Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Magazine - Page 64
The Bridgewater Collection and its picture frames
The Bridgewater Collection and its picture frames
the 1830s and 1840s, Lord Francis Egerton undertook
another campaign of reframing. Nearly a century
later, during World War II, a number of frames were
destroyed, including, as has already been mentioned,
those of Titian’s Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto.
As a result, these and a number of other Bridgewater
pictures, including Tintoretto’s Entombment (BG40;
Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery), Guido Reni’s
Immaculate Conception (BG117; New York, Metropolitan
Museum of Art) and Van Dyck’s Virgin and Child (BG23;
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum), now have frames
that are completely modern.
Despite all these losses, many of them part of the
course for any large picture collection, the Bridgewater
Collection is relatively well served with information
about its frames. Of particular interest is the rather rare
circumstance that there survives a set of documents,
referring to the provision of frames respectively for the
Fig. 2 / William Bond (after
J. C. Smith), View of the
New Gallery, Cleveland
House. From John Britton,
Catalogue Raisonné of
the Pictures belonging to
the Most Honourable the
Marquis of Stafford in the
Gallery of Cleveland House,
Fig. 3 / Diagram of fig. 2.
Chronologically the article will focus on the five or six
decades between the beginning of the duke’s main
period of activity as a collector in the 1790s, and the
opening of the new Bridgewater Gallery in time for the
Great Exhibition of 1851. It will follow the evolution
of the collection in four main phases: 1. the decade
before the death of the duke in 1803, and the creation
of what may be called the 1st Bridgewater Gallery at
Cleveland House; 2. the period of the Stafford Gallery
(1806-1830), when the collection was temporarily
merged with the Stafford collection; 3. the period
from the inheritance of the Bridgewater Collection
by Lord Francis Egerton in 1830, when he formed
what may be called the 2nd Bridgewater Gallery, to
the time of its removal from Cleveland House (by
now more frequently called Bridgewater House) from
1839 onwards; and 4. the period after 1851, when
the 3rd Bridgewater Gallery was inaugurated in the
new Bridgewater House. 1851 was also the date of
the publication of a new catalogue of the collection,
in which the paintings were assigned their definitive
numbers (cited here as BG…).4
Such an investigation is naturally fraught with
considerable difficulty. The Bridgewater frames, like
those in virtually every other collection, were regularly
liable to be replaced or altered, especially if existing
frames had suffered damage, but also according to the
changing tastes of owners from different generations,
or according to the changing circumstances in the
paintings’ display. As would have been not unusual,
it is likely that not a single one of the Bridgewater
pictures was acquired by the duke in the frame that was
originally made for it. There is no evidence, for example,
that any of his sixteenth-century Italian paintings still
had their Renaissance frames, or that any of his Dutch
paintings retained their typical ebonized frames. By the
time that he acquired them, the great majority of his
paintings would have been in French eighteenth-century
frames, in the styles of the Régence, Louis XV and
Louis XVI. As will be seen, while the duke evidently
retained many of these, he also had a number of them
replaced. Then, during the lifetime of the Stafford
Gallery (1806-1830) his nephew the marquess had some
of the Bridgewater pictures reframed again; and then, in
first and second Bridgewater Galleries. The first set,
dating from between February 1797 and January 1801,
records a series of payments by the duke to a framemaker called Peter Aubé (Appendix).5 The second set,
covering a wide span of years in the 1830s and 1840s,
refers to different aspects of work on frames commissioned
by Lord Francis from the well-known frame-maker,
restorer and dealer, John Smith (1781-1855).
Complementing this written documentation is a small
but informative number of early visual records. One
of these is a painting by Adriaan Lelie of ca. 17941795 representing the collection of Jan Gildemeester
in Amsterdam, in which several pictures subsequently
bought for the Bridgewater Collection are clearly visible
(see fig. 1). Another, more informative visual record is
an engraving by William Bond of 1806/1808 depicting
the interior of the Stafford Gallery, in which were
hung several more pictures, this time Italian, that had
previously belonged to the duke (figs. 2 & 3).
1. Annibale Carracci, Saint Gregory and Angels (BG76; destroyed 1941). Frame: English, ca. 1800-1805.
2. Annibale Carracci, Danae (BG101; destroyed 1941). Frame: French, Louis XIV, ca. 1700.
3. After Raphael, Madonna of the Blue Diadem (BG36; fig. 16). Frame: Prussian, ca. 1735.
4. Raphael, Holy Family with a Palm Tree (BG35; fig. 15). Frame: English ca. 1800-1805.
5. Raphael, Madonna del Passeggio (BG37; now regarded as mostly by Penni). Frame: Italian, ca. 1620.
6. Lodovico Carracci, Lamentation (BG102; later attributed to Annibale; destroyed 1941). Frame: Italian (Salvator Rosa), ca. 1700.
7. Salvator Rosa, Jacob and his Flock (BG165; sold from collection 1946). Frame: Spanish, early 17th century.
8. Correggio, Muleteers (formerly Stafford Collection; attribution to Correggio later discarded). Frame: Italian, 17th century.
9. Pellegrino da Modena, Virgin and Child and Saints (formerly Stafford Collection). Frame: Italian, ca. 1680.
10. Annibale Carracci, Infant Saint John the Baptist Asleep (BG68; sold from collection 1946). Frame: Italian, ca. 1680.
11. Parmigianino, Cupid Shaping his Bow (BG172; a copy?; sold from the collection, 1946). Frame: Italian, ca. 1680.
12. Guercino, David and Abigail (BG27; destroyed 1941). Frame: English, ca. 1800-1805.