7017 A MASSIVE OIL PAINTING DEPICTING THE FRONT FAÇADE OF DENHAM PLACE, BUCKINHAMSHIRE ATTRIBUTED TO PETER HARTOVER English. Circa 1675. Measurements: Height: 76 3/4″ (195 cm) Width: 169 1/4″ (429.5 cm) Depth: 3 1/4″ (8.5 cm)
Oil on canvas.
Collection of Mr. Lennox Money, London
Collection of Gail Salomon, 20 Avenue Foch, Paris.
John Harris, The Artist and the Country House: A History of Country House and Garden View Painting 1540-1870, London (revised edition 1985), 79, p. 80.
This painting, of unusually large scale, depicts the entrance front of the great house of Denham Place, Buckinghamshire and has been attributed to the artist Peter Hartover.
The painting, which can be dated on the grounds of stylistic comparison with other of Hartover’s works to around 1675, records the appearance of Denham Place after the addition of a vast façade by Sir William Bowyer (1612-79) in the 1650s and before its rebuilding by Sir Roger Hill from 1688.
Sir William Bowyer’s alterations transformed Denham into the largest of all known ‘artisan mannerist’ houses and, as the painting records, provided a statement of considerable and unusual grandeur. The brick façade was organised around the motif of repeating columns, each with a prominent stone capital, whilst the whole was surmounted by a handsome parapet supporting twenty-four busts. These were later transferred to the house and gardens of Sir Roger Hill’s building. The older Tudor house, built by Sir Edward Peckham soon after 1541, appears to have been partially retained behind Bowyer’s façade. The twisted chimneystacks of that earlier house are depicted behind the wings of the brick front and less grandiose service ranges are visible to the right of the main building.
The painting has been attributed to the artist Peter Hartover by John Harris in his seminal study The Artist and the Country House1 (figures 1 and 2). The style and arrangement of the figures in the foreground are comparable to the group of Sir John and Lady Swinburne receiving guests at the gates of Capheaton in Northumberland as depicted in a painting known to be by Hartover and dated 1674. Hartover is known to have been the partner of one Robert Crossby ‘of London’, but a series of views signed by him or identifiably in his style, reveal that he later spent some time working in the north east of England.
This magnificent picture represents an outstanding example of a form of house painting, which was at this date still in the early stages of its development. In the late 17th century families began to commission such paintings either from pride in their possessions, as a depiction of major architectural alterations or as a record of an old family home before its replacement by a newer building.2
1 John Harris, The Artist and the Country House: A History of Country House and Garden View Painting 1540-1870, London (revised edition 1985), 79, p. 80.
2 John Harris, The Artist and the Country House from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Day, Sothebys (1995), p. 9-10.