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Collecting Antiquities: Henry Blundell Seminar 2 – Core Module.

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Presentation on theme: "Collecting Antiquities: Henry Blundell Seminar 2 – Core Module."— Presentation transcript:

1 Collecting Antiquities: Henry Blundell Seminar 2 – Core Module

2 Henry Blundell ( ) Ince Blundell, Lancashire Established family, maternal grandfather Sir Rowland Stanley, Bt Income doubles – 1760 – fathers second wifes father, Sir Francis Anderton, 1 st Bt, dies – 1767 – wife dies – 1773 – father dies Catholic – Educated in St Omer, Douai, Paris – Excluded from politics Liverpool Academy Society for Promoting the Arts in Liverpool Leading figures in artistic circles – Special interest in Rome – Charles Townley

3 Collecting antiquities Dabbler in antiques, not always a typical collector Started collecting other works of art 1760s First visit to Rome with Townley , 1786, 1790 – 3 more visits to Rome Made first purchases through Thomas Jenkins, later through Father John Thorpe – Difficulties to find out and distinguish what is truly good and respectable, without being misled by [the] Puffs of [the] sellers Villa Mattei, Villa Borrioni, Villa dEste, Palazzo Capponi, Palazzo Lante, sales of Lord Cawdor (1800) and Lord Bessborough (1801) Initially not highly discriminating, happy to buy heavily restored works and modern copies; later graduated to fine originals 39 marbles in 1786, 325 in 1793 Largest collection of antiquities in Britain outside British Museum

4 Modern

5 Restoration


7 When bought it was in the character of a Hermaphrodite, with three little brats crawling about its breast. The figure was unnatural and very digusting to the sight; but by means of a little castration and cutting away the brats, it became a sleeping Venus and as pleasing a figure as any in this collection Group of satyr and hermaphrodite: It stole on me every time I saw it, till I thought it prudent to see it no more; And tho I had a good sum for it, yet I do not wish to have it, to keep it lockd up and shewn only to some particular friends or connoisseurs to Townley

8 Display of collections I do not aim at a collection, or crowding my house with marbles; nor will I ever build a Galleries... [I] shall be obliged to dispose of many of them, at each end of my conservatory in my Garden... They are such things as give me pleasure and suit me, for the places, they are intended for (1787 letter) Garden Temple (1792) Pantheon (1801) – Arranged in tolerably motley confusion - Michaelis – Asked Townley to bear in mind when buying items, more calculated approach to display Had to limit number of days open to public

9 Hic ver assiduum atque alienis mensibus aestas – Georgics on Garden Temple

10 Unusual in building to house collection not acquiring to decorate house Placed in niches and corridors, secondary areas of house Conscious of visual impact, prepared to cut up pieces despite more antiquarian interest than most Only programme of display of portrait heads was preference for pairs and attempt to spread about undesirable doubles

11 Publications An account of the statues, busts, bass-relieves, cinerary urns, and other ancient marbles, and paintings at Ince. Collected by H.B. (1803) – written with the sole view of serving as a kind of interpreter, in order to obviate the daily questions of those visitors who are not much versed in history, or heathen mythology – frontispiece – 553 items Engravings and etchings of the principal statues, busts, bass-reliefs, sepulchral monuments, cinerary urns etc. in the collection of Henry Blundell, esq., at Ince (1809) – 150 engravings, 2 volumes – 599 items by this time

12 Motivations Never forget that the most valuable acquisition a man of refined taste can make is a piece of fine Greek sculpture – Hamilton to Townley – First purchase – Roman copy of Greek statue of Epicurus Pieces to decorate home or conservatory – Considered buying one of Negroni caryatids as companion to Isis until realised he couldnt fit them as a pair in the hall – Early acquisitions predestined for display in specific spaces – Put in niches and corridors, secondary areas of house Preferred statuary fully restored, pieces that looked complete – Well-organised and lucrative industry in restoration Interested in famous historical people, busts formed core of market 2:1 – Jenkins: English had no taste for statues without heads – Not praised for artistic qualities – Idealised heads identified as emperors – These brought to mind the history and glorious exploits of ancient kings and heroes – It would be interesting, if it could be ascertained, that these urns contained the remains of persons noted in history Interest in sculptures for classical ideas represented, not antiquity

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