August 19, 2019 | By Hirst-Conservation |
Stowe House is a grade I listed building in Buckinghamshire. Following the conservation of the Fame and Victory ceiling above the East Staircase, a limited investigative study of the cornice and walls was carried out, during which time a scheme of nationally-significant grisaille wall paintings was discovered, dating from c1740.
It is not currently known who painted the scheme, but ongoing research and investigations are trying to establish this, and likely candidates are the Venetian painter Francesco Sleter or William Kent, both of whom were working in Stowe in the 1730s. There is no existing visual record of these paintings and they were believed to have been destroyed at some time between 1798 and 1820, which emphasises the need to research and record this important work.
In April 2019, Hirst Conservation Ltd carried out a further phase of investigation as part of a joint venture with Lincoln Conservation, which provided the valuable opportunity for two students from the University of Lincoln to work under direct supervision of two accredited paintings conservators (Lucyna Kaszewska and Rhiannon Clarricoates) on a one-to-one basis. Over a period of two weeks, controlled uncovering revealed a large tract of the paintings depicting a series of feigned corbels, a figure of Minerva in a fictive niche, a lion head, a cornucopia, and military trophies, amongst other decorative motifs symbolising triumph, peace and plenty, all of which fit the iconographic theme within the space, underlining the military and political successes of Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham, who undertook many of the alterations at Stowe from 1711 onwards.