Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Studholme Hodgson: A Lifelong Military Man

Studholme Hodgson was born around 1707 or 1708 to John Hodgson, a merchant from Carlisle. Although his father’s family had roots in Wormanby, Burgh near Sands, Hodgson attended grammar school in Carlisle and presumable spent most of his childhood there. Until 1727, Hodgson was forced to remain within his father’s guild as a merchant until he managed to release himself through patrimony. Hodgson was then free to join the army, which he did on 22 January 1728 as an ensign in the first foot guards. Little else is known of his military career until thirteen years later when he was promoted to lieutenant and captain of the same regiment on 25 April 1740. Recognized for his skill, he was appointed an aid-de-camp for the Duke of Cumberland at the battle of Fontenoy in 1743 during the War of Austrian Succession and the battle of Culloden, famous as the last of the Jacobite uprisings, in 1745. He also served as an aide-de-camp for the earl of Albermarle at the battle of Dettingten. Hodgson continued to move through the military ranks and became captain and lieutenant-colonel on 22 February 1747. After two decades of military service, he was nicknamed “Old Boy” by his fellow military men. Hodgson incurred resentment from the Dutch at Laffelt in 1747 for they accused him of rudeness.
                  Hodgson chose to be more than a military man when he married Catherine Howard on 22 July 1756 after being promoted to colonel to the 50th foot guards. The couple would go on to have three sons and two daughters but only their son John would survive. In the 1757 Rochefort expedition during the Seven Years’ War, which was a bitter failure for British forces, Hodgson was in command of a brigade. He was also part of those who voted against the attempt to land and attack Fort Fouras, which speculatively caused him to shortly lose favor with the Duke. On 25 June 1759, he was promoted to rank of major-general and was subsequently transferred to the 5th foot. Although Hodgson had made an unpopular move at Rochefort, he eventually regained favor with the Duke and was put in charged of leading an expedition against Bell Isle. Commodore Keppel had been having difficulty capturing Belle Isle and Hodgson quickly realized the difficulty stemmed not as much from poor leadership but poorly trained and undermanned troops. Their first attempt on Belle Isle failed but their second try allowed Hodgson to “[overrun] the island as the French troops retired, [seize] all the defenseless ports, and… [sit] down to besiege Palais” (Corbett, 167). The citadel was forced to surrender on 7 June 1761. Hodgson’s actions at Belle Isle earned him praise from the king who commended “’the great service he had done for his king and country’” (Cannon, 149). Even William Pitt, who was then secretary of state, applauded Hodgson “on the completion of so important and critical an operation which must ever be remembered to his honour” (Ibid.). 
Map of Belle Isle

                  Since he could no longer serve the Duke as master of the horse after the Duke’s death in 1765, Hodgson was selected as Governor of Fort George and Fort Augustus. His military career was not over, however, and in 1768 he became colonel of the 4th King’s Own foot and was promoted to general ten years later. In 1782, he became colonel of the 4th Irish horse and in 1789, he was moved to the 11th dragoons. Hodgson’s final bump in military rank occurred on 30 July 1796 when he was promoted to field marshal. Hodgson passed away on 20 October 1798 in his house on Old Burlington Street in London and was buried less than a week later at the parish of St. James in Piccadilly.

Boucé, Paul-Gabriel. “Smollett and the Expedition against Rochefort.” Modern Philology 65, no. 1 (1967): 33-38,
Cannon, Richard, ed. Historial Record of the fourth, or the king’s own, regiment of foot. London: Longman, Orme, and Co., 1839.
Chichester, H. M. “Hodgson, Studholme (1707/8–1798).” Rev. Alastair W. Massie. In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman, October 2009. (accessed June 17, 2015).
Corbett, Julian Stafford. England in the Seven Years’ War: a Study in Combined Strategy. London: Longmans, Green, 1907.        

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sawrey Gilpin: the Royal Horse Painter

Sawrey Gilpin was born on 30 October 1733 at Scaleby, the seventh child in a family bursting with artistic talent. His father, Captain John Bernard Gilpin, was a landscape painter and his elder brother, William, was known as “one of the best amateur artistic painters of the time” (Andrews). Recognizing his son’s natural talent, Gilpin’s father sent him to study with marine painter Samuel Scott in 1749. Gilpin remained with Scott for a total of nine years, serving as an apprentice for seven and Scott’s assistant for two. It appears Gilpin did not produce any marine work himself but reportedly helped Scott in several of his commissions throughout the 1750s. Although the majority of Gilpin’s artistic training involved marine painting, the young man’s interests lay elsewhere. He was drawn toward the markets, carts, and horses of Convent Garden and used these subjects to produce his first works. It was these drawings that supposedly captured the attention of William Augustus, duke of Cumberland, which secured him his first official royal job in 1759 when he was commissioned to paint the duke’s stud at Newmarket and Windsor. In 1759 he also completed a set of etchings of horses’ heads that would be used to illustrate a manuscript entitled, “On the character of horses,” written by his brother William. Forty years later, William published Remarks on Forest Scenery, and other Woodland Views and included several of his brother’s etchings. Historian Stephen Deuchar remarks that these etchings prove that Gilpin’s “grasp of the problems of the visual representation of the emotions of animals was as sophisticated as that of Stubbs [his contemporary], but he never exploited it fully” (Deuchar). 

"The Duke of Cumberland visiting his stud" (1764)
                Gilpin began a career as a sporting and animal painter in the 1760s but could not fully support himself as an artist so he began teaching drawing at the Cheam School in Surrey (William was the headmaster). In eighteenth- century England, sports painters were not as revered as portrait or landscape artists. Ellis Waterhouse comments, “After portraits of himself, his wife, and his children the English patron of the eighteenth century liked best to have a portrait of his horse… But patrons were often less fastidious over the artistic quality of horse pictures than of human portraits” (Waterhouse, 297). Gilpin was thought to have remarkable artistic talent and some believed it was lamentable that his talent was “drawn aside to the meaner employment of horse painting” (Pilkington, 406). Nevertheless, Gilpin would remain a horse painter throughout his life. For the majority of his artistic career, Gilpin found himself competing with another popular horse painter, George Stubbs. Although generally considered rivals, both men sought to use their work as a way to elevate animal painting to a level of higher respect and seriousness. In order to achieve this goal, Stubbs published work utilizing lions and horses that attempted to portray “the range of passion which horses are capable of expressing” (Cust). Gilpin took this idea a step further between 1768 and 1772 when he published three “animal-history” pieces, which depicted scene’s from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. The only other historic piece he produced was The Election of Darius. Despite the efforts of Stubbs and Gilpin, sports painting would remain low of the artistic scale. 

"The Election of Darius"

"Gulliver Addressing the Houyhnhnms"
                On 6 June 1759 Gilpin married Elizabeth Broom, with whom he would have six children. His son William Sawrey would continue to artistic family tradition as a watercolorist and landscape gardener. From 1762 to 1783, Gilpin's work was displayed in the Society of Artists and Gilpin would become director of the Society in 1773 and president in 1774. In 1768 Gilpin went on a tour of the Scottish Highlands with Colonel Thorton of York and George Garrard, who had married one of Gilpin’s daughters and was a fellow painter and sculptor. Gilpin had begun working with Colonel Thorton and produced Death of the Fox for the colonel to add to his sporting collection in 1793. This work was created in the Frans Snyders style, which gives the scene a “naturalistic liveliness” (Waterhouse, 305). In 1786 Gilpin and his family lived in Knightbridge, London and his work began to be exhibited at the Royal Academy the same year. Gilpin was elected A.R.A in 1795 and R.A. in 1797. His “Diploma Work” he dedicated to the Royal Academy upon his election in 1797 was “Horses in a Thunderstorm.” 

"Horses in a Thunderstorm"
                Gilpin retired from painting after his wife’s death in 1802 and he moved to Southill, Bedforshire to stay with his friend, Samuel Whitbread, for a period. He returned to London in 1805 where he lived with his daughters at 16 Brompton Crescent until his death on 8 March 1807.
Andrews, Malcolm. “Gilpin, William (1724–1804).” Malcolm Andrews In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman. Oxford: OUP, 2004. (accessed June 15, 2015).
Cross, David et al. "Gilpin." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed June 15, 2015,
Cust, L. H. “Gilpin, Sawrey (1733–1807).” Rev. Peter Tomory. In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman, 2004. (accessed June 15, 2015).
Eaton, Fred. A. and J.E. Hodgson. The Royal Academy and Its Members 1768-1830. New York: Scribner’s, 1905.
Pilkington, Matthew. A general dictionary of painters. London: Tegg, 1829.
Waterhouse, Ellis Kirkham. Painting in Britain, 1530 -1790. Yale University Press, 1994.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Henrietta Louisa Fermor, Countess of Promfret: Letter Writter and Gothic Revivalist

Lord and Lady Pomfret painted by Thomas Bardwell

Henrietta Louisa Fermor (née Jeffreys) was born at Lisle Street, London on 15 February 1698 the only surviving child of John Jeffreys, second Baron Jeffreys, and his wife, Lady Charlotte Herbert, the daughter of Philip, seventh earl of Pembroke and fourth earl of Montgomery. Henrietta’s father, who “is said to have exceeded even his father in his powers of drinking” (Halliday), died in 1702. Just over a year later, her mother remarried Thomas, Lord Windsor, which would provide Henrietta with five half-siblings. The only other information that can be gleaned from her obscure childhood was an early distaste for the Roman Catholic Church, seen in her unwillingness to attend Roman Catholic mass with her mother in 1718 until her mother “[renounced] the errors of the church of Rome” (Quaintance).
                Henrietta married Thomas Fermor, second baron Leominster on 14 July 1720. From there she moved from her childhood home to her new husband’s country seat at Easton Neston, Northamptonshire. The couple would not remain there long and soon moved to a London home in Hanover Square where they had their first child, Sophia, on 29 May 1721. The couple would go on to have three sons and six daughters. Later that year, on 27 December Thomas became the first earl of Pomfret (or Pontefract), Yorkshire. Henrietta and her husband had a close relationship with the Prince and Princess of Wales, George and Caroline, and chose them to be the godparents of their first son, George. Their close relationship was further cemented when Henrietta became a Lady of the Bedchamber for Princess Caroline in May of 1725 and when her husband was promoted to KB, Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath, in 1725. The earl also became Master of the Horse for Caroline on 28 October 1727, after she became Queen. Henrietta and her husband, however, were not the only members of their family to participate in court functions. A painting by William Hogarth from 1732 captures Sophia, the eldest child, performing a scene from Dryden’s Performance of the Indian Emperor, or, The Conquest of Mexico for several members of the royal family, including the Duke of Cumberland, Princess Mary, and Princess Louisa. Henrietta was also chosen to accompany Princess Amelia to Bath and Turnbridge Wells and acted as a Lady of the Bedchamber to Augusta, Princess of Wales, when she wed Frederick on 27 April 1736. These outings allowed for Henrietta and the earl to tour Leiden, Brussels, and part of the Low Countries in June and July of 1736. 

An engraving of Hogarth's original painting

                After over a decade in the court, the Pomfret couple left court life in 1737 after the death of Queen Caroline and eventually joined their daughters, Sophia and Charlotte, on the continent. Around this time, Henrietta began to write frequent letters to Frances, countess of Hertford, who had also retired from court in 1737, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. The letters exchanged between Lady Hertford and Lady Pomfret include happenings of parliament, descriptions of Lady Pomfret’s travels, as well as bits of poetry composed for the enjoyment of the receiver. Lord and Lady Pomfret met with noted individuals, such as Lady Mary and Horace Walpole during their travels and short visits in Monts outside of Paris, Siena, and Florence. Walpole visited with the Pomfrets while they were in Florence and made “charming conversation” with them weekly (Dobson, 48). When Lady Mary arrived in Florence in August of 1740, she was warmly greeted by Lady Pomfret but mocked by Horace Walpole who stated in a letter to Henry Seymour Conway in September of 1740, “[Lady Mary] wears a foul mob, that does not cover her greasy black locks, that hang loose, never combed or curled; an old mazarine blue wrapper, that gapes open and discovers a canvas petticoat” (Dobson, 49). Despite Walpole’s cruel description, it appears Lady Pomfret was incredibly pleased to see her friend. After three years of traveling about the continent, Lord and Lady Pomfret returned to England in 1741, stopping in Rome, Venice, Bolzano, Augsburg, the Rhine, and finally, Brussels, along the way. Her friendship with Lady Hertford had grown throughout Lady Pomfret’s travels due to their constant correspondence. In a letter written August 1741 from Brussels, Lady Pomfret described the “little memorials” she intended on bringing back to England to show her friends and admits how she yearns to return to England and to Lady Hertford (Correspondence, 373). Upon reaching England, Lord and Lady Pomfret set up a new home on New Bond Street in London where they would remain until shortly after the earl’s death on 8 July 1753.
                After the death of her husband, Lady Pomfret’s son George became the second earl of Pomfret. Although he had his own estate, George’s extravagant spending habits resulted in Lady Henrietta purchasing 135 statues from the Arudenlian collection that were in his possession, which she donated to the University of Oxford in 1755. The generous donation was commemorated with a poem titled, “On Lady Pomfret’s Benefaction to the University of Oxford.”
                Both Lady Pomfret and her husband had been supporters of the eighteenth- century revival of Gothic architecture. In 1755, she began building what would become known as the Pomfret Castle at 18 Arlington Street, which stood as a major example of the Gothic revival. The Pomfret cabinet, located inside the house but most likely commissioned before Lord Pomfret’s death, is considered “one of the most spectacular examples of 1750s Gothic revival furniture in terms of form, heraldry and contrasting polychrome (Lindfield, 79). The frame from the portait of the couple seen above is another another example of the Gothic design the couple favored. 

The Pomfret Castle at 18 Arlington Street
The Pomfret Cabinet

                Lady Henrietta Pomfret died on 17 December 1761 while traveling to Bath. She was buried at St. Mary’s Church, Oxford, although her will requested she be buried with her husband at Easton Neston.

Fermor, Henrietta Louisa, countess of Pomfret (1698–1761),” Richard Quaintance in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, eee ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004); online ed., ed. Lawrence Goldman, May 2015, (accessed June 6, 2015).
Clerk, Thomas. The Works of William Hogarth. London: Black and Armstrong, 1837.
Dobson, Austin. Horace Walpole: A Memoir. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company, 1890.
Femor, Henrietta Louisa and Frances Seymore. Correspondence Between Frances, Countess of Hartford and Henrietta Louisa, Countess of Pomfret, Between the Years 1738 and 1741. London: R. Phillips, 1805.
Halliday, Paul D.. “Jeffreys, George, first Baron Jeffreys (1645–1689).” Paul D. Halliday In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman, May 2009. (accessed June 6, 2015).
Hayden, Joseph Timothy and Horace Ockerley. The Book of Dignities. London: W.H. Allen and Co., 1890.
Lindfield, Peter N. “The Countess of Pomfret’s Gothic Revival Furniture.” The Georgian Group Journal. (2014): 77-94. Accessed June 6, 2014.
Vivian, John. A Poem on the Countess of Pomfret’s Benefaction to the University of Oxford. Oxford: W Jackson, 1756.