Vauxhall’s David Wilson, an art dealer and art historian, tells a sad tale of local government clodhopping in his fine new book on Johan Zoffany (1733-1810). It’s the tale of how in Richmond upon Thames, a London borough with many royal associations, the council allowed historic Cardigan House to be bulldozed, apparently unaware of its royal past.
Wilson centres his book upon ‘The Sayer Family of Richmond’, painted in about 1781, which is one of Zoffany’s ‘conversation pieces’. Popular in the 18th century, these are informal group scenes, often showing a family pow-wow. Zoffany’s picture is stacked with visual clues as to what the Sayers might be talking about, and so is this book.
As Wilson told his audience at a recent Friends of Durning Library conversation, Robert Sayer (1725-1794) was Zoffany’s publisher and a leading producer of atlases and maritime charts. Zoffany shows Sayer, second wife Alice and his son James conversing in the grounds of the we choice family home that Sayer built on Richmond Hill overlooking the Thames. The painting is still with us, in private hands but on loan to the Paul Mellon Centre for British Studies here in London. No such luck with the Sayer family home, known as Cardigan House. It fell into council ownership, and in 1970 was knocked down to make way for brick boxes.
Only after the bulldozers had finished did it dawn upon the rx generic levitra local authority what an asset of historical and tourist value it had junked. Among the notables that succeeded the http://deborahservices.co.uk/viagra-generic-canada Sayers at Cardigan House was the Duke of Clarence (the future William IV) and his mistress, the actress Mrs Jordan, who bore the Duke ten children. Among their visitors was the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. House guests included another future king, the Prince of Wales who was to become Prince Regent and then George IV, as well as husband of Caroline, sister of the Duke of Brunswick, once tenant of Vauxhall’s Brunswick House. Cardigan House was later the home of Captain John Willis, owner of the tea-clipper Cutty Sark, and in the Great War a club for wounded and convalescent servicemen.
Richmond upon Thames is named for Henry VII, who was the Duke of Richmond, and built a Richmond Palace, now like Cardigan House, long gone. Richmond was a favourite resort of Henry VIII, and of Elizabeth I, who died there in 1603.
David Wilson, Johan Zoffany RA and The Sayer Family of Richmond: A Masterpiece of Conversation. Paperback. London: David Wilson Fine Art, £18 plus postage, via www.davidwilsonfineart.com.
Say you heard about David’s book through The Vauxhall Society website, and David will pay postage and, if you live in Vauxhall/Kennington, hand-deliver.