On display at Abbot Hall Art Gallery is a portrait of Emma Hart, who later became Lady Hamilton. Dating to 1785-1786, the oil on canvas painting is the work of the 18th century English portrait painter George Romney. After serving his apprenticeship in Kendal, Romney became the most fashionable artist of his day. Emma was described by Romney as his muse and sat for the artist over one hundred times. Romney finished sixty paintings of Emma with the above painting depicting the heroine Miranda taken from Shakespeare’s Tempest. The painting is one of several compositions intended for Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery in London.
On display in the White Drawing Room is an oak cabinet designed and made by Alec McCurdy. McCurdy was a short term student of Stanley Webb Davies who was a prolific furniture maker of the Arts & Crafts movement based in Windermere. Davies aligned himself closely to the philosophy of John Ruskin and produced furniture by only using traditional techniques and the finest quality materials. McCurdy went on to study at the Barnsley workshop and became a well known maker in his own right.
On display at Abbot Hall Art Gallery is a portrait of Catherine Hall, Lady Rouse Boughton. In 1782, Catherine married Charles William Boughton who belonged to a well established aristocratic family. In 1768, William inherited the estates of his maternal cousin Thomas Philips-Rouse and commissioned the above portrait of his young wife. The oil on canvas painting dates to 1785-1787 and is the work of the 18th century English portrait painter George Romney. The painting depicts Lady Rouse Boughton in a long flowing white gown, a type of garment often used by Romney to portray the female form to its full advantage.
On display at Abbot Hall Art Gallery is a portrait of George Granville Leveson-Gower – the 1st Duke of Sutherland. George was the eldest son of the 1st Marquis of Stafford and was born in 1758. In 1785, he married the daughter of the Earl of Sutherland and he became notorious through the part he played in the Highland clearances in the early 19th century. He was created 1st Duke in 1833 for his services to politics and he died in July of the same year at Dunrobin Castle. The oil on canvas painting dates to circa 1800 and is the work of the 18th/19th century English portrait painter Thomas Lawrence. Principle painter to the King at the age of only 23, Lawrence became president of the Royal Academy in 1820.
Along the first floor corridor of Blackwell Arts & Crafts House hangs a painting by the 20th century British artist Delmar Harmood Banner. The oil on canvas scene was painted in 1940 and forms part of the collection owned by Lakeland Arts Trust. Bowfell sits in the Southern Fells area of the English Lake District with Wetherlam part of Coniston Fells.
In the White Drawing Room at Blackwell Arts & Crafts House is a bureau designed by the British architect MH Baillie Scott. Dating to c1901, the bureau is made of oak inlaid with boxwood, ebony, holly and pewter. This piece of furniture was manufactured at the Pyghtle Works in Bedford and was priced at £8 8 shillings with the option to purchase in a more economical form with the omission of the inlaid work and use of painted pine instead of oak or mahogany.
Situated along the River Kent stands Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum. Constructed of coursed squared rubble, the Hall was built in 1759 for Colonel George Wilson with the design of the building attributed to the English architect John Carr.
The two storey building was occupied by Colonel Wilson and his wife, Anne Sybile Harrison of Lancaster, from the year of Abbot Hall’s completion in 1762 until the property was sold in 1772. The regular flooding of the Kent meant considerable inconvenience for the inhabitants of the Hall and although the house itself was grand, there was little land to provide sufficient revenue for the running costs.
The ground floor features corniced fireplaces with Baroque foliate decoration and decorative plaster frames to the walls.
Abbot Hall was acquired by Kendal Borough Council in 1897 with the aim of turning the grounds into a public park to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. In the following decades, the Hall sat deteriorating and faced with the threat of demolition in the early 1950’s, locals banded together in 1952 to save the building. Following appeals to the community for funds, Abbot Hall was restored and converted into an Art Gallery which opened to the public in September 1962.
Now managed by the Lakeland Arts Trust, Abbot Hall is Grade I Listed.