“Bric à brac” or some photoprints illustrating art objects at Gower Lodge, Windsor.
London, Kegan Paul Trench & Co 1888.
4to. xvi + 121 + (1)pp, photo frontispiece, (45) photo plates. Publisher’s cloth, all edges gilt.Engraved armorial bookplate of Harold Malet (1841-1918), army officer, artist and writer.
An unusual and scarce contribution to the literature on British nineteenth century art collections. Gower Lodge, in Kings Road, Windsor, the home of Lord Ronald Gower (1845-1916), a younger brother of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland, was of modest size in terms of houses owned by nineteenth century members of aristocratic families, and because Lord Ronald had himself artistic aspirations – he was an amateur sculptor, as well as being gay and a friend of Oscar Wilde – the assemblage of pictures, objets d’art and other furnishings which crammed the house’s relatively small reception rooms (as shown in four general photographic views of the rooms in question) had been put together in accordance with Lord Ronald’s personal taste rather than for the monetary value of the items involved. As the author puts it in his preface, “ people who really love art for its own sake derive often as much, if not greater pleasure from the least expensive things”, and that underlying sentiment certainly distinguishes his collection from other collections of this period recorded in published volumes. That said, Lord Ronald’s collection included significant Marie Antoinette memorabilia, and Old Master drawings attributed to Holbein, Titian, Rembrandt, Giorgione and so on, as well as a group of portrait drawings of Queen Charlotte and some of the best-known female members of the nobility in the later Georgian period, done by the artist John Downman ARA. The photographs on which the numerous Woodbury-type photo plates in the volume are based had been taken for Lord Ronald in 1886 by the photographer Edward Dossetter, otherwise best known for some fine photographic images of the indigenous inhabitants of Canada’s North-Western coast.