Summary


This work is the companion piece of View of Copped Hall in Essex, from the Park (Tate T07555). The manor of Copped Hall was first recorded in the Middle Ages. The original owner was the huge monastery at Waltham but the Hall and estates passed to the Crown during the years of dissolution (1536-9) under Henry VIII (ruled 1509-47). The ownership of the Hall passed through several hands until it was purchased (probably in 1739) by Edward Conyers of Walthamstow, Member of Parliament for East Grinstead. His son, John Conyers (1717-75), who commissioned the Lambert views, was Member of Parliament for Reading (1747-54) and for Essex (1772-5).

Lambert's views subtly allude to the history of the estate and connect the house with its previous ownership. The fisherman and the straight-edged banks in the present work show that this is a fishpond rather than an ornamental lake - an essential resource, like the shooting of deer indicated in the companion picture, for provisioning a country house. Fishponds were associated with ancient monastic properties, while deer parks (and swans) hinted at the Hall's earlier royal privileges.

The views of Copped Hall were commissioned in 1745 by John Conyers, who had inherited the Hall on his father's death in 1742. By the time Conyers commissioned them he had already made plans for the erection of a new Palladian house.

The works were not simply the statement of a wealthy young man with a fine estate, but a record of his original inheritance, commemorating the grand old mansion before its destruction. Conyers' desire to keep mementos of the venerable old Hall is shown by the fact that he had it recorded for posterity on several occasions: as well as the pendant views by Lambert, there are several drawings and sketches of the old house attributed to his brother-in-law Sir Roger Newdegate, dated to the 1740s. In addition, a miniature replica of the lake view was included in Francis Hayman's portrait of him (Marble Hill House, Twickenham) of c.1747.

As well as showing two different angles of the house, one from across the park, the other from over the lake, Lambert has taken the innovative step of depicting them in contrasting weather conditions: the heat and calm of a summer's day in the parkland view complements the breezy freshness of the windswept lake in the other.

Although the overall designs and execution of the landscapes were the work of Lambert, the paintings were the result of a collaboration with Francis Hayman who was employed by John Conyers to add enlivening staffage to the scenes, namely the elegant figure groups, the boat and swans. Such collaborations with other artists were not unusual for Lambert and he is known to have worked on similar commissions with a number of others, including Hogarth (1697-1762) and Samuel Scott (1702-72). Lambert would have known many of these artists, including Hayman, through the St Martin's Lane Academy or the Foundling Hospital.

Further Reading

Elizabeth Einberg, 'A Portrait by Francis Hayman Identified', Burlington Magazine, March 1973, pp.157-8, ill. 12 & 13
John Harris, The Artist and the Country House, Yale 1979, pp.247, 264, ill. 281a & b

Diane Perkins
December 2000