Posts Tagged ‘Society of Dilettanti’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Peter Gandy
1787 – 2 March 1850

John Peter Gandy was the youngest of the ten children of Thomas Gandy (d. 1814) and his wife, Sophia, née Adams. His older brothers included the painter Joseph Michael Gandy ARA (1771–1843) and the architect Michael Gandy (bap. 1773, d. 1862). Their father Thomas worked at White’s Club, St James’s, London.

In 1805 John Peter Gandy was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools, where he was awarded their silver medal in 1806. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1805 and 1833. His early exhibits included “A Design for the Royal Academy” (1807) and two drawings, “An Ancient City” and “The Environs of an Ancient City” (1810).

He was a pupil of James Wyatt from 1805 to 1808 and, when he left Wyatt’s office, he took a job at the Barrack Office. In 1810 his was the winning design for a new Bethlem Hospital, though it was never built. He was granted leave from the Barrack Office from 1811 to 1813 to accompany Sir William Gell as his architectural draughtsman on an expedition to Greece on behalf of the Society of Dilettanti. The write-up of the trip was published in 1817 as The Unedited Antiquities of Attica, and in 1840 as the third volume of Antiquities of Ionia, edited by William Wilkins. Gell and Gandy also published Pompeiana (1817–19), which came to be the standard work on the excavations at Pompeii.

Gandy was elected a member of the Society of Dilettanti in 1830 and then began establishing himself as an architect. To begin with he collaborated with William Wilkins on works including an abortive 1817 design for a 280-foot tower commemorating the battle of Waterloo, intended for Portland Place, the plan fell through due to an economic recession; the United University Club, Pall Mall from 1822–26; and on University College London, for which his designs were runner-up to Wilkins’s, which Gandy then assisted Wilkins to construct.

Gandy’s other London buildings included the Greek Revival St Mark’s Church, North Audley Street (1825–8), and Exeter Hall, in The Strand (1830–31). He remodelled the courtyard of Burghley House, Northamptonshire (1828) and made alterations at Shrubland Park, Suffolk (1831–3). Though he was regarded as an authority on Greek architecture and produced mostly neo-classical designs, there were exceptions, such as the hospital at Stamford, in the Tudor Gothic style. He was elected ARA in 1826 and RA in 1838, with Wilkins’ support.

In 1828 Gandy’s friend Henry Deering bequeathed him the Lee estate, near Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. Gandy took the name of Deering and, gradually giving up his profession as an architect, spent the rest of his life as a country gentleman. He was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Aylesbury at the 1847 general election, but a petition led to his election being declared void in 1848. He was High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1840.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Society of Dilettanti
Since 1732 –

Society of Dilettanti is believed to have been established as a London dining club in 1732 by a group of people who had been on the Grand Tour. Records of the earliest meeting of the Society were written somewhat informally on loose pieces of paper. The first entry in the first minute book of the Society is dated April 5, 1736.

In 1743 Horace Walpole condemned its affectations and described it as such; “…a club, for which the nominal qualification is having been in Italy, and the real one, being drunk: the two chiefs are Lord Middlesex and Sir Francis Dashwood, who were seldom sober the whole time they were in Italy”

The group, initially led by Francis Dashwood, contained several dukes and was later joined by Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Uvedale Price and Richard Payne Knight, among others. It was closely associated with Brooks’s, one of London’s most exclusive gentlemen’s clubs. The society quickly became wealthy, through a system in which members made contributions to various funds to support building schemes and archaeological expeditions.

The first artist associated with the group was George Knapton.

The Society of Dilettanti aimed to correct and purify the public taste of the country; from the 1740s, it began to support Italian opera. A few years before Sir Joshua Reynolds became a member, the group worked towards the objective of forming a public academy, and from the 1750s, it was the prime mover in establishing the Royal Academy. In 1775 the club had accumulated enough money towards a scholarship fund for the purpose of supporting a student’s travel to Rome and Greece, or for archaeological expeditions such as that of Richard Chandler, William Pars and Nicholas Revett, the results of which they published in Ionian Antiquities, a major influence on neo-Classicism in Britain. One notable member was Sir William Hamilton, the British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples.

The Society has 60 members, elected by secret ballot. An induction ceremony is held at a London club. It makes annual donations to the British Schools in Rome and Athens.

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