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The House, its People and its Paintings (2nd Edition)
Bowhill, in the Scottish Borders, started life as a modest Georgian villa, but grew into a huge mansion. The art collection was consolidated when Henry, the enlightened 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, and his wife, Elizabeth Montagu, united the three families of Montagu, Douglas and Scott c.1800. The austere greywacke exterior belies rich interiors filled with treasures – the 4th Duke’s Library, with its views of the Ettrick Valley so dear to Sir Walter Scott, the Drawing Room’s masterpieces by Claude and Ruysdael, the Boudoir and its Chinese wallpaper, the Dining Room with its Canaletto of the Thames at Whitehall, the Mortlake tapestries of Mantegna’s Triumphs of Caeasar, and the Buccleuch collection of miniatures.
From the preface: With its simple form and dark greywacke stone, its great mass spread along a plain grassy platform above the Ettrick Valley, Bowhill might be thought to verge on the austere. For the approaching visitor there is no hint of a family whose ties thread for centuries back through the histories of Scotland and England, little to encourage hope that rich and varied art collections might lie within, or even that these solid stones might have resonated with festivities and celebrations, the setting for warm sentiments and deeper emotions. Bowhill is a most deceptive house.
This book falls into two parts, a history of the family, the Scotts of Buccleuch, and the building of Bowhill, and tour of its spectacular rooms.
REVIEWED ON AMAZON
I have recently had the great pleasure of reading through this lovely book (writes Southern Belle). This is the third in the series of the houses and artworks belonging to the Duke of Bucchleuch, the first being on Boughton House (2007), and the second on Drumlanrig Castle (2010).
In his foreword, the Duke of Bucchleuch states that these books are just a snapshot, yet they contain a considerable amount of early portraits, landscapes and beautifully restored rooms. For comparatively small books ( but not too small), there is a surprising amount of content. It shows great generosity of heart on behalf of the Bucchleuch family to share these things with the general public, in beautifully photographed and produced form at an affordable price for those of us who will never see these places in the flesh. Fortunate indeed are those who can.
I love antique furniture in its proper setting, and am forever intrigued at the skill with which the early portrait painters were able to capture not only facial expressions, but also the expression in the eyes of the portrait subjects. Sheer mastery.
Among the miniature portraits I was quite intrigued to see what must be very accurate pictures of Mary Tudor and Oliver Cromwell. Two people whom I would not want to cross, but the very nature of these people has been captured more clearly than I have ever seen before.
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