So I fully admit, I might have a “slight” addiction to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s period rooms. During a recent visit to the museum, I spent some time in the Dining Room of Kirtlington Park, which the museum acquired in 1933. I thought I’d take you back to the 18th century, to show you where you might have dined if you were a guest of Sir James Dashwood.
Kirtlington Park was built for the English Tory politician Sir James Dashwood, 2nd Baronet (1715-1779). The building was designed by a number of different architects, including William Smith and John Sanderson. It was built between 1742 and 1746, at a cost of over £32,000. The house and its park, which was laid out by Lancelot “Capability” Brown, are approximately ten miles north of Oxford, England. This was a convenient location for Dashwood, who was high steward at the University of Oxford from 1759 till his death. I imagine in that position, he held many dinners at Kirtlington Park.
The original Dining Room from Kirtlington Park was housed behind the three windows on the first floor of the right wing.
Aside from the vibrant color, the other thing that hit me when I first walked into the room was all the beautiful plasterwork. The plaster decoration was designed by John Sanderson.
The four corners of the ceiling contain panels that represent each of the seasons.
The marble chimneypiece might have been crafted by either John Cheere or Sir Henry Cheere.
The painting over the mantel is by John Wootton, dated 1748. It’s entitled, Classical Landscape with Gypsies, and it is the only painting that was executed for the room. Additional landscape paintings which were intended for this room were never completed.
As I walked around the room, it was nice to see the enormous mahogany doors and shutters still had their original gilt-bronze hardware.
And, the oak floor was probably cut from trees felled on the estate. The color of the room is an approximate to what was on the walls when Dashwood first moved in. The museum was able to determine this through a microscopic examination of the various layers of paint.
I can only imagine what conversations these walls were privy to.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York