The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 9 Piccadilly

Aspley House

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Piccadilly ends at Hyde Park Corner, and the last house in the street ('No. 1, London'), overlooking the busy open space, is Apsley House, the residence of the Duke of Wellington. Originally built of red brick between 1771 and 1778 by the Adam brothers, for Henry Bathurst, Baron Apsley and Earl Bathurst, this house passed in 1810 into the possession of Marquis Wellesley, elder brother of the famous Duke of Wellington, and in 1820 by purchase into that of the Duke himself, who, however, had resided here since 1816 in 1828-29 the mansion was faced with stone, and the Corinthian portico was added, together with the west wing containing the Waterloo Gallery, in which the Waterloo Banquet was annually held until the Duke's death in 1852. The iron shutters put up in 1832 during the Reform agitation, when the windows were broken by the mob, were removed in 1856. The mansion contains many treasures of art and memorials of the great Duke, but admission is granted on personal introduction only. At the foot of the circular staircase is Conova's colossal nude statue of Napoleon, completed in 1811 and presented to Wellington by the Prince Regent. The so-called 'Mattei' bust of Cicero in the entrancehall is the only antique bust of the orator bearing an antique inscription. Wellington's study is preserved very much as he left it; another room is used as a museum for the many costly gifts, orders, etc., bestowed upon him. Apsley House contains also a highly important picture-gallery, several of the leading works in which once belonged to the royal Spanish Collection and were captured in the travelling carriage of Joseph Bonaparte after the rout of Vittoria. The King of Spain subsequently declined to become again possessed of these works which had passed to the Duke 'by means as just as honourable.' STUDY Hoppner, 167. First Duke of Wellington, 173. Lady Anne Culling Smith and her two daughters; 29. Lawrence, Marchioness of Wellesley. GARDEN ROOM. Lawrence, Third Earl Bathurst; 99. Richard Lawrence, 'Copenhagen,' the Duke's charger at Vittoria and Waterloo. STAIRCASE. 36, P. de Hooch, Musical party (a late work; signed); 64. Jan Steen, Egg-dance (signed). - DINING ROOM. 4. Gerard, Alexander I. of Russia. - YELLOW DRAWING ROOM. 15. Lawrence, Lord Lynedoch; 119. Gerard, Jerome Bonaparte; 263. Glats, Duke of Wellington (his last return from duty); 390. Landseer, The white horse 'Moscow.' PICCADILLY DRAWING ROOM. 86. Brouwer, Boors (replica of the picture at Budapest); 85. A. van Ostade, Skittle-players; 52. Teniers, Interior of a cow-house; 60. N. Maes, Listener; 9. P. de Hoock, Conversation; 89. J. Steen, The sick lady. - PORTICO ROOM. 189. Murillo, Portrait; 82. Watetau, Fete champetre; 11. Wilkie, Chelsea pensioners reading the Waterloo despatch; 217. J. Burnett, Greenwich pensioners. - PICTURE GALLERY. 51. Vermeer, Bleaching-ground; Wouverman, 86. Return from the chase, 247. Departure of a hawking-party; 31. Teniers, Alchemist; 84. Luini, Madonna; 50. Sir A. More, Mary I.; 47. Velazques, Pope Innocent X.; 38. Correggio, Agony in the Garden (the original of No. 78 in the National Gallery); Velazques, 53. Spanish gentleman, 59. Water-seller of Seville (of his early period), 50. Figures and still-life (a very early work).