Hamilton’s Schola, consisting of a tablet with a carved inscription, resting on two corbels (figs. 23, 24 and 25).91 Its inclusion in the display perhaps seems surprising, as frontispieces are often considered supplementary material to primary content, but it effectively serves to identify and draw together the disparate and variously formatted prints after Old Masters from Hamilton’s series around the walls. It is also a fine print in its own right, the tablet adorned with two ignudi from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, positioned either side of a roundel of Romulus and Remus being suckled by the wolf. However, the frontispiece has been combined with another print from the Schola, collaged to create a new, larger, and more dramatic printed element. Moses from plate 16, after a figure by Parmigianino, has been carefully cut out and pasted at the top of the tablet. The heavy foliate garlands thus become near seamless extensions of the drapery swathed across his lap. The new object assists in pattern making in the print room display. It provides a large single element to sit in the centre of an expanse of wall, offsetting an arrangement of substantial plates. Its verticality echoes that of the framing pilasters. But there is also iconographic play at stake here. The collaged frontispiece pays homage to the original arrangement of the depicted ignudi in the Sistine Chapel, as the figure of Moses brandishing the tablets of law above his head echoes the figure in the same relative position in Michelangelo’s scheme: God dividing light from darkness (fig. 26). The collaged print thus encapsulates the relationship between the decorative and the iconographic—between formal style and connoisseurial meaning—at play in the print room.
The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction is made idiosyncratic through individual engagement and creative practice in such acts of collage. As Freya Gowrley has observed: “[collaged] objects are compelling examples of composite cultural production, bringing together disparate elements in order to create new and highly personal narratives through a complex dialogue of consumption and production”.92 Commercially produced multiples are actively, physically engaged with and adapted, in a process which results less in precursors to the jarring meeting points which characterise much modernist collage, than in the seamlessness emphasised in the creation of new images by artists such as Max Ernst.93 Instead of collision, the focus here is on accumulation, printed matter used as building blocks to create relatively seamless new wholes. This process is most evident at Woodhall Park, however, in the use of sculptural and decorative prints. Of particular interest here is the material taken from a publication surely purposefully acquired for use in the print room, although not recorded in the attorneys’ minutes: the series of 110 prints of Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi, Tripodi, Lucerne and other Ornamenti Antichi, published by Giovanni Battista Piranesi in Rome in 1778.94DOI
This is the source of those candelabra, vases, and urns which “sit” on the dado rail and mantelpiece, excised from individual and composite plates. It is also the source of the sculptural material placed on brackets around the room: sometimes taken whole; sometimes partial; sometimes formed of parts of vases and monuments spliced together from more than one plate. Such collaging of Piranesi’s paper productions echoes the processes which the artist himself undertook with some of the objects depicted in these prints. Items which he offered at the Palazzo Tomati in Rome were compiled from antique fragments, such as those excavated at Tivoli by Gavin Hamilton.95 The candelabra prints on the mantelpiece at Woodhall, for example, constitute reduced-scale, etched versions of two of his most monumental confections, one of which (3.5 metres tall) was designed for his own tomb (see fig. 22).96 Huge, fantastical constructions, these sculptures are capricci in marble—shrunk in the print room to appropriate proportions to sit on a mantelpiece in paper form. Dissection and assemblage of parts of the prints after these objects by Piranesi thus echoes the artist’s own practice, showing a creative liberty with his work both enabled by, and an homage to, his own avowed freedom with antique artefacts (itself an homage to the creative freedom of the Romans). Both are underpinned by an established belief in the eighteenth century that classical culture should be approached with, to quote Piranesi, “an Inventive … creative Genius”, paving “a road to the finding of new ornaments and new manners”.97 Josiah Wedgwood and the Adam brothers followed Piranesi in this principle, fragmenting, appropriating, and recombining as they lifted motifs and translated them into other media.98 And so too did Parker, dismembering Piranesi’s prints with the knife or scissors, in deference to the proportions and forms desired for a decorative scheme in a country house in Hertfordshire.DOI
Material from Piranesi’s Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi has also been collaged on top of the paper pilasters which punctuate and thereby help to structure the walls at Woodhall Park. These come from the final set of prints which I want to explore here: the Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano. Published in Rome in three volumes by Marc Pagliarini, from 1772 to 1777, these plates document the second-floor loggia at the Vatican, decorated in the early sixteenth century by Raphael, Giovanni da Udine, and Giulio Romano, in forty-six large prints.99 While the ceiling vaults of the loggia are adorned with scenes from the Bible, the rest of the gallery is covered with distinctive grotesque decoration, looking to ancient wall painting schemes: arabesque patterns, interspersed with animal and human figures. The loggia would have been admired by those who did the Grand Tour and could see the scheme at first hand, but its significance and influence was greatly enhanced by Pagliarini’s project, adding these designs to the pool of classical resources available for creative use by neoclassical architects and designers. One Father Thorpe noted the considerable impact of the prints in both Italy and England:
Since the Vatican Pilasters have been printed & coloured, their ornaments are now put upon every thing. Coaches, Picture Frames, & all kinds of furniture are dressed up with them … These Ornaments & others in the Etruscan stile engross all the taste of the Gentry in this country; many of the little orders for Chimney Pieces intended for England are to be executed after the Etruscan manner in coloured Scagluiola, a platform for a grand Desart is just finished in the same material and manner.100
As Hamilton’s Schola prints are acknowledged by the inclusion of the frontispiece on the west wall, so that for the Loggie is included at the centre top of the north wall (fig. 27).
The reproduction of each bay of the loggia is split across two plates in Pagliarini’s publication, and the logic of this segmentation is developed in their use at Woodhall (fig. 28). The nature of this print publication brings that sense of building block components in the business of collage to the fore. Single plates have been used for the short, printed pilasters which adorn the insides of the niches either side of the fireplace on the south wall, each of which thus amounts to half of one of the pilasters in the loggia. Here we encounter partiality and excision. Conversely, the tall pilasters on each of the north, east, and west walls are made up of four plates each (thus two of the pilasters from the Vatican loggia), placed one on top of the other. We therefore here find a combined process of elimination and augmentation. While those in the alcoves are shrunken, halved versions of the pilasters in Raphael’s scheme, their doubling creates architectural features beyond all rules of classical proportion, enhanced by their isolation from the wider bays of the loggia, and their consequent thinness. The invitation for the purchaser to join together the pairs of plates in Pagliarini’s volume, in order to create complete bays, is thus built on and extended, as something new is created. Furthermore, while the original pilasters at the Vatican loggia “carry” the arches over the windows, and the vaults of the ceiling, their printed counterparts at Woodhall instead bear only the evoked (lesser) weight of Piranesi’s urns and vases. The resultant, composite, whimsical entities have more of the flavour of the columns in the centre of the Roman piazzas, depicted in Piranesi Vedute around the room, than their originals.
Further whimsy is at play in the use of the prints after the doors at each end of the loggia, likewise each split between two plates in the publication, but united in the print room, and then trimmed around the arched shape of the lunette. These have been pasted onto the centre of the coving on both the east and west sides of the room, steps added below to create additional bulk and height, but also creating a nonsense of the reference enshrined in the frontispiece, in which one of those doors is visible at the end of the gallery. However, their inclusion on opposite sides of the room at Woodhall frames this as some kind of comparable space, the gap between those printed doors playfully echoing the space between the real doors in Raphael’s loggia.DOI
In some ways, the Loggie prints sit alongside Piranesi’s views of Roman buildings and monuments, or the reproductions of paintings and frescos from that city, as documenting the sites at the apex of the Grand Tour. But, as architectural elements divorced from the view commemorated on the north wall, from their context, and as positioned around the print room, their inherently spatial quality creates an experience that is both more immersive and more confusing. Certainly, their reduction of scale, and the transformation of colour into monochrome, replicates processes evident in those other reproductions. However, the ease of familiarity with etchings and engravings after Old Masters (for example), standing in for paintings, is absent in the effect of these paper architectural features, removed from their own three-dimensional context, and strangely insubstantial echoes of their originals (fig. 29).
The print room at Woodhall Park is a liminal space in several ways. Designed as a billiard room, it sits between the main rooms and the service areas in one wing of the house: linked to the former by reverberating neoclassical motifs and stylistic language; its role as a less formal, less public space echoed by the translation of those motifs into the medium of paper. The use of prints is akin to a bound volume or sheets in a portfolio being laid out across the walls. But the scheme is also something between a gallery of sculpture and painting, achieved in trompe l’œil, and a particularly elaborate wallpaper. This was a mode of decoration which could be, and was, undertaken by amateurs, but in this case (and others) was the work of a professional. Home-made potential was capitalised on, taking the democratic actions of scissoring and slicing, positioning and pasting, into the realm of commercial enterprise. Furthermore, the Woodhall Park room is a deeply learned display, engaging with European cultures familiar to the eighteenth-century Grand Tourist. It features a host of historic sites and quotes numerous Old Masters: testament to the knowledge of the creator, “R. Parker”, and a compliment to the implied engagement and comprehension of the patron, Sir Thomas Rumbold. However, it is also a witty scheme, in which Piranesi’s pasticci of ancient artefacts were then recollaged through manipulation of their printed reproductions.101 The framing of the room as some kind of reduced scale, monochrome version of the Raphael loggia at the Vatican, meanwhile, pays homage to that High Renaissance touchstone for the grotesque style. But that scheme has been reinterpreted, dismembered, stretched, shrunk, and flattened to the fully two dimensional. Certainly, the antique in this period was often deployed with notable freedom and lightness of touch, used as a “magazine of common property, always open to the public, whence every man has the right to take what he pleases”.102 Adriano Aymonino and Viccy Coltman have shown how its forms could be transmuted via engravings into paint, plasterwork, furniture, silverware, and pottery.103 But, at Woodhall Park, those engravings themselves were used to create a modish decorative scheme, stuck directly onto the walls. Commercially produced prints were cut up and pulled apart to be refashioned into something new, taking their place in the long history of collage, “reproducing the creative act that had brought the original into being”.104DOI
The Woodhall Park print room is also a liminal space in its position between iconography and decoration, between meaning and pattern making. Famous images leap out from the walls: Raphael’s Triumph of Galatea, for example, or The Creation of Adam from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Images of famous places catch the eye, such as the Pantheon, which then encourage the viewer with time and interest to locate other Roman sites depicted by Piranesi, pasted around the room. But the viewer might not have time or interest. An encounter with this scheme might rather leave a much more diffuse sense of learning and travel: a general impression of alpine views and Italian cities, of familiar Old Master paintings and sculpture. Or—for another viewer, or perhaps the same viewer on a different occasion—the shapes into which these reproduced paintings have been cut, and the complex outlines of the excised prints of festoons, trophies, and sculpture, might leave a predominantly decorative impression. Renowned works of art and views of historic sites thus rise from or sink into the overall, symmetrical, and meticulously organised pattern of the walls. Neoclassical print rooms such as this engage with the stylistic language of the arabesque, in both use of specific motifs and the dynamics of trailing and swagging, of hanging and supporting. But, as Katie Scott has so eloquently shown, the arabesque—in its lightness, weightlessness, and instability—is a vehicle for play: “the three-dimensional world of figurative representation is caught, delimited, even undone by the flat tactics of an incursive ornamental surround”.105DOI
The digital features dovetailed with the text in this article have engaged with the print room’s liminality; with the various slippages between formal and informal space, professional craftmanship and home-made look, learnedness and play, iconography and pattern making. They are rooted in fruitful collaboration between the author, filmmaker, and photographer on a two-day shoot at the house. In an event held in his honour at the Paul Mellon Centre in October 2021, Mark Girouard was prompted to reflect on his relationship with the architectural photographers with whom he’d collaborated during his time as a writer for Country Life between the late 1950s and late 1960s. The standard process then, he recalled, was to mark up a plan with arrows, so the photographer could visit the property subsequent to the author and take the required shots.106 With the luxury of more time and an interest in process, the possibility here of moving and animated as well as still images, and generous support from both the owner of Woodhall and British Art Studies, sustained on-site collaboration has considerably shaped work on this article. The underpinning conceit of balancing the informative and the experiential, of fulfilling the documentary imperative and engaging with kinaesthetic experience and temporally framed viewing, was fully developed during that time at the property. This text, standard and moving illustrations, filmed and animated sequences, carefully lit elevation shots and more atmospheric footage, are thus intended to have a cumulative, layered effect. Each technology makes a valuable contribution to the whole, offsetting some deficiencies in the others, showcasing the benefits of a varied “toolbox”. Only moving image can effectively engage with the complex spatial dynamics of a staircase, for example; only evenly lit, professionally focused photographs of walls can enable detailed study of the prints.DOI
One aim of both text and images, still and moving, has been to connect the exterior and interior of Woodhall Park and to engage with the sequential experience of rooms, showing how the print room is embedded within the broader stylistic economy of the house. The interconnectedness of rooms can certainly be explored through scrutiny of the ground plan, but the considerable limits of such diagrammatic record are made readily evident in film, far more expressive of the pronounced transition here as one passes from the main body of Woodhall Park through to the wing and the print room. This approach builds on a drive in country house studies in recent years, towards fuller engagement with the total effect of such properties, engaging with landscape, architecture, décor, furnishing and both fine and decorative arts.107 It counters a traditional tension between “envelope” and “interior” in architectural history, and the inevitable tendency to disaggregate parts of a building in analysis of drawings and photographs.108 Furthermore, elevation shots privilege the frontal, fixed, focused viewpoint, and effectively follow the logic of the “developed surface drawing” which originated in the eighteenth century, showing all four elevations of a room as if they were folded out and flattened into the same plane, providing maximum detail.109 But film engages more sensitively with architectural space. It captures proportion more effectively and reconnects surfaces, navigating corners, and engaging with the relationships between opposing walls.110DOI
Film also engages with movement of body and gaze. We have sought to engage with the embodied, kinetic experience of a country house interior, and a particular room within it. Our concern has been the role of eye level and sight lines, of centres and peripheries, and the effects of oblique angles and partial views, complementing the purer information provided by professionally lit images of walls and prints. The technique of “pulling focus” in the moving illustrations, furthermore, has engaged with the critical experience of “noticing” in the room, exploring the processes by which prints variously catch the attention or recede into backdrop, and the mechanisms by which related images effectively call out to one another, and connect around the space. This is also an experiment in moving away from the traditional, desaturated elevation with a key: lighter on detail certainly, but an engaged and hopefully engaging means of identifying material within a dense display.111 It is worth emphasising again, however, that this technique is emphatically an avatar for experience. This is analogous to embodied viewing, rather than an attempt at mimesis: an analytic tool, rather than a vehicle which claims to provide any straightforwardly immediate or direct access to an embodied encounter. The digital features are visual ekphrasis, to dovetail with textual ekphrasis. Both are fundamentally “rhetorical description”.112DOI
The final film has allowed us to engage with materials, processes, and the temporality of making. The inevitable distance created by lack of experience and expertise can create problems with communicating complex artistic techniques such as engraving, oil painting, or stone carving, working with manipulable materials such as metal, paint, and marble. A valuable opportunity with collage lies in the graspability of how a print has been cut, reoriented, parts removed, and other elements added to create a new object.113 The options available at each stage render the choices and decisions made particularly vivid. Here, cutting as practice-based research has allowed engagement with the viscerality of the processes at stake. It quickly becomes evident whether the knife or the scissors is the most appropriate tool for a particular job; how the relative scale of images lies at the heart of collaging. As such, the digital feature engages with recent work which uses re-enactment as a valuable historical methodology for researching craftmanship, “a body-based discourse in which the past is reanimated through physical and psychological experience”.114DOI
The immediate purpose of this article has been a detailed analysis of the exemplary surviving print room at Woodhall Park, using the lenses of space, display, and making to approach the room, prints, and decorative scheme in a variety of ways. But it is also intended as a contribution to the presentation of research on and engagement of audiences with interiors through a digital format. All works of art present their own challenges in the business of description and analysis, but architectural spaces and decoration are particularly challenging. We have here sought to explore how a textual account can interact productively with a range of still, moving, and animated images. Such a layered, multifaceted approach can help to navigate the sheer quantity of information involved in any such complex scheme. Detailed, readily reusable data in text and illustration is balanced against more streamlined, succinct, and immediate communication through film, animation, and documentary, able to express a point through a short sequence which would otherwise require a lengthy paragraph of text and numerous still images. Such range thus facilitates a deeper and richer encounter with space, engaging with both information and experience, and the various and complex shades in between.
This article is part of a larger project on the print room, supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2021–22. I am also indebted to Mr. Ralph Abel Smith for his extensive assistance with my work, and generosity with his knowledge and time. I would like to thank a number of colleagues for shared knowledge of and valuable conversation about print rooms, including Louise Voll Box, Esther Chadwick, Sarah Grant, Kate Heard, Anna O’Regan, and Clare Taylor. Finally, this article owes much to the British Art Studies team at the Paul Mellon Centre, and to the readers for the original submission, whose feedback considerably helped with its development.
About the author
Kate Retford is Professor of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published widely on eighteenth-century British art, particularly on gender, portraiture, and the country house. Her recent publications include The Conversation Piece: Making Modern Art in Eighteenth-Century Britain (2017) and The Georgian London Town House: Building, Collecting and Display, co-edited with Susanna Avery-Quash (2019). She is currently working on a book about print rooms in eighteenth-century country houses, funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2021–2022.
This article is part of a current book project on the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century print room. For some general literature on the print room, see Joanna Banham, “Room to View”, Antique Collector 65, no. 3 (March 1994): 66–71; Stephen Calloway, “Engraving Schemes”, Country Life 185 (18 April 1991): 102–5; Julie Fitzgerald, “The Print Room in Britain and Ireland 1750–1830”, The Quarterly: The Journal of the British Association of Paper Historians 55 (July 2005): 25–31; and Desmond Guinness, “The Revival of the Print Room”, Antique Collector 49, no. 6 (June 1978): 88–91. Useful work of late has been on individual print rooms: see Esther Chadwick, “Patterned with Paper Pictures: The Print Room at Petworth House”, in Art & the Country House, ed. Martin Postle (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2020): https://doi.org/10.17658/ACH/PTE531; Kate Heard, “The Print Room at Queen Charlotte’s Cottage”, The British Art Journal 13, no. 3 (Winter 2012/13): 53–60; and Ruth Johnstone: “Lady Louisa Conolly’s Print Room at Castletown House”, in Castletown: Decorative Arts, ed. Elizabeth Mayes (Co. Meath: Office of Public Works, 2011), 67–77.1
Lucan House. The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1861), Vol. 2, 563, Mrs Delany to Mrs Dewes, from Delville, 30 June 1750.2
Autobiography and Correspondence of … Mrs Delany, Vol. 3, 34, Mrs Delany to Bernard Granville Esq., from Delville, 11 April 1751.3
Chloë Archer, “Festoons of Flowers for Fitting Up Print Rooms”, Apollo 130 (December 1989): 386–91, and notes on 437. For A New Book of Hunting Trophies of 1757, François Vivares took designs by Christophe Hüet from Trofées de Chasse, published in Paris the previous decade, had them freshly etched and engraved by Paul Angier, and then marketed them as “Properly Adapted to the New Method of Ornamenting Rooms & Screens with Prints”.4
Robert Sayer’s New and Enlarged Catalogue for the Year MDCCLXXIV, 34 and 110.5
See Timothy Clayton, The English Print 1688–1802 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997); and Antony Griffiths, The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking, 1550–1820 (London: British Museum, 2016).6
See The Multigraph Collective, Interacting with Print: Elements of Reading in the Era of Print Saturation (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2018).7
Lucy Peltz, Facing the Subject: Extra-Illustration, Print Culture and Society in Britain, 1769–1840 (San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 2017). For Luisa Calè’s work, see, for example, “Extra-illustration and Ephemera: Altered Books and the Alternative Forms of the Fugitive Page”, Eighteenth-Century Life 44, no. 2 (2020): 111–35.8
Robert Sayer, The Ladies’ Amusement or the Whole Art of Japanning Made Easy (London: Robert Sayer, 1760), 3. See Ariane Fennetaux, “Female Crafts: Women and Bricolage in Late Georgian Britain, 1750–1820”, in Women and Things, 1750–1950, ed. Maureen Daly Goggin and Beth Fowkes Tobin (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), 91–108.9
On continental examples, see Aaron M. Hyman, “The Habsburg Re-Making of the East at Schloss Schönbrunn, ‘or Things Equally Absurd’”, Art Bulletin 101, no. 4 (2019): 39–69, on the Millionenzimmer; and for an early eighteenth-century Venetian desk decorated with découpage, see Daniëlle O. Kisluk-Grosheide, “Cutting up Berchems, Watteaus and Audrans: A ‘Lacca Povera’ Secretary at the Metropolitan Museum of Art”, Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal 31 (1996): 81–97. See also David Pullins, “The State of the Fashion Plate, c.1727: Historicizing Fashion Between ‘Dressed Prints’ and Dezallier’s Receuils”, in Prints in Translation, 1450–1750: Image, Materiality, Space, ed. Suzanne Karr Schmidt and Edward H. Wouk (London: Routledge, 2017), 136–57; and Katie Scott, “Playing Games with Otherness: Watteau’s Chinese Cabinet at the Château de la Muette”, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 66 (2003): 244–46.10
The only print room in a town house which I have discovered to date was in the childhood home of Samuel Romilly in Marylebone, then just outside London: “Preface” and “Narrative of his Early Life Written by Himself in 1796”, in Memoirs of the Life of Sir Samuel Romilly … edited by his Sons, 2 vols. (London: John Murray, 1841), Vol. 1, iii, 18 and 20. This may indicate that print rooms were a country house phenomenon; it may simply indicate lack of surviving evidence.11
Mark Girouard, Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1978).12
For Etruscan rooms, see John Wilton-Ely, “Pompeian and Etruscan Tastes in the Neo-Classical Country-House Interior”, in The Fashioning and Functioning of the British Country House, ed. Gervase Jackson‐Stops, Gordon J. Schochet, Lena Orlin, and Elisabeth Blair MacDougall (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1989), 51–73; and Viccy Coltman, “Sir William Hamilton’s Vase Publications (1766–1776): A Case Study in the Reproduction and Dissemination of Antiquity”, Journal of Design History 14, no. 1 (2001): 1–16.13
For key literature, see Clare Taylor, The Design, Production and Reception of Eighteenth-Century Wallpaper in Britain (London: Routledge, 2018); Gill Saunders, Wallpaper in Interior Decoration (London: V&A, 2002); and Emile de Bruijn, Chinese Wallpapers in Britain and Ireland (London: Philip Wilson, 2017). See the sections of wallpaper from Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire, at the V&A: E.472–1914 to E475–1914. Such designs developed in precisely the same period as the fashion for print rooms. While Bromwich and Leigh are often cited as being involved in the creation of print rooms alongside the production of wallpaper, I have only found evidence for their role in Chinese paper schemes.14
Rebecca Zorach and Elizabeth Rodini, eds., Paper Museums: The Reproductive Print in Europe, 1500–1800 (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 2005). This phrase is used to good effect in Esther Chadwick’s essay, “Patterned with Paper Pictures”.15
For print rooms in publications about prints, see Clayton, English Print 1688–1802, 138; and Griffiths, Print Before Photography, 415–17. For country houses, see Chadwick, “Patterned with Paper Pictures”. For interior design and wallpaper, respectively, see Joanna Banham, ed., Encyclopaedia of Interior Design, 2 vols. (London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997), Vol. 2, 996–98; and Robert Kelly, The Backstory of Wallpaper: Paper-Hangings 1650–1750 (Lee, MA: WallpaperScholar.com, 2013), 94–97.16
See, for example, Janine Barchas’s work in What Jane Saw, http://www.whatjanesaw.org/ (2013); and Catherine Roach’s response, “Rehanging Reynolds at the British Institution: Methods for Reconstructing Ephemeral Displays”, British Art Studies 4 (November 2016): https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-04/croach.17
Alison Langmead, “Art and Architectural History and the Performative, Mindful Practice of the Digital Humanities”, The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy 12 (21 February 2018), https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/art-and-architectural-history-and-the-performative-mindful-practice-of-the-digital-humanities/. Also see Robert S. Nelson, “The Slide Lecture, or The Work of Art ‘History’ in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Critical Inquiry 26, no. 3 (Spring 2000): 414–34.18
For the most important and substantial discussions of this print room to date, see Francis Russell, “Microcosm of Eighteenth-Century Taste: The Engravings Room at Woodhall Park”, Country Life 162 (6 October 1977): 924–26; and John Martin Robinson, “Refreshing the Palette: Woodhall Park, Hertfordshire”, Country Life (14 February 2018): 50–55.19
See Sue Campion and Allyson McDermott, “The Conservation of the Print Room at Woodhall Park”, Paper Conservation News 94 (June 2000): 10–12. The project was shortlisted for the 1999 annual Conservation Awards, see Historic England, “Collections Conservation Awards 1999”, Conservation Bulletin 37, (March 2000): 32–33, https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/conservation-bulletin-37/conservationbulletin37/.20
For Rumbold, see William G.J. Kuiters, “Sir Thomas Rumbold, First Baronet (1736–1791)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, October 2008. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/24270.21
Royal Academy 1778, no. 188: “Elevation of a Gentleman’s Seat Now Building in Hertfordshire”. The print of this, dated 1798, was published in George Richardson, The New Vitruvius Britannicus: Consisting of Plans and Elevations of Modern Buildings, Public and Private, Erected in Great Britain by the Most Celebrated Architects, 2 vols. (London: printed by W. Bulmer and Co., 1802), Vol. 1, pl. XXVIII. For the house, see the two articles on Woodhall Park by H. Avray Tipping in Country Life 57, no. 1465 (31 January 1925): 164–71 and Country Life 57, no. 1466 (7 February 1925): 198–205. A more recent article, “Refreshing the Palette: Woodhall Park, Hertfordshire”, by John Martin Robinson appeared in Country Life on 14 February 2018. For Leverton, see Moira Rudolf-Hanley, “Thomas Leverton (bap. 1743, d.1824)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 3 January 2008, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/16537.22
Hertfordshire Archives (hereafter HA), DE/B1297/F1, 1777–80. Payments to Thomas Leverton on account are here recorded from 20 November 1777 (£500) to 2 December 1780 (£1,000).23
See Hugh Roberts and Charles Cator, Industry and Ingenuity: The Partnership of William Ince and John Mayhew (London: Philip Wilson, 2022), 164–68.24
Barclays Archives, Gosling and Sharpe Ledgers, Rumbold Account: 130/51, 55, 59, 63, 67, 71, 77, 83, 89, and 96.25
Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/JO/10/7/650: 6 December 1782—“Sir T. Rumbold. Inventory and Account of Property of”, ff.4567, 4569.26
Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/JO/10/7/650, ff.4568, 4569.27
Richardson, New Vitruvius Britannicus, Vol. 1, pl. XXVII.28
HA: D/Esm Z6 (1799); DE/AS/4371 (1801); DE/AS/4372 (1801 sale particulars, annotated). These describe the billiard room as “ornamented with a Selection of Prints”.29
The nature of billiards as primarily a game for men is underscored by satirical prints from the period, such as James Bretherton after Henry William Bunbury, Billiards (1781, etching: British Museum [hereafter BM] J,6.63); and Robert Dighton’s Billiards (1775–1785, etching with stipple: BM 1861,0518.944).30
See Arthur Young, A Six Weeks Tour, Through the Southern Counties of England and Wales (London: printed for W. Nicoll, 1768), 196–99; and National Archives C111/215, LONG v PHIPPS: Inventories of household furniture, plate, linen, china, books, wines and effects of Sir James Tilney-Long, deceased, at Draycot House near Chippenham, Wiltshire, and Wanstead House, Essex (1795), no. 57. I am grateful to Hannah Armstrong for her help with this research.31
Jean Marchand, ed., A Frenchman in England 1784, Being the “Mélanges sur l’Angleterre of Francois de la Rochefoucauld” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1933), 187.32
See inventories at the Derbyshire Record Office: D2375/H/F/1/1 (1821) and D2375/H/F/1/3 (circa 1840). See also Howard Colvin, Calke Abbey, Derbyshire: A Hidden House Revealed (London: National Trust, 1985), 103–4 and 107.33
Many thanks to Mr Abel Smith for alerting me to the original skylight. Its existence is confirmed by a charge of 6s. 6d. from Thake Stalibrass, painter, plumber, and glazier, for one “square” in the “Billiard Room Skylight” on 11 February 1784. HA: DE/B1297/E1, f.121.34
Intriguingly, when the skylight in the print room was lost in order to create additional accommodation overhead, during the tenure of the next owner, Paul Benfield, one of two new first-floor dressing rooms was also “ornamented with Prints”, likely inspired by and effectively echoing the space below. See HA: D/Esm Z6; DE/AS/4371; DE/AS/4372.35
Elizabeth McKellar notes how, in early twentieth-century architectural history: “The building became a disembodied series of fragments in which the relationship between individual parts such as doorways in different locations might become more important than a doorway in the context of its particular building”; see Elizabeth McKellar, “Representing the Georgian: Constructing Interiors in Early Twentieth-Century Publications, 1890–1930”, Journal of Design History 20, no. 4 (Winter 2007): 331.36
It proves impossible to find out much about other craftsmen involved in the house for the key reason that they were subcontracted by Leverton. Russell credits Joseph Bonomi with the plasterwork at Woodhall Park in “Microcosm of Eighteenth-Century Taste”, 924. However, Robinson believes it to have been “almost certainly” by Joseph Rose; Robinson, “Refreshing the Palette”, 55. Robinson notes that paint analysis shows the panels were originally blank, although the grisailles of the Four Seasons may have been moved here from elsewhere in the building; Robinson, “Refreshing the Palette”, 53. The lunette paintings of the Four Continents are by a later, unidentified Victorian artist.37
HA: D/Esm Z6; DE/AS/4371–2. Robinson attributes this painting work to Biagio Rebecca; Robinson, “Refreshing the Palette”, 53. Wilton-Ely gives it to Pietro Maria Borgnis; see Wilton-Ely, “Pompeian and Etruscan Tastes”, 63–64.38
The statues of Silenus and Bacchus, Hercules, the Dancing Faun, and Mercury are from Richard Dalton’s A Collection of Twenty Antique Statues: Drawn After the Originals etc. in Italy, first issued in the 1740s, but probably taken from John Boydell’s 1770 edition, published in London.39
Robert and James Adam, The Works in Architecture, 3 vols. (London, 1773–1775), Vol. 1, 5–6.40
Roberts and Cator, Industry and Ingenuity, 164–68. The furniture survived the sale of Woodhall to Paul Benfield, and then to the Smith family, but it had to be sold after the death of Colonel Abel Smith in 1931, when the family moved out and the house was let to a school. See “The Well-Known Leverton Furniture of Woodhall Park”, Sotheby’s, 13 March 1931. See also the feature piece in Country Life which preceded the sale: “Furniture at Woodhall Park”, 67 (26 April 1930): 611–13.41
Roberts and Cator, Industry and Ingenuity, figs. 369, 335, and 291.42
Roberts and Cator, Industry and Ingenuity, fig. 201. A chair just visible to the right of this photograph, now owned by the V&A, was most likely originally in the Music Room; see “Armchair”, Mayhew and Ince, V&A: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O123763/armchair-unknown/. The marble-topped side table on the east wall was acquired from a dealer immediately after the 1931 sale for Queen Mary, and is now in the Royal Collection (subsequently gilded), see “Side Table”, circa 1775–1785, attributed to Mayhew and Ince, Royal Collection Trust, https://www.rct.uk/collection/2621/side-table.43
There is a comparable use of sculpted prints at the print room in Ston Easton Park in Somerset, in which urns and vases similarly “sit” on the dado rail.44
The Royal Collection Trust (RCT) has the full set of Cattini engravings, “After Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1682–1754), Icones ad vivum expressae, published 1754”, Royal Collection Trust, https://www.rct.uk/collection/search#/1/collection/809071/icones-ad-vivum-expressae.45
Campion and McDermott, “Conservation of the Print Room”, 10.46
The walls were taken back to their original colour of verditer blue by McDermott and her team. See Campion and McDermott, “Conservation of the Print Room”, 11–12.47
There is little to rival this catalogue and related drawings. An album at the Yale Center for British Art (Paul Mellon Collection, B1975.2.779), appears similarly to be a set of presentation drawings, but the described “Print Dressing Room”, “Print Room”, and “Print Closet” no longer survive. They are associated with Wricklemarsh in Blackheath, demolished in 1789. There is also what appears to be a working drawing relating to the print room at Castletown, near Dublin, although it does not match the surviving scheme.48
There are only a few mismatches between the display and the catalogue. It is uncertain whether small changes were made from choice, necessity (due to deteriorating or damaged material), or accident (a mix-up during later restoration work).49
See, for example, Banham, Encyclopaedia of Interior Design, Vol. 2, 997, and “Room to View”, 70; and Archer, “Festoons of Flowers”, 387. The wave of interest in print rooms generated by the saving of Castletown by Desmond Guinness, and his subsequent research, went hand in hand with a fashion for creating new print rooms, encouraged by a wave of articles in magazines such as Homes and Gardens. These routinely promoted the idea of Georgian ladies making print rooms in their homes on rainy days, which then fed back into scholarship.50
Kent History and Library Centre, Knatchbull manuscripts: U951/A18. Print displays were created in the corridors leading to the family pavilion and the kitchen at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, in 1763 and 1765 respectively, by craftsmen working under Robert Adam’s Clerk of Works at the house, Samuel Wyatt: Kedleston Archives KC15, 9 (18 April 1763) and 47–48 (14 and 21 March 1763); L1–2, Samuel Wyatt to Nathaniel Curzon, 24 March 1765; L1–8, Samuel Wyatt to Nathaniel Curzon, 15 July 1765; KC7, p. 7 (20 July 1765).51
One candidate is a London-based carver named Robert Parker, who subscribed to Chippendale’s Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director in 1754, and took out fire insurance for his premises in Tottenham Court Road in 1780: “Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660–1840”, British History Online, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/dict-english-furniture-makers/p. See also “Fire Insurance Registers: Fire Insurance Policy Register, 1777–1786: 1780”, London Lives 1690 to 1800, https://www.londonlives.org/browse.jsp?id=persName7fire_1780_1785_47_66626&div=fire_1780_1785_47_66626#highlight. Two other candidates are a cabinet maker and a gilder who worked for Ince and Mayhew, who provided the furniture for Woodhall. For the cabinet maker, see Hugh Roberts and Charles Cator, “Mayhew, John and Ince, William (1758–1811)”, Dictionary of British and Irish Furniture Makers, 1500–1914, 1986, last updated 2022, https://bifmo.history.ac.uk/entry/mayhew-john-and-ince-william-1736-1811. For the gilder, see Hugh Roberts, “‘Precise and Exact in the Minutest Things of Taste and Decoration’: The Earl of Kerry’s Patronage of Ince and Mayhew”, Furniture History 49 (2013): 33, n. 89 and 34, n. 93. See also Roberts and Cator, Industry and Ingenuity, 24.52
See Jocelyn Anderson on the “celebrated art work” in Touring and Publicizing England’s Country Houses in the Long Eighteenth Century (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), 102–13.53
Even though the Carracci was engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi in 1768, this is the print made in the late seventeenth century by Elias Hainzelmann, published by François de Poilly, as the inscription on the edge of the table in the print makes clear. See BM U,1.95. The National Trust alone has six versions of the van Dyck portrait of the three eldest children of Charles I in its properties. This etching and engraving is by Robert Strange and was listed in his A Descriptive Catalogue of a Collection of Paintings … (London, 1769), priced at 6 shillings.54
Griffiths, Print Before Photography, chapter 10.55
HA: DE/B1297/F1, 1777–80. The payment was made to Biddulph and Cox in Charing Cross. A later advert for the Voyage Pittoresque, published in Morning Herald on 12 June 1783, confirms that subscriptions were handled by this banking firm.56
See Antony Griffiths, “The Contract Between Laborde and Saint-Non for the Voyage Pittoresque de Naples et de Sicile”, Print Quarterly 5, no. 4 (December 1988): 408–14. A long prospectus, showing the original (later amended) plan for the project had appeared in the Mercure de France in March 1777.57
HA: DE/B1297/F1, 1777–80.58
Adverts in the Morning Post on 18 July 1777 and 28 February 1778 state that the prints were being sold through Biddulph and Cox in Charing Cross.59
The Cunego was published in 1767. The Strange was published in 1753 but was also listed in his Descriptive Catalogue in 1769, at 2 shillings.60
The portraits published in Kearsley’s Copperplate Magazine were modelled on Thomas Birch’s Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain (published by John and Paul Knapton in London, 1743–1752).61
Russell commented in 1977 that the scheme includes portraits “of obscure Swiss of whom Rumbold can scarcely have heard and which can therefore represent no more than Parker’s unsold stock in trade”: Russell, “Microcosm of Eighteenth-Century Taste”, 926.62
BM R, 9.11. The plate has been trimmed to the oval frame, removing the various decorative elements, together with the crown, shield, and ermine gown.63
The literature on Piranesi, and the Vedute, is huge, but see, for example, John Wilton-Ely, Giovanni Battista Piranesi: The Complete Etchings, 2 vols. (San Francisco, CA: Alan Wofsy Fine Art, 1994), Vol. 1, 176ff; and Mario Bevilacqua and John Wilton-Ely’s essays in Mario Bevilacqua and Mario Gori Sassoli, eds., The Rome of Piranesi: The Eighteenth-Century City in the Great Vedute, trans. Fabio Barry (Rome: Artemide, 2007), 37–60 and 67–78.64
My italics. Irish Architectural Archive, Dublin—Castletown Mss: 97/136: Conolly Letters—Box 1.65
Veduta della Facciata della Basilica di S. Croce in Gerusalemme: BM 1914,0216.77; Veduta interna della Basilica di S. Pietro in Vaticano: BM 1886,1124.3; Veduta della Facciata di dietro della Basilica di S. Maria Maggiore: BM 914,0216.76; and Spaccato interno della Basilica di S. Paolo fuori delle Mura: BM 1886,1124.6.66
Colonna Trajana: BM 1886,1124.41; and Colonna Antonina: BM 1914,0216.116. Veduta della vasta Fontana di Trevi anticamente detta l’Acqua Vergine: BM 1914,0216.84; and Veduta Interna del Sepolcro di S. Costanza: BM 1886,1124.30.67
See Susan Dixon, “Piranesi’s Pantheon”, in Architecture as Experience: Radical Change in Spatial Practice, ed. Dana Arnold and Andrew Ballantyne (London: Routledge, 2004), 57–80.68
Both Goethe and John Flaxman are noted to have been somewhat disappointed when they came to see the sites for themselves.69
For Blickling, see Guinness, “Revival of the Print Room”, 91; and the guidebook, Blickling Hall, Norfolk (London: National Trust, 1997), 83.70
It is illustrated in Margaret Jourdain, “Print Rooms”, Country Life 104, no. 2695 (10 September 1948): 525, captioned as “The Roman Room”, and dated to about 1815. Thanks to Leonard Bartle for confirming that the prints are now gone, and that it was known as “the Roman bedroom”. Thanks also to Louise Voll Box for alerting me to displays of Piranesi’s Vedute created on the continent. They can still be seen in the print room, or “Blue Room”, at Tullgarn Palace in Sweden. Piranesis were also used on the walls at the Villa Garagnani, Bazzano in Italy, but these were sold in 1988: see Giorgio Marini, “Print Rooms in Italy”, Print Quarterly 16, no. 3 (1999): 282. Piranesi’s prints were also translated into stucco at Biljoen Castle, Velp, in the Netherlands: see Ronald de Leeuw, “Dealer and Cicerone: Piranesi and the Grand Tour”, in Piranesi as Designer, ed. Sarah E. Lawrence (New York: Cooper-Hewitt, 2007), 244.71
Alnwick Archives, DNP 121/48, Journal of the 1st Duchess of Northumberland, 1773.72
For a brief account of typical journeys, see, for example, John Ingamells, “Discovering Italy: British Travellers in the Eighteenth Century”, in Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Andrew Wilton and Ilaria Bignamini (London: Tate Gallery, 1997), 20–30.73
Veduta di una parte di Lung’ Arno, e del Ponte a S. Trinità presa dal Palazzo del Sig. March. Ruberto Capponi, plate 6: BM 1922,0410.142.9; and Veduta di Lung’ Arno, e del Ponte a S. Trinità presa dal Terrazzo de’ SS. Rucellai, plate 7: BM 1922,0410.142.10. Both etching and engraving. For the complete series, see BM 1922,0410.142.1–27. The original drawings are in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. See Elaine Dee, Views of Florence and Tuscany by Giuseppe Zocchi from the Pierpont Morgan Library (New York: International Exhibitions Foundation, 1968).74
This border was by François Vivares. Complete strips survive in the V&A (E2772-1886) and in a private collection.75
See letters from Thomas Rumbold to his daughter, Maria: British Library Add Mss Eur D788, ff. 3–4, 19 April 1786, and ff. 5–6, 27 April 1786; and Eur Photo Eur 099, 15 April 1786.76
For the complete series, see “Schola Italica Picturae Sive Selectae Quaedam Summorum E Schola Italica Pictorum Tabulae Aere Incisae”, Royal Academy, https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/book/schola-italica-picturae-sive-selectae-quaedam-summorum-e-schola-italica. For a full account of the project, see Ian Jenkins and Kim Sloan, Vases and Volcanoes: Sir William Hamilton and his Collection (London: British Museum, 1996), cat. 173.77
The Letters of Sir Joshua Reynolds, ed. John Ingamells and John Edgcumbe (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000), 48.78
The Creation of Adam was engraved and etched by Cunego (1772, plate 2); The Temptation and Expulsion from Eden was engraved and etched by Antonio Capellan (1772, plate 3). Volpato’s print after the Veronese was plate 23 in Hamilton’s series, published in 1772.79
Providence was plate 27, published in 1772. Cunego’s etching and engraving after Hamilton’s Innocentia was published in 1766, and advertised in the Gazeteer and Public Advertiser on 22 January 1768 (and in subsequent editions) for 5 shillings. See BM 1886,1124.252.80
The Correggio and Barocci were both engraved by Capellan (plates 17 and 19, 1772).81
These phrases are from Hyman’s excellent article, “Habsburg Re-Making of the East”, 43. Making has received considerable attention in the discipline of art history in recent years, typically as an aspect of a renewed focus on materiality. See Martha Rosler et al., “Notes from the Field: Materiality”, Art Bulletin 95, no. 1 (March 2013): 10–37, https://doi.org/10.1080/00043079.2013.10786104.82
See, for example, “Scissors: 1760–1780 (made)”, V&A, https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O79594/scissors-unknown/. A silk needlework pocket-book set of tools, given to Mrs Delany by Queen Charlotte in 1781, to assist her with her work, is now in the Royal Collection. It includes a knife, scissors, ruler, and bodkin: https://www.rct.uk/collection/45126/needlework-pocket-book.83
Griffiths, Print Before Photography, at 78.84
Matthew 2:14, King James version. For the role of legends on French eighteenth-century prints, see Anne L. Schroeder, “Genre Prints in Eighteenth-Century France: Production, Market, and Audience”, in Intimate Encounters: Love and Domesticity in Eighteenth-Century France, ed. Richard Rand (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), 72–75; and Katie Scott, “Child’s Play”, in The Age of Watteau, Chardin and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting, ed. Colin Bailey, Philip Conisbee, and Thomas Gaehtgens (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 90–105.85
For reproductive printmaking as a process of translation, rather than copying, see Griffiths, Print Before Photography, 464–65.86
Pullins, “State of the Fashion Plate, c.1727”, 152.87
Some print rooms do retain letterpress, such as those created by the 1st Duke of Wellington at Stratfield Saye in the 1830s. The prints in the Duchess’s Study, for example, require the full contextual information provided by the texts to identify the various characters, battles, and other episodes of the Peninsular and Napoleonic Wars which are commemorated around the walls. Text has also been retained in the caricature room at Calke Abbey, helping along the various jokes by Thomas Rowlandson and James Gillray.88
In the case of a couple of Piranesis (the Veduta del Pantheon d’Agrippa on the south wall, and the Veduta del Ponte Molle on the west wall), where the text is incorporated within the image, the cataloguer has merely recorded, “the writing on the print”. The Wricklemarsh Album clearly also relates to the letterpress of the prints recorded, but less literally, pulling out names of artists and engravers, subjects, and the provenance of reproduced works of art more systematically.89
The Public Ledger or The Daily Register of Commerce and Intelligence, 26 April 1760, under “Books, Pamphlets, and Other Publications”. A Catalogue of Prints Ingraved by Francis Vivares. Sold at the Authors Print Shop, ye Golden Head, in Newport Street, near Leicester Fields. The Vivares catalogue is reproduced in T. Friedman, “Two Eighteenth-Century Catalogues of Ornamental Pattern Books”, Furniture History 11 (1975): 66–75, appendix B, 71–74. It is listed in Antony Griffiths’s “A Checklist of Catalogues of British Print Publishers, c.1650–1830”, Print Quarterly 1, no. 1 (March 1984): 22. The V&A has numerous examples of Vivares’s work. More of his borders are in a private collection and a scrapbook at Temple Newsam: C1981/1, ff. 37–43. Many thanks to James Lomax and Leila Prescott for their help with these. It seems likely that these plates were reused in subsequent years without Vivares troubling to change the publication lines, as less important for such decorative prints, and also as intended to be cut away. I am grateful to Sarah Grant for useful conversation on this point.90
See “Title-Page, 1771: Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564)”, Royal Academy, https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/work-of-art/title-page-18.91
Freya Gowrley, “Collage before Modernism”, in Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage, ed. Patrick Elliott, Freya Gowrley, and Yuval Etgar (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 2019), 26.92
For example, Ernst’s Une semaine de bonté (1934).93
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Vasi, candelabri, cippi, sarcofagi, tripodi, lucerne, ed ornamenti antichi disegnati ed incisi dal Cav. Gio. Batt. Piranesi, 2 vols. (Rome, 1778). As the original plates were not numbered, surviving bound volumes have the plates in different orders.94
See Wilton-Ely, Complete Etchings, Vol. 2, 961ff.95
Now at the Louvre, “Candélabre: Candélabre Piranèse”: https://collections.louvre.fr/ark:/53355/cl010275590. The other candelabrum on the mantelpiece was one of a pair purchased by Sir Roger Newdigate, today in the Ashmolean in Oxford, “Piranesi Candelabrum with Detail of Elephant Head, and Athena and Ram’s Head”: https://collections.ashmolean.org/object/449496. See John Wilton-Ely, “The Ultimate Act of Fantasia: Piranesi’s Funerary Candelabrum”, Apollo 166, no. 546 (September 2007): 40–46.96
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Diverse Maniere d’adornare i Cammini (Rome, 1769), 33, quoting the English version of his trilingual text in this publication. See Sarah E. Lawrence, “Piranesi’s Aesthetic of Eclecticism”, in Piranesi as Designer, ed. Sarah E. Lawrence (New York: Cooper-Hewitt, 2007), 93–121.97
See Coltman, “Sir William Hamilton’s Vase Publications (1766–1776)”, 1–16.98
The painter Gaetano Savorelli and the architect Pietro Camporesi started the recording process in 1760, working with the engraver Giovanni Ottaviani, but Ludovico Tesio and Giovanni Volpato later joined the team. Copies of Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano survive at the Royal Academy, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the Soane Museum in London. See, for example, “Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano”, Royal Academy: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/book/loggie-di-rafaele-nel-vaticano.99
Quoted in Wilton-Ely, “Pompeian and Etruscan Tastes”, 60. As Wilton-Ely notes, the pilasters were also reproduced in the painted decorative scheme by James Wyatt, in the cupola room at Heaton Hall, Manchester; Wilton-Ely, “Pompeian and Etruscan Tastes”, 57–58.100
See de Leeuw, “Dealer and Cicerone”, 241–67.101
The quote is from Joshua Reynolds’s fourth discourse (1774): Discourses on Art, ed. Robert R. Wark (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), 107.102
See Coltman, “Sir William Hamilton’s Vase Publications (1766–1776)”, passim; and Adriano Aymonino, Enlightened Eclecticism: The Grand Design of the 1st Duke and Duchess of Northumberland (New Haven, CT: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2021), chapter 4.103
Scott, “Playing Games with Otherness”, 246. See Patrick Elliott, Freya Gowrley, and Yuval Etgar, eds., Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 2019), passim.104
Scott, “Playing Games with Otherness”, 198. See also the discussion of the theories of Anton Ehrenzweig in Mark Crinson, “Eye Wandering the Ceiling: Ornament and New Brutalism”, Art History 41,no. 2 (2018): 335–40.105
“An Evening in Celebration of Mark Girouard”, chaired by Mark Hallett, Paul Mellon Centre, October 2021, https://www.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk/whats-on/an-evening-in-celebration-of-mark-girouard.106
See Anderson, Touring and Publicizing England’s Country Houses, 15–16.107
McKellar, “Representing the Georgian”, 331.108
See Robin Evans, “The Developed Surface: An Enquiry into the Brief Life of an Eighteenth-Century Drawing Technique”, in Translations from Drawing to Building and other Essays (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997), 195–231.109
See Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses, preface by Steven Holl (Chichester: Wiley, 2008).110
On this issue, see the work being undertaken by Floor Koeleman on constcamers: “Re-Viewing the Constcamer: A Digital Approach to Seventeenth-Century Pictures of Collections”, in Digital History and Hermeneutics: Between Theory and Practice (Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2022), 201–18, https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110723991.111
See Jas Elsner, “Art History as Ekphrasis”, Art History 33, no. 1 (February 2010): 10–27.112
The possibilities here have been richly indicated by the twelve films about Nigel Henderson’s Screen, created by Mark Hallett, Rosie Ram, and Jon Law, “Vital Fragments: Nigel Henderson and the Art of Collage”, Paul Mellon Centre: https://www.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk/research/vital-fragments. See especially “Collaging the Nude” and “Collage”.113
Vanessa Agnew, “What is Reenactment?”, an introduction to a special edition of Criticism 46, no. 3 (2004): 327–39, dealing with “Extreme and Sentimental History”, quoting 330. See the “Making and Knowing” project at Columbia University, exploring craft processes and their relationship with scientific knowledge: www.makingandknowing.org. See also the Glenmorangie Early Medieval Research Project at National Museums Scotland, recreating early medieval objects in collaboration with artists and craftspeople: https://www.nms.ac.uk/collections-research/our-research/featured-projects/early-medieval-scotland/glenmorangie-research-project/. An emphasis on materials, tools, craftmanship, and making is at the heart of CRAFTVALUE, an IRC Advanced Laureate Research Project at Trinity College Dublin led by Christine Casey: https://craftvalue.org/.114
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