© Royal Collection Trust | Licence: All Rights Reserved
© Royal Collection Trust | Licence: All Rights Reserved

Buckingham House: The staircase from the Entrance Hall 1817

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From the Collection


Watercolour view of the staircase from the Entrance Hall. The staircase was one of the principal features of the original Buckingham House. It was approached directly from the southern end of the Entrance Hall and rose through two storeys; it was the subject of two plates in Pyne’s publication - the present one, drawn by Cattermole, and that drawn by James Stephanoff. The walls were decorated with murals by Louis Laguerre recounting the story of Dido and Aeneas. The original arrangement of the stair and hall is shown in early eighteenth-century plans and in a ground-plan of 1776: the stair rose in three flights around the west, south and east walls of the hall from which it was separated by a screen, with two freestanding columns. Vile supplied eight mahogany lanterns for the hall in 1763. In 1795 (following a scheme proposed by Chambers in 1776) the staircase was changed to the ‘imperial’ stair shown here, in which a central initial flight divides into two at a half landing before returning in two final flights. The architect responsible for this work was James Wyatt, who introduced a similar change at Frogmore at around the same time. The new staircase would have involved a major adjustment of the architecture in the south-west corner of the staircase hall (the right half of this view); Wyatt’s magnificent Corinthian order and arches blend so harmoniously with Laguerre’s painted architecture - and with Chambers’s building work of the 1760s - that it is difficult to differentiate one from the other. Other changes made in the 1790s would have included the addition of further freestanding columns in the Entrance Hall, supporting the Saloon above. Cattermole’s view shows - at right - two of the large Venetian paintings which George III hung in the Entrance Hall: Canaletto’s view of the Pantheon and the Landscape with Triumphal Arch to George II. Other paintings in the latter series are also recorded in the hall in the 1819 Buckingham House inventory. Catalogue entry adapted from 'George III & Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting and Court Taste', London, 2004

Descriptive Medium: 'Watercolour and bodycolour over pencil'

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© Royal Collection Trust

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Buckingham Palace, London, England