Wednesday 12 August 2015

Frederick Prince of Wales and Busts in the Garden at Carlton House.

Prince Frederick and the Two Busts by Rysbrack 
of King Alfred and the Black Prince at Carlton House.
Prince Frederick arrived in London from Hanover in December 1728. He settled quickly and became very popular 'a peoples Prince' Unfortunately he soon lost the favour of his father and mother.
He was passionately fond of music and the arts
Prince Frederick (father of George III) acquired Carlton House between St James and Pall Mall in June 1732. It had been built for Henry Boyle, Lord Carlton in 1709 who had left it to the Earl of Burlington, who then employed Henry Flitcroft  to reface the garden front with stone and carry out other improvements. It was in 1732 that Kent designed the magnificent carved and gilded state barge (now at Greenwich)
Later the building served as a residence for the earl's mother, the dowager Lady Burlington. It was then sold to Prince Frederick, who having not received enough of an allowance from his father, borrowed the money from George Bubb Doddington (who owned Doddington House next door) in order to purchase it.

The building is mentioned by the author of the "New Critical Review of the Public Buildings" in the reign of George II., as "now belonging to his Royal Highness," meaning Prince Frederick. He describes it as "most delightfully situated for a palace of elegant and costly pleasure," adding, however, that "the building itself is tame and poor," and that "hardly any place is capable of greater improvements, and hardly any place stands in more need of them."
The house was altered by William Kent with the Prince's gardener from Kew, John Dillman whose main contribution from 1734 - 6 was the re landscaping of the 12 acre garden in a more natural and informal style. It had a late 17th century formal layout which can be seen in Johannes Kips birds eye view - A Prospect of the City of London, Westminster and St James's Park, of 1720.

  St James Park, St James Palace and Carlton House Gardens, Kip 1710.

Johannes Kips birds eye view - A Prospect of the City of London, Westminster and St James's Park, of 1720. Above 
Another slightly later view by Toms of 1732 - showing the gardens of St James's Palace and beyond the gardens of Carlton House before their transformation by William Kent.

In 1736 the Prince married the 17 year old Princess of Saxe Gotha, which seemed to put an end to a somewhat profligate lifestyle, but by 1737 he had alienated his parents even further when the King was so angry with him that he announced 
"Peers, Peeresses, Privy Councillors and their Ladies, and any other persons in any station under the King and Queen, that whoever goes to pay their court to their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales will not be admitted into his majesty's presence".

Thus putting a temporary end to William Kent's relationship with the alternative court.

Painting of the Garden at Carlton House, attributed to Richard Wilson c 1734.
Showing a Royal Party in the newly cleared grounds, the Banqueting House Whitehall in the background.
Very poor quality image from the Tate Britain who still persist in the unenlightened policy of charging for their high resolution images.

William Kent was already involved in the landscaping at Chiswick House for Lord Burlington. He built a neo - Paladian temple in 1735 - 6 to terminate a vista stretching the whole length of the garden. This can be clearly seen in the engraving by William Woollett (below).
The inclusion of the busts of King Alfred and Edward, the Black Prince in niches on the Temple has been seen as an overtly political statement by Frederick and of his political alignment with Richard Temple, First Viscount Cobham's Patriot Whigs (Cobhams Cubs) who had split from the Whig Party after the excise act promoted by Robert Walpole in 1733.

The Craftsman reported.... his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has ordered a fine statue of King Alfred to be made for his garden in Pall Mall with a Latin Inscription; in which it is particularly said, that this prince was the founder of the Liberties and Commonwealth of England.... his Royal Highness has likewise ordered another statue to be set up there, in Memory of the famous Prince of Wales, commonly call'd the Black Prince, in the inscription upon which he declares his intention of making the amiable Prince the Pattern of his own Conduct.
Enlargement from another version of the Woollett engraving showing the busts of King Alfred and the Black Prince in the niches flanking a Venetian window or door case on the front of the octagonal domed temple containing a saloon and bagnio or bath house. a sort of miniature version of Chiswick house. It commanded a westward view of the garden


377 x 553 mm.
Royal Collection
A view of the garden &c., at Carlton House in Pall Mall, a palace of Her Royal Highness the Princess Dowager of Wales. by William Woollett, 1760.
Lettered below image with title in English and French, dedication from John Tinney to the Princess, and: "W. Woollett del. et sculp./ Publish'd according to Act of Parliament July 1760 & Sold by John Tinney at the Golden Lion in Fleet Street, Thos. Bowles in St. Paul's Church Yard, Jno. Bowles & Son in Cornhill, & Robt. Sayer in Fleet Street".

View looking east. The four stone terms should also be noted. These terms appear frequently in Kentian gardens. The are some at Kew Palace, at Chiswick and at Longford Castle

Extract from John Roque's Map of London of 1745, (above) showing the Octagonal Temple at the eastern end of the enfilade of Kent's remodelling of the Garden at Carlton House.

Extract from Horwood's map of London of 1792.
The Site of Carlton House c. 1790. Kent's Garden has almost disappeared and the Octagonal Temple has been replaced.

The Pall Mall Front of Carlton House in the course of demolition in 1790.
Drawn by W. Capon after the French émigré draughtsman Louis Belanger (1756 - 1816).
British Museum.

After the untimely death of Prince Frederick of pleurisy on 31 March 1751, his widow Augusta had the house enlarged, the entrance gates and the porters lodge redesigned and the colonnaded porch built. She died in 1772.
Given that there is no provenance prior to 1800 for the marble bust of  Edward the Black Prince formerly at Warwick Castle it is a distinct possibility that it the bust from the Carlton House Pavilion.
I can find no record of any other Rysbrack bust of King Alfred other than the Stourhead Marble and the Stowe stone busts suggesting that the bust from Carlton House is still missing. 
Notes - Bust of Edward, the Black Prince, Formerly at Warwick Castle sold Sotheby's, London, Lot 134, 9 December 2005.
Sotheby's Catalogue entry by Katherine Eustace
This bust was recorded in an inventory taken at Warwick Castle in 1800 as being in the State Bedroom. Katherine Eustace in the Sotheby's catalogue suggests that it might have gone to Warwick via Elizabeth Hamilton the wife of Francis Greville, Earl of Warwick (1719 -73) and goes on to suggest that it might have originally been in the Octagon in the Garden at Carlton House, Pall Mall. A voucher exists amongst the Duchy of Cornwall Papers, dated 1736 for busts of Frederick Prince of Wales (not identified yet), The Black Prince and King Alfred. Kate Eustace goes on to suggest that some kind of presentation of these semi-mythic figures from British history was intended. The Prince’s commission was, perhaps, an overt gesture in support of Richard Temple, Viscount Cobham, who had been deprived of his regiment by George II’s Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, tantamount in chivalric terms to being forbidden to bear arms.
A third possibility is a provenance to Adderbury, Oxfordshire, the house rebuilt for John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll and 1st Duke of Greenwich. Argyll was a career soldier who had fought under Marlborough in the War of the Spanish Succession, and had been victorious against the Scots at Sheriffmuir in 1715. He became the first ever Field Marshal.
In the gallery at Adderbury, built in 1731, a version of the Black Prince was one of six busts by Michael Rysbrack in a programme of military heroes ancient and modern. It was probably sold from Adderbury in the 1770s.
To muddy the waters a little - I have recently discovered a photographs of the nine busts at Windsor Castle taken in 1876 for a Royal inventory, one of which was a terracotta bust of Alfred the Great which had been misidentified as Edward III, these nine busts were accidently destroyed when a shelf collapsed at Windsor Castle in 1906. The terracotta busts of The Black Prince and the young Edward VI (signed Rysbrack, 1738) survived. It is possible that these terracotta busts of the Black Prince and Alfred the Great were those in Prince Frederick's in the niches on the outside of the octagonal Temple in the Garden at Carlton House.
The terracotta bust of Alfred the Great by Rysbrack as photographed for a royal inventory in 1876.
 Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015.
The terracotta bust of the Black Prince by Rysbrack as photographed for a Royal inventory in 1876.
Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2015.
I am very grateful to Agata Rutkowska of the Royal Collections for providing me with the 1876 photographs.

Among the guests at Carlton House in the time of Frederick, Prince of Wales, was Alexander Pope, who paid his royal highness very many compliments. "I wonder," said the Prince, "that you, who are so severe on kings, should be so complimentary to me." "Oh, sir," replied the crafty poet, "that is because I like the lion before his claws are full grown." - Old and New London. 1878.

The Prince died in 1751. Newspapers reported

"Here lies Fred
Who was alive, and is dead
Had it been his father
I had much rather,
Had it been his brother
Still better that another.
Had it been his sister
No one would have missed her.
Had it been the whole generation
Still better for the nation,
But since 'tis only Fred,
Who was alive, and is dead
There's no more to be said."

 For an excellent overview of the life and connoisseurship of Frederick Prince of Wales see -

The Choice of Paris: representing Frederick Prince of Wales: a brief reconsideration. Catherine Tite, British Art Journal, Sept. 2008. available online without illustrations.



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