Our tour's first stop was, fittingly, Number One London, the town house of the 1st Duke of Wellington, Apsley House. We arrived before public hours in order to take a private tour given by Christopher Small, who kindly agreed to let us photograph inside. He is a fount of knowledge on the Duke and the Museum, an excellent guide to everything we wanted to know.
For the Apsley House wsebite at English Heritage, click here.
The website has an excellent timeline on the history of the house from its original construction by architect Rovert Adam (1728-92) in 1771 for Henry Bathurst, Lord Apsley, to its present day status as The Wellington Museum.
Painting of Apsley House, 1770's
Our post on the 2014 renovations at Apsley house is here
First Christopher took us to see the many gifts and awards the Duke received from grateful governments and monarchs. Here are just a few from the several rooms full of treasure.
Field Marshal's Batons: decorative accolades from allied nations
The Prussian Service, with Arms of the Duke of Wellington, 1819
The Wellington Shield, designed by Thomas Stothard,
made by Benjamin Smith 1822
Vase from the Prussian Service, 1819
The Saxon Dinner Service
Coming Face to Face with the gigantic statue of Napoleon by Canova, one is amazed first by its size, then by its placement in Apsley House (home of Napoleon's conqueror), then by the complete lack of resemblance to what we know of Napoleon's physique: short and stout, -- and with no vest into which he could insert his hand.
Canova sculpted this image of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker between 1802 and 1806. It is said that Napoleon disliked this statue and had it placed in the basement of the Louvre. He found it disrespectful. The British government purchased the statue for 66,000 Francs in 1816; the Prince Regent gave it to Wellington, who figured he might as well find a place for it. When it acquired its fig leaf, I do not know. The floor beneath the statue had to be reinforced in order to hold the heavy marble work, over eleven feet in height.
Click here to read about Victoria's visit in 2011 and what happened when her husband saw it.
The graceful curving staircase is part of the original Adam design. On the principal floor (up one flight) there are four drawing rooms, the State dining room, and the Waterloo Gallery..
chandelier in the Piccadilly Drawing Room
Piccadilly Drawing Room Fireplace by Robert Adam
According to the text panel, the Piccadilly Drawing Room was designed in 1774 by Robert Adam; his fireplace, frieze and ceiling ornament remain.
Apse of the Piccadilly Drawing Room
Adam Ceiling of the Portico Drawing Room
Yellow Drawing room, above and below
The Striped Drawing Room was adapted by Benjamin Dean Wyatt in the 1820's from a bedchamber and dressing room in the original Adam plan.
Striped Drawing Room; side table with bust of Prime Minister Spencer Percival
Bust of Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger (and reflection of Marilyn)
State Dining Room
The dining room was added to the Adam building for the Duke in 1819 by architect Benjamin Dean Wyatt. Also included in the addition were bedrooms and dressing rooms, not on display.
The Portuguese silver gilt service stands as a centerpiece on the dining room table. It was made in Lisbon about 1816 and presented to the Duke for his preservation of Portugal.
Our excellent guide, Christopher Small,on the left.
The Waterloo Gallery was a second addition to the original Adam structure, built again by Benjamin Dean Wyatt (1775-1852) in 1828, after the Duke had become Prime Minister. At about 92 feet in length, it provides elegant space for dinners, receptions, and the display of the extensive art collection, about which we shall report soon.
The intrepid Duke of Wellington tour group
Below, several glass cases held possessions of the Duke and his family.
On the right above, the Duchess of Wellington's silk Key Bag
1850 New Year Card from Queen Victoria to Elizabeth, 2nd Duchess of Wellington
1st Duchess of Wellington' s Diary
1815 miniature, thought to be of Kitty, 1st Duchess of Wellington at age forty
The upper hair is from Copenhagen, the Duke;s charger;
below, a small piece of Copenhagen;s mane
For more reports on The Duke of Wellington Tour at Apsley House, September, 2014, please stay tuned.