If you go to the picture gallery at Temple Newsam House, you will see a double portrait of Rich Ingram, 5th Viscount and his wife Anne, one of the three daughters of the third Earl of Carlisle, the builder of Castle Howard. Rich inherited Temple Newsam after the death of his brother Edward, the 4th Viscount in 1714. The double portrait by Jonathan Richardson the Elder (1667-1745) shows a young couple dressed in fine clothes looking every inch a Viscount and Viscountess. However, this belies the trouble which the two young people had with debt. They spent vast amounts of money on furnishing Temple Newsam and creating the East Avenue but Rich also gambled, a commonplace occurrence in the eighteenth century. Sadly, in 1720 Rich lost his money when the South Sea bubble burst. He died the year after of smallpox.
Notwithstanding these misfortunes, the early 1700s were a time of great change. The last Stuart, Queen Anne, had died in 1714 and having no surviving children a protestant relative was brought over from Hanover, Germany, heralding in the Georgian Era. This was also a time of unprecedented scientific, intellectual, artistic and philosophical thought, a time of reason and empirical knowledge known as the Enlightenment. This movement would have given increased impetus for young gentlemen to embark on the Grand Tour of Europe. By 1720 this tour was at its height and it was an essential requisite in the completion of a young man’s (and sometimes ladies’), education where he would visit the great towns and cities of the Renaissance. He would also be accompanied by a Cicerone or tutor. This would all be part of his education, they would study diplomacy, languages, politics and culture as an exemplum of good taste.
The picture gallery at Temple Newsam is indicative of this. There are paintings brought back by Edward 4th Viscount when he did the Grand Tour in 1704-07. These include a series of paintings of seascapes, landscapes and battle scenes painted by Antonio Marini, whose portrait can be seen in the Crimson bedroom at the West end of the gallery.
Many artists benefited from the patronage which they gained from these Grand tourists eager for mementos to take back to their own grand houses. Edward’s own portrait painted by Thomas Van Der Wilt is hung in the gallery and a portrait of a man, possibly that of John Haccius Edward’s tutor, is hung in the Crimson bedroom. We can assume that these two portraits were painted when they were on the Grand tour as they are both by the same artist. Indubitably, Edward like many young Grand tourists frequently asked his mother for money as he said, ‘For I have a good opportunity of furnishing my great rambling house with excellent paintings for two or three hundred pounds more if I had it’.
Around Temple Newsam House there are other paintings that reflect the tastes and aspirations of the Grand tour. One such painting is Imaginary Ruins by Leonardo Coccorante which reflects the empires of ancient times. These paintings known as Capricci were very popular and a similar one exists on the South wing of the house: Roman Ruins with the Blind Belisarius by Gian Paolo Panini. If we look towards Greek culture and mythology on the Tudor wing of the house there is a very large painting by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini of Hector and Andromache. The subject of this painting is taken from Homer’s Iliad and is set during the Tenth year of the Trojan war.
The gallery we see today is not the one which Rich and Anne would have known but it does reflect the tastes and aspirations of the Grand Tour, which carried on until the early 1800s. In the gallery and on the West wing of the house there are sculptures of Roman emperors. The ones which are seen at Temple Newsam are 18th century copies, but it was possible to acquire an original as many busts would have been excavated at sites around Rome; often in poor condition, broken, corroded and encrusted with dirt.
Taste become one of the attributes of a new kind of person, sociable and cosmopolitan, who was literate in both Latin and Greek, art, music and contemporary literature. We see in the gallery Roccoco decorations and pediments over the doors. The overmantle paintings by Antonio Joli return to scenes from the classical world. The first painting, View on the Tiber, shows Joli’s ‘re-arrangement’ of Rome to give a more artistic affect. The second overmantle is a Architectural Fantasy, showing figures bathing among the ruins of Roman baths.
The mythological themes in the gallery are quite outstanding, and although Rich and Anne would not have looked upon the gallery as we see it today – it was completed around 1746 – they would have understood the mythological stories which are told here. Perhaps they would have read Ovid’s Metamorphoses or Book of Transformations, a narrative poem in which Ovid recounts 250 myths in 15 books.
One story is portrayed in the two large ‘Girandoles’ or wall sconces flanking the portrait of Henry 3rd Viscount Rich’s father. These show the story of Diana and Actaeon, the latter been punished for seeing Diana bathing. His punishment? Being transformed into a deer and eaten by his own hounds. The candlesticks or Torcheres portray the nymph Syrinx being transformed into a reed after escaping from Pan and his dogs. The green flock wallpaper presents a mythological forest alongside the James Pascall embroidered furniture.
Finally, if we look up to the compartmentalised ceiling there is the medallion of King George I who became King of Great Britain and Ireland the same year that Rich inherited the title of 5th Viscount.
By Julie Holroyd, Visitor Assistant at Temple Newsam
Find out more about Temple Newsam and the beautiful picture gallery here.