March 16, 2017, by Matt Davies
Inspiring Slides: Kedleston Hall and its neo-classical architecture by Bethan Huby
The latest Inspiring Slides post comes from Bethan Huby who is a post graduate from The Classics department studying on the Visual Culture of Classical Antiquity MA course. Bethan also volunteers in the DHC on our Collections Team and was inspired by some stately slides from the Architecture section!
Kedleston Hall, located in Derbyshire, the typical eighteenth century manor complete with gardens and lake, rivalled the fictional Pemberley (or at least its inspiration, Chatsworth House) in its grandeur and neo-classical architecture. Despite the hall’s long history, the Curzon family settled their in the 12th century, the hall today took shape in 1765 by architect Robert Adam, who continued the work of earlier architects Brettingham and Paine. Neo-classical architecture inspired Adam, particularly the Palladian style that emphasised Roman architecture. This style is particularly evident on the exterior of this hall, with the frontal view reminiscent of the Arch of Constantine, c. AD 315.
The DHC collection has numerous slides of neo-classical architecture and of Robert Adam’s projects, yet the one that caught my eye was Kedleston Hall, whose grand exterior is surpassed by its entrance way, the Marble Hall.
The three walls, as seen here, are lined with pink, veined alabaster columns, topped with leafy
Corinthian capitals. These act as 3-D frames for the classical sculptures, sitting in individual niches, and paintings that adorn the room. The walls and floor are a light pink, the domed ceiling is exceptionally decorated, with a white and blue frieze connecting the columns to the ceiling, complete with a sky light. This interior alone is full of luxury and symbols of antiquity, and the rest of the manor is decorated in much the same way. The pale blue of the State Drawing Room, as well as the yellow of the Dining Room, are both set against ornate white doors, with their own pediments. Also, both rooms have fireplaces framed by caryatids, female sculptures represented as columns, as seen on temples on the Athenian Acropolis (both of these slides are can be found in the Architecture section of the DHC’s slide collection).
This slice of history, Classical and Georgian, is a local heritage site looked after by the National Trust, and has maintained its opulence and appeal. The collection of slides at the DHC are a unique way of studying the exterior and interior of Kedleston Hall, through various viewpoints and high-quality details. It takes its place amongst Adam’s other works in the collection, as well as its wider place in the study of neo-classical architecture that continues into the 19th century, with slides showing French and American buildings in the same style. Therefore, these slides are important in demonstrating a large and influential shift in architectural style that continues to be relevant today, for architects, art historians, and classicists.
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