Show me:
and
Clear all filters

  • 25 items Explore
  • 38 items
  • 24 items Explore
  • 47 items
  • 92 items
  • 3,513 items Explore
  • 89 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 39 items
  • 9,883 items Explore
  • 208 items Explore
  • 1,210 items Explore
  • 7,417 items Explore
  • 4,946 items Explore
  • 75 items Explore
  • 104 items Explore
  • 9,265 items Explore
  • 154 items Explore
  • 4,283 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 121 items Explore
  • 2,032 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 4,690 items Explore
  • 24 items Explore
  • 440 items Explore
  • 18,051 items Explore
  • 34 items Explore
  • 1,902 items Explore
  • 967 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 5,133 items Explore
  • 399 items Explore
  • 29 items
  • 923 items Explore
  • 1 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 9 items
  • 15,002 items Explore
  • 787 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 70 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 798 items
  • 20 items
  • 61 items
  • 28 items
  • 304 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 55 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 133 items
  • 2 items
  • 107 items Explore
  • 116 items
  • 899 items Explore
  • 833 items
  • 91 items
  • 27 items
  • 7 items
  • 22,249 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,252 items Explore
  • 1,451 items Explore
  • 352 items
  • 192 items Explore
  • 7,647 items Explore
  • 8,887 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 39 items
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 5,745 items Explore
  • 5,357 items Explore
  • 4,026 items Explore
  • 857 items Explore
  • 859 items Explore
  • 2,473 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 314 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 2,467 items Explore
  • 20 items Explore
  • 308 items Explore
  • 727 items Explore
  • 783 items Explore
  • 454 items Explore
  • 896 items Explore
  • 894 items
  • 89 items
  • 125 items Explore
  • 5,171 items Explore
  • 163 items
  • 1 items
  • 311 items
  • 7 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 22 items
  • 58 items
  • 302 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 3,250 items Explore
  • 1,289 items Explore
  • 69 items
  • 43 items
  • 17,408 items Explore
  • 1,091 items Explore
  • 138 items
  • 43 items
  • 7 items
  • 1 items
  • 145 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 23 items
  • 252 items
  • 311 items
  • 962 items Explore
  • 1,893 items
  • 530 items Explore
  • 1,665 items
  • 562 items
  • 6 items
  • 2 items
  • 3 items
  • 3,726 items Explore
  • 29,268 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,055 items Explore
  • 189 items Explore
  • 6,763 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 25 items
  • 719 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 65 items
  • 157 items
  • 52 items
  • 18,620 items Explore
  • 824 items
  • 17 items
  • 2 items
  • 16,035 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 1,862 items Explore
  • 1,021 items Explore
  • 45 items
  • 371 items
  • 3,273 items Explore
  • 79 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 473 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 19 items
  • 90 items Explore
  • 68 items
  • 289 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 4 items
  • 112 items
  • 272 items
  • 760 items
  • 719 items
  • 1 items
  • 342 items Explore
  • 459 items Explore
  • 10,410 items Explore
  • 689 items Explore
  • 5,846 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 4,787 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1 items
  • 5,125 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 3,296 items Explore
  • 9,145 items Explore
  • 6,295 items Explore
  • 181 items
  • 19 items
  • 142 items
  • 7 items
  • 845 items Explore
  • 17 items
  • 3,889 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,022 items Explore
  • 193 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,486 items Explore
  • 20 items
  • 698 items Explore
  • 35 items
  • 1 items
  • 114 items
  • 3,189 items Explore
  • 12,125 items Explore
  • 2,697 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 7,391 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 1 items
  • 21,531 items Explore
  • 91 items
  • 38 items
  • 13,860 items Explore
  • 3,293 items Explore
  • 1,641 items Explore
  • 162 items
  • 27,406 items Explore
  • 634 items Explore
  • 415 items
  • 20,948 items Explore
  • 127 items
  • 1 items
  • 16 items
  • 30 items
  • 814 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 192 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 14,769 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 9 items
  • 10 items
  • 13 items
  • 25 items
  • 2,173 items Explore
  • 855 items Explore
  • 11 items
  • 1 items
  • 187 items
  • 587 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 2,080 items Explore
  • 780 items Explore
  • 1,837 items Explore
  • 135 items
  • 30 items
  • 637 items Explore
  • 2,676 items Explore
  • 38 items
  • 22 items
  • 12 items
  • 5,414 items Explore
  • 15,019 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 3 items
  • 1,194 items
  • 169 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 7 items
  • 77 items
  • 9,787 items Explore
  • 3,484 items Explore
  • 2,618 items Explore
  • 4,670 items Explore
  • 23 items
  • 56 items
  • 5,833 items Explore
  • 4,027 items Explore
  • 463 items Explore
  • 2,255 items Explore
  • 1,754 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 1,273 items Explore
  • 41 items
  • 216 items Explore
  • 365 items Explore
  • 5,671 items Explore
  • 8,647 items Explore
  • 1,843 items Explore
  • 2,148 items Explore
  • 3,296 items Explore
  • 7,274 items Explore
  • 72 items
  • 2,484 items Explore
  • 24 items
  • 51 items
  • 1 items
  • 542 items Explore
  • 614 items Explore
  • 60 items
  • 16 items
  • 137 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 73 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 466 items
  • 1 items
  • 934 items
  • 3,570 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 8,200 items Explore
  • 45 items Explore
  • 21 items
  • 44 items
  • 3 items
  • 12,933 items Explore
  • 1,208 items Explore
  • 91 items
  • 4,812 items Explore
  • 768 items Explore
  • 1,977 items
  • 4,207 items Explore
  • 21 items
  • 12,277 items Explore
  • 1,334 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 9,553 items Explore
  • 15,785 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 1,681 items Explore
  • 175 items
  • 26 items
  • 5,407 items Explore
  • 7,042 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 11 items
  • 2 items
  • 59 items
  • 6,145 items Explore
  • 251 items Explore
  • 11 items
  • 4 items
  • 6 items
  • 4 items
  • 104 items Explore
  • 423 items
  • 117 items Explore
  • 7,265 items Explore
  • 45 items
  • 20,183 items Explore
  • 6,606 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 2 items
  • 193 items Explore
  • 279 items
  • 111 items Explore
  • 10,843 items Explore
  • 54 items
  • 16 items
  • 67 items
  • 4 items
  • 316 items Explore
  • 403 items
  • 172 items
  • 3,251 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1,213 items Explore
  • 1,549 items Explore
  • 567 items Explore
  • 20 items
  • 1,079 items Explore
  • 96 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 253 items Explore
  • 55,724 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2,627 items Explore
  • 2,638 items Explore
  • 22 items
  • 3,230 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 10,505 items Explore
  • 5,341 items
  • 7 items
  • 658 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 1 items
  • 468 items
  • 40 items
  • 72 items
  • 29 items
  • 411 items
  • 3 items
  • 42 items
  • 1,057 items Explore
  • 91 items
  • 462 items
  • 46 items
  • 7,625 items Explore
  • 9 items
  • 947 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 14,175 items Explore
  • 93 items
  • 17 items
  • 5 items
  • 302 items
  • 2 items
  • 544 items Explore
  • 1,660 items Explore
  • 764 items Explore
  • 154 items

Select a time period

Or choose a specific year

Clear all filters

The Chinese House

attributed to William Kent (Bridlington 1685 – London 1748)

Category

Wooden objects

Date

1738 (by)

Materials

Wood, paint and lead.

Order this image

Collection

Stowe, Buckinghamshire

On show at

Stowe, Buckinghamshire, London and South East, National Trust

NT 91820

Summary

Garden pavilion called the Chinese House, attributed to William Kent (c. 1685-1748), commissioned by Sir Richard Temple, Viscount Cobham (1675-1748), by 1738. Enclosed wooden rectangular structure, painted with chinoiserie designs, with latticework windows and with a gabled roof with lead covering and two gilded fish finials.

Full description

The Chinese House at Stowe is the oldest surviving pseudo-Chinese (or chinoiserie) garden pavilion in Britain. It was originally situated on poles in the middle of a pond built into a pseudo-military 'bastion' east of the Elysian Fields at Stowe, where it is first mentioned as being in 1738. It may have been designed by William Kent, who was working at Stowe at that time. The pavilion was provided with painted chinoiserie decoration by Francesco Sleter (1685-1775), traces of which seem to survive underneath subsequent repaintings. Contemporary descriptions suggest that the interior may have been decorated with East Asian lacquer panels. Additional pseudo-Chinese touches included vases filled with flowers mounted on the balustrade of the bridge linking the pavilion to the bank, models of Chinese ducks floating in the pond, and a statue or mannequin of a sleeping Chinese woman inside (none of which survive). The Chinese House was moved to nearby Wotton House, another Temple-Grenville seat, by Richard, 2nd Earl Temple (1711-1779) in about 1751, where it was initially sited on an island and subsequently on a spot closer to the house. The painted decoration of the Chinese House was refreshed at least twice during the eighteenth century. At some point in the 1820s it received its current decorative scheme, by an as yet unknown artist or artists, consisting of cartouches with Chinese characters, vases, planters and bowls with flowers, dragons, Budai figures and ladies in landscapes on the exterior, and cartouches with pseudo-lacquer decoration and depictions of Chinese deities on the interior. In 1929 the Wotton estate was sold by the Temple-Grenville family to Major Michael Beaumont, MP for Aylesbury (and grandson the the international business tycoon Michael Grace). The painted decoration on the exterior was refreshed and slightly modified by Percy Willats of the decorating firm Lenygon and Morant in about 1937. In 1957 Major Beaumont shipped the Chinese House to his new residence, Harristown House in Brannockstown, Co. Kildare, Ireland. Following the purchase of the Stowe landscape gardens by the National Trust a campaign for the repatriation of the Chinese House was initiated by the National Trust's then architectural adviser, the late Gervase Jackson-Stops, which resulted in its purchase and return in 1993. A campaign in memory of Gervase Jackson-Stops raised the funds required to conserve and restore the Chinese House. Its wooden structure was repaired by Tankerdale Ltd, Catherine Hassall carried out analysis on the historic paint, Bush and Berry Conservation Studio conserved and recreated the painted decoration and Ben Bacon recarved the finials. Following this work the Chinese House was unveiled to the public at Stowe in 1998. As the original location of the Chinese House had been extensively modified, it was resituated in a nearby location south-east of the Palladian Bridge. The 1820s painted decoration of the Chinese House, as restored in the 1990s, is related in style to the chinoiserie decoration of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, by Frederick Crace and Robert Jones. The cartouches with ladies in landscapes are inspired by Chinese paintings on glass (one scene, with a lady sitting beside a stream dipping a stick into the water, is very similar in composition to a Chinese mirror painting at Saltram, inv. no. 872228.5). The Chinese characters and the planters with flowers are derived directly from plates in William Chamber's 1757 book 'Designs of Chinese Buildings' (plates XVIII and X respectively). The corpulent Budai figures are based on the Chinese ceramic statuettes depicting the semi-mythical Buddhist saint Budai Hoshang, which were popular import products in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Europe. The dragons are similarly popular chinoiserie motifs, but they are stylistically particularly close to the painted and carved dragons incorporated into the Royal pavilion by Crace and Jones. The 'lacquer' panels on the interior depict Rococo-style chinoiserie landscape vignettes in the manner of Jean-Baptiste Pillement (1728-1808). The panels with Chinese deities are inspired by or copied from the decorated glass panels used in Chinese lanters, which were popular import products in the Regency period and of which similar examples survive in the collection of the Royal Pavilion. Contemporary sources: First mentioned by anonymous visitor in 1738 (see Clarke 1990, p. 74). Mentioned by Defoe and Richardson, 1742: '...the Out-side of it painted very ingeniously, in the Chinese taste, by the celebrated Mr. Sleats. The inside of it is India Japan.' (see Clarke 1990, p. 88) Marked on an anonymous plan of 1742, as 'An India House' (Clarke 1990, p. 112). Mentioned in Benton Seeley's guidebook to Stowe of 1744: 'The Chinese House is situated in a Pond, and you enter it by a Bridge adorn'd with Chinese Vases, with Flowers in them. It is a square Building with four Lattices, and cover'd with Sail-cloth to preserve the Lustre of the Paintings; in it is a Chinese Lady as if asleep, her Hands covered by her Gown. In the Pond are the Figures of two Chinese Birds about the Size of a Duck, which move with the Wind as if alive. The Outside of the House is painted in the Taste of that Nation, by Mr. Slater; the Inside is India japann'd Work.' (Clarke 1990, p. 130) Illustrated in Benton Seeley's Views of Temples, and other Ornamental Buildings in The Gardens at Stow, 1750 (see Clarke 1990, p. 153). Sketch apparently of the Chinese House by Sir Roger Newdigate, 1748 (Clarke 1990, p. 179). Mentioned by Jemima, Marchioness Grey, in her Letterbook, 1748: 'There is also a Chinese Room, the prettiest I have seen, and the Only One like the Drawings and Prints of their Houses. It stands in a little dirty Piece of Water with Steps Like a Bridge to the Shore, and a Gallery and Rail round the room which you may suppose is very small. It has four Latticed Windows, the Wall quite wainscotted with Japan: a great many Old Screens have been cut to pieces (I fancy) to make it, but it is Fine and Pretty.' (Clarke 1990, pp. 183-184)

Provenance

Commissioned by Sir Richard Temple, Viscount Cobham (1675-1748), possibly designed by William Kent (c. 1685-1748) and with painted decorations by Francesco Sleter (1685-1775), and at Stowe by 1738; by descent to Richard, 2nd Earl Temple (1711-1779), who moved it to Wotton House, Buckinghamshire, in around 1751, and thence by descent; sold as part of the Wotton estate to Major Michael Beaumont, 1929; moved by Major Beaumont to Harristown House, Brannockstown, Co. Kildare, Ireland, 1957, and thence by descent at Harristown House; purchased by the National Trust by private treaty with grants from the Monument Trust and the Pilgrim Trust and part of a bequest from the late Alec Clifton-Taylor, 1993.

Makers and roles

attributed to William Kent (Bridlington 1685 – London 1748), designer Francesco Sleter (1685-1775), painter

References

Seeley 1744: Benton Seeley, Stow: the Gardens of the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Cobham, 1744 Seeley 1750: Benton Seeley, Views of Temples, and other Ornamental Buildings in the Gardens at Stow, 1750 Whately, 1770: Thomas Whately. Observations on modern gardening, illustrated by descriptions. Dublin: Printed for James Williams, 1770. Pococke, 1888-89: Richard Pococke. The travels through England of Dr. Richard Pococke, successively Bishop of Meath and of Ossory during 1750, 1751, and later years. Ed. James Joel Cartwright. London: Printed for the Camden Society, 1888-1889. Nares 1949: Gordon Nares, ‘Wotton House, Aylesbury’, Country Life, 8 July 1949, pp. 112-113 Honour, Hugh. Chinoiserie. [1961.]. Croft-Murray 1962-1970 Edward Croft-Murray, Decorative Painting in England, 1537 - 1837 (2 vols), 1962-1970 Conner 1979.1: Patrick Conner, 'Britain's First Chinoiserie Pavilion?', Country Life, 25 January 1979, pp. 236-237 Conner 1979.2: Patrick Conner, Oriental Architecture in the West, London, Thames & Hudson, 1979 Mott and Aall 1898: George Mott and Sally Sample Aall, Follies and Pleasure Pavilions, London, Pavilion, 1989 Clarke, 1990: Descriptions of Lord Cobham’s gardens at Stowe (1700-1750). Ed. George B. Clarke. Vol. 26. Buckinghamshire Record Society. Publications. [Aylesbury]: Buckinghamshire Record Society, 1990. Cousins 1990: Michael Cousins, 'The First Chinese Building in England', Follies, no. 7 (autumn 1990), pp. 2-3 Jackson-Stops 1992: Gervase Jackson-Stops, 'Pavilion Restored', The World of Interiors, May 1992, pp. 92-97 Anonymous 1992: [No author listed, but possibly Gervase Jackson-Stops], 'Forgotten But Not Lost', Country Life, 13 August 1992, p. 67 Clarke, 1992: George B. Clarke. “The moving temples of Stowe: aesthetics of change in an English landscape over four generations.” Huntingdon Library Quarterly 55 (1992): pp.479-532. Clarke et al. 1992: George Clarke, Peter Inskip and Richard Wheeler, English Arcadia: The Landscape and Buildings of Stowe, San Marino, The Henry E. Huntington Library, 1992 Jackson-Stops, 1993: Gervase Jackson-Stops. “Sharawadgi rediscovered: the Chinese House at Stowe.” Apollo 137.374 (1993): pp.217-222. Parry (ed.) 1999: James Parry (ed.), Rooted in History: Studies in Garden Conservation, London, The National Trust, 1999 Knox et al. 2002: Tim Knox and David Oosterman. “National Trust projects and acquisitions: 2001-2002.” Apollo 155.482 (2002): pp.3-16. Bruijn, de 2007: Emile de Bruijn. “Found in translation: the Chinese House at Stowe.” Apollo 165.544 (2007): pp.52-59.

View more details