Antiques & The Arts

The Chinese Drawing Room at Temple Newsam House

This is our most exotic room at Temple Newsam,
our Chinese drawing room or blue drawing room as it is sometimes called and it is almost entirely the creation of Isabella Lady
Hertford who was the eldest daughter of the last Viscount Viscountess Irwin. Its great feature is the wonderful Chinese wall paper and the story
is that it was the gift of the Prince of Wales, the future Prince Regent and
George the 4th who came to have lunch at Temple Newsam with Lady
Hertford in 1807 and as a gift he left her behind this wonderful paper Lady Hertford didn’t put this up until she came to live at Temple Newsam much later when she was an old
lady in the 1820’s and clearly having put it up in the room she perhaps was a bit dissatisfied that there weren’t
enough birds in it and so she decided to cut out from some of the most fabulous books which had ever been produced Audubon’s Birds of America…. …..these wonderful American birds and to paste them onto her Chinese paper….. ….and we have some splendid examples here
which you can see above the door these wondeful Columbia Jays and over
the joins in the wallpaper too there is a belted Kingfisher and Baltimore orioles…..several of these. To continue the Oriental theme Lady Hertford commissioned some really spectacular furniture using above all lacquer, black Chinese or Japanese lacquer and perhaps the most splendid example was this
secretaire. It’s actually a wonderful marriage between two much earlier pieces of furniture which have been put together to create one modern piece for her……the lower part was a cabinet… …the doors open to reveal some wonderful drawers with really beautiful shiny lacquer showing birds and landscapes and the top part, the centre part falls down to create a surface for writing and then if you see the sides there are some splendid
columns which are most exquistely decorated with scenes taken from a Japanese novel and then on the other side of the room there is a piano which was made essentially to match the sectretaire and we have something else from Lady Hertford’s period here too this wonderful octagonal workbox which we acquired quite recently and which was made for her niece Catherine Frances Muncaster from nearby Byron Park and it was made in 1828 the same year that Lady Hertford put up her Chinese wallpaper and if I open it up you can see that this tray contains everything that a lady might need for her needlework. There are are some spendid mother of pearl spools for the silk
threads and even a wonderful octagonal propelling pencil for
marking out your canvas…. and perhaps the prettiest things are these very beautiful little pin boxes, one in filigree in the form of of a book.The pages open up and you can put your pins inside it and another one on the other side in the form of a mother of pearl cushion here for more pins. So this is just one of many things which have come
back to Temple Newsam in recent years. In 1922 the house was sold to Leeds City Council
but as an empty shell all its orginal contents were sold or retained by the family and it has really been our job in the last few years to try to find these things and to try to bring them back to Temple Newsam and the remarkable thing is that we have been
really quite successful.

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