Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Patronage in Context: A New Book Examines One of England's Most Infamous Collectors
Portrait of a Patron, The Patronage and Collecting of James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos (1674–1744)
by Susan Jenkins
Once described as 'England's Apollo' James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos (1674–1744) was an outstanding patron of the arts during the first half of the eighteenth century. Having acquired great wealth and influence as Paymaster-General of Queen Anne's forces abroad, Chandos commissioned work from leading artists, architects, poets and composers including Godfrey Kneller, William Talman, Sir John Vanbrugh, Sir James Thornhill, John Gay and George Frederick Handel. Despite his associations with such renowned figures, Chandos soon gained a reputation for tasteless extravagance. This reputation was not helped by the publication in 1731 of Alexander Pope's poem 'Of Taste' which was widely regarded as a satire upon Chandos and Cannons, the new house he was building near Edgware. The poem destroyed Chandos's reputation as a patron of the arts and ensured that he was remembered as a man lacking in taste.
Yet, as this book shows, such a judgement is plainly unfair when the Duke's patronage is considered in more depth and understood within the artistic context of his age. By investigating the patronage and collections of the Duke, through an examination of documentary sources and contemporary accounts, it is possible to paint a very different picture of the man. Rather than the epitome of bad taste described by his enemies, it is clear that Chandos was an enlightened patron who embraced new ideas, and strove to establish a taste for the Palladian in England, which was to define the Georgian era.
'The marvels of Chandos's lost palace and scattered collections live again in this book. A fascinating portrait of an extravagant, contradictory figure and his times.' Simon Bradley, Editor, Pevsner Architectural Guides
'Susan Jenkins's brilliant and scholarly account of this parvenu prince of patrons sheds new light on almost every aspect of the extraordinarily rich culture of Augustan England.' Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures
Illustrations: Includes 43 b&w illustrations
ISBN: 0 7546 4156 2
Publication Date: 05/2007
Number of Pages: 232 pages
Book Size: 234 x 156 mm
British Library Reference: 700.9'2
Library of Congress Reference: 2006018633
About the Author/Editor
Dr. Susan Jenkins is the curator for Apsley house (home to the Dukes of Wellington) and is Senior Curator, Special Projects for English Heritage. She attended Cambridge University, London before receiving a Master's degree and a PhD from the Courtauld.
Jenkins started her career as a curator of Prints and Drawings at the V&A Museum before becoming Assistant Curator at Historic Royal Palaces. She also spent a year as a curator in the Decorative Arts department of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles before joining the Compton Verney Gallery in Warwickshire as Director of Art, where she helped to establish a museum and exhibition program.
She is currently researching 19th-century collecting and writing a book on collecting in England. She is also working on a publication relating to the Duke of Wellington's collection at Apsley House.