Kenwood House (The Iveagh Bequest)

Northern Line Tube to Golders Green, then bus no. 210 to Kenwood.

Kenwood House contains mainly 17th and 18th Century paintings. However, there is at least a tangential link to the largely Victorian interest of these pages. Some of the chief artists who started the Royal Academy are well represented in the collection at Kenwood. Additionally, in spirit, Kenwood fits in to these pages as an artistic and aesthetic place. Finally, two of our artists are to be found there - Edwin Landseer and Arthur Boyd Houghton.

Kenwood House is a neoclassical building, remodelled by the architect Robert Adam between 1764-79, and has one of the most important Adams interiors in the country. There are paintings by various important 18th Century artists, and they seem to fit better in the sumptious surroundings of this sort of mansion than on the walls of a normal art gallery. There are portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA, of which Lady Briscoe (1776) and Children of J. J. Angerstein are particularly noteworthy, and several Gainsboroughs. George Morland has several pictures, including two typical rustic scenes, and among the various paintings by Angelica Kauffman is a self portrait entitled The Artist in the Character of Design, Listening to the Inspiration of Poetry. John Crome is represented by Yarmouth Water Frolics, finished by his son J. B. Crome.

Edwin Landseer has a major work, Hunting in the Olden Times, focussed on a poor heron being caught in mid-air by a hawk. There is also a double portrait of two boys by him, characteristically with most emphasis on the horses the boys are riding, and the dogs running alongside. A. B. Houghton has half a dozen small pictures, all comical/satirical scenes with figures except for Volunteers Marching Out, 1860, which has a quite Pre-Raphaelite girl to the left of the picture and good studies of buildings in the background. Somewhat overlapping with the Victorian artists was Richard Corbould, best known as an illustrator and engraver, but represented here by two small ideal landscapes in oil. They do look rather like his engravings, but have a delicacy of light effects unanticipated from his black and white work. There is a plaster cast of Dorothy Jordan with two of her Children by Chantrey.

The rest of the paintings include important old masters - Rembrandt (his most highly regarded self portrait), Vermeer, Hals, Snyders, Van Dyck, Turner, and four most bright pictures by Francois Boucher. There are also wall and ceiling paintings in some rooms, and various pieces of antique furniture.

There is a collection of portrait miniatures, mainly 17th and 18th Century, but with a few 19th Century ones, and we may mention work by Hone, Bone, William Maw Egley, Zincke and Meyer. As well, some jewellery including cameos, and porcelain.

Kenwood House is set in its own large grounds with excellent rhododendron displays in the spring, and some very old, large oak and chestnut trees in a small wood. It takes up one corner of Hampstead Heath, a mix of woodland and open grassland popular for walks and picnics in the summer.

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Victorian art in London // Victorian art in Britain