Opening Times in 2013
March: House open Sunday - Friday (Saturday, subject to availability). Tours at 12:15pm and 1:45pm
April-October: House open Sunday - Friday (Saturday, subject to availability). Tours available from 11am. Last admission 3:30pm.
November-February: House open on Saturday and Sunday. Tours at 12:15pm and 1:45pm only.
This bust is cast from an original antique bronze in the Museo Archeologico…
This bust is cast from an original antique bronze in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, which was discovered during excavations at the celebrated Villa dei Papiri. The villa, named for the library of over 1800 papyrus scrolls which was discovered there, was originally a private estate on the outskirts of Herculaneum belonging to a cultivated member of the Roman nobility; it was buried during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD which also engulfed nearby Pompei.
The importance of the villa not only lay in its library but in the extraordinary collection of antique bronzes and marbles, the largest private collection of sculptural art found in any one ancient house. Excavations were carried out by Karl Weber between 1750 and 1765 and among the items uncovered was a bronze head of a youth, thought to be a Roman copy of a Greek original from the circle of Polyclitus.
The present bronze bust is almost certainly the ‘Bacchus’ purchased by Lord Dumfries from the sale of John de Pesters in London 1756. De Pesters appears to have been something of a ‘gentleman dealer’ and Lord Dumfries bought a number of things in the sale for Dumfries House as it was nearing completion; many of these are still recognisable in the house today.
Although there are no specific attributes evident here to identify the sitter as the god of wine, opinion often changed regarding the subject of antique portraits in the 18th century. In the inventory of Dumfries House carried out in 1803, the only piece of sculpture listed is a ‘brass’ bust of Apollo, and the bust appears in a photograph of the Hall in circa 1927. In view of the static nature of the Dumfries House contents, it therefore appears that the present bust is the same object in all three cases. As such, it would represent an astonishingly rapid transformation from newly discovered antiquity on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius to decorative bust in an aristocratic Scottish country house within just a few years in the mid-18th century.
Artefacts in this room
The story of the Lord Dumfries Study
As you would expect in any study, Chippendale’s masterful writing table takes centre stage here, in a room whose 18th Century character has recently been further consolidated.
Originally known as Lord Dumfries’s Dressingroom, and later as Lord Dumfries’s Bedroom, the room as has recently been renamed to reflect the current emphasis on presenting it as a business room and study. It initially combined the functions of a bedroom and business room on this floor and its main features were the Chippendale mahogany writing desk, a single bedstead as opposed to the commanding four-poster, and a bureau bookcase at which the Earl would have done his writing and correspondence . It also had a door leading to a Charter room just off and another leading to a closet.
The study is a very masculine room, as it also contains Alexander Peter’s "Hunters' Chairs", which still bear the original wool based red covers and have evidently had much use, as can be seen by the scuffs to the legs and the condition of the seat padding. Returning from a long, arduous hunt, it would be these chairs that the Lord would slump into, have his boots removed and a ‘stiffening’ drink put in his hand. This room would have been very much a sanctuary for the Earl, in which he could consider the everyday aspects of his business and affairs, his search for a suitable bride, and the spiralling cost of furnishing the House.
However masculine the room may be, it is not an austere or spartan one. Indeed there are many attributes of sophistication visible in the display of the Apollo bust and the Wedgwood copy of the Portland Vase on the mantel piece. The bust is almost certainly traceable to the bronze of ‘Bacchus’ which the 5th Earl purchased from the sale of John de Pesters Esq., Hanover Square, on 1-2 April 1756. He paid 4-4-0 and it first appears in the 1803 inventory as a ‘bust of Apollo in Lord Dumfries’s Bedroom. Such items indicate a definite aesthetic aspect to the Earl's character, as well as an acute understanding of the fashions of the day.
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