Henry Hare, Lord Colraine and his Visits to Italy

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            Henry Hare, third Baron Coleraine (1693-1749), was one of countless English Grand Tourists who flowed into Italy in the eighteenth century. Though not as wealthy as some of his aristocratic fellow travellers, he was sufficiently well-off to be able to satisfy his appetite for good-quality ‘souvenirs.’ Over the course of several visits he amassed a remarkable collection of prints and drawings, as well as a library of printed books.

            The prints and drawings were eventually pasted into thirty-one folio albums, sixteen dedicated to Rome, the remainder to Florence, Bologna, the Veneto and Milan. They reproduce wall-paintings, mosaics, sculptures, and both contemporary and ancient buildings. Many of the Roman prints, which far outnumber the drawings, are likely to have been supplied by the prolific Roman publishers De’ Rossi.[1] Subjects not available in prints would have been purchased – and sometimes commissioned – as drawings. Making drawings for travellers and amateurs, Italian as well as foreign, was a fast growing industry in eighteenth-century Rome, employing troops of draughtsmen and sometimes even established artists.[2] Not all of the draughtsmen are now identifiable, but among the drawings that Coleraine acquired are a few from the hand of Gaetano Piccini, a professional copyist well known to English dilettantes in Rome.[3]

            Many of Coleraine’s sheets are inscribed in black chalk, usually to identify the location, and usually in Italian. Some of the identifications may have been written by Coleraine himself. They are not invariably correct. To cite only one glaring error, a 1724 print of the Palazzo Ducale and Cathedral of Urbino has been identified as Ferrara.[4] After Coleraine’s death, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he had been a gentleman commoner, inherited the albums of Italian prints and drawings, as well as his library of Italian books – a fascinating collection still waiting to be thoroughly studied.

            Henry Hare succeeded to the title in 1708, following the death of his grandfather.[5] He is believed to have travelled to Italy three times. The first trip is thought to have been made sometime after 1714, when he completed his studies at Oxford, and before 1717, when he married Anne Hanger, daughter of a governor of the Bank of England.[6] The second visit took place in 1723-24, in the company of another collector, Conyers Middleton, whose small-scale antiques were later sold to Horace Walpole.[7] Coleraine returned to Rome briefly at the beginning of 1729, but this third trip was not, in fact, his last, as will be shown below.

            Certainly by the time of his second trip, 1723-24, Coleraine had made useful friends and contacts in Italy who assisted him in his quest for art and books. He reciprocated with favours from England. This kind of mutual helpfulness is well illustrated by a letter of 1724 from Coleraine to Alessandro Gregorio Capponi,[8] who in 1730 would become furiere maggiore of the apostolic palace, and four years later president of the Capitoline Museum, a post he held until his death in 1746. In 1724 Capponi was still primarily a bibliophile and man of letters, and it may have been their common interest in books that first drew Coleraine and Capponi together.

            Coleraine wrote to Capponi from Florence on 24 November 1724 to let him know that upon his arrival he had presented Capponi’s letter of introduction to Signor Cavalier Marmi (presumably the renowned Florentine litterato F.A. Marmi[9]), who treated him with great kindness. Coleraine reported that he had then proceeded to Livorno, where he found Capponi’s much-desired canna d’India finally arrived from London, eleven months after it had been ordered. He promised that a certain Signor Palazzi would deliver it to Capponi in Rome. Was this the antiquarian Francesco Palazzi, who would become Commissario delle Antichità in 1733 and who was reputedly very friendly with the English?[10] At the end of the letter to Capponi, Coleraine signed himself “most devoted and obliged servant and friend.”

            Proof that Coleraine and Capponi stayed in touch is given by some lines that Capponi scribbled at the bottom of the letter, noting Coleraine’s return to Rome in January 1729, together with Cavalier Venuti of Cortona. The latter must have been Ridolfino Venuti, then twenty-four years old, who will have been another useful contact for Coleraine in his antiquarian researches. In 1735 Venuti became assistant to Cardinal Alessandro Albani, a key figure in the Roman antiques market, and in 1744 he was appointed Commissario delle Antichità e Presidente degli Scavi, replacing Palazzi.[11]

            While in Rome on his second visit Coleraine also formed friendships in the Republica Letteraria di Arcadia, a “Society whose business it was to correct, increase, and beautify Italian Poetry.”[12] It was there that he met the renowned Veronese archaeologist and man of letters Scipione Maffei. In 1736, when Maffei travelled to England to receive a degree from Oxford, he visited London where he was entertained by all the most illustrious men of the country. Among them was Lord Coleraine, who invited him to Bruce Castle, his seat at Tottenham.[13]

            The success that Coleraine enjoyed among his acquaintances, especially in Italy, did not extend to his private life. After persevering for twenty years to try to win back his wife, who had decided “to utterly forsake his bed and house” after only three years of marriage, Coleraine accepted his fate and became attached to the daughter of a French clergyman. They had a child, born in September 1745 in the north Italian town Crema.[14] In January 1746 Lord Coleraine was back in Rome on his fourth, and last, visit.

            Written evidence for this sojourn is provided by the caricature portrait of Coleraine drawn by Pierleone Ghezzi.[15] The inscription below the portrait, likewise in Ghezzi’s hand, tells us that he drew it in December 1724, after Coleraine’s departure from Rome in October of that year; that Coleraine returned in January-February 1729; and that he returned once more in January 1746, but that he was very ill and left Rome for Florence in July. Ghezzi mistakenly believed that Coleraine died en route (“he rendered his soul to the devil”), whereas in fact he died in Bath three years later.

            On the occasion of his last visit to Rome Coleraine acquired some very interesting drawings of the Capitoline Museum’s Palazzo Nuovo, which had been officially inaugurated as a museum twelve years earlier, in 1734. Unfortunately the identify of the draughtsman of these drawings remains unknown. The five sheets, only one of which has a drawing also on the verso, show elevations of the walls of the courtyard, portico, and two upstairs rooms (the Room of the Emperors and the Room of the Philosophers) of the new museum.[16] Black chalk inscriptions in Italian, by two different hands, locate and identify many of the sculptures that were displayed there, although the works themselves are not represented. The drawings were prepared using a straightedge and compass and drawn with pen and grey ink and wash over black chalk. In style they are reminiscent of the drawing that Alessandro Specchi made in 1715 for the display of antique sculpture in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, just across the piazza from the Palazzo Nuovo.[17] All five of Coleraine’s sheets are bound directly into the album rather than pasted onto the pages. They were slightly trimmed, probably to match the size of the album. The sight measurements of the sheets are 548 x 407 mm.

            Coleraine’s five drawings are extremely important because they are likely to be the earliest that we have recording the arrangement of the pieces of sculpture in some areas of the Palazzo Nuovo. Two clues allow us to securely date them to around 1744-46: the presence in the Room of the Emperors (drawing 49) of the famous Red Faun, which was found in 1736 and placed in the museum after its restoration in 1744/5; and the presence in Rome of Lord Coleraine in 1746, attested by Ghezzi’s inscription on his caricature portrait..

            The drawings of the Palazzo Nuovo are important also for another – quite different – reason, because they prompt us to ask why Coleraine would have wanted to acquire them. Architectural elevations of the interior of the Capitoline Museum did not form part of the standard repertoire taken home by the typical tourist or antiquarian. The architecture is restrained rather than showy, and in Coleraine’s drawings none of the sculptures are represented. Why would anyone have wanted elevations of bare walls rather than lively views of the museum rooms filled with sculpture, the kind of views, for example, that Hubert Robert and Charles-Joseph Natoire produced a few years later?[18] One possible answer is that Coleraine was keen to have a record of what must then have been the most advanced ideas about sculpture display, showing how the pieces were arrayed against walls and pilasters, how they were paired, grouped, and contrasted. This kind of information is more easily and accurately transmitted by drawings of wall elevations rather than those showing views of rooms.

            Interestingly, the Capitoline Museum was not the only gallery that caught Coleraine’s attention. His collection also includes two drawings – a longitudinal section and a plan – of the gallery of Palazzo Colonna in Rome.[19] Could it be that Coleraine was assembling a portfolio of ideas or models to take back to England for use in projects that greatly interested him, that perhaps he even dreamt of realising one day? The hypothesis that Coleraine’s personal interests actively conditioned his choice of prints and drawings finds support in some of the other material in his albums. We know that he was a passionate bibliophile; it seems that he was concerned not only with the contents but also with the design of libraries, since in addition to Vasi’s print with the interior view of the Nuovo Braccio Aggiunto alla Gran Biblioteca Vaticana, he purchased a drawing showing a plan of part of the Vatican Library.[20]

There are, moreover, a number of extraordinary drawings (in other words, not produced for the masses) in Coleraine’s albums showing architectural features that would have been highly suitable for an English gentleman’s garden or park. We do not know if Coleraine intended to modernise the grounds at Bruce Castle, but there can be no doubt that spectacular garden fountains fascinated him. He obtained drawings of two seventeenth-century fountains in the courtyard of Palazzo Borghese, Rome, as well as a view of the grand Teatro d’Acqua in the Giardino Borghese, now known as Palazzo Pallavicini Rospigliosi.[21] In addition, he brought back the drawing of a very strange fountain, suspended in an aperture in the façade of the Palazzo Borghese,[22] which was also recorded in a drawing by William Chambers.[23] Another Italian architectural type that interested Coleraine was the small garden loggia or pavilion, which is similar in form and purpose to the English banqueting house. The banqueting house was known already in the Tudor period, and its popularity did not wane over the centuries. In his Roman albums we find a drawn elevation and plan of the famous Casino of Aurora in the former Giardino Borghese, and also of the lesser known Caffehaus of the Villa del Priorato di Malta in Rome, a remarkable acquisition on Coleraine’s part.[24]

            In spite of the fact that his collection is accessible and conveniently together in one location, Coleraine the collector has still not received the thorough study that he merits. Yet the rewards of such a project would be several, not least among them the correct identification of the subject matter of the prints and drawings. By systematically examining all the material in Coleraine’s thirty-one albums, we could reach interesting conclusions about his particular tastes and aspirations. At the same time, because of the unusual assortment of ‘souvenir’ images that he amassed, we might be able to add a new dimension to the traditional concept of the Paper Museum as a “visual encyclopedia.”[25]

[1] See J. Scott, The Pleasures of Antiquity, London 2003, pp.60-62. Scott describes Coleraine as one of their best customers.

[2] See E. Kieven, Von Bernini bis Piranesi. Römische Architekturzeichnungen des Barock, Stuttgart 1993, p.13.

[3] See L. Connor, “Gaetano Piccini: the neatest handed, idlest fellow I ever met with,” Xenia Antiqua, Vol. X, 2001, pp.219-38.

[4] Oxford, Corpus Christi Archive, Coleraine Collection (hereafter Coleraine Coll.), in Venice Vol. VI.

[5] J. Nichols, Literary Anecdotes, Vol.V, 1812, pp.347-52, and D. Boyd Hancock, “Henry Hare,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford 2004-5.

[6] See L. Connor, “The Eighteenth-Century Collection of Antique Paintings in Palazzo Rospigliosi,” Xenia Antiqua, Vol. VIII, 1999, p.216 n.16.

[7] For Walpole’s purchase see H. Walpole, The Letters of Horace Walpole, ed. P. Cunningham, London 1880, vol.I, pp.306-07.

[8] Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (hereafter BAV), Ms Capponi 274, c.778.

[9] Capponi had been befriended with Marmi since 1714; see A. Petrucci, “Capponi, Alessandro Gregorio,” Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Vol.19, Rome 1976, p.11.

[10] R.T. Ridley, “To Protect the Monuments: the Papal Antiquarian (1534-1879),” Xenia Antiqua, Vol.I, 1992, pp.137-38.

[11] F.P. Arata, “L’allestimento expositivo del Museo Capitolino al termine del pontificato di Clemente XII (1740),” Bollettino dei Musei Comunali di Roma, Vol. VIII, 1994, pp.47-48 n.6; Ridley, cit., pp.138-40.

[12] Nichols, cit., p.349.

[13] Nichols, cit., p.349.

[14] Nichols, cit., pp.349, 350.

[15] BAV, Ms. Ottob. Lat. 3115, c.83.

[16] Coleraine Coll., Rome Vol.IV, drawings 47-51.

[17] Prints made after Specchi’s drawings are in Rome, Biblioteca dell’Istituto Nazionale di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte, Collezione Lanciani.

[18] Robert, A Draughtsman in the Capitoline Museum, Musée de Valence, Inv.D 80; Natoire, The Interior Court and Gallery of the Capitoline Museum, Musée du Louvre, Département des Arts Graphiques, RF 31831.

[19] Coleraine Coll., Rome Vol.XIII, drawings 58, 59.

[20] Coleraine Coll., Rome Vol.I, drawings 33, 34.

[21] Coleraine Coll., Rome, Vol.VI, drawings 89, 90, and Vol.VIII, drawing 60.

[22] Coleraine Coll., Rome Vol.VI, drawing 91. I am indebted to Prof. John Pinto for identifying the subject of the drawing. For a description of the fountain, which no longer exists, see H. Hibbard, “The Architecture of the Palazzo Borghese,” Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Vol. XXVII, 1962, p.76.

[23] See M. Snodin (ed.), Sir William Chambers, London 1996, p.97.

[24] Coleraine Coll., Rome Vol. VIII, drawing 59, and Rome Vol. VII, drawings 4, 6.

[25] H. McBurney, Cassiano dal Pozzo’s Paper Museum, Edinburgh 1997, p.7.

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This page last updated: April 7, 2007.