Ham House


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400 Years of Collecting and Patronage

Christopher Rowell

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Built in 1610 during the reign of James I and remodeled in 1637–39 by the future first Earl of Dysart, Ham House and its gardens have endured through centuries of English history while remaining representative of the styles and culture of the original inhabitants. It is one of the few places where Caroline décor—as developed by British architect Inigo Jones and familiar to Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck—can still be appreciated.

To mark the 400th anniversary of one of the most famous houses in Europe, eighteen internationally recognized scholars join National Trust curators in documenting the history of Ham House and its collections. The new discoveries, reattributions, and revelations of the contributors are accompanied by specially commissioned photography of the house and its contents. An appendix includes complete transcriptions of house inventories for the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, published here for the first time.

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the National Trust

Christopher Rowell is the National Trust's furniture curator and was formerly curator responsible for Ham House.

“This impressive book sheds limelight on the place, and its editor, Christopher Rowell, is well qualified to write about it; as the National Trust’s historic buildings representative...He has chosen his contributors wisely, too: among them, Simon Thurley on seventeenth-century court connections at Ham and Charles Avery on the house’s sculpture...”—Harry Mount, House & Garden
“The present book studiously contextualises this romantic illusion. In a series of informative essays, it explores the less straightforward history of the house…it offers the aficionado an impressive and satisfying overview and surely sets the bar for similar ‘house histories’ in the future.” —Matthew Dennison, World of Interiors

“This book, which looks at the whole history of the house, is hopefully the first in a series of heavyweight studies into what might be described as the treasure houses of the National Trust. Underpinning is production at every stage has been a fruitful collaboration between the Trust and The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. The result is an extremely impressive volume aimed very much at the specialist reader. Massive and beautifully produced, it sets the bar for future undertakings very high indeed.”

“This is not so much a book to read from cover to cover, but to digest in pieces. What it does so brilliantly is make clear the variety and interest of the collections at Ham, as well as their history. In so doing, Ham House becomes a keyhole through which the  reader can view the Aladdin’s Cave that is the story of artistic collecting and patronage in Britain over the past 400 years.”—John Goodall, Country Life

“This major publication, prompted by the 400th anniversary of one of the most celebrated house in Europe, contains a wealth of scholarship on both the architecture of Ham House and the provenance and historical presentation of its contents. National Trust curators are joined by a range of international experts to shed light on everything from metalwork to musical instruments, all illustrated with exceptional new photography.”—Apollo Magazine

"This grand volume. . .makes an outstanding contribution to our knowledge of one of the most important 17th-century houses in Europe. Its meticulous essays, by National Trust curators and a range of international experts, cover everything from court connections to cabinet-making and picture-framing, all accompanied by a wealth of illustrations and many new photographs."—Apollo Magazine
Ham House is a major achievement, not only for Christopher Rowell and his team of 23 contributors, but for the National Trust itself, which has never before produced so substantial a volume of scholarship on a single one of its properties. . .an exemplary publication.”—Anthony Geraghty, Apollo Magazine
“Salon's report can only hint at the riches of such a large and generously illustrated book; let us hope that copies are liberally scattered around the house itself so that visitors can sink into the chairs (encouraging visitors to use the less significant furniture being another Simon Jenkins’ innovation) and read about what they can see. Let us hope, too, that this is the first of a whole new series of equally comprehensive, well-researched and revealing accounts of major National Trust properties.”—Salon Newsletter

“It is among the most splendid productions devoted to a single English house and a testament to American cultural philanthropy. . .Like all Mellon books, it is beautifully designed and printed, and more than lavishly illustrated. . .Altogether this is a fascinating in-depth coverage of a beguiling historic house.”—John Martin Robinson, The Art Newspaper

“What has been elevated is of exceptional value: not just for understanding a great house which has attracted great men, but as a revelation how best present that complex and multifaceted monument, the ‘egh’: the English Country House.”—David Howarth, Journal of the History of Collecting

‘The whole publication is a testament to the knowledge and enthusiasm of the editor and the skill of Yale as a publisher; it is also significant as a scholarly project from the National Trust, produced at a time when there is the possibility that such organisations might chiefly be driven by commercial.’—Christopher Baker, Literary Review

Shortlisted for the 2014 William MB Berger Prize for British Art History
ISBN: 9780300185409
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the National Trust
536 pages, 10 x 11 1/2
398 color + 36 b/w illus.
Hardwick Hall

A Great Old Castle of Romance

Edited by David Adshead and David A. H. B. Taylor

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