Show me:
and
Clear all filters

  • 35 items
  • 25 items Explore
  • 89 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,451 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 871 items
  • 4 items
  • 220 items
  • 12,132 items Explore
  • 209 items Explore
  • 1,232 items Explore
  • 8,481 items Explore
  • 5,034 items Explore
  • 167 items Explore
  • 13,006 items Explore
  • 13,625 items Explore
  • 4,867 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 5 items
  • 153 items Explore
  • 2,086 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 4,748 items Explore
  • 13 items Explore
  • 437 items Explore
  • 267 items
  • 19,796 items Explore
  • 34 items Explore
  • 1,917 items Explore
  • 1,083 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 2,048 items Explore
  • 449 items Explore
  • 920 items Explore
  • 1 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 7 items
  • 20,051 items
  • 800 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 73 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 797 items
  • 20 items
  • 4 items
  • 26 items
  • 61 items
  • 28 items
  • 319 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 44 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 2 items
  • 7 items
  • 1 items
  • 121 items Explore
  • 119 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,020 items Explore
  • 803 items
  • 95 items
  • 27 items
  • 108 items
  • 36,423 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,863 items Explore
  • 1,529 items Explore
  • 403 items
  • 158 items Explore
  • 10,987 items Explore
  • 9,686 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 38 items
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 7,049 items Explore
  • 7,471 items Explore
  • 4,506 items Explore
  • 1,844 items Explore
  • 1,192 items Explore
  • 22,345 items Explore
  • 3,601 items Explore
  • 17 items
  • 5 items
  • 334 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,392 items Explore
  • 20 items Explore
  • 353 items Explore
  • 796 items Explore
  • 1,090 items Explore
  • 510 items Explore
  • 1,127 items Explore
  • 89 items
  • 125 items Explore
  • 6,950 items Explore
  • 170 items
  • 310 items
  • 4 items
  • 2 items
  • 63 items
  • 2 items
  • 2,936 items Explore
  • 1,579 items Explore
  • 203 items
  • 91 items
  • 20,234 items Explore
  • 1,166 items Explore
  • 138 items
  • 856 items Explore
  • 32 items
  • 132 items Explore
  • 40 items
  • 20 items
  • 281 items
  • 313 items
  • 682 items Explore
  • 1,954 items
  • 349 items Explore
  • 2,427 items
  • 2,525 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,391 items Explore
  • 40,472 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,284 items Explore
  • 275 items Explore
  • 8,499 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 25 items
  • 304 items Explore
  • 776 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 65 items
  • 161 items
  • 58 items
  • 52 items
  • 22,262 items Explore
  • 917 items
  • 18 items
  • 22,555 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,335 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1,028 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 759 items
  • 499 items
  • 3,304 items Explore
  • 174 items
  • 59 items
  • 455 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 21 items
  • 90 items Explore
  • 76 items
  • 281 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 6 items
  • 128 items
  • 295 items
  • 447 items
  • 287 items
  • 1 items
  • 790 items Explore
  • 272 items Explore
  • 11,288 items Explore
  • 760 items Explore
  • 6,055 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 8,000 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1 items
  • 5,767 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 3,722 items Explore
  • 9,190 items Explore
  • 7,755 items Explore
  • 186 items
  • 19 items
  • 142 items
  • 7 items
  • 853 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 2,650 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,095 items Explore
  • 267 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,540 items Explore
  • 695 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 134 items
  • 6,715 items Explore
  • 93 items
  • 18,696 items Explore
  • 3,140 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 7 items
  • 10,980 items Explore
  • 37 items
  • 4 items
  • 2 items
  • 21,543 items Explore
  • 38 items
  • 13,198 items Explore
  • 3,456 items Explore
  • 5,227 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 45,885 items Explore
  • 641 items Explore
  • 415 items
  • 26,002 items Explore
  • 217 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 35 items
  • 27 items
  • 356 items Explore
  • 217 items Explore
  • 13 items
  • 13,216 items Explore
  • 1,351 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 10,260 items
  • 9 items
  • 10 items
  • 14 items
  • 25 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,533 items Explore
  • 913 items Explore
  • 61 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 318 items
  • 702 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 2,307 items Explore
  • 1,661 items Explore
  • 15 items
  • 1,873 items Explore
  • 150 items
  • 81 items
  • 680 items Explore
  • 3,063 items Explore
  • 43 items
  • 17 items
  • 12 items
  • 10,675 items Explore
  • 23,147 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 41 items
  • 1,372 items
  • 180 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 92 items
  • 13,430 items Explore
  • 3,574 items Explore
  • 2,896 items Explore
  • 4,782 items Explore
  • 22 items
  • 42 items
  • 6,898 items Explore
  • 4,780 items Explore
  • 256 items Explore
  • 2,300 items Explore
  • 2,975 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 1,902 items Explore
  • 193 items
  • 223 items Explore
  • 466 items Explore
  • 6,115 items Explore
  • 8,738 items Explore
  • 1,861 items Explore
  • 5,795 items Explore
  • 3,339 items Explore
  • 11,064 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 86 items
  • 11 items
  • 1,793 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 24 items
  • 51 items
  • 6 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,990 items Explore
  • 611 items Explore
  • 72 items
  • 17 items
  • 152 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 87 items Explore
  • 460 items
  • 7 items
  • 2 items
  • 996 items Explore
  • 3,610 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 9,469 items Explore
  • 48 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 7 items
  • 42 items
  • 3 items
  • 13,792 items Explore
  • 1,164 items Explore
  • 92 items
  • 10,562 items Explore
  • 1,920 items
  • 24 items
  • 7,832 items Explore
  • 21 items
  • 12,945 items Explore
  • 1,417 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 9,677 items Explore
  • 16,206 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,669 items Explore
  • 181 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 5,684 items Explore
  • 12,134 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 25 items
  • 2 items
  • 3 items
  • 7,256 items Explore
  • 402 items Explore
  • 13 items
  • 4 items
  • 6 items
  • 103 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 5 items
  • 491 items
  • 665 items Explore
  • 8,551 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 7,344 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 26 items
  • 4,498 items Explore
  • 421 items
  • 5 items
  • 205 items Explore
  • 12,701 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 20 items
  • 7 items
  • 4 items
  • 325 items Explore
  • 434 items
  • 516 items
  • 3,703 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1,232 items Explore
  • 2,501 items Explore
  • 734 items Explore
  • 36 items
  • 1,139 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 24 items
  • 226 items Explore
  • 78,435 items Explore
  • 3,065 items Explore
  • 2,844 items Explore
  • 64 items
  • 3,648 items Explore
  • 1,831 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 17,445 items Explore
  • 5,097 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 632 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 31 items
  • 1 items
  • 76 items
  • 29 items
  • 86 items
  • 3 items
  • 1,177 items Explore
  • 109 items
  • 805 items
  • 12,188 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 13 items
  • 1,554 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 214 items
  • 17,028 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 17 items
  • 1 items
  • 9 items
  • 8 items
  • 324 items
  • 2 items
  • 627 items Explore
  • 1,584 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 1,041 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 261 items

Select a time period

Or choose a specific year

Clear all filters

'A Chelsea Interior ' (The Carlyles at Home with their Dog Nero at 5/24 Great Cheyne Row, London)

Robert Scott Tait (1816 - 1897)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1857 - 1858 (exh at RA)

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

86 x 115 cm

Place of origin

London

Order this image

Collection

Carlyle's House, London

NT 263684

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, A Chelsea Interior (The Carlyles at Home with their Dog Nero at 5/24 Great Cheyne Row, London), by Robert Scott Tait (1816 - 1897), 1857-58. It depicts, in Tait's own words: "The ground floor of no. 5 Great Cheyne Row, Chelsea, the residence of Thomas Carlyle, Esq. (Author of "Sartor Resartus"; "The French Revolution: A History", "Letters and Speeche of Oliver Cromwell," - &c. &c.) with portrait of him, his wife, and also of Mrs Carlyle's little dog 'Nero'."

Full description

In the spring of 1857, the painter and photographer Robert Tait (exh. at the Royal Academy 1845-1875), 'a Dumfriesshire man from near Moffat, living in London, and frequenting the Carlyles', 'took the bright idea that a Picture of our sitting room would be amazingly interesting to posterity a hundred years hence'. After completing the work, the artist himself opined that the picture would keep his name alive, when better painters were forgotten. A hundred and forty years later, it is just as he said: the house whose sitting-room he portrayed was acquired by the Carlyle House Memorial Trust in 1895, and in 1936 passed into the care of the National Trust, to preserve for posterity the setting in which Thomas Carlyle wrote his most celebrated works; yet it is still this painting that yields the most evocative image of the Carlyles at home. Whilst Tait (though he also painted a conventional portrait of Carlyle, as well as copies of some of his favourite paintings - all of which are also at Carlyle House) is almost forgotten as a painter, and is known, if at all, as homo unius tabulae: this very picture. Even at the time, it was bought (by William, 2nd Baron Ashburton, whose first wife, Lady Harriet Montagu, who had died the year before, in May 1857, had lionised Carlyle to a degree that had provoked jealousy in Jane), after its exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1858, for the exceptional sum of £500 - 'just £495 too much', according to Carlyle himself; and it has been on loan to Carlyle House since 1894, (originally from Louisa, Lady Ashburton, second wife of the 2nd Baron, subsequently passing by inheritance to their only child, the Hon. Mary Baring, who was married to the 5th Marquess of Northampton, grandfather of the present vendor), so that it has itself become an historic element of that interior. Like many great births, its gestation was not without pain. In one of her inimitable rattling letters, to her friend Mrs. Russell, of 20 November 1857, Jane Carlyle wrote: "I little knew what I was committing myself to when I let him begin. - For the three months before I went to Scotland, he came and painted twice a week; while I was in Scotland he came four times a week; and for the last six weeks he has been over-standing me like a nightmare every day!! except when, please God, the fog is so black that he can't see. These lower rooms are where I have been always used to live at this season; and to keep up fire there, and in the drawing-room as well - besides in Mr C.'s study at the top of the house, is a great expense, when coals are seven and twenty shillings a cart-load; and is also a great trouble to one servant. So I have kept my ground hitherto; always hoping he would get done. But, my Heavens! he will make this great 'Work of Art' last him into 1860, I begin to think. A whole day painting at my portfolio! Another whole day over my workbox, and so on. Not the minutest object in these three rooms, opening into one another, but what is getting itself represented with Vandyke fidelity! And all the while the floor won't be flat for the life of him.... The dog is the only member of the family who has reason to be pleased with his likeness as yet." Confronted with the finished picture, she found fault even with this detail: "I wish Tait had not painted Nero as big as a sheep. That provokes me more than being transmitted to posterity in wrong perspective and with a frightful table cover".1. The seeming disproportion and jarring perspective were due to Tait's pioneering enlistment of photography as an aid to painting his picture (vide his note on the back of the picture regarding the correct viewing point for it). Over this, it was Carlyle who expressed his exasperation, in a letter to his wife in Scotland written on 16th July 1857: "Tait has been steaming about all day with his photographing (very malodorous) apparatus; and has bothered me five or six times: at length came Darwin (happily), and has just carried [him] away. But my day too is gone!" and ten days later: "Tait paints incessantly here, and seems to me to make no progress at all. He has brought back his malodorous Photographing Apparatus; was fluffing about, all Saturday with it, and getting views which will certainly 'please Mrs. Carlyle'." This painting is thus not merely a singular record of the Carlyles at home, but represents an episode in their lives, recorded by their vivid correspondence. 1. Jane Carlyle probably thought the table-cover 'frightful', because it was so obviously cheap. Ian Gow, Head Curator of the National Trust for Scotland, has kindly supplied a helpful note, explaining that it would appear to have been a Brussels-type table-carpet made by the method invented by Whytock of Eskbank (the patent later passed to Crossley of Halifax), in which the wool threads were printed in colour blocks before the carpets were woven. The same process was used for floor-carpets, and in the best Scots schemes (such as those advocated by D. R. Hay) these and other patterns were all 'scientifically' harmonised: such may also have been the Carlyles' - and Tait's - intention, in their 'Chelsea interior'.

Provenance

Bought by William, 2nd Baron Ashburton; on loan to Carlyle's House since it was first opened to the public in 1896, originally from Louisa Steart-Mackenzie, Lady Ashburton, second wife of the 2nd Baron, subsequently passing by inheritance to their only child, the Hon. Mary Florence Baring, who was married to the 5th Marquess of Northampton, grandfather of the present vendor; purchased from the 7th Marquess of Northampton by the National Trust by private treaty for £120,000 with the help of the Art Fund and an anonymous benefactor in 1998

Marks and inscriptions

Verso: 'Painted by me Robert Tait/5 Queen Anne Street, London/Commenced 26th May 1857, and finished on this 5th April 1858. The proper point of sight is about 18 inches in front of the picture exactly opposite this *point. A near point of sight was thus adopted in order to get in as much as possible of the front room. The picture having been painted from the recess of one of the two windows in the front room, a spectator looking properly at the picture, sees everything in the interior as if her were seated in the said recess. R. Tait. * 1  to left (from front) of the dead centre of the picture Verso: and in Carlyle's hand: Correct likeness of the Ground floor of my London [?] house, Chelsea, March 1858, T. Carlyle.

Makers and roles

Robert Scott Tait (1816 - 1897), artist

View more details