Light and 'Enlightened Patronage': The Sculpture Galleries at Petworth

Essay by M.G. Sullivan

In July 1823, in an essay on the prominent patron of contemporary British art Sir John Fleming Leicester, the European Magazine stated that in contrast to commerce, manufactures, agriculture and literature, the fine arts

are of later and more tender growth, and stand in need of careful cultivation and the warmest sunshine of patronage. The public taste, although refining and increasing, is at present far from being able to reward our best artists without the aid of liberal individuals, who are gifted with good taste, large fortunes, and enlightened minds.1

It was during this time, between 1817 and 1837, that three site-specific works were made by British sculptors for one such prominent patron, for the sculpture galleries at Petworth. Of course, all of the works bought and commissioned for Petworth by George Wyndham, third Earl of Egremont, were acquired with a view to their display in the house and to their propriety in relation to pre-existing collections there. However, John Flaxman’s St Michael Overcoming Satan, J. C. F. Rossi’s Celadon and Amelia and John Edward Carew’s Prometheus and Pandora were conceived as theatrical installations that utilised lighting schemes as a part of their meaning and aesthetic effect. This overlooked aspect of the sculpture displays at Petworth points to the very rare conditions under which art was made for the house during this period: an extraordinarily energetic and hands-on patron, compliant but disadvantaged sculptors, and a clear disregard for customary marketplace relationships all played their role in making such creations possible. In this essay I want to look at the use of light as an aspect in the commissioning and display of the sculpture at Petworth, its role both in the conception and meaning of the individual works, and in the schemes as a whole. The role of light in referencing the ‘enlightened’ nature of their patron, it will be suggested, was somewhat at odds with the actual impact that this type of patronage had on the sculptural arts.2

St Michael Overcoming Satan

In 1817 the third Earl of Egremont commissioned the colossal group of St Michael Overcoming Satan (fig. 1) from Britain’s most eminent sculptor John Flaxman.3 This monumental work today stands at the centre of the cube-shaped extension, where it has been since at least 1835.4 This position, bathed in the top lighting, was not, however, its original position, nor was it intended to be alone.

View of the North Gallery

Figure 1.
View of the North Gallery, Petworth House. Photograph.

Digital image courtesy of M.G. Sullivan. (All rights reserved)

In 1763 the patron had inherited from his father a classical sculpture gallery, a single room created from a medieval cloisters, looking out on to the north of the estate through large windows.5 The collection of Roman and Greek antiquities had been bought in Rome for the second Earl by Matthew Brettingham and had acquired some degree of fame among scholars.6 The third Earl’s purchases of contemporary British sculpture were, prior to the St Michael, restrained interventions into the existing classical collection. The first purchase, a Pastoral Apollo by Flaxman, was clearly bought to speak with a modern neoclassical voice to the Roman Singing Apollo that stood, and still stands, at the centre of the original gallery space. This new freestanding Apollo began the shift towards a more energetic engagement with the light provided by the large windows in the gallery, through which Apollo was re-inscribed not only as the bringer of music and rustic poetry but also in his traditional role as the Sun god.

The St Michael Overcoming Satan was originally intended to be only one half of a more dramatic development of the new theme of light and darkness, with subjects drawn from the poet John Milton. In the same year as Egremont commissioned the St Michael he also engaged a younger sculptor, Francis Chantrey, to produce a companion statue of Satan Addressing the Sun. Chantrey had, in 1808, exhibited a bust of Satan Addressing the Sun at the Royal Academy that had caught the eye of the much older and more eminent Flaxman.7 Chantrey’s manuscript ledger shows that he executed a small model of the Satan between May and September 1817, on the basis of which Egremont commissioned a full-size figure.8 Taken together these two works clearly were intended to form a narrative sequence. The subjects, taken from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, are sequential. In Book 4, after being cast down from heaven for leading a rebellion against God, Satan looks up at the dawn and expresses his hatred of the sun for reminding him of the position he has lost. Satan resolves to take out his rage on Mankind, and resolves too that God must now rule over a divided empire.9 This precedes the scenes in Book 6 when St Michael leads the battle against evil, overcoming Satan and his legions.10

Chantrey’s Satan Addressing the Sun and Flaxman’s St Michael Overcoming Satan are subjects that have light as an integral part of the concept. The ‘real’ light of the sun that Satan addresses, and the metaphorical light and darkness of the world of good and evil, are personified by Satan and St Michael. How it was intended that the two would be placed initially in relation to the light of the cloisters is not recorded, although as freestanding works they would have been nearer the light source than the classical sculpture in the niches, and their subjects must have been chosen to reflect this positioning.

In the event, Francis Chantrey failed to deliver his promised statue, one of several commissions for ideal works for a range of patrons that he eventually abandoned.11 Although he maintained an excellent relationship with Egremont, for whom he provided a number of busts, he never developed a practice in ideal works, and he never delivered his Satan.12 Egremont, presumably perceiving Chantrey’s change of heart, was later to commission a sculptor of the next generation, John Edward Carew, to deliver the promised Satan.

After the initial Flaxman commission in 1817 Egremont’s ambitions for his sculpture gallery grew. He first expanded the architecture of the sculpture galleries in 1824–5, adding a top-lit central corridor to the single corridor of antique works.13 Into this space he moved some of the classical collections, in dialogue with new purchases of contemporary British art. The extension seems likely to have been built with the intention of giving a central top-lit space to the two new principal statue groups – the St Michael (which was not finally delivered until after Flaxman’s death in 1826), and the Satan (which Chantrey never finished). In 1826–7 Egremont added a final extension to the two corridors: the white-painted cube where the St Michael was finally placed.14 Initially, as Turner’s dramatic scene shows, the St Michael was cross-lit by round-headed thermal windows, offering a dramatic chiaroscuro, although if Turner’s sketch is anything to go by it is Satan who received the best lighting, with St Michael emerging from darkness (figs 2 and 3). This lighting scheme must have been considered unsuccessful, however, as it was changed in consultation with Chantrey in 1830 to introduce overhead lighting via skylights. As can be seen today, this uses the light to illuminate St Michael, as he overcomes a Satan who is in a perennial relative darkness (see fig. 1).15

The North Gallery at Night: Figures Contemplating Flaxman’s Statue, ‘St Michael Overcoming Satan’

Figure 2.
Joseph Mallord William Turner, The North Gallery at Night: Figures Contemplating Flaxman’s Statue, ‘St Michael Overcoming Satan’, 1827. Ink, watercolour and bodycolour on paper. Tate (D22687, Turner Bequest CCXLIV 25).

Digital image courtesy of Tate. (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

The North Gallery from the North Bay

Figure 3.
Joseph Mallord William Turner, The North Gallery from the North Bay, 1827. Gouache and watercolour on paper. Tate (D22675, Turner Bequest CCXLIV 13).

Digital image courtesy of Tate. (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

In another of Turner’s views, shortly after the installation, it is clear that the St Michael Overcoming Satan is not, as it is today, at the centre of the white cube, but off-centre to the east. It seems likely that at this time, at least, Egremont was still expecting the arrival of the companion statue of Satan Addressing the Sun from Chantrey. Under the skylights the two works would have created a remarkable mise-en-scène, with Satan’s story being much the dominant one, with the top lighting dramatically creating the impression of the sculptural Satan addressing the real sunlight from above.

By 1832 it must have been clear that Chantrey was not going to deliver the Satan, and by this time Egremont had a sculptor in almost permanent employment who was more than capable of delivering such a work. John Edward Carew had first sold a work to Egremont in 1823 – an Arethusa that he had modelled for the Royal Academy exhibition, and that Egremont must have bought to complement the antique Amazon, with which it was displayed (figs 4 and 5).16


Figure 4.
John Edward Carew, Arethusa, 1822-1824. Marble. Petworth House.

Digital image courtesy of M.G. Sullivan. (All rights reserved)

An Amazon

Figure 5.
Unknown Roman Sculptor, An Amazon, Parian Marble. National Trust, Petworth House (NT 486324).

Digital image courtesy of National Trust / Andrew Fetherston. (All rights reserved)

By 1833 Carew had been induced to move his business to Brighton in order to work on Egremont’s projects. Egremont’s correspondence with Carew gives some glimpse of his expectations as a patron that sculptors were to largely do as they were told. In the correspondence he tells Carew of St Michael Overcoming Satan: ‘I gave Flaxman the order and the subject, and the attitude according to the picture by Raphael.’17 Egremont’s letter was intended no doubt to remind Carew who was the boss, as the two men had reached something of an impasse over the iconography of the Satan Addressing the Sun. Carew had spent six months working on a full-size, 11-foot-high model, which was to be ‘quite as tall as Flaxman’s Angel’.18 Lord Egremont had objected to the iconography on the grounds that Carew had shown Satan with wings, a detail – so Egremont held – that does not appear in Milton. Egremont clearly had an investment in this argument as Flaxman has deliberately not included the wings of Satan, which were included in Raphael’s depiction, in his own piece (figs 6 and 7), and did so on Egremont’s insistence. In a letter (that has not survived) Carew had protested and made his iconographical case, but was met with the following petulant response:

St Michael Overcoming Satan

Figure 6.
John Flaxman, St Michael Overcoming Satan, 1817–1826. Marble. Petworth House.

Digital image courtesy of M.G. Sullivan. (All rights reserved)

St Michael Vanquishing Satan

Figure 7.
Raphael, St Michael Vanquishing Satan, 1518. Oil transferred from wood to canvas. Louvre, Paris (INV 610).

Digital image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons. (Public domain)

I do not understand your meaning about Satan, nor what your reasoning is about the Serpent, nor why the sentiment was easy to express, but as you have no snakes in Ireland I suppose you do not understand it yourself. Take care not to make Satan like St Patrick.19

This outburst, clearly designed to belittle Carew, was one of a number of anti-Irish jibes made by Egremont at Carew’s expense (Egremont was also profoundly opposed to Catholic emancipation, and Carew was Catholic). It did not, however, have the desired effect. At the time of the dispute a local cleric, Reverend Charles Townshend, visited Carew’s studio in Brighton. Returning to the text of Paradise Lost, Townshend informed Egremont that he was in error, and that in fact Milton and other writers describe Satan with wings.20 According to the testimony of both Townshend and James Welch (Carew’s assistant) Egremont was so peeved by the exchange that he ordered the model broken up.21 The marble block that had been bought for the work had to be broken up and sold at a loss.22

The third commission in this group, Celadon and Amelia (1820) by J. C. F. Rossi (figs 8 and 9), is also a work specifically designed to be freestanding and to utilise the light in the antique sculpture gallery.23 Unlike the St Michael and Satan Addressing, however, this work was delivered by the sculptor in time to be placed in its original destination, before Egremont resolved to extend the gallery. It is the only one of these three luminary works to be in its original position.24

Celadon and Amelia

Figure 8.
JCF Rossi, Celadon and Amelia, 1820. Marble. Petworth House.

Digital image courtesy of M.G. Sullivan. (All rights reserved)

Celadon and Amelia

Figure 9.
JCF Rossi, Celadon and Amelia, 1820. Marble. Petworth House.

Digital image courtesy of M.G. Sullivan. (All rights reserved)

Celadon and Amelia, like the other two commissions, was a subject from modern British literature, in this case James Thomson’s The Seasons. Thomson’s pastoral poem includes, in ‘Summer’, a description of the ‘Dreadful effects of lightning’, where he describes how ‘not always on the guilty head/Descends the fated flash’. Two lovers, Celadon and Amelia, are, in an ‘evil hour,’ trapped outside during the tempest. Celadon calms the distraught Amelia through expressing his ‘confidence in heaven’ and ‘love illumin’d high’, reassuring her that

He, who yon skies involves

In frowns of darkness, ever smiles on thee

With kind regard.


From his void embrace,

mysterious Heaven! That moment, to the ground,

A blacken’d corse, was struck the beauteous maid.25

Rossi shows the moment at which the lightning is about to strike Amelia and Celadon holds his hand up to heaven. The subject is, again, a play on light and its supernatural origins. The dark outcome of the story, especially as Celadon looks for reassurance in the illumination of heaven, is one of numerous examples of Egremont’s taste for horrific subject matter.26 At the time of the installation the single classical sculpture space looked out through large bay windows, which would have illuminated the scene.27 Given the British weather, there would also have been occasional rainstorms to help create the atmosphere. Clearly the subject matter was here chosen, as well as the particular poses and disposition of the figures, to interact with the light source and the weather. This theatrical staging would have contributed to the higher subject of the sublime indifference of Nature, and the tenuous faith that we place in the light of heaven to protect us.

Interaction with the environment is also stressed by the incorporation of a false door behind the scene. This feature, which is included in Phillips’s map of the galleries in 1836,28 is presumably to be read as the door to the cottage outside which the two lovers have been stranded during the storm. This theatrical interaction between the meaning of the work and the environment for which it was intended was affected by the architectural changes to the gallery, creating what I shall call an ‘orphan meaning’ (many further examples are discernible among the works discussed here).

Within a few years this staging of Celadon and Amelia was disrupted by Egremont’s architectural changes. Once he resolved to build a second corridor, and then the white cube extension, the two lovers became estranged from the light source that had provided the atmosphere for the subject. Although the central, top-lit, corridor provides a distant light source it does not illuminate Rossi’s work in the dramatic fashion that must have been intended. Today Celadon appears to be holding his hand up in horror at a cornice, or perhaps at a small Italian portrait, on the architectural structure that divides the work from its nearest light source.

Prometheus and Pandora

The large statue group of Prometheus and Pandora by John Edward Carew (fig. 10) – today in the North Gallery at Petworth – has inspired little affection among modern scholars. Even its custodians have been ill-disposed: the National Trust’s account of 1976 called it an ‘outrageous heap of marble’29 and its curious anatomy, composition and finish still look unusual to modern eyes. At the time of its erection in 1837, however, it was regarded by notable judges as extremely significant, a noble piece according to one writer,30 and no less a judge than Francis Chantrey called it a ‘very clever work’.31 One commentator from Petworth considered it far superior to Flaxman’s St Michael.32 So what are we missing? Why was this meditation on light – the light stolen from the gods – commissioned, why does it look strange and what might have been ‘clever’ about it?

Prometheus and Pandora

Figure 10.
John Edward Carew, Prometheus and Pandora, 1820. Marble. Petworth House.

Digital image courtesy of M.G. Sullivan. (All rights reserved)

The Prometheus and Pandora was commissioned by the third Earl of Egremont in 1835, and was in an advanced state at the time of his death in 1837.33 It was made not for the North Gallery but for the new Tenants’ Hall that Egremont built across the courtyard from the house, against the wall of the adjoining church. Carew, who was now in Egremont’s permanent, on-site, employment, was asked to oversee the building of this new structure.34 The Prometheus and Pandora was intended for a niche in this hall, which became known as the Promethean Hall (and is today the tea-room). The piece was, accordingly, unworked at the back, a feature that is now visible and distracting following its placement in a free-standing position in the North Gallery in 1993 (fig. 11).35

Detail from Prometheus and Pandora

Figure 11.
John Edward Carew, Detail from Prometheus and Pandora, 1820. Marble. Petworth House.

Digital image courtesy of M.G. Sullivan. (All rights reserved)

The subject, like many of Egremont’s commissions, referred to the history of the house, and especially the Promethean decoration by Louis Laguerre in the Grand Staircase. The subject is Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and hid it in the stem of an artichoke. His punishment was to be sent the first woman, Pandora, modelled in clay by Hephaestus/Vulcan, who was to bring into being all the evils of the world. The statue group depicts the moment when Prometheus pulls back the rough cloth covering Pandora and holds aloft his light to view the naked figure.

The oddity, however, is that Prometheus seems to hold aloft only a stem without a flame – suggesting that a genuine light source should have been attached to the stem in order to illuminate the work in a dramatic, neoclassical manner, and especially allow light to illuminate the face of Prometheus, his upper torso and the naked figure of Pandora. Thus the light source would become, as in the works discussed earlier, part of its overall construction, meaning and effect.

In 1836 Egremont literally brought light to Petworth: in addition to building the new Tenants’ Hall, Egremont that year completed Petworth’s first gas works (which still survives with its steam and gas engines), allowing Petworth to be illuminated for the first time with gas lighting.36

The North Gallery was first lit with gas in the 1840s,37 but it seems likely that the Tenants’ Hall, opened at the same time as the gas works, would have been the first showcase for the new lighting. The Prometheus could therefore have been conceived as an appropriate subject for the celebration of the Earl of Egremont’s current ‘improving’ project. A small hole drilled into the base of the artichoke stem may perhaps also be evidence that a fitting was intended to give the light source for Prometheus (See fig. 10). Imagined as a massive torchère (a figure holding a lamp – frequently the figure of Prometheus in continental decorative sculpture), the work appears much less awkward. Lit from Prometheus’s hand, there would be a central light, illuminating the torso and the naked female, obviating the need for reliance on natural light, which – as can be seen today – casts shadows across the composition. Referring to classical prototypes, such as the Prometheus in the Villa Torlonia (fig. 12), it nevertheless also looked forward, as it was the first of the sculptures at Petworth to be specifically designed for the new lighting conditions. Egremont himself was very anxious to see the work completed, and referred excitedly to the Prometheus as a ‘dealer in fireworks’.38 In 1836 the work surely referenced Egremont as the modern Prometheus, bringer of light to Petworth. Little wonder, therefore, that Chantrey regarded it as a ‘very clever’ work. In this case the whole effect of the work appears to be an ‘orphan meaning’ entirely lost in the current arrangement.39


Figure 12.
Unknown Sculptor, Prometheus, 4th Century BC. Marble. Museo Torlonia, Rome.

Digital image courtesy of Warburg Iconographic Database. (Public domain)

Enlightened patronage?

In 1823 the European Magazine had little doubt that a class of enlightened, rich patrons was necessary to provide impetus to the more noble arts.40 Egremont was presented by his admirers and by subsequent scholars as one such patron whose noblesse towards the British contemporary art scene and hospitality to his artist friends marked him out as the quintessential enlightened patron.

Egremont’s patronage of John Edward Carew, indeed, appears to be the only occasion in this period in which a leading sculptor entered into the almost exclusive employ of a single patron, based on the country house estate for which he provided work. This Renaissance model of patron-artist seems to have permitted Egremont to commission works redolent with personal, local and contextual meaning over several years – his close control over the artist permitting constant supervision over the iconography and even wholesale abandonment of works, such as the Satan, in a far state of completion.

Such a patronage model is partially what makes Petworth one of the most remarkable schemes of the period. The extent to which it can be considered as ‘enlightened’ is, however, debatable. Carew’s acceptance of Egremont’s suggestion that he move first to Brighton and then to Petworth took him out of the competitive, commercial world of sculpture and placed him in a situation where orders were given verbally41 and money was received piecemeal.42 Carew was also expected to give his time to a range of roles and activities beyond sculpture, ranging from architect and building supervisor43 to delivering payments from Egremont to his tradesman and even, on one occasion, negotiating with Irish tenants (on the grounds that Egremont claimed he could not understand their accents).44

On Egremont’s death the executors of his estate refused to settle any accounts that were not documented, despite Carew’s protestation that there were no accounts. Having been invited to submit an estimated account by one of the executors, Carew handed in a claim that the other executors would not recognise. Carew’s friends and lawyers took up his cause, and calculated speculative sums that included not only his works but also his time, for which he had been unpaid for many years. The sums were naturally quite high, although they were clearly intended to set a negotiating position to bring the executors to the table in order to settle enough on Carew to prevent his bankruptcy. When news of the estate’s treatment of Carew started to be circulated the executors forced Carew into court to make his claim by offering to pay his legal fees (which they subsequently refused to pay). In court they produced evidence that money from Egremont had passed through Carew’s account that was equal to the sums Carew claimed for all the individual sculptured works. The court found there was no evidence that Egremont had ever agreed to pay Carew for his time, nor that he should be paid for any other work outside of his sculpture. Thus the estate contended that Carew was just another contractor, that he had given his time and additional expertise gratis, and that he was now engaged in ungenerous extortion from the estate of a munificent patron.

The immediate result of Carew’s fourteen years of Egremont’s ‘enlightened patronage’ was that he was held accountable for outstanding payments to assistants and suppliers, which he could not pay. This was followed by his eviction from the house on the Petworth estate in which he lived with his wife and ten children,45 and a sale of his entire studio contents, right down to his tools and modelling clay.46 Subsequently he faced bankruptcy proceedings, capped by a spell in a debtor’s prison47 and reliance on charitable relief for his family.48 The sculpture galleries at Petworth may have been suffused with real and metaphorical light, but for one sculptor involved in their realisation there was a dark side to Lord Egremont’s patronage.


  • Dr M. G. Sullivan FSA is a historian of British and Irish sculpture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He is currently Honorary Research Fellow at the University of York, and Research Associate on the AHRC project ‘Pantheons: Sculpture at St Paul’s Cathedral, c.1795–1918,’ to catalogue and to analyse the monuments in the Cathedral within the broader social history of the period. He co-wrote the Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, Yale University Press 2009, and edited its subsequent electronic editions, and wrote numerous entries on sculptors in Ireland for Art and Architecture of Ireland, vol 3, Sculptors and Sculpture, edited by Paula Murphy, Yale 2015. He has previously worked as a curator at the Ashmolean Museum and Tate Britain, and held research posts at Lincoln College, University of Oxford, and in the Research Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 2012 he had a Research Grant from the PMC to study the works of John Van Nost in Ireland, and in 2017–18 he held a Mid-Career Fellowship to work on Francis Chantrey. His books are Sir Francis Chantrey and the Ashmolean Museum, 2014, and Fighting History, 2015, and he has written numerous articles on British sculpture, sculptors, historiography and materials. The current emphasis of his own research is the relationship between sculpture and the practice of geology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


  1. European Magazine and London Review, July 1823, vol. 84, p. 3.

  2. Most of the important research on Petworth sculpture in recent years has, of course, been carried out by its curators, although there is still much work to be done on the collections. My thanks to Andy Loukes, whose knowledge has been invaluable in relation to the direction of my research. I have also drawn on information in Christopher Rowell, Petworth House, West Sussex, London: National Trust, 2000; Petworth: The People and the Place, London: National Trust, 2012, especially the section on sculpture, pp. 82–7, and in his ‘North Gallery at Petworth: A Historical Re-Appraisal’, Apollo, vol. 88, no. 337, July 1993, pp. 29–36. The most extensive account of the sculpture alone is John Kenworthy-Browne’s ‘Lord Egremont and his Sculptors: The Collection at Petworth House, Sussex’, Country Life, vol. 154, 7 June 1973, pp. 1640–3, and there is also fascinating detail in Trevor Proudfoot and Rowell’s ‘The Display and Conservation of Sculpture at Petworth’, in Philip Lindley, ed., Sculpture Conservation: Preservation or Interference?, Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 1997, pp. 179–93. My thanks to Jessica Feather and Martin Postle for inviting me to take part in the Petworth Study projects, and to Lady Egremont, and all the other scholars, who commented on my research at the Petworth Study Day, and the Paul Mellon Centre Country House conference in October 2017.

  3. Account Book of John Flaxman RA, 1809–26, Columbia University, NY, Collections D 430 394 F61, p. 62.

  4. Catalogue of the Pictures in Petworth House, the Seat of the Earl of Egremont, by Henry Phillips esq; To which is prefixed a View of the Mansion, a private lithographic print, from a drawing by Mrs Phillips, and subjoined a Plan of the Principal Apartments 1835, Victoria & Albert Museum, NAL MSL/1872-4-11.

  5. Rowell, 2000, p. 34.

  6. James Dallaway, Anecdotes of the Arts in England, London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1800, p. 272, noted that many of the marbles came from celebrated collections sold in Rome; W. B. Sarsfield Taylor, The Origin, Progress and Present Condition of the Fine Arts in Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2, London: Whittaker and Co., 1841, p. 401 called it ‘one of the finest collections of antique sculpture in England’; for a fulsome account of the classical collections see Rowell, 2012, pp. 60–7.

  7. This significant early work in plaster by Chantrey seems to have been given to Oxford University Galleries by Lady Chantrey in 1842, as it is listed in the Donations Book, Western Art Archives, Ashmolean. It is now lost, possibly destroyed by the Ashmolean in 1939 when the museum destroyed or dismembered several of the plasters. John Holland provides an account of the head, which was colossal and featured a snake coiled with the hair. According to Holland the work was considered horrific and immoral by some viewers, John Holland Memorials of Sir FC, RA, Sculptor, in Hallamshire and Elsewhere, Sheffield: Longman, Brown, Green and Longman, 1851, pp. 211–12.

  8. ‘Francis Chantrey Ledger Book’, Derby Local Studies Library, MS 3535, p. 254, Chantrey worked on a small model with his assistant F. A. Lege between 17 May and 6 September 1817, and a plaster model was cast from the clay by the assistant, Frederick Smith. The model is not known to have survived. There is a poetic account of Egremont arriving, unannounced, at Chantrey’s studio to commission the work, in George Jones’s Sir Francis Chantrey RA, Recollections of His Life, Practice and Opinions, London: Edward Moxon, 1849, p. 198, saying ‘I wish you to do something ideal for me; what do you say to a colossal figure of the Devil?’.

  9. The Poetical Works of John Milton, 6 vols, with notes and commentary by Henry John Todd, vol. 3, London: J. Johnson, W. and J. Rivington etc,, 1801, Book 4, p. 78, Satan looks up at the ‘full-blazing sun’ and begins his address ‘O Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams / That bring to my remembrance from what state / I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere’.

  10. Ibid., Book 6, pp. 190–1.

  11. Holland, 1851, pp. 212–16.

  12. Chantrey dined, fished, hunted and offered advice at Petworth over several years. There are references in Jones, 1849, passim, and a surviving letter of invitation from Egremont to Chantrey in the National Art Library: Lord Egremont, Petworth Oct 12 (n.d.): Dear Sir, I shall be very happy if Mrs Chantrey and you will let me have the pleasure of your company here. Turner is catching fish by the hundreds and there are plenty of pheasant for you, yours truly etc Egremont (MSL/1979/7134). There is also a letter from Chantrey to Governor Bedford, (n.d.) recording that the sculptor was just leaving to dine at Petworth with Egremont (MSL/1979/7134), and an account by an American artist, James E. Freeman, of a lively conversation with Chantrey at dinner at Petworth, see ‘Gatherings from an Artist’s portfolio’, in Appleton’s Journal, vol. 15, January 1876, New York: D. Appleton and Co., p. 13.

  13. Rowell, 1993, p. 36, n. 20 deduces these dates from the building accounts in Petworth Archives.

  14. Ibid.

  15. Ibid., p. 36, n. 30, letter from the Clerk of Works at Petworth to Chantrey seeking instructions relating to the introduction of new skylights.

  16. Catalogue of the Pictures in Petworth House.

  17. Letter from Egremont to J. E. Carew, 20 June 1833, in Report of the Trial in the Cause JE Carew against Sir CM Burrell, Bt and Col George Wyndham, Executors of the Late Earl of Egremont, taken in short-hand by Mr Cooke, London, printed by William Nicholl, 60 Pall Mall, 1840, p. 80.

  18. Letter from Egremont to J. E. Carew, 15 December 1832, ‘A true Roman Catholic Satan must be of the full size, quite as tall as Flaxman's Angel', ibid., p. 79.

  19. Ibid., p. 80.

  20. Ibid., pp. 78–9.

  21. Both testified for Carew in the sculptor’s failed attempt to recoup his costs for the work, Ibid., pp. 25–6.

  22. According to Carew in his later bankruptcy proceedings: Report of the Proceedings in the Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors, in the matter of John Edward Carew, and insolvent debtor, on the opposition entered by Sir CM Burrell, Bt, and Col George Wyndham, executors of the late Earl of Egremont: Before Chief Commissioner Reynolds and Mr Commissioner Bowen, on Friday the 17th, Saturday 18th, and Wednesday 22nd of December 1841; and on Saturday the 29th of January, Saturday 5th of February, and Weds the 18th May 1842. Taken in short hand by Mr George Cherer, 60 Pall Mall, London: Wm Nicol, 1842, p. 241. Carew testified that he had had to cut up the block and sell it at one shilling per foot, when it had cost him five guineas per foot to buy as one block.

  23. The work in marble was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1821 and presumably came to Petworth soon after. A half-size model was in Rossi’s bankruptcy sale in 1833, and a full-size plaster was sold by auction the same year. Neither are traced. John Charles Felix Rossi, A Catalogue of Seven Groups and Statues in Marble and Bronze and Other Works of Art, 15 Shoe Lane, Fleet Street: W. Guthrie, 1833. For more on Rossi see my entry in the Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009, online via the Henry Moore Institute website.

  24. Catalogue of the Pictures in Petworth House. The work was removed from its original position.

  25. The Seasons by James Thomson, with a sketch of his life by Patrick Murdoch, London: Thomas Kelly, 1819, ‘Summer,’ pp. 111–13.

  26. Numerous instances of which can be found among the collections amassed by the third Earl, of which perhaps Joshua Reynolds’s Macbeth and the Witches, 1789, is the most prominent.

  27. Rowell, 2000, p. 34.

  28. Catalogue of the Pictures [sic] in Petworth House. The work was later removed from its original position, but replaced in the re-installation of the gallery in 1993.

  29. Robin Fedden and Rosemary Joekes, Treasures of the National Trust, London: Jonathan Cape, 1976, p. 65.

  30. Adam Black, Black’s Handbook for Kent and Sussex, Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1860, p. 241 says that the ‘Promethean group, by Carew, nobly graces the tenant’s dining hall’.

  31. Report of the Trial, 1840, p. 62. Chantrey added that Carew’s mythological works were ‘of the highest character that a sculptor can be engaged on, and require a great deal of study', and that the groups ‘require the highest effort of Art’ in both design and execution.

  32. In a letter dated 22 December 1837 Sir Charles Burrell, a Conservative MP who was married to one of Egremont’s many illegitimate children, was asked his opinion of Carew’s work by Colonel Wyndham after Carew submitted his claim for payment for the work. He replied that when compared to Flaxman’s St Michael the Prometheus is ‘much the finer work’, and the ‘more original in conception’ because the former is evidently borrowed from Michelangelo [Raphael?], and looks like the bronze [by Martin von Rode, 1454] on the spire of the Hotel Du Ville at Brussels, see ‘Sir CM Burrell’s Papers Re John Edward Carew, 1837–39’, in Burrell MSS, Acc 5927, West Sussex Archives.

  33. Report of the Trial, 1840, and Report of the Proceedings, 1842, passim.

  34. Report of the Proceedings, 1842, p. 234, Carew testified that this was completed in the last year of Egremont’s life, and that the builders accidentally built a square end rather than a niche, and Carew was asked to oversee the re-building.

  35. The rationale behind moving it here, to balance the Vulcan, Venus and Cupid, and because the Hall was to be used as a tea-room, is given in Rowell, 1993, p. 33.

  36. Petworth’s vicar, the Reverend Thomas Sockett, testified to Parliament in 1837 on the effects of the Poor Law Amendment Act on the labouring population of Petworth, published in ‘First Report from Select Committee on the Poor Law Amendment Act, with the Minutes of Evidence’, Parliamentary Papers, 1837, vol. 17, pt 1, p. 5. Sockett was critical of the effects of the new amendment, but said that its effect on Petworth had been mitigated by Egremont’s projects: "There was more employment in the Parish of Petworth last year than in any year since the close of the war, and the reason for that was, that just in that particular year Lord Egremont cut an unusual quantity of timber. A gas company was formed in the town of Petworth, and a considerable number of labourers were set to work in various ways in building the necessary works, and laying down the mains … Lord Egremont also built a very handsome banqueting-room for his tenants. That employed a very considerable number of labourers." The remains of the Gas Works are described in Kenneth Hudson, Industrial Archaeology: An Introduction, London and New York: Routledge, 2014, p. 175.

  37. According to Rowell, 2000, p. 37.

  38. Letter from Egremont to Carew, 30 December 1835, in Report of the Proceedings, 1842, p. 126.

  39. Egremont died before the Promethean Hall was completed, and Carew soon fell into dispute with the estate over payments. The work was part of the dispute and may be unfinished in parts. It is unclear whether Carew had any input into the installation in the Hall, but it seems unlikely.

  40. See quotation at the head of this essay, from European Magazine and London Review, 1823, p. 3.

  41. That Egremont never formally or contractually commissioned a work from Carew was testified by both the sculptor and his executors, see, for instance Report of the Trial, 1840, in a letter from Carew to the executors, 'Lord Egremont never made any stipulated price with me for any work.’ Burrell also comments on the ‘absence of entries in a ledger or bills and receipts’ when attempting to assess Carew’s claims after Egremont’s death, ‘Sir CM Burrell’s Papers Re John Edward Carew, 1837–39’.

  42. Despite investigating Carew’s bank account through a Bill of Chancery, the executors found no itemised bill that corresponded to a clear payment for a work of sculpture among Carew’s account, ‘Sir CM Burrell’s Papers Re John Edward Carew, 1837–39’; rather Carew was given irregular and unitemised sums of money, usually round numbers of £1000 or £1500, which were, in Egremont’s words, to ‘keep his head above water’, see letter from Egremont to J. E. Carew, 20 June 1833, in Report of the Trial, 1840, pp. 123–4.

  43. In a letter to Carew in the early 1830s Egremont wrote to Carew, then in London, ‘Have you leisure to run down here for a day, I want to try what you can do as an architect', Report of the Trial, 1840, p. 81. This casual, informal, employment of Carew seems to have been typical of Egremont. Carew’s architectural contributions beyond the Promethean Hall included advising on proposed alterations to the North Gallery, making alterations to the Chancel at Tillington Church, projecting and digging the foundations of a tennis court for Egremont in Brighton, and overseeing an uncompleted project to build a bath-rooms. Carew testified that although Egremont would remunerate him for assistant’s wage, materials and other costs, he personally never received any compensation for his time, which in the case of the Promethean Hall was seven to eight months of overseeing work, Report of the Proceedings, 1842, p. 234.

  44. Report of the Proceedings, 1842, p. 246. Carew testified that Egremont said ‘here are three of your countrymen and they want me to give them an additional piece of ground, a farm … you will understand the men better than I can, just see whether their claims are right and I'll leave them in your hands’.

  45. The Times, 4 August 1840.

  46. Catalogue of Spiritedly-Executed Marbles by Carew, Casts from the Antique, and Works of the Artist, Models, Fragments for Study, Moulds, Statuary Marble in Bust blocks and Scantling, Modelling Clay, Implements of Art and Other Effects, sold by Mr Parsons, Tuesday 14 July 1840, Petworth House Archives 8474.

  47. London Gazette, Friday, 30 October 1846, p. 4248, reported that Carew was an insolvent debtor, and had been in Whitecross-street Prison, City of London, from September 1845 to September 1846, and in Queen’s Bench Prison, Southwark, in September 1846, prior to proceedings in the Bankruptcy Court, Basinghall Street.

  48. The Royal Academy made charitable payments to Carew and his daughters in the 1860s; see for this and more detail on Carew’s career and works my entry in Art and Architecture of Ireland, vol. 3, Sculptors and Sculpture, ed. Paula Murphy, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015, and that by Emma Hardy in Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851.



by M.G. Sullivan
20 November 2020
House Essay
CC BY-NC International 4.0
Cite as
M.G. Sullivan, "Light and 'Enlightened Patronage': The Sculpture Galleries at Petworth", Art and the Country House,