The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 9, 2016

December 9, 1758

(Sir) Richard Colt Hoare (December 9, 1758 to May 19, 1838) was a kind of English gentleman, a "landowner and antiquary" that seemed once a flourishing type. His parents were first cousins. It was assumed he would become a banker in the family firm but he had enough money to follow his whims. After his wife died, after two years of marriage, Colt Hoare left their child with relatives and spent years touring the continent. He kept journals but they did not convey personal details about the author. His Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article says of his travels:

His focus was on Italy, Rome and Naples in particular, but he travelled as well in France, Switzerland, and Spain, writing home regularly to his steward Thomas Charlton at Stourhead and to his half-brother Henry Hugh Hoare. He visited all the classical sites and immersed himself in the landscape, all the time drawing, recording, and collecting for his house and portfolio. In Rome he discovered the work of the Swiss watercolourist Louis Ducros (1748-1810), whose revolutionary style of painting he believed would have a profound influence on the English school. He brought back large-scale Italian views by Ducros for Stourhead.

(Stourhead, one of his estates, is now in the National Trust.) His journals do relay a sense of the state of art criticism of a long ago era: An entry dated October 16, 1789:

On my return from Assisi, I visited the Convent of La Madonna degli Angeli: the church is modern, and built upon a large scale: it contains a fine painting by 
[Federico] Baroccio, representing the Annunciation, with the Padre Eterno, and two angels above; the colouring of the whole picture is good, though not equal in forte to that of the same artist at Perugia ; a cat, most admirably painted, is introduced in the foreground.
Image result for barocci

You can see a more detailed picture of this admirably painted cat here.

Then the French Revolution closed the continent and Hoare returned to inherited estates, devoting himself to managing the items he had accumulated abroad, and pursuing antiquarian interests in his home county of Wiltshire.

Also, and from the same ODNB article:

Colt Hoare's characteristic desire to promote British artists established him as a significant patron. He continued his grandfather's close association with the watercolourist Francis Nicholson, who recorded the now maturing landscape at Stourhead, and with Samuel Woodforde, who painted the full-length double portrait of Colt Hoare and his son for the collection of family portraits in the hall at Stourhead. Sir John Leicester of Tabley introduced him to the young Turner, who painted a series of watercolour views of Salisbury Cathedral between 1794 and 1806 for Colt Hoare. Furthermore, Turner copied one of Colt Hoare's own drawings for his oil of Lake Avernus with Aeneas and the Cumaean Sybil in 1815. 

Who could doubt such a gentle existence would not continue to typify the English upper class.

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