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Events 2021

A Family Business

The interview conducted by Catherine Blythe with Bernard & Vanessa Lewis of River Island.  This is now available indefinitely for you to enjoy at your leisure.    

A Family Business
Link to recording: https://youtu.be/H-eRcRGwok4

(With thanks to the Arts Society Richmond)

There is no charge to view this event, but a donation of £10 towards the work of The Friends would be appreciated. Please see “Make a Donation to the Friends” on this page.

‘’Gainsborough in London ’’

Summary of The Friends of St Anne’s Virtual Zoom Webinar Lecture 

Wednesday 14th April   2021

By Dr Susan Sloman FSA

We were delighted to welcome Dr Susan Sloman to give her wonderful lecture in April 2021 by Zoom Webinar. Dr Susan, who despite living in Bath is familiar with St Anne’s Church and Kew because of Gainsborough’s Tomb in the Churchyard. We were delighted when Susan contacted the Friends in November 2020 telling us of her new book that was to be published in March 2021 and offering to do a lecture for us. 

Dr Susan an Independent Art Historian and a Gainsborough Scholar discussed her new book on Thomas Gainsborough’s life and art in London between 1774 and 1788 focusing on the last fifteen years of his career. The book shows how this most colourful, sensitive, and single-minded of painters achieved a level of commercial success and personal fulfilment that evaded others. The talk unveiled new discoveries about his life and work in Pall Mall and reconsidered the subject of his affection for Kew, and for St Anne’s, which his architect friend Joshua Kirby remodelled. 

Gainsborough had been sent to London aged 13 to study and had visited many times during his time living in Bath so when he relocated to London in the last 15 years of his life it was familiar. We were treated to excellent drawings of Schomberg House on Pall Mall where he lived and created his studio and showroom. He purposely selected this area as it was a very fashionable street close to the Royal residencies and other retailers and neighbours such a James Christie the auctioneer whose portrait is in the book.

The book is full of many superb paintings and Susan explained to us that it was 18th Century practice to produce paintings in standard sizes to fit in logical sequences in the grand houses of the time. Some were exceptionally large indeed such as 92” x 98”.

Another interesting fact was that Gainsborough’ s paintings at times looked like watercolours, this was because he used very thin paint. However, she reported that many of his paintings are not in good condition because of the deterioration most likely the bitumen in the paint.  

We were shown some interesting drawings around Kew Green including the Kings Arms pub where Bach and Abel – (another friend of Gainsborough – he loved music too) would stay and practise before playing for Queen Charlotte. These included a rare old watercolour of St Anne’s Church between 1714 to 1786 from the British Museum, the house on Kew Green where Gainsborough rented when not in his London residence. 

Gainsborough, wanted to be buried in St Anne’s Churchyard near to his dear friend Joshua Kirby whom he had met as a young man. He did not want a grandiose funeral, hence the slab on the grave is very plain leaving room for his wife and family including his nephew Gainsborough Dupont.   

Susan gave us further extracts from the book revealing Gainsborough’s last words and the myth surrounding them as. 

  • ‘We are going to Heaven and Vandyke is of the Party’ William Jackson.
  • Vandyke was right’ William Pearce‘s version –  he was present at his deathbed. 
  • ‘Vandyke’ as reported by Gainsborough’s daughter, also at his deathbed, as reported to the landscape painter James Ward. 

All three were published over the period of 300 years, the last one as recently as 2015, which Susan is of the opinion that this is most likely the correct version. Gainsborough as many other painters was greatly influenced by Vandyke hence these words. 

It was an amazing interesting and informative summary of Dr Susan’s book which having bought the book – it is so beautifully presented with such extensive research and pictures of many paintings. It is interesting to note how many galleries in the USA have collections of his paintings whom they revere as the best 18thCentury Portrait painter and of course have the revenue to purchase so many. 

And of course – although this was not discussed by Dr Susan in her lecture, she has revealed that several prints in both Tate Britain and The British Museum as well as other overseas galleries that are in fact painted by Gainsborough Dupont, his nephew who had been taught to copy him. All these galleries are now changing their websites, database, and catalogue’s. See the full article on our website here too. 

We had around 100 plus people attending, including two curators from Tate Britain, Art Historians who have given us lectures in the past. Many people expressed how much they learnt about this great man that is in the midst of us at St Anne’s Churchyard. 

Lorraine Neale

Chairman The Friends of St Anne’s Church Kew

April 2021

Gainsborough in London

14th April 2021 6.00-7.00pm

To order a copy of this  new book ‘Gainsborough in London’ By Dr Susan Sloman.  

 Contact the Kew Bookshop – Hewson Books  via Email:  Phone:  020 8876 1717.  www.hewsonbooks.co.uk

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Gainsborough engravings in the Tate ‘cannot have been produced by the artist

Scholar Dr Susan Sloman has reattributed three wooded landscapes dating from the 1780s to the hand of artist’s nephew Gainsborough Dupont

The Tate and the British Museum are among institutions worldwide that boast landscape prints by Thomas Gainsborough, the great 18th-century British master. Three of those prints should no longer be attributed to him, according to new research.

Dr Susan Sloman, a Gainsborough scholar, has reattributed three wooded landscapes dating from the 1780s to the hand of Gainsborough’s nephew and sole studio assistant, Gainsborough Dupont. 

Catalogue descriptions for prints such as a “Wooded Landscape with Country Cart” will have to be changed by museums and galleries as they are not by Thomas Gainsborough, she has concluded, partly from crucial stylistic evidence. Gainsborough was right-handed and the predominant angle of his shading lines is from lower left to upper right.

Dr Susan Sloman

As an original print is a mirror image of the original plate, he would deliberately reverse the direction of those lines on to the plate so that he could make accurate imitations of his drawings.

She said: “‘Wooded Landscape with Country Cart’ and ‘Wooded River Landscape’ both have shading that is not reversed.”She explained that these prints were never produced in any large quantity, but there are impressions in quite a lot of collections throughout the world. With variable descriptive titles, they are found in museums and galleries as far afield as New York, Amsterdam and Berlin.

The original copper plates from which all three prints were made are in the Tate.The problem, Dr Sloman has also discovered, lies in that two of them – “Wooded River Landscape” and “Wooded Upland Landscape with Riders and Packhorses” – bear the stamp of  “Jones & Pontifex”, whose plate-making business only began operating after Gainsborough died.

She had happened to read Mei-Ying Sung’s 2009 study, William Blake and the Art of Engraving, which provides detailed information about plate-makers, including the fact that the partnership of Jones and Pontifex traded between 1789 and 1793: “Gainsborough died in 1788, so those plates date from after his death.”

The ‘Wooded Upland Landscape’ is technically different and does not have linear shading, but it is a Jones and Pontifex plate.”

She said: “Gainsborough’s landscape prints were not published in his lifetime, but his widow collaborated with publisher John Boydell to publish a set of 12 in 1797, seven months after Dupont’s death. “The advertisement for these prints states that the plates have never been out of the possession of Gainsborough’s family, and this was evidently true. By then, Dupont, the one person with inside knowledge of the studio, was no longer there to identify which plates were his uncle’s and which were his.” 

Dr Sloman is not criticising any institution for assuming that these prints were by Gainsborough: “It’s not that anybody made a mistake. It’s not that anybody has tried to deceive anybody. It’s something that happened in the 1790s.

Nor is she criticising the late John Hayes, the eminent Gainsborough scholar and a former director of the National Portrait Gallery, who had included the three prints in his 1971 study, “Gainsborough As Printmaker”, which has never been revised.

She said: “Hayes was a pioneer…He did an enormous amount, cataloguing the drawings, prints and landscape paintings. What he did was extraordinary and of course he didn’t have the internet. It’s simply that time has elapsed, and new information has become available.”

Gainsborough’s landscapes were typically imaginary, artificially constructed. He is known to have arranged mosses, lichens and broccoli on a table, to recreate vegetation.

Dr Sloman acknowledged that the three compositions do resemble Gainsborough’s style, but she said: “Dupont worked in the studio and therefore everything he did looks like Gainsborough because his job was to imitate.”

The Tate, which has the “Wooded Landscape with Country Cart” and the “Wooded River Landscape” in its collection, said: “We always welcome new scholarship on items in our collection and very much look forward to hearing from Dr Sloman about this.

The British Museum, which has the “Wooded River Landscape” in its collection, said: “We are grateful for any feedback on the collection. There are half a million records for Prints and Drawings accessible online and we welcome any suggestions, improvements or questions regarding previous scholarship. We will certainly look into Dr Sloman’s research and consider amendments.”

Dr Sloman, joint author of the catalogue for the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition, Gainsborough’s Family Album, will include her new research in her forthcoming book, Gainsborough in London, to be published by Modern Art Press on 9 March. 

Her book focusses on Gainsborough’s years in London – from 1774 to 1788 – which marked the pinnacle of his career. It was during those years that he became a favourite painter of George III and a founding member of the Royal Academy, though he later quarrelled with it over their hanging of his pictures.

Article by By Dalya Alberge 6 February 2021 in the Daily Telegraph includes illustrations

THE GEORGIAN VISITOR

‘A Vignette of Garden Visiting in the Eighteenth Century ‘

Summary of The Friends of St Anne’s Virtual Zoom Webinar Lecture 

TUESDAY  9th MARCH 2021

By RICHARD WHEELER 

THE FORMER NATIONAL SPECIALIST IN GARDEN HISTORY FOR THE NATIONAL TRUST

We were delighted to finally welcome Richard to give his wonderful lecture in March 2021 by Zoom Webinar. He was originally booked live in March 2020 just after the first lockdown started but that had to be cancelled. 

Richard was with the  National Trust for 43 years leading many major garden restorations, including Erddig and Chirk in North Wales, Stowe, Chastleton and West Wycombe, in England and Castle Ward in Northern Ireland. 

Richard’s knowledge and historical references are extraordinary, introducing us into how garden visiting started; how the beautiful catalogues began and created by Head Gardeners anxious to welcome visitors. Seeing the travelling routes to reach them and the local places for their lodgings that were created was fascinating! It certainly gave us all a taster to go garden visiting for ourselves when we can finally get and about once the lockdown is lifted. Richard used beautiful picture prints and images to demonstrate views of the wonderful gardens and routes out of London to reach such places as Stowe. 

  • A special thanks to Uta Thompson – a friend of Richard & his Wife who kindly introduced Richard to us. 

We welcomed around 100 people including those that watched it via the YouTube recording available for a week after the actual lecture.

Among those that we welcomed were: Buckinghamshire Garden Trust; Kew Horticultural Society; Chiswick Allotment Society; Kew Society Gardening Department; Kew Gardens Volunteers & Staff; Thames Luminaries; Turners House Trust; Kew WI; The Friends of St Anne’s Church; The Arts Society of Richmond and many others.

Several people put interesting questions to Richard via the Q&A and Chat button. 

We received positive feedback following the lecture – a few examples: 

  • ‘Just a quick note to say that I thought that the Garden Visiting talk was superb; witty, scholarly, polished and an engaging subject. What more can one ask? Thank you!’
  • ‘Just to say how much we enjoyed the. Webinar on Tuesday. 
    Thank you’ 

Richard is now running his own garden history consultancy, advising on practical garden restoration, and in running informal tutorials for the gardeners and garden restorers of the future. He lectures and writes regularly on the history and iconology of gardens, and their understanding and restoration. We wish him all success with his consultancy, I am sure he will be much in demand. 

Lorraine Neale –Chairman The Friends of St Anne’s –  March 2021

THE ART OF INNOVATION

The Friends of St Anne’s Presents via ZOOM Webinar

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You can buy this wonderful book through Kew Bookshop – It’s featured on the front page of their website with a link to buy through click and collect. ‘

See link here https://www.hewsonbooks.co.uk/

All Members will receive the link for joining by email

Non-Members are welcome. They may receive joining instructions from an existing member, or on request from 

There is no charge for joining but a voluntary donation of £10 would be appreciated.

Donations can be made via the DONATE button on The Friends website 

For further information go to www.friendsofstanneskew.org.uk/eventsevents

Registered Charity No: 1085389 

THE ART OF INNOVATION

‘From Enlightenment to Dark Matter 

A Summary of The Friends of St Anne’s Virtual Zoom Webinar Lecture 

TUESDAY 9th FEBRUARY 2021

BY Dr TILLY BLYTH  – Head of Collections & Principal Curator of the Science Museum.

Dr Tilly Blyth discussed the Book published in 2020 she has written with Sir Ian Blandford Director of the Science Museum.

We were delighted to finally welcome Dr Tilly  to give her wonderful lecture in February 2021 by Zoom Webinar. She  was originally booked to give her lecture live in June 2020, but of course we had to postpone it.  We were so delighted to reschedule her recently! 

Based on The Art of Innovation: from Enlightenment to Dark Matter, a landmark Science Museum and BBC Radio 4 series, book and exhibition, Dr Tilly discussed the connections between science and art over the last 250 years, showing how science, just as much as art, informs and creates our culture

At the Museum Tilly is responsible for the museum’s Curatorial, Research, Library and Archives departments. Most recently the team opened the £24 million Medicine: the Wellcome Galleries, transforming the first floor of the Science Museum and displaying over 3,000 objects from the world’s largest medical collection.

The team have also delivered award winning galleries and exhibitions on subjects as diverse as Top Secret: the history of GCHQMathematics, Robots, Cosmonauts: the Russian Space story and Illuminating India: 500 years of science and technology. Tilly was also Lead Curator of the Information Age gallery, which explored 200 years of information and communication networks and how they have transformed the world. 

  • A special thanks to Sylvia Chitty – an Aunt to Dr Tilly and her husband who kindly introduced Dr Tilly to us

We welcomed around 114 people including those that watched via the YouTube recording available for a week after the actual lecture.

Several people put interesting questions to Dr Tilly via the Q&A and Chat button. 

We also received wonderful feedback from the audience   – A few examples as follows 

  • ‘I enjoyed Tilly’s talk very much – she is a very engaging speaker & her passion for her subject really brought it alive’.
  • ‘Splendid lecture this evening – best sort of mix of information and pleasurable listening’

Dr Tilly gave us a superb insight into the extraordinary world of the links between science and art – many of us will be looking at clouds and master’s paintings with a more inquisitive eye –  I am sure it sems so obvious when she  explained and showed us examples, but we still need her amazing expertise to understand it with meaning. 

And ……From comments received from the evening it was clear that many of the audience cannot wait to get to the Science Museum – specially to see the new Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries. We all hope its soon for Dr Tilly and her  colleagues – it must be so frustrating to be closed when they have put so much research, time, and effort into staging them.  

Lorraine Neale – Chairman the Friends of St Anne’s Church – February 2021