These would have included, according to the working practices of the Galleria, hardstone cutters, cabinet-makers, bronze casters and gilders, as well as those artists who executed models for the statuettes, such, as in this case, Ticciati, or the clock, the Workshop heads and all those administrators whose task it was to oversee both the general execution and the realisation of every detail. As this Cabinet was the largest piece of furniture produced in the Grand Ducal Workshops in its entire history- the Cabinet executed for Ferdinand II measures 212 cm. in height, that of Elector Palatine 280 cm.- the great amount of work inherent in its realisation would account for the delays in consignment which Guernieri so bitterly lamented.
ARCHITECTURE OF THE CABINET AND COMPARABLE EXAMPLES
The crowning element of the Beaufort Cabinet, in the form of an aedicule carrying the Ducal arms, calls to mind a similar solution found on Ferdinand II's cabinet of about 1650, now in the Tribuna of the Uffizi. Nearer in time, an even closer parallel can be drawn between it and the crowning feature of a cabinet in ebony and ivory executed by Adamo Suster and Vittorio Crosten to Foggini's specifications between 1704 and 1716 (fig. 2). With the exception of the central niche, an almost identical architectural framework to that of the Beaufort Cabinet, consisting of a higher middle section articulated by pilasters with, above, a lower secondary register whose pilasters carry bronze festoons, the whole being crowned by a square aedicule, is found on the Elector Palatine's cabinet of 1709 in the Palazzo Pitti (fig. 3). These similarities apply only to the cabinets themselves, and not to the bases which in every case are different. The legs of the base of the Beaufort Cabinet take the form of reversed obelisks which are to be found, although with triangular section, on a table in Palazzo Pitti, executed in 1716 in the Galleria, probably to Foggini's designs (fig. 4). The surfaces of the legs of both are veneered with panels of hardstone, although the Beaufort piece lacks the chutes whose inclusion would, perhaps, have given an impression of heaviness to the whole, especially as the apron already bears rich bronze ornament. Similar legs are found on a pair of tables, now in the Prado, executed in the Real Laboratorio delle Pietre Dure in Naples, which was founded by Charles III after the end of the Medici dynasty, with craftsmen of Florentine origin. They were directed by Francesco Ghinghi (1689-1762), a pupil of Foggini, who had worked in the Galleria dei lavori in Florence until 1737. In his autobiography (MS, Biblioteca Maruccelliana, Florence), Ghinghi claims to have known many 'Milordi Inglesi', and to have been highly regarded by them, during his years in Florence. Thus, the design of the Beaufort Cabinet, as well as that of the tables for the King of Naples, can be seen as the natural fulfilment of Foggini's ideas, although in two different centres. It should also be mentioned that at the time of the making of the Beaufort Cabinet, Foggini's position had been given to the sculptor Gioacchino Fortini (1673-1736) whose activity at the Galleria is still relatively obscure.
THE GILT-BRONZE DECORATION
The applied gilt-bronzes which lavishly cover this cabinet are of a surprising richness, and this opulence is, perhaps in part, the result of the direct intervention of the Duke of Beaufort's Florentine agent, Thomas Tyrrel, who as we have seen in Guernieri's letter of 9 July 1728, had given instructions to greatly increase their number (document 2). In fact, only the Elector Palatine's cabinet shows the same glittering abundance of gilt-bronzes. Futhermore, the Beaufort Cabinet displays a number of mounts, such as those outlining the base and covering the upper parts of the legs, or the female heads and garlands of the upper registers which are entirely new models, not to mention the heraldic elements, in this case fully rounded, that make up the coat-of-arms. Some bronzes can be compared to examples found on furniture and objects realised in the Galleria, but it must always be remembered that in every case we are dealing with unique ornaments, fashioned individually for each fo these pieces of furniture, destined to be owned, with few exceptions, by Royalty.
Festoons of fruit in hardstone pendent from grotesque masks are to be found at the sides of a clock made to Foggini's design some time before 1725 (A. González-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto, Milan, 1986, I, pl. IX). Similar garlands supported by lion-masks are placed on the upper register of the Elector Palatine's cabinet (fig. 3a); while others, attached to female heads or simple ribbons, mark the corners of elaborate boxes, such as the one designed by Foggini and once owned by William Beckford, or the example now in Kassel (ibid, figs. 66, 67, 75 and 76). The same type of garland is also found on the sides of a clock in the Residenz, Munich, and adorning yet another, formerly in the possession of the Electress Palatine (ibid, figs. 104 and 99).
The panels in hardstone mosaic which embellish and, at the same time, cover the Cabinet are noteworthy both for their size and design. The three plaques positioned in the middle of the main register and at the sides are, in fact, among the largest known (60 cm. x 40.5 cm.), while the intricate invention of their design, showing a spray of flowers around which circle birds and butterflies, is particularly distinguished. The hardstone decoration of the Cabinet is not, however, limited to the mosaic panels, but in three-dimensional form is alos set into the gilt-bronze itself. For example, three lion-masks in chalcedony are centred on the main register and sides and eight delicate female heads enrich the capitals of the pilasters. An almost identical lion's head to those on this Cabinet is placed at the top of the arch in the centre of the Elector Palatine's Cabinet (fig. 3a), and another of the same type is found among the unused material from the Galleria dei Lavori, now in the Muso dell' Opificio dell pietre dure, (fig. 5). Like the Elector Palatine's cabinet, the Beaufort Cabinet shows semi-precious stones with a cabochon cut mounted with rich gilt-bronze scrolls. Similar detailing, as well as carved heads of like form to those on this Cabinet, is found on a box that belonged to Prince de Beauvau Craon, Governor of Tuscany after the death of the last Medici Grand Duke (fig. 6). Indeed, heads also, appear on the lower drawers of the Elector Palatine's Cabinet.
After the sale of the Cabinet in 1990, it was restored at Hatfields in London. During this operation, finished in spring 1992, various inscriptions were found in the interior. These included two labels; the first is broken Italian which translates as 'Giacomo Faggioni, Head of the Household of the Duke of Beaufort has dismantled and cleaned the cabinet and put it back in order (Nov 7?) 1775- Badminton'. The second label reads as 'April 1903...London NW'. Additionally, the movement of clock bears the inscription 'John Seddon London 1748', indicating that this clockmaker replaced the movement at that date (Seddon was active between 1743-1752).
The most interesting discovery is the signature of a Florentine craftsman, Baccio Cappelli, to the reverse of two of the pietra dura panels of the Cabinet. We refer to the central panel and to the panel on the top left drawer. The first signature, etched to the reverse is 'Baccio Cappelli Fecit 1720 nell Galleria dell S.A.R'. The second, on the drawer is a label inscribed 'No. I Bacchio Cappelli Fecit'. On the latter, perhaps a fragmentary receipt, one can also read the date '16 April 1726 7 May 1726'. The latter date coincides- perhaps by chance- with the Duke of Beaufort's stay in Florence between 27 April and 2 May 1726.
However, in 1720, when Baccio Cappelli signed the large panel, the Duke was only 13 years old and there was no question yet of his Grand Tour. This demonstrates a well-known fact, that is to say, that it was common practice at the Galleria to keep aside pietra dura embellishments and panels to be used or sold at a convenient date, or to be incorporated in new objects or furnishings.
Baccio Cappelli was a member of one of those families that worked for generations at the Galleria. A Baccio Cappelli sr. was employed in the Grand Ducal workshops in the time of Cosimo II; An Antonio Cappelli was active under Ferdinand II. Our Baccio Cappelli was perhaps his son. He signed 'Baccio Cappelli fecit Anno 1709 Fiorenze' on the back of one of the panels that decorate a cabinet made in 1771 after a design by Robert Adam for the Duchess of Manchester, which was in the Castle of Kimbolton, Huntingdon, and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (E. Harris, The Genius of Robert Adam, New Haven and London, 2001, p. 195). An octagonal plaque with the Annunciation in the Museo dell'Opificus delle Pietro dure signed by him and dated 1727 is quite similar in style to the present works. Cappelli is mentioned in the Historia Glytographica by A.F. Gori (Florence 1767), who specified that he was working under Grand Duke Gian Gastone (1723-1737), while Antonio Zobi wrongly reduces his activity to the reign of Grand Duke Francesco Stefano of Lorraine. As we have already seen Cappelli was already working in the Galleria in the early 18th Century, under Cosimo III (1670-1723). There are however other archival documents in Florence that mention him. In 1705, he commissioned two oval plaques of the Annunciation, and in 1708 part of a clock designed by Foggini. He was still working in the Galleria in 1746 and must have died around 1751.
The appearance of Cappelli's signatures and the date 1720 on the central panel could also suggest that the conception of a very large Cabinet had already begun long before the Duke's trip to Italy. The dimensions are in fact the first aspect that strikes one in this novel monument, which obviously includes some of the largest commessi ever made. It appears, that some of its panels, or at least two, already existed in 1720 and that the other embellishments, especially those in bronze, could have been designed in 1726. These gilt-bronze mounts caused the delay in the completion of the Cabinet lamented by Guernieri in a letter of 1728 (document 2). A letter of the English consul to Naples, Edward Allen, dated 7 December 1726, mentions that he had allowed Beaufort credit of a large sum of money, which was remitted to 'Mr Thomas Tyrrel Chamberlayn to the Great Duke of Tuscany for the purchase of a fine Cabinett, which the Duke saw, when he passed through Florence' (B. Ford and J. Ingamells, 1997, p. 68).
This letter may be a truthful rendering of events, although no other papers suggest the fact that the Cabinet already existed as mentioned. It is also rather improbable that 6 years were really required to complete the ormolu and other enrichments for the Cabinet if it already existed in 1726. The fact remains that the consul never saw the cabinet, which was finished in 1728 as Guernieri mentions (document 2) and the sumptuous piece did not leave Leghorn until 1732.
The Beaufort Cabinet is today the only piece of furniture of this type with a clock, although the cabinet, currently untraced, which Grand Duke Cosimo III had made in the Galleria between 1680 and 1682 as a gift for the Duke of Alba had such a feature. It should also be noted that the elaborate cresting with the Beaufort coat-of-arms is fully three-dimensional, like that on Ferdinand II's cabinet, while the heraldic elements on the Elector Palatine's cabinet are, instead, in half relief and applied to the wooden structure. Other clock faces in hardstone were produced in the Galleria at this time, and it is common to find fleurs-de-lys placed among the numerals as on this cabinet. It is probable that they refer generically to Florence, of which they are the emblem, and not, in this particular case, to the Beaufort coat-of-arms. Few clockmakers who worked in the the Grand Ducal Workshops are known by name. The names of two are known to us: Ignazio Hugford, who signed the movement of a pendulum clock in ebony and gilt-metal, now in Palazzo Pitti (Hugford is also mentioned in relation to a clock in hardstone made at the Galleria in 1705, but his name had, however, already appeared by 1695); and Francesco Papillon, who was registered in the Arte degli orologiai in Florence in 1705, and signed a movement for a pendulum clock in ebony and hardstone, as well as others with simpler cases.
DRAWINGS OF THE CABINET
Three watercolour drawings, probably executed to facilitate the reassembling of the Cabinet without any error for the position of the drawers, from the archives at Badminton, are to be sold with the cabinet. Before examining these sheets, it must be said that this cabinet is constructed with ingenious simplicity, consisting of four superimposed sections one above the other, easily taken apart in spite of the great weight of each (with the base these made up the contents of the five cases recorded in the shipping papers). This denotes great ability on the part of the joiner who oversaw the construction of the carcase, and this same capacity was demonstrated by the cabinet-maker responsible for the external work and the superb drawers veneered with richly figured purpleheart, hidden behind the central door.
These drawings were evidently prepared at the Galleria dei lavori, as the measurements are given in 'Scala di braccia due à Panno Fiorentine'. The sheet with one of the legs is inscribed in French, 'Celle icy est la Boulle de cuivre doré que l'on pourrá ajouter si l'on veut', which would appear to indicate instructions for reassemblage and follows exactly the real thing. The drawings on the front and sides show fewer bronze mounts than those found on the actual Cabinet. One is, therefore, inclined to the opinion that they were executed before the Cabinet was completely finished. It is not impossibly that the present mounts are those enrichments referred to in the letter of 9 July 1728 (document 2). Let us examine these additions in the light of the drawings: a large bow, centred by a shell was added to the coat-of-arms, while the statuettes on the crowning feature in the drawing do not correspond to any of Ticciati's models. The small pilasters on either side of the clock were first planned in red jasper, but carried out in lapis, and ornaments in the form of grotesque and femal heads, with garlands in gilt-bronze were superimposed on the pilasters of the two registers without, however, changing the original veneer in amethyst. The drawing does not show the semi-precious stones with the cabochon and gilt-bronze mounts found on the central amethyst border.
A CABINET AND OTHER ACQUISITIONS IN ROME
It was only in 1942 that modern study and appreciation of the Beaufort Cabinet can be said to begin with a long essay entitled 'The Red Folder', written by Sir Osbert Sitwell at H.M. Queen Mary's instance and published in The Burlington Magazine in April and May of that year. Sir Osbert's study is also much more: it laid the foundations for an understanding of the 3rd Duke who, even today, is not as well known as he should be, given his great importance as a patron of the Arts. Henry Somerset was born in 1707, and at the tender age of seven succeeded to his father's title and great riches. He left early for the Continent, stopping for some long time in Paris before settling for Italy. As has been mentioned above, he was in Florence early in 1726 and then and before went to Rome and other Italian cities, where he remained at length. The young Duke's social and political rank enabled him to frequent men of the highest position in the various Italian states through which he passed. We know from the letters published in the Appendix that Beaufort was an intimate of that powerful manipulator of kings and nations, Cardinal Giulio Alberoni, but, at the same time, was also friendly with Cardinal Alessandro Albani, nephew of Clement XI who had died in 1721. He also frequented Cardinal Lercari from whom he either acquired or was given a statue. A native of Genoa, Nicola-Maria Lercari (1675-1757) had been elevated to the cardinalate by the Pope, Benedict XIII, in 1726, the year of Beaufort's visit to the Eternal City. Lercari was also the Pope's secretary of State and a great friend and protector of the Arts. It is not clear why Beaufort had such close contacts wit these highly placed dignitaries and officials of a Religion which was not his own. However, his great uncle, the Duke of Ormonde, had strong sympathies for the Church of Rome, and the family, as a whole, did nothing to hide their Jacobite sentiments.
These were the keys which opened many doors for the young Beaufort in Catholic Italy, and so it was that his movements were closely watched by one of the most attentive observers of early eighteenth-century Rome, Francesco Valesio. On two distinct occasions, this prolific diarist records events which had the 3rd Duke at their centre. On 14 May 1726 he wrote that is was general knowledge that the 'Duca di Beofort' (sic) had had a private talk with the King of England, as the Old Pretender was called in Rome. A few months later, on 23 November, Valesio noted 'the 'duca di Beofort', a young English gentleman belonging to one the richest and most powerful families of that nation, had had another Englishman, who was the natural son of one of his uncles, beaten up. He (i.e. Beaufort) is living in the house of the Cavaliere Guarnieri, a stuccoist who had also been the architect of the Prince of Hesse. It is the last house next to the park of the Ludovisi family asone makes ones way to the Porta Pinciana' (F. Valesio, Diario di Roma, ed. by G. Scano and G. Graglia, Milan, 1978, IV. pp. 670 and 747).
It is not known who advised this distinguished Grand Tourist on his artistic purchases, but Willam Philips, his tutor and friend who was later to turn against him, most likely had a part in them. Be that as it may, the Duke spent large sums- almost five thousand pounds- on important pictures by Claude, Salvator Rosa, Carlo Maratta, Pietro da Cortona, Reni and Poussin, as well as others, with hight sounding attributions to Leonardo and Raphael. It remains to be asked if the Duke's acquisitions were in any way influenced by that much talked about and ambiguous persone, Baron Philip von Stosch. It is well-known that Stosch was not only one of the major eighteenth-century connoisseurs of the Antique, but also earned his living for a spy for the English Government, paying particular attention to all that went on at the Court of the Old Pretender in Palazzo Muti. In a number of his dispatches for 1726 to his superiors in London, he referred, perhaps enviously to three thousand crowns and more that the Duke had already spen on pictures and sculpture, and spoke of his zealous efforts to findout what the Old Pretender had said to the younger man during their audience. (L. Lewis, Connoisseurs and Secret Agents in Eighteenth Century Rome, London, 1961, passim). It remains, however, to be established if in this instance Stosch was writing as faithful informant of as a disappointed dealer who has not shared the windfall. We know that the Duke did frequent, in the person of Francesco de' Ficoroni, another of those scholarly antiquarian-dealers who were such a feature of eighteenth-century Rome (document 12) and who is remebered today as the then owner of one of the greatest masterpieces of Etruscan art.
A decisive voice in all the negociations leading up the Duke's purchases was that of Giovanni Francesco Guernieri, who owned a palace near the Porta Pinciana, where Beaufort stayed as a paying guest. An architect and stuccoist, Guernieri was born in Rome in 1665 (U. Thieme and F. Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler, Leipzig, 1922, vol. 15, p. 235 and A. Holtmeyer, Zeitscrift F. Geseh. d. Architektur, 1909, III, p. 249ff). At the age of thirty, he contributed to the decoration of the Altar of S. Ignatius in the Gesù, Rome, before going to Germany where he entered the service of the Landgrave of Hesse at Kassel. There he was responsible for many important works, and in 1711 married a German woman by whom he had two daughters. In 1715 Guernieri was in Düsseldorf, working for the Elector Palatine. Returning to Rome, he built himself a palace, and was elected member of the Virtuosi del Pantheon. Although little is, as yet, known about his professional activity in the Papal city, it would seem likely that Guernieri designed for the Duke the 'closet' which will be discussed shorly. After his death in 1745, his widow continued to run the osrt of luxurious hotel which her husband had set up in their home. The standing that Guernieri had earned for himself with the powerful can be seen from the fact that, in 1765, twenty years after his death, Cardinal Alessandro Albani wrote to Sir Horace Mann, English Resident in Florence, asking for his help for the widow. In his letter, the cardinal affirmed that: 'for may years English gentleman who came to Rome had lodged with the Chevalier Guarnieri, who seemed to have build his house especially for them, with...the best air in town...and very suitable furniture' (Lewis, ibid, p. 226).
Unfortunatly, Sir Osbert's meritorious research was not without its mistakes, due to an erroneous reading of the documents at Badminton, resulting from incorrect translation of the originals in an extremely complicated Italian and Cavalier Guernieri's indescribably French. It has led to this great masterpiece of the Galleria dei lavori of the Grand Duke of Tuscany being confused, even today, with a work of an altogether different nature, which was made in Rome. We are referring to what Guernieri called a 'cabinet'. The use of the word, which in French may mean either a piece of furniture or a small room, prompted Sir Osbert to suppose that it referred to the Beaufort Cabinet itself. However, one has only to read Guernieri's letters of 3 June and 9 July 1728 (documents 1 and 2) carefully to understand that this is not the case. It is true that in the first letter, Guernieri stated that the 'cabinet est enfin acheve' but he added that it was to be packed in ninety-six cases. He then stated a number of details that make it quite clear that he was not talking about a piece of furniture. For example, he mentions the existence of over-doors, deux ovales dessus les portes, and the fact that la pierre des yeaux du haut du Cabinet had not been cut. Now it is unthinkable that the Beaufort Cabinet would have been sent with any of its stones not completely worked, especially as we are not discussing a miracle of Florentine craftsmanship. More to the point, the mysterious pierre des yeaux is not a hardstone at all, but a marble. It is a type of onyx, called alabastro a occhi in Italian, and can be cut with relative east, like all alabaster. Anyway, in early eighteenth-century England, there were no artisans capable of working hardstone, while there may have been marble masons adept at finishing
THE MAGNIFICENT FLORENTINE PIETRA DURA, EBONY AND ORMOLU CABINET MADE FOR THE 3RD DUKE OF BEAUFORT
The cabinet of massive architectural form, the main part in three sections divided by crisply profiled stepped mouldings, fitted with ten cedar-lined drawers surrounding a central door enclosing a removable section with three smaller purpleheart and ebony-veneered cedar-lined drawers mounted with satyr mask and drapery ring handles, each drawer mounted with a panel edged with ormolu and banded with amethyst quarz, inlaid in brilliantly coloured semi-precious stones with birds perching and in flight among sprays of flowers, framed by pilasters in the central register panelled with lapis lazuli and Sicilian red jasper, the ormolu capitals centred by grey chalcedony (calcedonio di Volterra) masks joined by swags of ormolu foliage encrusted with hardstone fruit centred by a grey chalcedony lion-mask repeated at the sides, below a band of amethyst quartz mounted with cartouches of lapis lazuli in the centre and agate at the sides, the upper and lower sections with vertical amethyst quartz panels, the upper headed by female masks suspending fruit, the lower by grotesque masks, the frieze with concave-centred and bow-ended panels of lapis lazuli, red and green jasper (verde di Corsica); the stepped pediment centred by a clock face, studded with fleur-de-lys dividing the numerals, the brass back-wound falseplate timepiece movement with screwed dust-cover to the rectangular plates, four bossed pilars, going barrel train of five wheels and recoil escapement with steel crutch and silk-suspended pendulum with holdfast clip within the cupboard framed by pilasters and richly encrusted down-curved swags, surmounted by the Beaufort arms, supporters and motto in ormolu, lapis and red jasper, the angles mounted with four lightly draped ormolu standing figures emblematic of the Four Seasons; the sides fo the cabinet each centred by a large and brilliant panel of birds and a spray of flowers tied with red and blue ribbon with smaller panels of birds above and below; the cabinet supported on eight massive square tapering legs panelled with lapis lazuli and red jasper mounted with ormolu, the eared moulded edge mounted with S-scroll and shell plaques and satyr masks
Signed by the captain himself (document 19). Although there is no record where the Cabinet went immediately after its arrival in London, it is more than probable that it had always been destined for Badminton, especially as the note of 24 July 1728 mentioned above stated that it would eventually be sent 'on some good ship for London if none should offer for Bristoll about time' (document 3). This Cabinet is, therefore, likely to be the piece of furniture that gave its name to the Cabinet Room mentioned in a 1775 inventory of paintings (Badminton Muniments, RA 1/2/1). Here it was surrounted by carvings by Grinling Gibbons and a good number of Italian paintings: an Education of Jove and a satirical piece by Salvator Rosa, two canvases of ruins by Ghizzolfa (i.e. Ghisolfi), a Madonna and Child by Guernico, scenes of the life of Queen Esther by Pietro da Cortona, representations of the Liberal Arts by Trevisani, and a series of overdoors with ruins by Viviano (i.e. Codazzi) and a perspective view of the buildings of Rome by an anonymous artist.
G. F. GUERNIERI'S NOTES OF EXPENSES INCURRED SHIPPING THE MARBLES, 1728
Memoire de la despense que j'ay faite pour l'envoy des marbres et d'une urne pour Son Excellence M. Le Duc de Beaufort
Pour la douane...pour la Gabelle..pour l'encaissement de l'urne prise dans la vigne de M. Le Cardinal Alberoni...Deniers qui ont eté paya© de M. Le Duc de Beaufort au S. françois Allemand tailleur de pierre pour erre du travail du Cabinet pour Son Excellence...Se monte a la Somme de (ecus) 4400 selon l'accord etabli pour le d. Cabinet en presence de Son Excellence...Pour avoir fait faire n.94 caisses tant grandes que petites qui ont servi pour l'encaissement de tous les marbres du Cabinet de Son Excellence qui se tiennent ensemble tous les fonds et couverts faits dune demy grosseur palmes 8923...pour porter toutes les Susd. caisses dud. Cabinet aussi bien que l'urne, et les trois Caisses de quadres...pour les charier et decharger a Ripa grande, et pour les recharger pour fiumecino, sur les deux tartanes de mer et les porter a Livorne ensuite les recharger sur le Vaisseau Anglois...
(Undated, unsigned but by Guernieri)
BILL OF LADING FOR THE 1728 SHIPMENT OF MARBLES, 8 JULY 1728
Shipped by the grace of God in good order, and well conditioned by Winder, & Aikman in and upon the good Ship called the Mary and Susanna whereof is Master under God for this present voyage Cap.t Ezekias Vass and now riding at anchor in this Port of Livorno and by Gods grace bound for Bristoll. The goods hereunder mentioned, marked and numbred, as in the margent, and are to bee delivered in the like good order and well conditioned at the aforesaid Port of Bristoll (the danger of the seas only excepted) unto M.r Nathaniel Beal Merchant there or assignes, he or they paying fraight for the said goods Two Hundred and Twenty Pounds Sterling in all with Ten Guineas to the said Cap.t as a present for his particular care without any other Primage with avarage accustomed. In witness whereof the Master of purser of the said Ship hath affirmed to 5 bills of Lading, all of this tenor and date, the one of which bills being accomplished, the other 4 to stand void...
Dated in Livorno the 8 July 1728
No 1 a 96 = 96 Cases say Ninety Six great and Small containing Polished and Wrought Marble
No 97 a 99 = 3 Small cases say three covered with Canvas..., containing Divers, all by order and for account and Riske of is Grace the Duke of Beaufort
ABRIDGED LIST OF THE CONTENTS OF THE 96 CASES, 1728
Ship Mary and Susannah Ezek.s Vass Master from Gibraltar & Leghorne began to discharge on Wednesday the 11th September 1728
Mr. Browne & Mr. Crosby Landwaiters
His Grace The Duke of Beaufort's, Cases of Marble.
The contents of all 96 cases are listed with relevant dimensions (length in feet and inches, breadth in feet and inches, contents in feet and inches). Cases nn. 1, 2, 13, 50, 70, 71 and 89 contained different parts of the coat of arms; cases 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 52, 59, 60, 78 and 92 contained tables; cases 7, 8, 95 and 96 'arches'; cases 9, 11, 87, 88, 91 and 93 'shells'; cases 10, 14, 15, 16, 20, 23, 27, 33, 34, 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 57, 62, 64, 68, 69, 74, 75, 76, 79, 80, 85 and 86 'pillars' and 'pillasters'; cases 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 28, 30, 32, 54, 55, 56, 'cornishes'; cases 25, 26, 31, 35, 36, 38, 43, 44, 51, 58, 61, 65, 66, 67, 72, 73, 77, 81, 82, 83, 84 and 94 'pannells' of various types; case 29 contained 'mantle pieces' and 63 'A seat'. Finally, case 53 contained 'A Urne' which measured 6 feet 6 inches by 3 feet 8 inches. At the end is written The whole Contents of Feet 1820 (except the Urn)
WINDER & AIKMAN TO ROBERT ARBUTHNOT IN PARIS, 9 JULY 1728
...the Duke of Beaufort's marbles...are all now aboard a good English ship called the Mary and Susannah, Capt. Ezeks. Vass...to deliver or send to His Grace,...the ship will certainly sail in 3 or 4 d.s time...forward to him the inclosed (letter) for sig:re Guernieri (who is now returned to Rome again)...
(Livorno) of 9h July 1728
WINDER & AIKMAN TO ROBERT ARBUTHNOT, 23 JULY 1728
Account of Freight and other Charges &ca. in receiving and forwarding His Grace the Duke of Beauforts Ninety Nine Cases of Marble &ca. receiv'd from Rome by Two Neapolitan Tartans & shipt on the Mary & Sussanna-Capt. Ezekias Vass for Bristoll, going Consign'd to Mr Nathaniell Beale-Merchant there for accot. & by order of said Duke of Beaufort...
Livorno the 23d July 1728
G. F. GUERNIERI TO THE DUKE
..de mon arrivée de Livorne a Rome, en fort bonne santé par la grace de Dieu j'espere qu'elle aura receu la lettre ecrite de Livorne que jay laissée a M. Vinder dattée du 9e...jay fait faire et remis a la conduite du Capitaine Ezechiel Vass qui consiste en 96 caisses avec l'urne et trois petites caisses des onze Tableaux de Mr Berettoni duquel embarquement je vous envoye la foy que tous les marbres ont ete visités et trouvés tous entiers...jay employé 19personnes pendant quatre jours qui ont travaillé lesquelles je les ay fait payer...si je n'avoit ete a Livorne Lembarquement seoit fort mal allé puisque le Capitaine lors quil a veu ces gros moreeaux de marbre il ne vouloit point les charger et a la fin je l'ay fait resté d accord pour le prix du transport jusqu'au Palais de V.E...
(undated from Rome)
G. F. GUERNIERI TO THE DUKE, 13 SEPTEMBER 1728
Aprè l'embarquement des marbres, fait dans le port de Livorne...j'eu l'honneur d'ecrire a Votre Excellence Le 9: Juillet dernier...comme aussy L'Urne donnée par Son Em.ce Monsiegneur Le Cardinal Alberoni...supplier...de m'honnorer de quelque mot, d'avis de l'arrvée des susdits marbres pour ma consolation, n'ayant autre desir que...de servir V.E....
A Rome ce 13 9bre 1728
COCKBURN TO MICHAEL AISKEW, 8 JANUARY 1728(9)
...6 Flower Pots 4 great and 2 Small,...Purchased from or by the advice of Figoroni...The St. John by Carlo Marratt & the St. Anthony preaching to the Fishes...the two fountains and the Frame of a Table guilt...of...Mounstruous Size...13 Tables of different kinds of Marble...
Hamilton, Jany the 8th 1728
G. A. BELLONI TO THE DUKE, 21 JULY 1728
...mi è pervenuto il Stimatissimo Foglio di V.E. de 19 giugno passato, dal quale osservo le era pervenuta la cassa che le mandai della statua del Sig. Cardinale Lercari. ma che non le occorreva cosa alcuna per aver già terminato la di lei Galleria...ho già sborsato tutto il denaro che è occorso in quest'affare, come per li conti mandati al Sig. Arbushnot, sopra il quale ne ho già preso il mio rimborso...
Rome 21 luglio 1728
PAYMENT FOR THE FREIGHT OF THE CABINET, 19 JANUARY 1732(3)
1732 His Grace the Duke of Beaufort Dr to
29xb freight on the Oriana Capt. Pullam @
DB Leg.o & c
To 5 Cases agreed £50..
Prim 20 Dovr 5 1.5
Reced. this 19 Janry 1732. of His Grace the Duke of Beaufort by the hands of Michael Aiskew the sum of Fifty One Pounds and Five Shillings, being the full Contents of this bill. Willm May
The outside inscribed
Mr. May ffreight
See endpaper i
BILL FOR CUSTOMS CHARGES ON THE CABINET, 13 FEBRUARY 1732(3)
In ye Oriana from Leghorn
A Cabinet Value £ 500
Fees... £94 14 -
-: 4 6
Rec:ed this 13.ffebruary 1732. of Michael Aiskew
for a Deposit at the Custom house the sum of Ninety
four pounds Eighteen shills & 6.d for a Cabinet belonging
to his Grace the Duke of Beaufort.
£ 94: 18. 6 Will.m May.
The outside inscribed
Mr May Customs
See endpaper II
BILL FROM WILLIAM MAY FOR UNLOADING EXPENSES, 1733
His Grace The Duke of Beauford Dn
To William May
Bolaye severall times on Board ye Oriana £- 8 -
Ports for unshipping ye Cabinett or 5 Cases - 12 6
Botage of sd to y.© Custom House 1 5 -
Landing 1 17 6
Warffs: Landwaitts: & Ports 12 6
Ware House Charges 5 -
Ports for Loading s 5 Cases 12 6
Warffs: & Litls: of s & unloading at Queen Hith 1 5 -
Cash added to ye: Deposit 5 1 6
Commission on ye: Value sd: being £500 @ 2po 10 - -
London 6 March 1732/3
Reced this 22. day of June 1733. of his Grace the Duke of Beaufort by the hand of Michael Aiskew the sum of Twenty One pounds nineteen shillings and sixpence in full of this bill and all accounts for the use of Mr May
£21:19:6 Thos Bayley
LETTER FROM WILLIAM MAY TO (?) MICHEAL AISKEW, 22 JUNE 1733
By ye: Bearer I send yu: yr: Clives to whome should take it as a favr: yu: would pay on my acct: ye £21:19:6 due by his Grace ye Duke of Beauford. takeing his ye Bll: Rec for same. ye: Capt: £10 and Mr: Berty's £-:4:2 we shall settle whin I have ye Pleasure of seeing yu: yr: way who am with perfit respect to yu: & spouse
S.Y.r.Most Hum:Servt: Cannon Street 22 June 1733 Willm May
EXTRACT FROM THE ACCOUNT BOOK OF DOMINIQUE DU FOUR, 1726
The Duke leaves Paris on March 28, 1726 and gets to Florence on April 27 staying there untill May 2
Payments made in October 1726 in Rome to:
'François Gigot, tailleur de marbre'
Payments in 1732, on the 12th August:
parti de florence aven L'ebenist et son fils...pour leur voiture...pour Leurs nourriture en chemain...payéz a Ligourne a Lauberge pour la nourriture de Lébeniste et son fils depuis Le Le 12eme Aout jusqu'au 20eme...donne a L'ebeniste pour son retour a florence avec son fils...'
On the 19th of August:
mis a bord le Cabinet de Mylord Duc a Ligourne donné au matelots pour boire...
(Family Papers, Fm I 4/3)
BILL OF LADING FOR THE CABINET, 21 AUGUST 1732
Shipped by the grace of God in good order, and well conditioned by
John Aikman in and upon the
good ship called the Oriana
whereof is Master under God for this present voyage Capt. David Pulham and now riding at anchor in this Port of Livorno and by Gods grace bound for London the goods hereunder mentioned, marked, and numbred, as in the margent, and are to be delivered in the like good order and well conditioned at the aforesaid Port of London (the danger of the seas only expected) unto his Order or assignes, he or they paying freight
for the sound goods Fifty pounds Sterling in all declareing no Brimestone to be aboard the Ship, or to pay the Damage
with primage, and avarage accustomed. In witness whereof the Master of purser of the said Ship hath affirmed to 4 bills of Lading, all of this tenor and date, the one which bills being accomplished, the other 3 to stand void, and so God send the good ship to her desired Port in safety. Amen.
Dated in Livorno the 21 August 1732
DB No 1 to 5-5 Say five large Cases packet up in Sear Cloath Canvas, and tyed with Ropes, all very tight & strong & well
Condition'd, Containing the Severall parts of
a large Cabinett of his Grace the Duke of Beaufort
Insides and Contents unknown to
Inscribed on the reverse
Please deliver the Contents of
the within bill of Loading to his
Grace ye Duke of Beaufort or
Liv.o 15 Sept. 1732
See endpaper III
LETTER FROM WILLIAM MAY TO MICHAEL AISKEW, 20 MAY 1739
I Desire yr: favr: when you next waite of his Grace ye Duke of Beaufort to acquaint him that Capt: Pullam who Brought over his Grace's fine cabinet was obliged not to take in any Ballast that should Dammage the same, wherefore the Capt: Bought Cork at Leghorn to lay ye Cabinet upon which Cost him £20, and not being proper for the London market was obliged to sell it at £9.10, wherefore it is humbly hoped his Grace would make good ye Difference which is £10:10, & to convince his Grace of the fact I send you ye: Bill of Lading, which I Desire ye favour you will return me with his Grace's Answer
London 30 May 1739 I am Y: Hum: Servt:
Documents 14, 15, 19 and 20 are contained in a large envelope inscribed Bill for the carriage of the
large Italian Cabinet bought
by the 3rd Duke of Beaufort-
The original documents will remain in the Badminton Muniments but copies will be available to the purchaser.
See endpaper IV
BADMINTON HOUSE AND THE DUKES OF BEAUFORT
By Tim Knox
Badminton House, near Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, is one of the greatest, but least-known, country houses of England. Feudal and inaccessible, it lies in the heart of a seven hundred square-mile estate over which successive Dukes of Beaufort have reigned for nearly four centuries. The walled park at Badminton, with its ancient trees and extensive network of radiating avenues, is guarded by a formidable array of gates and lodges, around which cluster neat estate villages. Sacheverell Sitwell once said that the approaches to Badminton always had him feeling for his passport.
The most impressive entrance to the park, William Kent's grandiose Worcester Lodge, with its domed prospect room and rusticated, pyramidal pavilions, proclaims the start of a heroic, three mile long vista which terminates in the north forecourt of Badminton House itself. Here, the monumental theme is continued in the rearing, cliff-like facades of the house, and cyclopean masonry of its outbuildings. But even from afar Badminton House asserts its domination over the surrounding landscape; its jaunty twin cupolas are visible on the horizon from all over the estate, over which invariably flies the Beaufort colours, blazoned with the passant lions of England and the lilies of France. Intensely private, and never opened to the public, Badminton is famous for its Beaufort Hunt, its Horse Trials, and for the eponymous racquets game invented in the Entrance Hall here on a wet weekend in 1863. Today, Badminton is also renowned as the former home of the celebrated Badminton Cabinet, the most magnificent of all the surviving productions of the Grand Ducal Workshops in Florence, a monument both of Italian eighteenth-century craftsmanship and English Grand Tour patronage. The following essay sets the Badminton Cabinet within its British context.
THE ORIGINS OF THE BEAUFORT FAMILY
Badminton came to the Somersets - the family name of the Dukes of Beaufort - almost four hundred years ago in 1612, when it was bought by Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, for his younger son, Thomas Somerset. Prior to this it had been held for four hundred years by the Boteler family, who had built here a rambling courtyard house of few architectural pretentions. The Somersets owed their wealth and position to Charles Somerset, natural son of Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, great-grandson of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III - whence they derived their right to bear the Royal Arms of England and France. Charles Somerset married the heiress of the Herberts, lords of Chepstow, Raglan and Gower, which brought him the Barony of Herbert as well as substantial estates in Wales. He also enjoyed high favour at Court and in 1615 Henry VIII created him 1st Earl of Worcester. His successors, the 2nd and 3rd Earls, also held positions of influence under Elizabeth I and James I and augmented the family fortunes. Edward, the 4th Earl, was an ardent supporter of Charles I, while the 5th Earl sacrificed his fortune to the Royalist cause during the Civil War, being created 1st Marquess of Worcester for his pains. He died, broken in spirit and fortune, shortly after the capture of Raglan Castle by the Parliamentarians in 1646, while his son and heir, the 2nd Marquess, was obliged to retire abroad, his estates sequestered by the Commonwealth. It was his son, Henry Somerset, who inherited Badminton from Thomas Somerset's unmarried daughter Elizabeth in 1655.
His father in exile, his principal seat despoiled and his estates confiscated, Henry Somerset, Lord Herbert, set about restoring his family fortunes. He became a friend of Cromwell, a Protestant, and a member of the Rump Parliament, sitting as plain 'Mr Herbert'. He compounded for his family estates, which were gradually returned to him. Raglan Castle had been slighted by Parliamentarians and was now a hopeless ruin, so he established himself at Badminton. By 1663 it was the principal residence of the family, hosting a visit from the re-established Charles II and his Queen - 'Mr Herbert' having deftly changed allegiance on the eve of the Restoration of the Monarchy. Shortly before, work began on the construction of the splendid north front at Badminton, its pilastered frontispiece closely modelled on John Webb's Gallery at Somerset House, London, built for Queen-Dowager, Henrietta Maria, in 1662. Indeed, it is possible that the 1st Duke employed Webb at Badminton. He also greatly extended the park and laid out its avenues. In 1667 he inherited as Marquess of Worcester from his father and was created 1st Duke of Beaufort by a grateful Charles II in 1682. The restored prosperity of the family enabled the Duke to live in great magnificence and maintain a household of some two hundred servants, the scale of which struck one contemporary 'as above any other except crowned heads, in some respects greater than most of them, to whom he might have been an example'. His progress as Lord President of Wales through the Principality in 1684, the last of its kind, was distinguished by its almost regal splendour. The Duke also lived in state in London, where Beaufort House, Chelsea, his sub-urban residence, was rebuilt and embellished. The superb carvings by the virtuoso woodcarver Grinling Gibbons now in the Great Dining Room at Badminton were made for Beaufort House and only came to Badminton in the 1730s.
A staunch supporter of the last Stuart King, James II, for whom he defended Bristol against both the Duke of Monmouth and William III, the 1st Duke was never fully reconciled to the usurpation of the House of Orange. He died aged eighty-five in 1700 and was succeeded by his grandson, Henry. Although the 2nd Duke married three times between 1702 and 1711, he achieved little at Badminton during his brief reign, other than adjustments to the windows on the north front and improvements to the household offices. He died, aged thirty-one, in 1714 'after having heated himself shooting' (Lord Bathhurst, 28 May, 1714). He was succeeded by his seven year-old son, also called Henry.
THE 3RD DUKE OF BEAUFORT
Henry Somerset was born on the 26 March, 1707, the only son of the 2nd Duke by his second wife, Rachel, a daughter and coheiress of the 2nd Earl of Gainsborough. He inherited while a minor and was educated at Westminster School and at University College, Oxford. During his minority his estates were administered by trustees, who, owing to the debts incurred by his father and a series of expensive lawsuits, did so, at least initially, with great frugality. On leaving Oxford with a degree in Common Law in 1725 he was sent off on the Grand Tour, travelling through France and Savoy to Italy where he arrived in April, 1726. En route he attended a ball at St Germain, that former stronghold of the Jacobites, and without doubt the young Duke inherited his family's traditional devotion to the Stuart cause. Certainly, it is known that the Duke had an interview with the Old Pretender at the Palazzo Muti in Rome in November, 1726, and James Edgar, the Prince's secretary later recalled that 'the Duke of [Beaufort] was the man of all Great Britain who had most often ascended to the Pretender's rooms'(Lord Elcho, Short Account of the Affairs of Scotland 1744,1745,1746, ed. E Charteris , p.23). By meeting with the exiled son of James II, Beaufort flaunted the Tory political sympathies he had inherited from his grandfather and his distaste for the reigning sovereign, George I, a dour Hanoverian princeling who had assumed the Crown of Great Britain after the death of Queen Anne in 1714. It was a provocative act of defiance, a gesture not only of an impetuous youth, but also of a rich and powerful nobleman, scion of one of the greatest families in the land, in whose veins coursed the blood of the Plantagenets, the medieval Kings of England and France. In 1726, scarcely twelve years since the establishment of the Hanoverian dynasty on the British throne, the Stuart cause was still very much alive. Little wonder the princes of the Roman Church showed such favour to the youthful Duke of Beaufort, representative of the great magnates who controlled the destiny of England and who might, in time, return the exiled Stuarts to their rightful throne, ushering in the possibility of the restoration of the Catholic faith in England.
While on his Grand Tour, the young Duke was accompanied by a 'governor' or tutor, William Philips, an elderly Irishman of known Jacobite sympathies, whom the Pretender himself recommended as one whose 'greater experience of the world may enable him to moderate sometimes in you a zeal which cannot be too much commended but which it may be sometimes more advisable to conceal' (J.H.Glover, Stuart Papers, p.270 (25 Dec. 1725)). Despite this reputation for discretion, it was Philips who orchestrated Beaufort's interviews with the Old Pretender and permitted the young Duke to host extravagant festivities to mark anniversaries of the Stuart Restoration and the birthday of the Pretender's wife. Philips also advised the Duke on the purchase of works of art, as did the Scottish painter Patrick Cockburn, the antiquary Ficorini, and his landlord, Giovanni Francesco Guarnieri, who may have also given the Duke instruction in architectural draughtsmanship. By August 1726, the Baron von Stosch, a Hanoverian spy, noted that Beaufort was spending large sums of money on pictures, and these purchases are corroborated by the detailed account book kept by the Duke's steward, Dominique du Four. In October, while the Duke was in Naples, Edward Allen, the British consul, reported that 'two thousand five hundred crowns were remitted to me to Mr Thomas Tyrrell[,] Chamberlayn to the Grand Duke of Tuscany for the Purchase of a fine Cabinett, which the Duke saw when he passed through Florence & was afterwards agreed for at the same price by Mr Tyrrell' (Public Record Office, State Papers Foreign, 93/5 (4 Oct. 1726). This is the first mention of the Badminton Cabinet and shows that it was ordered during the Duke's four-day stay in Florence in late April-early May, 1726. Back in Rome in November, a 'large quantity of statues, busts and pictures' was sent to Leghorn for shipment (PRO, State Papers Foreign, 85/16). Perhaps through the influence of his great uncle, the Duke of Ormonde, Beaufort was given access to the celebrated collection of Cardinal Alessandro Albani, from whom he bought two groups of pictures. Another influential prelate, Cardinal Giulio Alberoni, presented him with a magnificent Graeco-Roman sarcophagus, the so-called 'Alberoni Urn', that later became one of the great treasures of Badminton. The Duke left Rome on the 13th December, 1726, confirming, on his way back through Italy, his commission via Tyrrell in Florence for 'a very fine inlaid Cabinet' (PRO, State Papers Foreign, 98/29 (Colman, 20 Dec.1726)).
THE DISPLAY OF THE BADMINTON CABINET
On his return to England in 1727, and coming of age in 1728, Beaufort threw himself into the work of making improvements to Badminton. His marriage, in June 1729, to Frances, daughter and heiress of Sir James Scudamore of Holme Lacy, Herefordshire (Viscount Scudamore in the Irish peerage), must have also acted as a spur to his improvements, particularly as the following year he inherited her father's estates, taking the name of Scudamore in order to do so. Equipped with this new fortune, he commissioned the architect, Francis Smith of Warwick, to make alterations within the house, most notably on the east front where he created a sequence of rooms for the display of his newly acquired works of art. Thus, the 1st Dukes' state apartment became a series of 'cabinets', flanked by a Picture Gallery and a Library. The first of these 'cabinet rooms', the former 'Greate Withdraweing Room', seems to have been prepared from the first for the reception of the Badminton Cabinet, which eventually arrived in England in 1733. Here it was seen by Dr Richard Pococke, Bishop of Meath, on 22 June 1754;
'in another room is a fine Cabinet of what they call Pietre Comesse of Florence, in which birds, beasts, and flowers, as well of precious stones as of what they call hard stone, inlaid and polished. They say it was the work of twenty-five years, and cost as many hundred pounds' (The Travels through England of Dr Richard Pococke, printed for the Camden Society, ed. J.J.Cartwright, 1886, p.31.).
Thenceforth it became known as 'Cabinet Room' - Harriot Walter, later Viscountess Grimston, noted in her diary in 1769 'The Cabinet Room (justly so called from a very elegant Italian one that is placed in it)'. The picture inventory (Badminton Muniments, RA 1/2/1A) drawn up in 1762 by George Dionysius Ehret, tells us more about the context within which the stupendous hardstone cabinet was displayed, hung with the pictures collected by the 3rd Duke while on his Grand Tour. The cabinet, which stood against the south wall, faced a chimneypiece over which hung Guercino's Madonna and Child surrounded by elaborate festoons carved by Grinling Gibbons, brought here from Beaufort House, Chelsea. Originally the cabinet was flanked by a Roman Charity by the studio of Guido Reni on the right, and a Satirical Piece by Salvator Rosa on the left. By 1775, an inventory (RA 1/2/1) shows the Roman Charity replaced by Francesco Trevisani's Three Graces representing the three sister Arts of Sculpture, Painting and Architecture. The 3rd Duke's display of his valuable Florentine cabinet in a relatively confined space amidst his choicest Old Master pictures and heirlooms such as the Grinling Gibbons carvings, was doubtless conceived in direct imitation of the celebrated tribuna of the Uffizi in Florence, the climax of the Grand Ducal art collections, wherein was displayed the fabled stippone or hardstone cabinet of Ferdinand I. This cabinet, created in the Grand Ducal Workshops from designs by Buontalenti in 1593, and reputedly the largest and most splendid ever made, was broken up in 1780, but is depicted, together with its original context of crimson-hung walls, richly framed paintings, and other treasures in Giulio Pignatta's roughly contemporaneous picture depicting Sir Andrew Fountaine and Friends in the Tribuna of 1715. It is indeed tempting to speculate how the walls of the Badminton Cabinet Room were dressed and whether it ever had a gold-fringed curtain like that depicted forming a backdrop to the stippone in Pignatta's painting. Although we have no evidence that the Badminton Cabinet was so equipped, the so-called Sixtus V Cabinet at Stourhead in Wiltshire was displayed in this way. Acquired by Henry Hoare II in around 1741-2, this costly hardstone cabinet (probably of Roman rather than of Florentine manufacture and of far less distinguished quality or authorship than the Badminton Cabinet) was shown off in the Cabinet Room at Stourhead in its own alcove draped with 'Rich blue Velvet' trimmed with gold fringes and tassels, surmounted by a giltwood cornice bearing the papal insignia of its supposed former owner. Cabinets mounted with pietra dura panels were not uncommon in English country houses in the eighteenth-century - the 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700) owned two at Burghley House, Lincolnshire, one of which was a gift of Cosimo III of Tuscany in 1684, while John Chute (1701-1776) of The Vyne, Hampshire, had a fine pietra dura casket with mounts designed by Giovanni Battista Foggini in about 1720, which he had probably acquired in Florence in 1740. All these pieces were equipped with elaborate giltwood stands on their arrival in England. None, however, could surpass the 3rd Duke's cabinet at Badminton in splendour, size or complexity.
Whatever provision was made for the display of the 3rd Duke's hardstone cabinet, it seems that it was always destined for Badminton - the Duke did not buy a grand London townhouse until 1738, when he purchased what later became Grosvenor House from the 2nd Viscount Chetwynd. Indeed, On its arrival in London in 1733, the cases containing this enormous but potentially fragile piece of furniture were immediately despatched to Gloucestershire. However, despite almost constant rebuilding and considerable outlay, the 3rd Duke never seems to have fully achieved his architectural intentions for his principal seat, so we cannot be sure that there were not more ambitious plans for its eventual display at Badminton. Certainly, proposals for the installation of another of his Grand Tour purchases, a 'marble room' commissioned at considerable expense in Rome in 1728 through the agency of Giovanni Francesco Guernieri, never reached fruition (see Lucy Abel-Smith, 'The Duke of Beaufort's Marble Room', The Burlington Magazine, CXXIV, 1996, pp. 25-30). Nor did much come of the plan, but Charles Bridgeman and James Gibbs, for adding a pediment to the centre of the north front and extending the house on either side with a formal garniture of outlying pavilions, obelisks and domed temples (see Howard Colvin 'Georgian Architects at Badminton', Country Life, 4 April 1968, pp. 800-802). Sadly, of this triumphal sequence, only the flanking pavilions were built by the 3rd Duke to Gibb's design.
Today, the most tangible memorial to the 3rd Duke's architectural patronage is the magnificent Entrance Hall at Badminton, designed by James Gibbs in the 1730s and adorned with plasterwork by Charles Stanley. Here hang four immense canvases by John Wootton depicting hunting and sporting pursuits on the family estates, together with an overmantel portraying Grey Barb, a favourite Arabian horse the 3rd Duke imported into England. The handsome gilded frames of these pictures, carved by John Boson in 1742-43, were ordered by the 3rd Duke, who also commissioned a series of splendid table frames from the carver John Philips in 1731. These last, borne aloft by gilded sphinxes, dolphins and eagles, support some of the twenty two slabs of exotic marbles brought back by the Duke from his Grand Tour. The 3rd Duke evidently loved rare and unusually coloured and veined marbles, granites and other stones, as well as having developed a taste for the monumental gilded furniture he encountered in the palaces of the Roman nobility. The Badminton Cabinet, with its profusion both of precious hardstones and sculptural gilt-bronze mounts, represents a particularly luxurious and cosmopolitan fusion of his enthusiasms as well as being his single most important act of patronage in any genre.
The 3rd Duke's last years were clouded by unhappiness, chiefly occasioned by his incompatability with his shrewish wife, Frances, who bore him no children. They increasingly lived apart and finally divorced in 1744 after she eloped with her married lover, Lord Talbot. The 3rd Duke of Beaufort died on the 24 February, 1745, in Bath, 'worn out by a complication of disorders' in his thirty-eighth year and is buried at Badminton (G.E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, Stroud, 2000 (reprint), vol.II, p.54). Mrs Delany wrote of the news, 'his death is not to be lamented, he was unhealthy in constitution and unhappy in his circumstances, though possessed of great honour and riches; his brother is qualified to make a better figure, and his wife I hope will prove and honourable and virtuous Duchess of Beaufort' (Mrs Delany, 9 March, 1745)
THE LATER HISTORY OF THE BADMINTON CABINET
Charles Noel Somerset, 4th Duke of Beaufort, was the younger brother of the late Duke and shared his devotion to the Stuart cause and interest in the arts. 'A man of sense, spirit and activity', he continued his brother's work at Badminton with enthusiasm, commissioning Thomas Roberts, and possibly Giuseppe Artari, to complete the plasterwork decoration of the Entrance Hall. A few months after his succession he was, in his own words, 'taken up with attention to a great artist who accompanied Mr Wootton hither, the famous Mr Kent' (Badminton Muniments, FmT/B 1/2/6). From July, 1745, William Kent and his executant architect, Stephen Wright, carried out a number of improvements at Badminton, most notably building the Worcester Lodge, with its beautiful banqueting room, but he also added the longed-for pediment to the north front and enlivened the skyline of the house with a pair of open cupolas. Unusually, these features were entirely executed in wood for the sake of lightness, painted to look like stone. The strange double pediment, which encompasses four scrolled consoles, two urns and an armorial cartouche, as well as two oeils de boeuf and a therm window, provides an inventive, if not particularly elegant, cresting to the principal façade of Badminton House. Many of Kent's improvements are visible in series of views of Badminton House and its park which the 4th Duke commissioned from Antonio Canaletto in 1749. Kent is also said to have had the idea of mounting Cardinal Alberoni's sarcophagus upon four black marble spheres. Later work within the house was in the full-blooded Rococo style, most notably an octagonal lobby decorated with ornate plasterwork and the spectacular - but now mainly dispersed - Chinoiserie furnishings of the Chinese Bedchamber. After the 4th Duke's premature death in 1756, his widow continued to make improvements to the park during her son's minority, advised by Thomas Wright of Durham. Duchess Elizabeth - a formidable and cultivated woman who Walpole called 'the Dowager Duchess Plantagenet or as I translate her, Broomstick' - also brought to Badminton an exquisite chimneypiece, embellished with Porphyry and gilt bronze mounts, made to the designs of James Byres in Rome in 1772. The principal contribution of the 5th Duke during his long reign over Badminton was the rebuilding of the Church, carried out by the London carpenter, Charles Evans, in 1783-85.
Thereafter, few major changes were made to the house until 1809, when Jeffry Wyatt (later Sir Jeffry Wyattville) made extensive alterations for the 6th Duke of Beaufort. These included the creation of the Great Drawing Room out of the 3rd Duke's Library in 1811-12. Here at last, at the north end of this enormous room, a capacious niche was created for the reception of the Badminton Cabinet, while the Byres chimneypiece was installed on the west wall. The Drawing Room was originally hung with crimson flock paper and thickly hung with pictures, while the ceiling was picked out in blue and gold, possibly on the advice of Thomas Willement, who also redecorated the cabinet rooms on the east front in the 1840s. Later, in 1903, during the time of the 9th Duke, the room was redecorated by Morant & Co. (later Lenygon and Morant) and hung with the present pea-green silk damask. Although admired by almost every visitor to the house, the Badminton Cabinet excited little serious scholarly interest until 1942, when, encouraged by H.M.Queen Mary (who lived at Badminton during the War), Sir Osbert Sitwell researched and published a two-part essay on its commission in the Burlington Magazine of that year (April & May, 1942, pp.85-90, 115-118). Nevertheless, it remained largely unknown to all except the cognoscenti until the 5th July 1990, when the Badminton Cabinet was sold by order of the Trustees of the Beaufort Family Settlement at Christies, to pay inheritance tax on the estate of the 10th Duke of Beaufort who died in 19..- an attempted private treaty sale to the Victoria and Albert Museum having failed. The cabinet was sold for £8,580,000., a then record auction price for a piece of furniture or any item of the applied arts, its purchaser being the well-known collector, Mrs Barbara Piasecka Johnson. The Badminton Cabinet was granted an export licence in 1991, after efforts to raise funds to keep it in Britain were unsuccessful. Since then the cabinet has been cleaned and conserved (see Philip Astley-Jones, 'The Restoration of the Badminton Cabinet' in Christie's International Magazine, November/December 1992, pp.21-23.), and important additional documentation has come to light about its genesis (see also Professor Alvar Gonzáles-Palacios' essay in this catalogue). The reappearance of the Badminton Cabinet in Christie's London saleroom presents the first opportunity for over a decade to inspect, reassess - and to purchase - what has rightly been described as 'one of the greatest works of decorative art ever commissioned by a British patron' (Ford & Ingamells A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy; 1701-1800, New Haven and London, p.68).
His Grace the Duke of Beaufort, Mrs Margaret Richards, Archivist to the Badminton Estate. My particular thanks to Mr John Harris for discussing with me the architectural genesis of Badminton House and enabling me to consult the papers there at very short notice.
1055 x 770 mm. 1056 x 785 mm. 648 x 240 mm. 152 in. (386 cm.) high; 91½ in. (232.5 cm.) wide; 37 in. (94 cm.) deep
Osbert Sitwell, 'The Red Folder', parts I and II, Burlington Magazine, April and May 1942, pp. 85-90 and pp. 115-118
Hugh Honour, 'Pietra Dura for Grand Tourists', Country Life, June 15, 1967, p. 1502
A. González-Palacios, Mosaici e Pietre Dure, Milan, 1982, cover illustration and p. 44
G. Jackson-Stops, 'Badmintion-1', Country Life, April 9, 1987, p. 131 J. Cornforth, 'Princely Pietra Dura', Country Life, December 1, 1988, pp. 164-165, figs. 305
P. Astley-Jones, 'The Restoration of the Badminton Cabinet', Christie's International Magazine, November/December 1992, pp. 20-22.
A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Il Gusto dei Principi, Milan, 1993, pp. 419-432.
L. Abel-Smith, 'The Duke of Beaufort's marble room, The Burlington Magazine, CXXIV, 1996, pp. 25-30.
Made for Henry, 3rd Duke of Beaufort and by descent with the Duke of Beaufort at Badminton until sold by order of the Trustees of a Beaufort Family Settlement, Christie's London, 5 July 1990, lot 151, (£8,580,000) to the present owner.