Saturday, 19 April 2014

Death in a Deplorable Room. Lord Byron is No More...

Monday April 19 1824...
Missolonghi, Greece

His habitation was weather-tight but that was nearly all the comfort his deplorable room afforded him.
He was my protector and benefactor, and I could not see him, whom I knew to have been so differently brought up, thus perishing, far from his home, far from all the comforts due to his rank and situation...

The pestilent sirocco was blowing a hurricane, and the rain was falling with almost tropical violence...

On the 16th he was alarmingly ill, and almost constantly delirious.

I earnestly implored the doctors not to physic and bleed him, and to keep his extremities warm, for in them was already the coldness of coming death...

On the 17th he appeared much worse than the day before; notwithstanding this, he was again bled twice, and both times fainted.
His debility was excessive.

This was Easter Day...
I saw him a short time indeed, in the morning, and then he was very delirious, and alarmingly ill.

Dr. Treiber, a German, had warmly condemned the mode in which Lord Byron had been treated. It was by his recommendation and advice, I believe, that it was now resolved to administer bark, and I was sent for to persuade Lord Byron to take it.

He was able to swallow only a very small quantity, about four mouthfuls I think.
With the assistance of Tita, I endeavoured gently to create a little warmth in them; and I also loosened the bandages which were tied around his head.
Till this was done he seemed in great pain...

He bore the loosening of the band passively; and after it was loosened, he shed tears...
His eyes continued open only a short time, and then, about six o'clock in the evening of the 18th, he sank into a slumber, or rather I should say a stupor, and woke and knew no more.

On Monday, April 19th, at six o'clock in the evening Lord Byron was dead.

"Give Greece arms and independence, and then learning; I am here to serve her, but I will serve her first with my steel, and afterwards with her pen"

Lord Byron
(1788 - 1824)

"The Death of Byron April 19 1824"
(Displayed April 19 2012)
8 x 10 x 8

"Theatre of Insolence"
10 x 9 x 11

Sources Used:
The Last Days of Lord Byron William Parry (BiblioBazaar 2011)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Happiest when Alone! Lord B Yearns for Some Peaceful Confusion...

As we have now left Lady Byron to enjoy a peaceful repast in the Dining Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace, it's now time to pay a fugitive visit to His Lordship's Library which is situated on the Piano Nobile.

You may wonder at my use of the the word 'fugitive' but when you read on, all will hopefully be explained!

"I do not know that I am happiest when alone; but this I am sure of that I never am long in the society even of her I love, (God knows too well, and the Devil probably too,) without a yearning for the company of my lamp and my utterly confused and tumbled-over library.."
Lord Byron 
(April 1814)

Given what we have learnt about Byron's quick temper with his fondness for solitude and with a pistol within easy reach...

I shall bid you a fond adieu for now!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Leaving Lady B to Dine in Peace!

There is something to me very softening in the presence of a woman, - some strange influence, even if one is not in love with them, - which I cannot at all account for, having no very opinion of the sex.

But yet, - I always feel in better humour with myself and every thing else, if there is a woman within ken.
Lord Byron

And there is certainly a 'woman within ken' in the Dining Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace for the walls that I have painted in a distemper inspired by the colour of 'Wedgewood Blue' are now adorned with several female likenesses that feature the like of Lady Melbourne and Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire.

For with this feminine presence dominating the Dining Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace and with Byron's ambivalent attitude towards food well documented in that he would frequently go for days without eating a substantial meal preferring a diet of "hard biscuits and Soda water"; I have created this particular room to be as 'unByronic' as is possible and which may offer some explanation for the portrait of B's 'infernal fiend' that now hangs there.

Annabella Milbanke

For it was during the course of his brief residence within the martial home of 13 Piccadilly Terrace, he would on more than one occasion refuse to share the dining table with his bride.

... once when his dinner was accidentally served at the same table with mine, he desired his dish to be taken into another room (in my presence, & the servants attending) with an expression of rage...
Lady Byron

As the dietary strictures employed by Lord B were not shared by his wife for having made no secret of her enjoyment of food, my hope is that this wonderfully poignant image of this solemn yet graceful little girl can continue to adorn the walls of this dining room in peace!

Bye for now!

'The Lady and the Poet' The Story of Lady Byron

Sources Used:
'The Trouble of an Index' Byron's Letters and Journals Volume 13 Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1982)
Lord Byron's Wife Malcolm Elwin (London: John Murray 1962)

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Dominating Presence of the Indomitable Lady Melbourne!

Despite the headaches that I endured during the creation of the Dining Room at 13 Piccadilly Terrace, this room remains one my favourites which was inspired by in part by the beautifully intricate ceiling that dominates the Drawing Room at Fairfax House in York in addition to the letters of Lady Melbourne who was lauded for the exquisite interior design that she employed during the renovation of the Albany in Piccadilly that was completed in the autumn of 1774.

As the formidable Lady Melbourne was to prove a commanding presence within the graceful salons of Georgian society with her intimate friends Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire and the fashionable sculptor Anne Seymour Damer; she also has the privilege of dominating the walls of this room in several of the portraits that I have placed there.

Has Lady Greenwich told you of the Duchess of Devonshire, Lady Melburn, and Mrs. Damer all being drawn in one picture in the Characters of the three Witches in Macbeth?
They have chosen that Scene where they compose their Cauldron, but instead of "finger of Birth-strangled babe, etc." their Cauldron is composed of roses and carnations and I daresay they think their Charmes more irresistible than all the magick of the Witches.
Lady Mary Coke

However, you may yet wonder why I have placed the childhood portrait of Annabella Milbanke as she was painted by Hoppner at ten years old for as 'Lady Melburn's' niece and the future Lady Byron, she would in later years come to realise the truth of Lady M's 'Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble'.
That however, is for another story!

Bye for now!

Sources Used:
Peace in Piccadilly The Story of Albany Sheila Birkenhead (London: Hamish Hamilton 1959)

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Tee Bylo Reunites Lord Byron with His Most 'Amiable Mamma' at 13 Piccadilly Terrace...

You must recollect however - that I know nothing of painting - & that I detest it - unless it reminds me of something I have seen or think it possible to see - for which I spit upon & abhor all the saints & subjects of one half the impostures I see in the churches & palaces...
Lord Byron

A copy of a portrait of Byron by the fashionable Regency painter Thomas Phillips now hangs in the Hallway on the Piano Nobile of 13 Piccadilly Terrace.

Despite Byron's opinion of a painting as "the most artificial & unnatural - & that by which the nonsense of mankind is the most imposed upon." this particular painting entitled 'Portrait of a Nobleman' commissioned by Byron in 1813 as a gift for his 'Dearest Augusta' remains one of the most iconic images of the poet.

It was in the spirit of family unity that I also created a copy of the portrait of Byron's 'Amiable Mamma' Catherine Gordon Byron that can be seen in Byron's ancestral home of Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire.

In the hagiography that often passes for the writing of Byron's life, Catherine Gordon Byron is somewhat of a Marmite figure for you either love her or you hate her!

My hatred of Marmite is equal to the fondness that I have for the story of Byron's most ‘Amiable Mamma’  who was described by her only son as a “tender and peremptory parent who indulged me sometimes with holidays and now and then with a box on the ear."

I was rather surprised to discover that not all of my fellow Byronians share my pleasure at the reunion of mother and son portraiture upon the walls of 13 Piccadilly Terrace; however, given that they share their final resting place side by side in the Byron ancestral vault in the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene in Hucknall Nottingham, it made perfect sense to me that their likenesses hang side by side, albeit in a small world!

Bye for now!

Lord Byron, 1812 and All That!

Sources Used:
'The Trouble of an Index' Byron's Letters and Journals Volume 12 Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1982)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Lady M Sketches the Character of Lord Byron's House...

I enclose you a very rough Sketch of the rooms on ye ground floor in yr House merely to shew you how ye rooms are disposed, as you may then consider in what way it will be most convenient for you to live in them - I have mark'd them as they are at present...

The Duchess's Sitting room is furnish'd with low Bookcases Tables Couches & Great Chairs - in profusion...

... but certainly the Rooms up stairs, have only common useful furniture in them - The offices excepting the Kitchen are small - but will do very well & are very comfortable - for all ye Servants belonging to Dev House, are <used> to take care of themselves - 

I suppose you or Ld B employ some Upholsterer & in that case - he had better look over the things left in ye House & see they are all there according to ye Inventory which the Auctioneer will give him...

- If you know of no particular person I will employ ours so let me know...

I forgot to mention yt all ye rooms are very light & pleasant excepting No 4 which being <cornered> so far back is darken'd by some buildings -

Lady Melbourne
Sunday March 12 1815

Sources Used:
Byron's "Corbeau Blanc" The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne Ed: Jonathan David Gross (Liverpool University Press 1998)

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