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The magnificent equestrian self-portrait by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde and Richard Phelps, 1747 - part of the Bampfylde 300 celebrations at HestercombeAs part of the Bampfylde 300 celebrations Hestercombe’s galleries have reopened with a temporary exhibition of works from our own and private collections.

This temporary exhibition now focuses on two historically important artists: Coplestone Warre Bampfylde and the Rev. John Eagles, both of whom are significant contributors to Hestercombe’s past. The exhibition is an extension to the A Gentleman of Taste archive exhibition, which can found on the ground floor in Hestercombe House.

The exhibition has a one way route through four gallery spaces and features fantastic views of the formal gardens.

About the featured artists

Coplestone Warre Bampfylde (1720-1791)

C. W. Bampfylde was a talented and multifaceted artist. As the former owner of Hestercombe, he designed and built the now restored C18th landscape garden, in addition to producing a swathe of landscape and topographical sketches, paintings and etchings both at Hestercombe and throughout the South West. In the eighteenth century Bampfylde and his contemporaries, such as Thomas Gainsborough, William Hogarth, George Stubbs and Joshua Reynolds were pushing the boundaries of drawing and painting, responding to the past, looking abroad, yet innovating and creating the first national tradition of art in Britain.

Many of C. W. Bampfylde’s oil paintings were of idealized classical landscapes in the manner of famed Neapolitan artists Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) and Gaspard Dughet (1615–1675). As a watercolourist, he habitually sought inspiration from picturesque landscape scenery closer to home, prompting painting tours to Wales, The Peak District, and the Dorset coast amongst others.

The main Country Life art critic, Huon, Mallalieu described Bampfylde as ‘an amateur artist whose talents were far from amateurish’. He produced a remarkable body of work: paintings in the classical style, topographical English landscapes, Italianate capriccios, pastoral and rustic scenes, even book illustrations and a map cartouche (Map of Somerset by William Day and Charles Harcourt Masters, 1782). Through lack of awareness they languish undervalued in museums, private collections and art galleries around the world. The Hestercombe Gardens Trust Archive has been at the forefront of research to resurrect Bampfylde’s reputation as an artist with over 200 of his original artworks having been traced, and over eighty acquired.

Rev. John Eagles painting in the gardens at HestercombeThe Rev. John Eagles (1783-1855)

The Rev. John Eagles was an artist, poet and art critic, born in Bristol he was a first cousin of Miss Elizabeth Warre of Hestercombe and painted many works at Hestercombe in the early 1800s. Eagles felt that painting should be about escapism, he wrote: ‘Landscape…should be a poetical shelter from the world’.

After leaving Winchester College in 1802 he went to Italy, intending to become a landscape painter, attempting to copy the styles of Gaspard Poussin and Salvator Rosa. He narrowly escaped death when sketching on a tier of the Colosseum at Rome. In 1823 he published six etchings in the style of Poussin.

Eagles eventually decided to enter the church, he was appointed curate of St Nicholas Church, Bristol, and in 1822 he moved to Halberton in Devon, where he remained for twelve years. For the last five years of his time in Devon the wit Sydney Smith was his rector. After his retirement in 1841 he moved back to Bristol.

From 1831 until within a few months of his death Eagles was a contributor to Blackwood’s Magazine, a periodical whose narrow conservatism accorded with his own stance in both politics and art. His contributions were mainly on art, and the best of these were contained in a series of papers entitled ‘The sketcher’, which appeared in the magazine from 1833 to 1835. These were collected and published as a book in 1856.

Eagles also wrote poetry, and many of his poems were published in ‘The sketcher’. His friend John Mathew Gutch made a selection from these and others of his poems, original or translated, and fifty copies were privately printed, after his death, as A Garland of Roses (1857). Eagles also published The Bristol Riots (1832), a response to local disturbances over the Reform Bill. A volume entitled Sonnets, edited by another friend, Zoë King, appeared posthumously, in 1858.

Image: Rev. John Eagles painting in the gardens at Hestercombe.

For more information, please contact Hestercombe Gallery.