JAMES BRYDGES, 1ST DUKE OF CHANDOS: A MAECENAS OF THE EARLY GEORGIAN ERA
This magnificent chandelier was commissioned by James Brydges, Viscount Wilton and Earl of Carnarvon, later 1st Duke of Chandos (1673/4-1744) for the Chapel at Cannons, Edgware, Middlesex. The golden Cannons chandelier, displays his coronet and is designed in the George I Roman manner that derived from goldsmiths patterns in the Louis Quatorze fashion. In particular it relates to the richly sculpted style introduced by the Paris-trained architect Daniel Marot (d.1752) in one of his, Nouveaux Livres d'orfèvrerie issued around 1700 and in his Oeuvre, 1712. The chandelier, celebrating family achievements, marks the elevation of James Brydges in 1719 in George IIs Peerage as Duke of Chandos, Marquis and Earl of Carnarvon and Viscount Chandos of Wilton. It was one of a pair that graced the magnificent Chandos Family Chapel attached to Cannons, Middlesex, and reflected ducal magnificence as well as Brydges' patriotic role as 'Apollo of British Arts'.
After a career of tirelessly pursuing political, business and court contacts, Chandos secured the position of paymaster of the Queen's forces. He achieved this highly profitable position under the patronage of the Duke of Marlborough and profited from this position by £600,000 when he resigned in 1713. This considerable fortune was to be realised at Cannons and it is for Cannons that he is chiefly remembered. 'Princely Chandos' furnished his mansion as the ne plus ultra princely palace of the Augustan era. It was, by most accounts, a brilliant house described by Daniel Defoe (d. 1731) in A Tour Thro' the whole Island of Great Britain, vol. II, Letter III, 1725, p. 129 as
The whole structure is built with Such a Profusion of Expence, and all finish'd with such a brightness of fancy, Goodness of Judgement; that I can assure you, we see many Palaces of Sovereign Princes abroad which do not equal it, which yet pass for very fine to either within or without. And as it is a Nobel and well contriv'd Building; so it is well set out, and no Ornament is wanting to make it the finest House in England ... The great Salon or Hall is painted by Paolocci for the Duke spared no cost to have everything as Rich as possible ... The inside of this house is as Glorious, as the outside is Fine; the Lodgings are indeed most exquisitely finished, and if I may call it so, royally Furnished ... two things extreamly add to the Beauty of this House, namely the Chapel, and the Library'
The poet Charles Gildon (d. 1724) also lauded Chandos's magnificent creation at Cannons in his poem: Cannons; or the vision. In the chapel, containing this chandelier and its companion, and a pair of armchairs, on which the Duke and Duchess sat during religious proceedings, Dr Pepusch directed the choir and orchestra in music composed by Handel for the Duke. Handel had accepted an appointment as resident composer at Cannons and from 1717-18 composed eleven anthems, known as the Chandos Anthems, and a Te Deum. The musical establishment at Cannons at this time was impressive: in addition to George Frideric Handel, there included Francesco Scarlatti, brother of Alessandro, and Johann Christian Bach, cousin of Johann Sebastian Bach. The Duke wrote to his friend, the court physcian Dr Arbuthnot 'Mr Handel has made me two new Anthems, very noble ones...' Acis and Galatea, an early opera and Esther, his first oratorio were composed under his patronage and both were performed first at Cannons.
This chandelier (the whereabouts and or existence of the other is unknown), like the suite of seat-furniture, which included a Bed, a pair of armchairs for the Chapel and four further armchairs (which differ in decoration from the Chapel pair), eight side chairs and two stools, was conceived as a celebration of his elevation to the Dukedom of Chandos in 1719.
THE ICONOGRAPHY: THE DUKE AS 'APOLLO'
The chandelier is conceived both as a tribute to Apollo, Antiquity's God of light and music and Leader of the Muses of artistic inspiration, whose griffin-drawn chariot he drove across the sky each morning, heralding the Sun's return; and also as a symbol of Chandos himself as 'England's Apollo'. Indeed, the decoration of many of the rooms at Cannons could be read as a study in Apollonian iconography: the Saloon and Library on the piano nobile featured ceiling paintings with Apollo as the principal subject, while other rooms featured classical imagery and iconography appropriate to their function.
Four candle-branches encircle the Chandos coronet, which is ensigned on a stately palm-leafed Corinthian capital above another eight branches, which issue from an escutcheoned urn and are headed by Apollo's sacred griffin. Bas-relief escutcheons, fretted with loves lilies and shell-scallops display love-ringed targets which embellish the urn. Evoking a festive antique wine-krater, the latter terminates in a triumphal palm-and-acanthus flowered boss; while Pans reeds and scalloped flutes gadroon its rim. Brass tazze-supported candle-vases crown the branches, whose serpentined, reed-gadrooned and palm-flowered trusses are ribbon-tied to the chandelier's Venus shell-wreathed and Ionic wave-voluted vase baluster.
It was to James Gibbs (d. 1754) that Chandos, the Paymaster-General of Marlborough's army, turned for designs for his new house at Cannons. Although work had commenced there by 1713, Gibbs can be credited with the overall design of the south and east elevations, and the Chapel is wholly his work. He had served as Surveyor to the Commissioners for Building Fifty New Churches in London, and was appointed architect for Cannons' Chapel in 1716.
Although not known as a furniture designer, Gibbs' hand would appear to be behind the design of the suite of seat-furniture, and it is tempting therefore to attribute the chandelier pattern to the Duke's Rome-trained architect, the famed author of A Book of Architecture, 1728. In which book Gibbs displayed a design for an imbricated dolphin-scale baluster with husk festooned scallop-shell badges, emblematic of Venus. This is closely related to the Cannons chairs' arm-supports. The Chapel's sumptuous painted ceiling was supported by giant pilasters of the Corinthian order; while columns of the Ionic order supported the triumphal-arched façade of the Chandos family pew. This was set in a raised niche at the West end, beneath an urn-capped temple pediment whose tympanum displayed the flower-festooned family escutcheon (T. Friedman, James Gibbs, London, 1984, fig 26).
JAMES MOORE & JOHN GUMLEY
This masterpiece is almost certainly the work of James Moore (d. 1726), cabinet-maker to King George I, whose partner John Gumley (d. 1729), the glass-manufacturer, had employed Gibbs to design his own house at Isleworth, Middlesex. Chandos's reputation as a Maecenas of the Arts would naturally suggest the King's cabinet-maker as the author of the state furnishings at Cannons. Chandos made payments to James Moore from November 1721-November 1723 totalling £491 (Jenkins, loc. cit.). It is also particularly pertinent that the Captain-General of the Army, the Duke of Marlborough, Chandos's patron at court, and his Duchess Sarah, also employed Moore extensively for furnishings at Blenheim Palace and Marlborough House around the same time (I. Caldwell, 'Moore at Blenheim', The Antique Collector, September 1991, pp. 80-83). Similar chandeliers, commissioned for the court palace of St. James's, had been executed to a pattern supplied by James Moore (d. 1726) and described in 1716 by George I's Lord Chamberlain as being a 'fine large carved wooden Branch with brass nozzels to hold twelve candles all gilt with fine gold'. While Moore also invoiced a set with 12 branches supplied for the same Palace in 1723-4 at £20 each (T. Murdoch, 'The King's cabinet-maker: the giltwood furniture of James Moore the Elder', Burlington Magazine, June 2003, pp. 408-420).
BEYOND CANNONS: THE TURNERS OF KIRKLEATHAM
Sir William Turner (1615-1692), the builder and founder of the Hospital (almshouse) at Kirkleatham was by 1633 apprenticed to a wool merchant and was later a money scrivener, having amassed a considerable fortune. By 1660 he was an Alderman of the City of London and was knighted in 1662. Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, he and Sir Christopher Wren set about the rebuilding of the City. He was Lord Mayor in 1668. Sir William Turner had no heirs, so the Kirkleatham Estates eventually passed to his great-nephew, Cholmley Turner (1685-1757) who set about some ambitious building works. Like Chandos, some ten years previously, it was to James Gibbs that Cholmely Turner turned. Gibbs' designs of 1727, published in his Book of Architecture (1728) for 'a large House for a Gentleman in the County of York' can be identified with Cholmley Turner's ambitious project to rebuild his Jacobean house, Kirkleatham Hall. The latter's demolition in 1954 without accurate records leave only an attribution to Gibbs possible. In any case, Gibbs returned to Kirkleatham in 1740 to build a mausoleum to Turner's son, Marwood, who had died suddenly whilst on the Grand Tour. There remains a strong possibility that the design of the Chapel at the Hospital was by Gibbs, on account of similarities with his unexecuted design for St John's, Marylebone, 1741 (T. Friedman, James Gibbs, New Haven and London, 1984, pp. 296-7).
THE CANNONS CHAIRS
A pair of armchairs from the Chapel at Cannons and later acquired along with this chandelier by Cholmley Turner for Kirkleatham, was sold by The Trustees of Sir William Turner's Hospital, Kirkleatham, Christie's, London, 8 June 2006, lot 50. The remainder of the Cannons suite, from the Best Bedchamber & Dressing Room, was later acquired by George, 1st Marquess of Cholmondeley (1749-1827) for Houghton Hall, Norfolk, and a pair of chairs from the Best Bedchamber at Cannons was sold from Houghton at Christie's, London, 8 December 1994, lot 135 (£881,500). The pair of 'square stools' remain at Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire, the ancestral home of his bride, Georgiana (d. 1838), daughter of the 3rd Duke of Ancaster.
The original 18th century gesso remains on over 95 of the chandelier with many shrinkage cracks, in general it is in excellent condition. The 20th century oil-gilding was recently removed by W. Thomas Restorations Ltd. revealing a 19th century water-gilding. There are numerous cracks and breaks to the wood and arms. Some have been re-glued and some joints re-made. Three of the griffin heads have been cleaned, as they had suffered from glue degradation on their side joints. One arm is a replacement which was probably made in the 19th century at the time the chandelier was regilded (the gilding is the same and there are no traces of a previous finish beneath this layer, furthermore the gesso has not cracked).