The last object that we looked at yesterday was a red Jasper table that was made specifically from a large piece of Jasper found on the shore. This room with its magnificent marble fireplace and piano is the largest room on the second floor. It is the table in front of the window – one solid piece of Red Jasper. On the walls, you will notice lots of pictures. Patrick Allan-Fraser, who you will recall was a member of The Clique Art Group, wrote to his fellow members and friends and said that he would pay them 100 GBP if they would send him a portrait they had painted. At the time, the average wage for a Headmaster (considered one of the highest paying positions) was 70 GBP. Allan-Fraser was well known for helping artists to further their training. He even paid for some to attend art school in Edinburgh.
One of only two members of the group, Edith Ballantyne, sent the portrait below. She was active as a painter for only seven years, 1880-87.
The title is Afternoon Tea. The parrot makes reference to Allan-Fraser’s wife, Elizabeth, who was a member of the Parrot family at Hawkesbury. It was her inheritance that bought this grand property.
One other portrait is D O Hill of Hill and Adamson. They were pioneers of Scottish photography. Hill supplied the picture, The Old Mill.
This room contains a number of paintings and ceramics. Sadly, Allan-Fraser had no interest in ceramics! Tomorrow I will talk about the use of bitumen to darken the oils and the subsequent unstoppable deterioration on these 19th-century pictures because of it.
One other picture from the group is A Bell Middleton, Portrait of A Bell Middleton.
Turning around and to the left is the room that for a better title I will call the Harp Room. Hospitalfield recently held a fundraiser to restore this 17th-century harp and they have harp concerts during the year.
There are several other curiosities in this room. One is the large cedar cabinet with its camphor wood drawers. Inside, after Elizabeth died, Patrick had some of her clothes kept including the dress she was wearing in the portrait he painted of her earlier in this blog.
There are also two other cabinets that hold collections of shells and rocks as well as flora. These were typical hobbies during the 19th century.
Every day Simon bakes homemade bread for us and there is a growing interesting in using handmade wooden breadboards. The one below was carved by John Hutchinson who also did other fine wood carvings in the house. One of his pieces is encased in a glass frame in the Harp Room.
Also in this room are several marble groups and a number of pictures.
W. Calder Marshall carved the beautiful figure of Psyche. Marshall was born in Edinburgh (1813) and attended Edinburgh University before he became a student at the Royal Academy in London in 1834. There his tutors were Francis Chantrey and Edward Hodges Baily. Two years later, in 1836, Marshall travels to Rome to study classical sculpture. He returns to England in 1836. At the age of fifty-one, he was commissioned to carve the allegorical group, Agriculture, for the Albert Memorial. In that magnificent work, a female figure symbolizing Agriculture directs the attention of the farmers to the benefits of the latest farming technology including a steam cylinder, cob, and a retort. Marshall was the most accomplished and prolific sculptors during the Victorian era.
Also in the room is a lovely group, Hen and Chicks, by Longbardi. I have yet to find information on this sculptor. If you know, write to me!
And right as you exit, to your right, is a lovely genre picture by Alexander Bell Middleton’s (1829-1860), The Evening Guide Sir! It is one of three or four pictures by Middleton in the Hospitalfield collection.
It is such a privilege being at Hospitalfield House. When I was reading for my PhD, I wished that I could transport myself back into the lives of the people in the 19th century. Decades later that wish has come true!
And now, my project. I came with the anticipation of casting 54 ovoid bottles and placing them along the coastline. Two problems: too damp to dry that many bottles even with mechanical assistance (heat lamps and lights) and you cannot actually get right down to the sea because the railway is there. So they are being placed among the plants in the kitchen garden.
The forecast is for snow tomorrow. It is Saturday and I am due to take a day off and drive up through the Scottish Highlands. More images to share with you!