(Martyn, Thomas)

The English connoisseur : containing an account of whatever is curious in painting, sculpture, & in the palaces and seats of the nobility and principal gentry of England, both in town and country.

London, “printed for L.Davis and C.Reymers” 1766.

Reference: 15408
Price: £875 [convert currency]

Full Description

8vo. 2 vols. (2) + ix + (1) + 192pp; (4) + 208pp. Contemporary full mottled calf (one spine label missing). A good, fresh copy.

A pleasing copy of this useful little book, rare in this original printing, providing detailed listings of the pictures and sculptures in some of the most substantial English art collections of the period. Its unnamed author, Rev.Thomas Martyn (1735-1825), was, curiously enough, Professor of Botany at Cambridge University, but he had already made a tour on the European continent (see p.iv of his preface), and he was to demonstrate his lasting interest in art much later on in a travel book on Italy based on a year-long stay there in 1779-80. The collections covered include those at Blenheim, Hagley, Houghton, Kedleston, Stowe and Wilton, as well as those at Hampton Court, Kensington Palace and Windsor Castle, but the book’s real value rests in that it brings together in a single publication both lists of works of art in these iconic collections, and lists of paintings in other collections which are either differently arranged and constituted today, or which no longer exist. Thus, Martyn provides a list of the great collection of pictures made by the British diplomat Sir Paul Methuen as it was hung in his house in Grosvenor Square, before its subsequent transfer to the Methuen family’s country house at Corsham in Wiltshire. Similarly, the pictures then owned by the Duke of Devonshire are listed by Martyn under their then locations, principally at Chiswick House or at Devonshire House in Piccadilly, Chatsworth House then having “very little in it that can attract the eye of the connoisseur”(p.28). Major collections of Old Master paintings listed by Martyn which have been dispersed long ago include those of John Barnard, Berkeley Square (listed in remarkably full detail) ; Bourchier Cleeve, Foots Cray Place, Kent ; Charles Jennens, Ormond Street (a very extensive collection) ; and Sir Gregory Page, Bart., Wricklesham, Kent (again, a substantial collection).

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