Portrait of a Patron

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Overview

Remembered by history as a man of extravagant bad taste, this book reassesses the reputation of James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos (1674-1744). Through a close examination of the documentary sources and contemporary accounts a picture is instead created of an influential figure at the centre of a web of patronage, a builder of a celebrated house and supporter of public architectural projects, who played a leading role in establishing a taste for Palladianism in England which was to define the Georgian period.

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 Geoffrey 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 Canons, the enormous new house he was building at Whitchurch. The poem destroyed Chandos's reputation as a patron of the arts and ensured that 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 measured against the artistic context of his age. By examining the patronage and collections of the Duke, together with documentary sources andcontemporary 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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780754641568
  • Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 5/23/2007
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Curriculum vitae: ambitions, achievements, politics
Architectural patronage: the building of cannons
Cannons: the interior decoration
The grounds of cannons
After the crash: architectural and other projects
Collecting in context: collectors and collections
The Duke of Chandos as a collector
The Duke as 'Apollo of the Arts'
Death and disposal
Appendices
Bibliography
Index.
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