Tag Archive | William Hogarth

Vauxhall Gardens: The Business Side

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can! The photos are fabulous!

Vauxhall’s huge success after Jonathan Tyers’s acquisition of the property, which had been in existence for seventy years as the “New Spring Gardens”, can be attributed to the man’s perception that his idealistic dream must be counter-balanced by sound financial practices. An essential element of this was publicity, and of this, Tyers proved to be a master. How did he do this?

Promoting Vauxhall

He promoted the gardens as a sort of “heaven on earth,” a magical sort of place to lift one’s spirits after a hard day in the real world.

[T]his was achieved through stories in literature and the printed media, through popular songs and through the artworks and music he commissioned. The second was the flattery of his audience; he consistently treated his visitors as special people, always referring to them as persons of quality, ladies and gentlemen, patriots, libertarians, educated people who appreciated fine things and good music. And the last was the simple dissemination of factual information about Vauxhall, its history, its current attractions, and how this pleasure garden should be enjoyed, by means of articles in newspapers and periodicals, of histories and guidebooks and of topographical and satirical engravings.

John Lockman, Publicist

John Lockman, Publicist

In truth, of course, Vauxhall fell short of perfection, and that’s where John Lockman came in. He was a sort of early publicist, who wrote poems and songs designed to “underscore Tyers’s transformation of a notorious gathering place for drunks, gamblers and prostitutes into a civilised pleasure garden where anyone could enjoy a decorous evening’s entertainment without risk to their reputation.”
Lockman’s assistance was necessary because it was impossible to exclude troublemakers, particularly if they were respectably dressed. “[I]t was easier to sell an enhanced image of the place to a persuadable public.

Tyers was always careful to make everybody in his clientele feel good about themselves, and in particular about their patronage of Vauxhall. In his press announcements, for instance, he would often start by thanking his visitors for their support, especially if the weather had been bad, and would repeatedly finish by pledging to keep out of his gardens anyone not worthy of their company.

Another tactic was to use magazines and newspapers. Newspapers, of course, were a no-brainer. Letters such as the “S. Toupee” articles published in Scots Magazine may or may not have been instigated by Tyers, but they certainly proved valuable in driving up excitement for Vauxhall. “Of the Luxury of the English; and a Description of Ranelagh Gardens and Vaux-hall, in a Letter from a Foreigner to his Friend at Paris,” supposedly written by Henry Fielding (a friend of Tyers) and commissioned by Tyers, piled on the praise for Vauxhall in comparison to Ranelagh Gardens.

A female audience was enticed to Vauxhall by published songs and by scenes in novels set in Vauxhall Gardens. And then there were the Love at First Sight articles, or “Lonely Hearts” columns, which may or may not have been genuine. Here’s one from the London Chronicle in August 1758:

A young Lady who was at Vauxhall on Thursday night last, in company with two gentlemen, could not but observe a young gentleman in blue and a gold-laced hat, who, being near her by the orchestra during the performance, especially the last song, gazed upon her with the utmost attention. He earnestly hopes (if unmarried) she will favour him with a line directed to A.D. at the bar of the Temple Exchange Coffee-house, Temple-bar, to inform him whether fortune, family, and character, may not entitle him upon a further knowledge, to hope an interest in her heart.

Another marketing tactic was to engage actors dressed as gentlemen to patronize coffee-houses to express their intention to go to Vauxhall and entreat others to meet them there.

Tyers’s Management Style

It goes without saying that if one wishes to have customers return, one has to ensure that their first time is as pleasant and enjoyable as possible. If you knew Jonathan Tyers—and you probably wouldn’t because it was never himself he wanted to promote and therefore took pains to remain in the background—you could see him in the kitchens working as hard as his employees to get the food out to the customers.

Waiters, or “drawers” were freelance employees, who were constrained to work hard in order to earn tips and keep their posts. Since in other venues, “drawers” were known to steal from their employers, “Vauxhall waiters were required to pay for the food on collection from the kitchens, and themselves ran the risk of defaulting customers, especially if they had not been sufficiently polite or efficient in their service.”

Although he had to maintain a strict discipline among his employees, he was a thoughtful employer. When two of his waiters married two of his barmaids, he provided wedding rings and an elaborate dinner at his home in Denbies, with fifty of his staff as guests.

one shilling coin

Vauxhall Tickets

Up until 1736, the admission cost was sixpence, but afterward, the price was doubled to one shilling. Considering the expense of maintaining and improving the gardens and contriving new entertainments, this seems modest indeed; however, there was more to be made from the food and drink once the visitors were admitted. For the visitors, there was also the cost of dressing respectably and the cost of transportation. The one shilling price was fixed until 1792, when it was doubled to two shillings.

Season Ticket greySeason Ticket grey reverse

In 1737 Tyers initiated a subscription price, or season ticket. The metal tickets were issued to a thousand people at a guinea each, and would admit two people to the gardens for the entire season. Not only did this ensure repeat visits by two thousand people, it provided him with funds upfront to use for maintenance and improvement.

The relief on the obverse usually represented, through classical imagery, a particular aspect of Vauxhall Gardens, often associated with the music. On the reverse was engraved the subscriber’s name, accompanied… by the ticket’s number.

silver ticket

silver ticket

In 1738, the tickets were made of silver and the price rose by three shillings. In 1741, the price was raised to two guineas.

As a comparison, a season ticket for two to the Great Room in Soho was five guineas, while individual concerts were ten and a half shillings, the same price as Handel’s fundraising concert at the Foundling Hospital in 1749. Almack’s (founded in 1765) charged ten guineas for a once-weekly ball over twelve weeks, so Vauxhall tickets were considered quite a bargain.

Hogarth's gold "perpetual" ticket

Hogarth’s gold “perpetual” ticket

Attendance

“S. Toupee” in his letters in Scots Magazine estimated that “not less than one thousand shillings are received each evening of performance during the season,” not including season ticket holders. Special events, such as the rehearsal of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, drew several thousand spectators. Opening and closing nights and royal birthdays also drew large crowds.

The opening night of the 1769 season, for instance, was a remarkably fine evening for the time of year, and it was estimated that ‘there were upwards of twenty thousand of the first nobility present.’

Crime and Disorder

Even though it suffered occasional lean times, there can be little doubt that eighteenth-century Vauxhall Gardens became the most popular single visitor attraction for London… With these numbers of people coming together, especially to a place where alcohol was available, crime, vandalism and disorder were inevitable.

Nor was it just pickpockets and prostitutes his police force (initiated in 1732) had to deal with. While Tyers encouraged his waiters to restrict alcohol consumption, it was difficult for them or even him to police the mischievous London Bucks, who were of a class higher than his. Tyers and his staff managed these problems themselves, even if it meant “eating” the cost of vandalism, not wanting to involve courts, which would draw bad publicity. “S. Toupee,” in one of his letters in 1739, “pointed out that there was ‘a man in the posture of a Constable, to protect the Ladies from any insult, &c.’ at the end of each walk.

Besides the half-dozen or so constables, he employed up to eight men to guard the route from the river and led a (possibly regular) blitz against the pickpockets.

Refreshments

Anyone who has worked in the restaurant industry can tell you how difficult a task it is to prepare food for crowds of people, but how many restaurants have to cater for 500-1000 or more hungry people? This is a logistical nightmare that Tyers managed with aplomb.

Consistent with his insistence on featuring English art and music, the food at Vauxhall was simple and English. There were complaints about the prices, of course. Here are some prices from one of the “S. Toupee” letters in 1739:

  • one bottle of French claret: 5 shillings
  • one cold chicken: 2-1/2 shillings
  • one quarter of cyder: 1 shilling
  • one quart of small-beer: 4 pence
  • one slice of bread: 2 pence
  • one slice of cheese: 4 pence
  • dish of ham or beef: 1 shilling, salad, an extra pence
  • sweet pastries: 1 shilling
  • custards and cheesecakes: 4 pence
  • heart cakes and Shrewsbury cakes: 2 pence
  • one bottle of champagne and arrack: 8 shillings
  • two pounds of ice: sixpence
Isaac Cruikshank, A Country Farmer & Waiter at Vauxhall. A farmer in country dress, on his first visit to Vauxhall, has ordered ham in expectation of a plateful of English gammon. When the waiter brings him the notoriously thin slices that were Vauxhall ham, the farmer is furious.

Isaac Cruikshank, A Country Farmer & Waiter at Vauxhall. A farmer in country dress, on his first visit to Vauxhall, has ordered ham in expectation of a plateful of English gammon. When the waiter brings him the notoriously thin slices that were Vauxhall ham, the farmer is furious.

Even a devoted fan such as “S. Toupee” confessed that the food was expensive. The sliced meats were thin, especially the ham. “This was all part of the fun of the evening—a great joke on fashionable society who were happy to play along.” A well-known verse alluding to this:

Never trouble Ham House, or its inmates at all,

For a ghost, that may be but a sham,

But seek in a sandwich that’s cut at Vauxhall,

For the true apparition of Ham.’

Note:

The cost of the food did not alter significantly over the whole period from Tyers’s re-launch until the gardens’ final closure; the prices of wines and spirits, however, were a different matter, rising sharply in the nineteenth century.

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series

  1. Vauxhall Gardens: A History
  2. Vauxhall Gardens: Jonathan Tyers—“The Master Builder of Delight” 
  3. Vauxhall Gardens: A New Direction
  4. Vauxhall Gardens: The Orchestra and the Supper-Boxes 
  5. Vauxhall Gardens: The Organ, the Turkish Tent, and the Rotunda
  6. Vauxhall Gardens: Three Piazzas of Supper-Boxes
  7. Vauxhall Gardens: “whither every body must go or appear a sort of Monster in polite Company”
  8. Vauxhall Gardens: The Competition
  9. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part I
  10. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part II
  11. Vauxhall Gardens: The Music, 1732-1859
  12. Vauxhall Gardens: The Business Side
  13. Vauxhall Gardens: Developments from 1751-1786
  14. Vauxhall Gardens: Thomas Rowlandson’s Painting (1785)
  15. ‎Vauxhall Gardens: The Third Generation of the Tyers Family and the Jubilee of 1786
  16. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part I
  17. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part II
  18. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part III
  19. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part I
  20. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part II
  21. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part III
  22. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part IV
  23. Vauxhall Gardens: Farewell, for ever

Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part II

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can! The photos are fabulous!

The Paintings in the Pillared Saloon

The Pillared Saloon was built onto the Rotunda in 1750-51 to provide more wall space for paintings and, of course, draw more visitors. The original idea was to have allegorical paintings of the royal family—Prince Frederick and his family—demonstrating how love of the arts manifested his virtue and patriotism. Frederick’s untimely death in 1751 put paid to this idea and delayed the project for almost ten years.

Two full-length portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte in their coronation robes did appear soon after their marriage in 1761. The royal pair is known to have sat for the painter—undoubtedly Frances Hayman—in person as a special favor to Jonathan Tyers.

The Seven Years’ War Paintings

In contrast to the lightheartedness of the supper-box paintings and the drama of the Shakespearean scenes, the four remaining paintings for the Pillared Saloon were to be patriotic history paintings. These were not the typical classical scenes or representations of events from the distance past, but “very recent military actions populated by real living people wearing contemporary costume.”

[Hayman] chose not the violence of heroic death or even topographical portrayals of military action, but rather its aftermath, in order to convey the virtues of the individual British military commanders, magnanimous and humane in victory.

pillaredsaloon001

The Surrender of Montreal to General Amherst

Amazingly, this painting appeared in the Pillared Saloon in 1761, only eight months after the event it depicts.

It was the most overtly propagandic of the four military scenes, emphasising the selfless humanity of General Jeffrey Amherst: Hayman showed him handing out food to the starving and defeated population and returning to them their possessions; this was intended to be in stark contrast to the merciless treatment they might have expected from the French, had they been victorious, and especially from their Indian allies.

In the Description (1762), much is made of the contrast between the defeated and miserable French and the victorious but humane British, and the author instructed readers to view the paintings as a true representation of one of ‘the most glorious transactions of the present war’.

pillaredsaloon002

The Triumph of Britannia

The second painting, which was installed for the opening of the 1762 season, was a representation of the defeat of the French fleet at Quiberon Bay in November 1759. “As its allegorical title would suggest, it was intended to glorify the British military leaders involved in the action and the natural alliance of Britannia with Neptune that had given Britain mastery of the seas.”

However, because it did not entirely succeed in capturing the essential majestic dignity that was necessary to this type of allegorical work, the Triumph of Britannia was not always taken seriously by its audience. It is specifically and humorously singled out in Fanny Burney’s novel Evelina of 1778; during a visit to Vauxhall, Mr. Smith ridiculously mistakes the figure of Neptune for that of a famous general, despite the fact that he is wearing ‘the oddest dress for a general ever I see’.

Lord Clive, Hayman, 1760

Lord Clive Receiving the Homage of the Nabob

A companion piece to the Surrender, this painting was installed in time for the 1763 season. The historical event depicted was the Battle of Plassey, at which Robert Clive ousted the ruling Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daula and, “in an apparently magnanimous act, [Clive] then supported the claim to supremacy of the elderly general Mir Jafar (c. 1691-1765), Nawab of Murshidabad, who had actually fought against the British, but who was more easily persuaded to the British point of view.”

In that battle the British forces were famously outnumbered by twenty to one, but were nevertheless victorious with the loss of only eighteen men (according to Clive), lending it the heroic ideal; in fact this was undeserved, and the British were saved from probable defeat only by the quick thinking of their artillerymen who covered their weapons and powder during a downpour, while the enemy did not.

The description of the painting started with “The subject of this picture is of the most interesting nature, to every Briton who regards the honour and propsperity of this country’, no doubt insinuating that it would be unpatriotic to criticize it.
The second description

praises General Clive for his leadership, and for his generosity in giving the sultanate to Mir Jafar;

therefore performing for his Country a most important Service, as well as procuring for the India Company and Individuals the Sum of Three Millions Sterling, for their Losses sustained at Calcutta; with such Privileges, Immunities, and Advantages, as they never enjoyed before. And this Revolution hath been moreover the Means of the India Company’s acquiring the Territorial Possessions, to the Amount of Seven hundred thousand Pounds per Annum.

In retrospect, General Clive’s generosity seems less altruistic considering the huge commercial gains resulting from the acquisition of this territory.

Britannia Distributing Laurels

A companion piece to the Triumph of Britannia, Britannia Distributing Laurels was installed in 1764. Unfortunately, no version of this piece is known to be in existence. However, it is known to have depicted the full-length figures of Generals Granby, Monckton, Albemarle, Coote, Townshend and Wolfe, all in Roman costume, allegorical in nature.

The story goes that, when Granby came to Hayman’s studio in St. Martin’s Lane, he challenged Hayman to a boxing match before the sitting. After a hesitant start, which Granby overcame by saying that the exercise would give animation to his portrait, Hayman apparently floored the marquis with a tremendous punch to the stomach, and Mrs. Hayman, hurrying upstairs to see what the noise was, found them ‘rolling over each other on the carpet like two bears.’

Tyers as the Ultimate Patron of 18th century British Art

The inscription under the engraving of Hayman’s Triumph of Britannia describes him as a ‘”Lover and Encourager of the Arts.’” He was described by Henry Angelo as having “laid out more money in the encouragement of English art than any man of his time. Indeed, his house was so full of pictures, that after hanging them, even on his stair-case, there were still some to spare.”

Jonathan Tyers didn’t just use art to further his commercial ambitions; he was a true conoisseur. And it was his dream to open up the arts to all layers of society, not just the upper class.

The huge developments in British art through the middle of the eighteenth century were in large part due to the concurrence of Vauxhall Gardens, the Foundling Hospital, the Society of Artists and the Royal Academy and to the men involved in those institutions, notably Hogarth, Hayman and, of course, Tyers… After the collaboration of Tyers and Hayman, the visual arts at Vauxhall never again received the same degree of patronage from its proprietors.

The paintings and sculpture at Vauxhall Gardens would have been the best-known works of art in England at the time, seen by tens of thousands of people, including significant numbers of artists, every year. Although Tyers owed much to Hogarth, initially the driving force behind the artistic concept of the gardens, it was Hayman, Tyers’s artistic director, who could be seen as the more influential figure. This was partly because of the huge exposure of his original work at Vauxhall, and also because he was the linchpin that held together the London art profession, with a finger in all the principal artistic pies of the time—the St Martin’s Lane Academy, Vauxhall Gardens, the Foundling Hospital, the Society of Artists and, eventually, their august offspring, the Royal Academy.

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series

  1. Vauxhall Gardens: A History
  2. Vauxhall Gardens: Jonathan Tyers—“The Master Builder of Delight” 
  3. Vauxhall Gardens: A New Direction
  4. Vauxhall Gardens: The Orchestra and the Supper-Boxes 
  5. Vauxhall Gardens: The Organ, the Turkish Tent, and the Rotunda
  6. Vauxhall Gardens: Three Piazzas of Supper-Boxes
  7. Vauxhall Gardens: “whither every body must go or appear a sort of Monster in polite Company”
  8. Vauxhall Gardens: The Competition
  9. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part I
  10. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part II
  11. Vauxhall Gardens: The Music, 1732-1859
  12. Vauxhall Gardens: The Business Side
  13. Vauxhall Gardens: Developments from 1751-1786
  14. Vauxhall Gardens: Thomas Rowlandson’s Painting (1785)
  15. ‎Vauxhall Gardens: The Third Generation of the Tyers Family and the Jubilee of 1786
  16. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part I
  17. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part II
  18. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part III
  19. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part I
  20. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part II
  21. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part III
  22. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part IV
  23. Vauxhall Gardens: Farewell, for ever

Susana’s 2015 English Adventure: Week 3

house copy

Harewood House

Harewood

On Monday I took an early train north to York, left my suitcase at the hotel, and headed off to Harewood (which can be pronounced either hairwood or hahrwood, depending on the person with whom you are speaking).

My overall reaction to Harewood is… Robert Adam! I don’t know how the man got around to accomplishing so much in England’s great houses in one lifetime, but from now on I will judge all of the ones I visit by the quality of their Robert Adam touches (or lack of it).

ceiling5 copy

Oh yes, I suppose I should mention the excellent work by Charles Barry and the Chippendale furniture too. Utterly fabulous!

In later years, Harewood was the home of Queen Elizabeth’s aunt, the Princess Mary, after she married the sixth Earl of Harewood, Henry Lascelles, who served in the First World War.

Photos of Harewood

Castle Howard

Castle Howard was originally built in 1700 by the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, who was a younger son of the Duke of Norfolk. Yes, Catherine Howard, unfortunate fifth wife of Henry VIII, was of the same family, but she predated the house. John Vanbrugh, the architect, was also the architect for Blenheim Palace, which is spectacular in itself.

The 4th and 5th earls traveled widely on the continent and were great collectors. The current earl lives at another house, and this one is owned by a private trust, headed by Carlisle family members.

CastleHoward2 copy

Castle Howard is well-known for being the setting of the popular Brideshead Revisited television series.

The 6th countess was the eldest daughter of the 5th Duke of Devonshire and his wife Georgiana. She became the mother of 12 children, and you can see her bedroom in the photos.

Photos of Castle Howard

Haworth

One of my favorite books of all time is Jane Eyre, and I loved Wuthering Heights as well. So visiting the parsonage where the Brontë family lived with their vicar father was a significant milestone. Very different from the magnificent houses I’ve been visiting on this trip! Startling to hear that nearly half of all children born at this time died before the age of six, and poor Rev. Brontë saw his wife and all his children die before he did.

paintingbyBranwell

Photos of Haworth

The Foundling Museum

If you ever wondered what happened to England’s abandoned children, this museum tells the sobering story of the Foundling Hospital, Britain’s first home for abandoned children. Mothers who left their children there also left tokens (buttons, jewelry, coins, or whatever they had) to identify their children in case their circumstances changed and they could claim them someday. Unfortunately, most of the children were never claimed. At the ages of 9-14, children were sent away to be apprentices or servants. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but at least the children were fed and clothed and educated up to a point, which was certainly better than being left to die in the streets, which was a common practice in some areas. Sadly, much of society shunned the offspring of prostitutes or unmarried couples and really didn’t consider it a great loss if they died.

One mother left a Vauxhall season pass as a token for her child

One mother left a Vauxhall season pass as a token for her child

Another focus of the museum is the founder, Thomas Coram, as well as supporters William Hogarth and George Frideric Handel and a large collection of paintings donated to the hospital that were used to entice potential contributors to come to the hospital.

Squidgeworth found a friend!

Squidgeworth found a friend!

See photos here.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Beautiful and impressive. Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington are buried in the crypt.

GTO 225 London.qxp:Regional Update.qxd

See photos here.

York

Spent a day walking around York and shopping. Did the Richard III Experience and Squidgeworth got put in jail for a short time, but he smiled all the way through it. Nothing gets him down, not even getting shut up in that tiny cell.

yorkprison

See photos here.

 

Sadly, less than a week remains before Squidgeworth and I fly back across the pond.

So much to see, so little time!

Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part I

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can! The photos are fabulous!

A Statue for the Greatest Composer of English Music (1738)

The life-sized sculpture of George Frideric Handel by Louis François Roubiliac (1702-62) was

the most important of Tyers’s early series of artistic commissions for the gardens. This work epitomised the explosive moment of the English Rococo style, not for any inclusion of outwardly Rococo motifs, but for the new spirit of playfulness and informality that it embodied, and it came to personify Vauxhall Gardens.

handel statue

There is now near finished a Statue of the justly celebrated Mr. Handel, exquisitely done by the ingenious Mr. Raubillac, of St. Martin’s-Lane, Statuary, out of one entire Block of white Marble, which is to be placed in a grand Nich, erected on Purpose in the great Grove at Vaux-hall Gardens.

alcove1

Note the Handel statue in its “Grand Nich” (original placement) at right

The “Grand Nich” or “Grand Alcove” was demolished after a decade to make room for more supper-boxes, and the statue was left free-standing until 1762, when it was arranged under a Doric portico similar in size to the “Grand Nich.” In 1786, following the Vauxhall Jubilee celebrations, it was removed to the back of the Orchestra. Before it was removed from the gardens in 1818, it held court in the New Supper Room built in 1791, and then, in 1813, “to its own small circular domed temple behind the Orchestra.”

Victoria and Albert Museum

The Handel statue can be seen today at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, along with a group of the original supper-box paintings and Roubiliac’s terracotta model for the portrait bust of Jonathan Tyers.

In spite of many years’ exposure to the elements, to vandalism, accidental damage, relocations and restorations, the surface of the sculpture still bears the sculptor’s marks and finished, evidence of his high degree of skill and craftsmanship, equally of his mastery and love of the material.

“A mass audience for contemporary art”

Francis Hayman by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Francis Hayman by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1760’s

Artwork was an important element in Jonathan Tyers’ vision of capturing his visitors’ emotions and induce them “to enjoy themselves, to refresh their spirits and to spend their money.” In order to do this, Tyers formed an alliance with his friend William Hogarth’s nearby academy to produce the work he needed, which included buildings, paintings, sculptures, furnitures, tableware, glass, interiors, and lighting. This arrangement benefitted both parties, providing Tyers with the high-quality artisans he needed at a reasonable cost, and an opportunity for Hogarth’s students’ work to be displayed to the public in a way not seen before. The person chosen to manage the project was the theatrical scene-painter, Francis Hayman (1708-76).

Francis Hayman and studio, The Milkmaids' Garland, oil on canvas, c. 1740 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

Francis Hayman and studio, The Milkmaids’ Garland, oil on canvas, c. 1740 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

The Supper-Box Paintings

To add color and enhance the visitor’s mood, the back upper wall of each supper-box in the 1730’s and 40’s was decorated by an eight foot by five painting, designed by Francis Hayman and H.F. Gravelot and painted by the students at St. Martin’s Lane Academy. These paintings

represent people from all sectors of society, from villagers, peasant children and milkmaids to aristocratic and fashionable ladies and gentlemen. Painted on a large scale, some of the figures are nearly life-sized and close enough to the picture plane for the viewer to discern their expressions and interrelationships.

Francis Hayman and stuido, Country Dancers round the Maypole, oil on canvas, late 1730's (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

Francis Hayman and stuido, Country Dancers round the Maypole, oil on canvas, late 1730’s (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

The pictures depicted scenes of theatre, daily life and rustic amusements. A Toupee letter (see post here) of 28 June 1739 states that, when the paintings were revealed,

the eye is relieved by the agreeable surprise of some of the most favoured fancies of our poets in the most remarkable scenes of our comedies, some of the celebrated dancers, &c. in their most remarkable attitudes, several of the childish diversions, and other whims that are well enough liked by most people at a time they are disposed to smile, and every thing of a light kind, and tending to unbend the thoughts, has an effect desired before it is felt.

Francis Hayman and studio, The Play of See-saw, oil on canvas, 1740-43 (Tate, London)

Francis Hayman and studio, The Play of See-saw, oil on canvas, 1740-43 (Tate, London)

The Display of the Paintings

In the 1730’s the supper-boxes were open on all sides during daylight hours, to allow visitors to enjoy the views over the neighbouring countryside. However, as dusk fell, Tyers had created two extraordinary surprises for his guests. The first was the almost magical instantaneous illumination of the gardens with oil lamps. This wonder was swiftly followed by a second spectacular special effect, namely:

a master piece of machinery, by which all the English ladys and delicate gentlemen are in a moment screend from the damps of the night air. […] When the clock strikes nine, there is heard a third sound of the whistle, and immediately there rises, as out of the earth, a vast number of rollers, which unfolding themselves as they rise, cover all the boxes in three of their sides, and fasten themselves in the extremitys of each box. All these coverings are painted with elegant designs, in lively colours, so that each box is enclosed by three large pictures, and at the same time that they completely protect the company from the injurys of the air, present a numerous collection of grand and pleasing paintings.

By 1741, all the paintings were fixed in position on the back or side wall of the boxes… Tyers had introduced further improvements and the supper-boxes had been adapted to make them more weatherproof, more robust and more firmly divided from each other.

Francis Hayman and studio, Bird-catching, by a Decoy with a Whistle and Net, oil on canvas, c. 1740 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

Francis Hayman and studio, Bird-catching, by a Decoy with a Whistle and Net, oil on canvas, c. 1740 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

In spite of all the damage inflicted on these paintings by their exposure to the weather, the proximity of food, wine, candles, and oil lamps—not to mention the early days of being rolled up and down on a nightly basis—many of these paintings remained at Vauxhall for a hundred years.

 

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series

  1. Vauxhall Gardens: A History
  2. Vauxhall Gardens: Jonathan Tyers—“The Master Builder of Delight” 
  3. Vauxhall Gardens: A New Direction
  4. Vauxhall Gardens: The Orchestra and the Supper-Boxes 
  5. Vauxhall Gardens: The Organ, the Turkish Tent, and the Rotunda
  6. Vauxhall Gardens: Three Piazzas of Supper-Boxes
  7. Vauxhall Gardens: “whither every body must go or appear a sort of Monster in polite Company”
  8. Vauxhall Gardens: The Competition
  9. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part I
  10. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part II
  11. Vauxhall Gardens: The Music, 1732-1859
  12. Vauxhall Gardens: The Business Side
  13. Vauxhall Gardens: Developments from 1751-1786
  14. Vauxhall Gardens: Thomas Rowlandson’s Painting (1785)
  15. ‎Vauxhall Gardens: The Third Generation of the Tyers Family and the Jubilee of 1786
  16. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part I
  17. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part II
  18. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part III
  19. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part I
  20. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part II
  21. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part III
  22. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part IV
  23. Vauxhall Gardens: Farewell, for ever

Vauxhall Gardens: A New Direction

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can! The photos are fabulous!

William Hogarth Comes to the Rescue

The Painter and his Pug 1745 William Hogarth 1697-1764 Purchased 1824 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N00112

The Painter and his Pug 1745 William Hogarth

In our last installment, Vauxhall mastermind Jonathan Tyers was facing financial ruin when his most recent event wiped away all the profits of his other three. The story goes that his good friend William Hogarth, who still lived nearby, saw Tyers looking very dejected and asked what was the matter. Tyers replied that he was just trying to decide whether hanging himself or drowning was a better way to kill himself. Hogarth convinced him to wait until the following day, when he would share some ideas that might help. It can’t be known for certain what those ideas were, but it is clear that Hogarth was responsible for turning around the situation at Vauxhall.

In 1733 Tyers presented his friend William Hogarth with a solid gold pass to the gardens, giving free entry in perpetuity to a coach full of people. This unique and generous gift was accompanied by something even more precious, a small portrait of Tyers himself, painted when he was a young man visiting Paris, a gesture made in recognition of Hogarth’s many past favours.

hogarth pass

One of Hogarth’s ideas undoubtedly had to do with including contemporary English art, as he was always looking for places to display his own work and that of friends and students. Hogarth also persuaded Tyers to tone down his old-fashioned moralizing and use pleasure and enjoyment as his educational tools.

Early Design and Layout

When Jonathan Tyers took on Vauxhall Gardens, the site was more like a densely wooded park than a garden, and was basically a rectangle of mixed deciduous woodland, mainly elm, lime and sycamore, cut through by a grid of several long walks at approximate right angles to each other.

There were in the public areas no bodies of water or fountains, no angles other than right angles, no formal flower beds, no mound, no topiary, no serpentine walks, nor the mazes or grottos…

Sophisticated landscape design played little part in Tyers’s Vauxhall, which was intended to accommodate as many people as possible with seeming overcrowded, while at the same time never appearing too sparsely populated.

The Proprietor’s House: the Entrance to the Gardens

prop001

The Proprietor’s House (right) which served as the entrance to the gardens (Vauxhall is written upon the doorway). The left side may have been the residence of the Tyers family.

The interior of the Proprietor’s House was described in the 1830’s by a writer who called himself the ‘tame cat’ of the gardens. On some of the ceilings ‘there were dim paintings, which the proprietor averred were the works of William Hogarth’. The house also boasted a large ballroom and ten bedrooms on the second floor. On the ground floor, above extensive cellars, there were:

Two handsome Parlours, with Dove and Marble Chimney Pieces, and Folding Doors, with Communication into the Pavilion Supper Rooms, and Private Entrance from the Lane, with Noble Light Staircase, Manager’s Office, and Public Entrance, called the Water Gate, with Money Takers’ Officers; Housekeeper’s Room, with Presses; Spacious Bar fronting the Gardens; Bread Room; Store Room; Pantry; China Room; Chicken Pantry; Glass Room; Punch Room; Pastry Room, with Tiled Bottom, and Confectionary, with Two excellent Ovens, Stewing Stoves, and Dressers, a capital large Paved Kitchen, with Dresser and Shelves; Scullery, with Pump of fine Water; and Yard, with detached Servants’ Dining Room; Pantry; Larder; Boiling House; Ham Room; Shed; and Servants’ Office.

Entering the gardens through this substantial house, at least for the first-time visitor, would have been a thrilling experience. After the discomfort of the journey, the modest entrance door, and the gloomy passage through the house, the first sight of the gardens, with their confusion of noise, colour, smell and movement, would have been breathtaking, like the raising of a curtain in a theatre, immediately transporting the visitor to another world.

The Prince’s Pavilion and Great Room

prince002

Situated adjacent to the Proprietor’s House, and accessible from it, [the Prince’s Pavilion] was a Kentian, classically inspired rectangular building with a portico of four Doric columns, set up on a basement storey, and accessed by a double flight of seven steps over a low arch… At the back of the portico, through a central door, was a single large drawing-room.

The name ‘Prince’s Pavilion’ refers specifically to the broad open-fronted portico at the front of the building… The attached Great Room or Salon was reached through the rusticated central doorway at the back of the portico. This room was richly decorated… It was fitted with fine mirrors, a grand chandelier, and a series of busts of modern worthies, including Isaac Newton, Alexander Pope and Abraham de Moivre.

Regular news reports attest to the prince’s frequent use of the pavilion and the Great Room behind it. On a typical occasion in 1737, a Saturday evening early in the season, the prince and his party, including the Earl of Darnley and the Earl of Crawford, Lord and Lady Torrington, Lady Irwin and Lord Baltimore, danced and supped in the Great Room from seven until midnight, after which their river journey back to Whitehall was accompanied by trumpets and French horns.

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series

  1. Vauxhall Gardens: A History
  2. Vauxhall Gardens: Jonathan Tyers—“The Master Builder of Delight” 
  3. Vauxhall Gardens: A New Direction
  4. Vauxhall Gardens: The Orchestra and the Supper-Boxes 
  5. Vauxhall Gardens: The Organ, the Turkish Tent, and the Rotunda
  6. Vauxhall Gardens: Three Piazzas of Supper-Boxes
  7. Vauxhall Gardens: “whither every body must go or appear a sort of Monster in polite Company”
  8. Vauxhall Gardens: The Competition
  9. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part I
  10. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part II
  11. Vauxhall Gardens: The Music, 1732-1859
  12. Vauxhall Gardens: The Business Side
  13. Vauxhall Gardens: Developments from 1751-1786
  14. Vauxhall Gardens: Thomas Rowlandson’s Painting (1785)
  15. ‎Vauxhall Gardens: The Third Generation of the Tyers Family and the Jubilee of 1786
  16. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part I
  17. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part II
  18. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part III
  19. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part I
  20. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part II
  21. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part III
  22. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part IV
  23. Vauxhall Gardens: Farewell, for ever