Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Upton House - Posting 1 (Entrance, The Long Gallery, and some china)

Upton House in Warwickshire is set out as a millionaire's 1930's mansion. Walter Samual, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, bought it in 1927 to house his collection of paintings. The fortune was made through the creation of Shell Transport and Trading Company.

The house has a longer history than that however, and here's what the National Trust have to say about it's heritage.

History of the house
During the 12th century the house belonged to the Arden family (reign of Richard 1)

"In 1452 it became a manor house for the first time. During the next 20 years, they built a new house, part of which can been seen in the basement of the present building.

The Cullens
Sir Rushout Cullen, the son of a city merchant, bought the house before 1695 and his initials can be seen on the rainwater heads at the rear. He developed the nine bays and two wings of the south front which can be seen today.

The Bumsteads (yep, that's truly their name)
On his death the house was sold to William Bumstead, who added the broken pediment on the north front and the Clipsham stone around the front door in about 1735.

From the Childs to the Bearsteds
In 1757 Bumstead sold Upton to Sir Francis Child, head of a major banking dynasty. Upton remained largely untouched architecturally for the next few years and was inherited as part of a dowry by the Earls of Jersey.

Upton House remained a minor residence, empty or let to tenants of the Earls of Jersey, until in 1894 Upton was sold to Mr Andrew Motion from whom Lord Bearsted brought it in 1927."

 When you go into the house, the front door leads into a hallway with stairs on the left. Here's the view up the stairs. You can just see the bottom of a lovely painting on the stairway;  the full photo is below.

 Sometimes you have to look hard for treasures. I've been to the house many times and somehow always missed this painting on the left.

Its Diana and Actaeon, in the manner of Joachim Wtewael 1566 -1638

We then head into the Long Gallery (below) which is stuffed with paintings and displays of china. There is a piano with 1930's music on it, and any visitors who can play are encouraged to entertain the rest of us.

 One of the china cupboards.  A collection of dust traps.
 Now this painting has a title on the frame "Miss Mockel"  It is in fact the brother of Miss Mockel.  (Cologne school, 1630)

It was common to dress boys as girls until about the age of 6, when they were breeched (put into breeches and their locks cut off)  Lots of reasons; ease of care when not potty trained, fear of theft of young boys so they were dressed as girls, and right of passage)  I believe there was no separate term for boy and girl either...they were all known as girls.
 The Interior of the Church of St. Catherine, Utrecht 1655-60. Pieter Jansz Saenredam.

Paintings of church interiors at this period were very much a Dutch fashion, but this is apparently unusual in that it's an accurate drawing of a real church. It's a painting produced from drawings done much earlier in his life.

You can just see some figures, and it's possible these were added later by his pupils and were added to give a sense of scale so that we could appreciate the architecture and also the smallness of man in the presence of God.

The two shapes in the foreground are kneeling, inscribing a gravestone.
 Canneletto. Venice.  Bacino di San Marco 1726.

This is it's setting in the's to the left of the window frame.

 Village scene in the style of Brugel the Elder 1568-1625
 That piano that visitors are invited to play.

 Willen-Cornelisz Duyster 1600 -1635

Magnificent hat I thought, though I wouldn't vouch for the brim in heavy rain.
 And this is the sister of the little boy in the first painting of Miss Mockel. This is the lady herself, painted with an adult looking face and hands.


I couldn't find the explanation for this one, although I'm sure it's there somewhere. A beautiful piece of embroidery.

 Sir Henry Raeburn c 1800. The Macdonald Children.

Unfortunately the light was hitting this one from an odd angle and I wasn't able to see or photograph it properly, but it's one of my favourites.  The two boys on the right are charming. Twins I think; beautifully and sympathetically painted with life and energy.
 The sofa is what I wanted to show you here. I would find this quite a useful piece of furniture to have in my own house.  Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, my family has never won the lottery; as a consequence we are more at home with Ikea.
 This is the desk of the Chairman of Shell. When his office was cleared this was left behind and re homed in the house.
 Two pictures that can be seen from the library. There is a wooden balcony in the library which overlooks the billiard room area.  It's an area stuffed with great paintings including Reynolds and school of Van Dyke.

I have a video of this area which I shall upload separately.
 Down the stairs to the same level as the billiard room, and you come to the china collection. Some absolutely wonderful pieces worth the trip to see in the flesh.

I believe this collection on the right is Sevres Tete a Tete.

This whole collection was stolen about 40 years ago but was found in 2002. It was about to be sold at auction in Newcastle upon Tyne, but was returned as soon as it was recognised.
My favourite Sevres teapot. Just right for one teabag.

More on the picture room, and dining room in the next postings.

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