Wombat Friday: Read Us A Story?

Top and Ruskin send their greetings to the wombats of the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood!

This week the wombats were a bit miffed that I didn’t take them to Aberdeen Art Gallery with me to have their photo taken with Rossetti’s Mariana or Waterhouse’s Penelope and Her Suitors.

To make up for it I promised them that I would read from one of their favourite books.  They chose the catalogue from Pre-Raphaelite and Other Masters The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection.  I tried to persuade them to read Victorian Country Houses by Mark Girouard to no avail.

They are currently snuggled beneath their favourite Victorian shawl.  Now, shall we begin?

Wombat Friday: Read Us A Story

Happy Wombat Friday!

Wombat Friday: Art, Cake and Friends!

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Top sends his apologies, but the chocolate the Easter bunny left him last week got the better of him – and he didn’t make a Wombat Friday post.

Today however, due to a remarkable coincidence we have for you a tale of wombat rescue.  Top has been joined by Ruskin, a rather older and full of wisdom wombat, who was spotted by the Mum in a junk shop.  This week we have the last of the Easter chocolate nests and eggs AND even nicer, the last one of the Belgian macaroons bought fresh from the International Market this afternoon.

Top and Ruskin would like to share with you ‘Reverie’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Had to be a Rossetti piece of art really!  It can be found at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

If you are joining in with Wombat Friday, please leave me a link to yours!  Thanks and wombat wishes :)

An Audley Gift

Am working on some new posts and reviews, but am a little brain dead from work and study at the moment.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share the amazing watercolour my friend Elinor made for me of my favourite house Audley End.  Audley is now in the care of English Heritage, so do go and visit it!

Talking of houses, I visited Bolsover Castle some years ago now.  Did anyone else watch the programme on it and its owners this week with Lucy Worsley?

Here is my lovely gift – please don’t use this image without permission:

Our First Wombat Friday!

Those of you that follow Stephanie’s the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, or Kirsty’s The Kissed Mouth will already have seen the new(ish) Friday tradition of Wombat Friday.

Wombat + Pre-Raphaelites + cake = Wombat Friday.

As my wombat Top only arrived today, and we don’t have our Pre-Raphaelite collection with us – not to mention being sadly sans cake – he would like me to tell you he says hi, and he enjoyed his Mac Cheese lunch very much!

Top is of course, named after Rossetti’s own real pet wombat.  He’ll be back soon with cake, but in the meantime I’ll have to introduce him to Mariana at Aberdeen Art Gallery.

Happy Wombat Friday!

Wombat Friday

Hospitalfield House

Not a house that I’d particularly heard about before, but a friend suggested we go over for the Open Day tour to Hospitalfield House, Arbroath.

Before we went to the main house however, we stopped off at the Fraser family, later Allan-Fraser mausoleum (or mortuary chapel), which is in the Western Cemetery and not too far away.  Let me tell you it is an astounding place!  I’ve seen a few mausoleums, mostly in pictures – but never anything like this.  Built in the neo-Gothic style it has a frankly strange mixture of architectural styles and looks large enough for the average family to live in.  A must visit – especially on Doors Open Day, which is normally September time where you can actually go inside.  Maybe I’ll do that next year.

Hospitalfield House itself, as the name suggests, was actually built originally as a hospice run by monks from Arbroath Abbey (which you can also visit the ruins of).  In the Seventeenth century however, it was bought by the Fraser family and from then on until the late nineteenth century was used as a family home.

When viewing the house now, it retains much of its Victorian décor – which it owes to its’ final owners the Allan-Frasers, also its art collection.  Patrick Allan, later adopting the name Allan-Fraser – having no children – Patrick and his wife Elizabeth Fraser decided that if Patrick outlived her, he would leave the house in a trust to provide young people with training in art.

This happened in 1890, and though much of the original estates have been swallowed up to continue the trust’s work – Hospitalfield continues with this work to this day.

You can study and attend events at Hospitalfield House, and do think about booking for the next Open Day.

Cawdor Castle and the Antiques Roadshow

I had been wanting to go and see Cawdor Castle for a few years, but not had the excuse to just get on with it and go until I heard that The Antiques Roadshow were going to be there!  To my knowledge, they don’t visit that many locations in Scotland, at least during each year’s filming.  I do love watching other people’s treasures – especially family stories.

We decided we didn’t really have anything we wanted valued, so packed ourselves off to the station to get the train to Nairn, outside of Inverness – which is the closest to Cawdor and the castle.  For June it wasn’t really warm and the weather was pretty atrocious, as was the non-existent bus service available to Cawdor, but hey-ho we got there and immediately loved the castle and gardens.

The castle is beautiful, and reminded me a little of Fraser, the rooms are also really comfortable looking – which is much in keeping with the fact that it is still a family home.  Enjoyed some of the paintings too – especially the portraits which were over the front desk where you show your tickets.  Had a nice wander around the shop to get my obligatory guide book, and to read more about the tree preserved within the castle itself…

Time for a final wander around the gardens (loved the roses) and to take some pictures and generally people watch the visitors and spot AR experts!  This is when I spotted this before we left:


Right in the centre you’ll spot the presenter Fiona Bruce!  It was nice to see her, if only at a distance.  The programme I believe is scheduled for the end of 2012, early 2013.

And I didn’t even manage to mention THAT Scottish play in this post!

*UPDATE The programme has now been shown.  You can see a clip here.

Can You Help the Castle Find Maurice?

We certainly hope so – do get in touch with the office if you have any information.

Art Historian Dr Bendor Grosvenor has very kindly posted a picture of Prince Maurice of Nassau on his website Art History News, which was stolen from the castle some time ago.

Please pass the information on to anyone you think that might be able to help – we just want to have him home, we miss him.

Art Crushes Remembered

Whilst I come down from the adrenalin of exams and am drooling at the thought of a recent gallery visit, I thought I’d update and point out some previous artists and works of art that I’ve mentioned here before.

I have some work on Reynolds to share shortly, but in the meantime I remember fondly some previous early art crush posts on the following:

G.F. Watts

John William Waterhouse

Sir Thomas Lawrence

John Everett Millais

Sir Thomas Gainsborough

Sorry, it’s only been men so far!

Art Crush – William Dobson, and the tale of Prince Rupert

I’ve got lots of art crushes – something that I want to explore further here when I have time.  Suffice to say, however that I absolutely love portraits.  If fact, I think I’d like to specialise in them one day.

My art crush for this month is William Dobson.  I discovered him in a roundabout way – via Charles II, his cousin Prince Rupert and the lovely artist Van Dyck.  When I say discover – I heard about Dobson painting a ‘lost’ portrait of Prince Rupert in Charles Spencer’s biography of him – I love anything about him, especially portraits and there are quite a lot of those (and not just by Dobson).

Van Dyck is another hero of mine, a very accomplished (and flattering) court painter for Charles I, and Dobson replaces him when he dies.  The other interesting thing about him is that he painted so few art works before his premature death, and these were during one of the most turbulent times – the English Civil War.

Some of you will have come across Dobson due to the 400th anniversary of his birth this year, and there is a lovely website on him here.  There was also a great documentary linked to this site shown on BBC Four, and this is well worth seeing if you can.  It is also well worth picking up a second hand copy of the exhibition catalogue from the last major exhibition in the 1980s (which I have, it’s lovely), though it has gone up a lot in price recently!

So when are we getting an up to date exhibition on William Dobson?  I’m waiting!


A great book on Rupert – Prince Rupert: the Last Cavalier by Charles Spencer






William Dobson Exhibition Catalogue 1611-1646 by Malcolm Rogers






An engraving of the lost Dobson portrait of Rupert can be seen here.  An old photograph of an unfinished version of the portrait can also be seen here (as well as in the exhibition catalogue).  Scroll down to number 37 for Rupert, but the others are equally interesting.

The is also an interesting book about Endymion Porter (a court subject, who was painted by both Van Dyck and Dobson), from an exhibition from the 1970s.  Endymion Porter and William Dobson is by William Vaughan, and I viewed it via a local Library.

Whilst many Dobson portraits remain in private hands, here are a just a couple of galleries you can view his work:

The Tate Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

So, who else likes Dobson then?  Any favourite portraits?  I also love his portrait of Colonel John Russell.

Books I’ve Been Lusting After Lately

Some brand new, some fairly new ones here:

  • English Country Houses Interiors by Jeremy Musson

I love any books by Musson.

  • Bergere, Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear by Serena Dyer

I am really in need of some good hat books!

  • The Late King’s Goods by Jeremy Brotton

Charles I’s art collection was amazing. I know a little about what was recovered, but not enough…

  • Spas, Wells & Pleasure Gardens of London by James Stevens Curl

I have his book on the Victorian way of death – and:

  • Vauxhall Gardens by David E. Coke

I’ve always been fascinated by the pleasure gardens, as so little of them survives.