Hello I’m your host Janelle and today I’m talking about the sumptuous interiors and art we saw in Bridgerton Season 1 in preparation for Season 2 coming out on March 25, 2022. As I mentioned in Part One, I have many thoughts and feelings about Bridgerton, and I’ve done my best to reign it in. If you all would like to hear more of my ramblings please Tweet me or DM me on Instagram, and I might put together an IG Live series as Season 2 is released where you all can ask me questions and listen to my live reactions to the show. Also, please stop listening now if you want to avoid any Season 1 spoilers, I mean it’s been a year since the release so well done you if you’ve made it this far without any spoilers.
Now just to touch on the web page associated with this episode, I want to make sure you all know that you can view all of the images and resources I discuss in this episode on my website, www.boozyarthistorian.com. On my website you will find all kinds of goodies, specifically web pages dedicated to each podcast episode I produce. Just click on the link to the episode you want to view on the website’s homepage and you’ll find the episode’s audio, a transcript of the audio, and accompanying resources and images. Right, now that I’ve done all of the housekeeping, let’s get into the good stuff!
In Part One we left off with the Royal Academy and Benedict Bridgerton’s blunder. Say that 5 times fast. In Part Two I want to get into the other filming locations we see in Bridgerton Season 1. Before we jump right into the art part of it, I want to discuss the types of rooms we would see in these grand houses. To break it down as simply as I can, there is the Parlor, which is a formal room in which the residents of a house can receive guests. Then there’s the Drawing Room which is a little less formal than a Parlor but is still not as intimate or informal as the Sitting Room, which is very informal and a room where the family and close friends could hang out in.
So when the Featherington ladies and Daphne Bridgerton have suitors call upon them, this would have happened in a Parlor or Drawing Room. Of course there are exceptions to this so the general outline of the rooms I’ve given you doesn’t hold true for everything. Now you’ve all very patiently let me go on about rooms and such, so let’s get into the good stuff, the residences of Bridgerton. The interior rooms of the Bridgerton’s home and Featherington home are all sets, but the exterior of it is a real building that you can visit even to this day. The building is known as the Ranger’s House, and it sits right near Greenwich Park in Southeast London. Ranger’s House was built in 1722 for Vice-Admiral Francis Hosier. While we can’t say for certain who the architect was, it’s believed to be John James. The house has had a variety of celebrity and predominant tenants over the course of its history, including the Duchess of Brunswich (who was the older sister of King George III). It is currently overseen by the English Heritage and holds the Wernher Collection. I definitely recommend having a visit.
But I digress, like I mentioned before the rooms we see used for the Bridgerton and Featherington interiors are sets, but that doesn’t make them any less fascinating. Now most of us are aware that the production team made a deliberate choice in having the Bridgerton family’s main color be a soft blue color. Which was to evoke the feeling of Tiffany’s & Co (aka Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and this contemporary feeling of Old Money. Which is quite apparent in the Blue Drawing Room, where Daphne receives the horrible Nigel Berbrooke. There are three things I would like to point out in this room that I found particularly fun while watching.
The first is the painting we see hanging over the fireplace of a woman dressed in blue. You can see this painting as Image 1 on the episode’s accompanying webpage. This painting is a portrait of Anne Dashwood, the Countess of Galloway. Lady Dashwood, was the daughter of Sir James Dashwood, a Member of Parliament for Oxford, and was quite the striking beauty as we can see in this portrait. This particular painting was commissioned as a marriage portrait for her future husband, John Stewart, the 7th Earl of Galloway. I can’t speak to their temperaments or how their marriage worked out, but I think it’s safe to say they did care for each other deeply since they went on to produce 16 children! It is quite easy to see as to why the set design team was drawn to this painting, as we have a woman with a title who was in a presumably loving marriage, much like the Dowager Viscountess Bridgerton, and she’s wearing a stunning blue dress. It’s also important to note that this portrait was done by the famous Sir Joshua Reynolds. Sir Joshua Reynolds lived from 1723 to 1792 and was THE portrait artists in English court during his life time. Some of you may also remember from the last episode that he was the one who helped found the Royal Academy and was close to King George III. We can easily recognize Sir Joshua Reynolds’ works based on his “Grand Style” which is the artistic technique to idealize the imperfect. I personally find the background’s he uses when creating portraits to be a big give away.
The next object I want to discuss in this room is the painting on the other side of the room, above the other fireplace, which is the portrait of Sir Robert and Lady Smyth with Their Son, Hervey. You can see the portrait in Image 2. Again we see the team utilizing a painting of a happy family to visually remind us of the happy Bridgerton family residing in the house along with the fact that various shades of blue are used throughout the painting making it aesthetically pleasing for the fictional space. Unlike the earlier portrait I’m afraid I don’t know a lot about the family in the portrait, but I do know a bit about the artist who painted them, Andrea Soldi. Soldi was an Italian portrait painter in England, who painted many noble and aristocratic families. He lived from 1703 to 1771. Interestingly Soldi’s funeral was paid for by Sir Joshua Reynolds, which also explains some similar techniques seen in Soldi’s works to that of Reynolds. With this information we can assume that this portrait would have been a big deal for the depicted family and a time of celebration for their success in British society.
The third object I wanted to talk about was actually not a painting but an instrument, the pianoforte! Now it wasn’t actually until recently that I learned the difference between a harpsichord and a pianoforte and I would say the biggest difference you should know about is the particular mechanics of the two objects. Both a pianoforte and a harpsichord utilize strings to produce sounds but the difference is a harpsichord plucks the strings to make sounds whereas a pianoforte uses a hammer to hit the string to make sounds. Also, pianoforte is a piano. The name simply shortened over time. With all of that being said, what makes this particularly interesting to me as an art historian is the fact that this was an expensive item to own in the Georgian Era. Usually women of higher classes would have had a pianoforte, since it was considered a pillar of refinement for women. Luckily the prices of pianoforte’s became more affordable and we see a large number of middle-class women purchasing them in the 18th century. Music was considered not only a way for a woman to be refined but also one of the few acceptable creative outlets women were allowed during this time period. We see music mentioned frequently in Regency books and even Jane Austen’s diary. If you’re curious about this topic and want to know more I’ve added a link to a fantastic article on music in period dramas in the Resources section. I do recommend you check it out.
Moving to the next drawing room, which I’ve named the Yellow Drawing Room there are two portraits worth noting. The first being the portrait of Richard Rich, the 2nd Earl of Warwick. Which you can see in Image 3. Those of you who listened to Part One will recognize the artist, Anthony van Dyck, as the same artist who painted the incredible portrait of the 4th Earl of Pembroke from Wilton House (aka the interiors used for royal residences). I’m still a bit curious as to why the Bridgerton team decided on this portrait because the Earl of Warwick was an interesting man, but doesn’t quite fit into the Bridgerton family theme. Not in a bad way, but in the sense that Earl was a Puritan and a sailor! Fun fact: the Earl was a major player in helping colonize Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
Now the other portrait I wanted to discuss is actually the one that sits on the other side of the wall from the 2ndEarl of Warwick. I’ve put a photograph of it from the actual show as Image 4. To be honest, I don’t know who is depicted in this portrait or who painted it, BUT my educated guess is an aristocratic woman is depicted here and the artist was Sir Godfrey Kneller. Based on other portraits that Kneller painted it does look very similar. Due to copyright issues I can’t put the works onto the website, but I can give you the names of the two paintings. The first is Sarah Jennings, Duchess of Marlborough painted by Kneller around 1695 and then the other painting is Elizabeth, Daughter of Thomas Crispe painted by Kneller at an unknown date. To make your life a little easier you can head over to the transcript of this episode to find the spellings of the paintings. So if you look at these two paintings you’ll see what I mean. They look oddly familiar to that of the painting found in the Yellow Drawing Room. With that being said, if there are any art historians out there who can tell me exactly who this portrait is of, please let me know because it is driving me crazy trying to figure out who it is.
Moving along to our next family in the ton, we’re going to Bath where the façade of the Featherington House is located. Since architecture doesn’t really exist like this in London, the Bridgerton team went to Bath where you can find a sort of time capsule of Georgian Era architecture. The façade of the Featherington’s residence is actually the Royal Crescent, one of the most famous landmarks in the city. Fun fact: Supposedly Elton John owns one of the houses at Royal Crescent, which adds just another level of fun to the show and the filming process. Again we see the Bridgerton team has done a brilliant job for film locations since, much like Grosvenor Square in London, the Royal Crescent was where elite British society lived during the Georgian Era. It’s also a great way to visually show that the Featherington’s are New Money, the façade of the building is a newer architectural style versus the older style of the Bridgerton family’s home, which represents Old Money. For those of you interested in visiting Bath, I highly recommend visiting No. 1 Crescent Circle which is a historical house where you can see how people decorated their homes in the Georgian era! You’ll also note that the Featherington’s parlor looks very similar to the room displayed on No. 1 Royal Crescent’s website.
But let’s move on to my more favorite part which is the art! There are two portraits in the Featherington’s parlor which caught my eye. The portraits of the woman and man which hang on either side of the stunning fireplace. On the left we have this wonderful woman dressed in a gorgeous pink dress, which you can see in Image 5. Unfortunately, we don’t know anything about the woman, but based on Joseph Wright’s work, the artist of this painting, we can assume she was a wife to a wealthy merchant or industrialist in the Midlands. Which is very on brand for the New Money aesthetic of the Featherington family. Joseph Wright of Derby lived from 1734 to 1797 and was a well-known English landscape painter and portraitist during his lifetime. He also studied under Sir Joshua Reynolds! Wright was also known for his Enlightenment works which utilized tenebrism (if you don’t remember from Part One this is the dramatic sister of the chiaroscuro technique), very much the play with light and dark in paintings. Some people may actually recognize the work you see in Image 6, which is An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump, also done by Wright. Wright is a fascinating artist and I definitely recommend you having a deeper look into him.
On the right of our lovely lady we have a portrait of a gentleman, a Mister George Robertson. You can see the painting in Image 7. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the man painted here either but I do know a bit about the artist. Much like the portrait of the woman we are getting New Money vibes from this painting. But getting back to the artist, John Francis Rigaud. Rigaud lived from 1742 to 1810. He was a member of the Royal Academy and spent his career working in England. Rigaud is best known for being a history, decorative, and portraitist painter. He also is well known for his ceiling paintings. One of the most notable being Somerset House, which some of you may remember from Part One!
Now there’s one more piece of art in this room that I would like to discuss before moving on to our next home. Which is the portrait of two children which hangs on the opposite end of the room. You can see them in Image 8. The wonderful portrait was done by Sir Joshua Reynolds, who painted the portrait of Anne Dashwood in the Bridgerton household. In this particular portrait we have George Capel, Viscount Malden, and Lady Elizabeth Capel. What is particularly interesting about this portrait is it’s of two children from an old family, which doesn’t quite fit into the message of New Money that we see conveyed on the opposite wall. George Capel was the 5th Earl of Essex and was a Member of Parliament. For art historians he’s worth noting since he was a major patron of the arts and built up a huge art collection at Cassiobury, as well as redesigning Cassiobury House itself. Some of the works included pieces by J.M.W. Turner who I mentioned in Part One.
The next house I want to discuss is also based in Bath, which is Lady Danbury’s house. I must admit the Bridgerton team was quite clever on this, and they utilized a building which has a Palladian style entrance, but if you were to go around the corner you would see a massive modern extension of the building, which was recently completed and is absolutely stunning. The Holborne Museum actually started off as the Sydney Hotel, and it was quite the spot for social events during the Georgian Era. There were pleasure gardens for guests and paying visitors to stroll through. For example, all of the scenes where Daphne and Simon are promenading would have been done in pleasure gardens such as the one you can still see today at the Sydney Gardens (which sit next to the museum). Fun fact: this particular pleasure garden was one of Jane Austen’s favorite spots to visit in Bath. The Sydney Hotel would host up to three galas a year! Some would be in celebration of royal birthdays or other notable events in the year. And much like we saw in Bridgerton, these gardens would have been spectacularly lit up with lamps!
Now, moving out of Bath but still keeping in line with a historical house used to film balls in, we have Hatfield House, or as we know it as Lady Trowbridge’s residence. Hatfield House is comprised of Jacobean architecture and was built in 1611 for Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury. It currently is home to the 7th Earl of Salisbury. It was also the childhood home to Queen Elizabeth I and remained one of her favorite residences throughout her life. Queen Mary also spent three years here under a sort of “house arrest” during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The house now acts as a sort of pilgrimage spot for Elizabethan historians and fans. The estate actually came to Robert Cecil since King James I wasn’t a fan of the house and gave it to him as a gift. William Cecil, father to Robert Cecil was chief advisor to Queen Elizabeth I and acted as Lord High Treasurer (which made him a very powerful man).
What makes him important to this particular episode is a painting he commissioned of Queen Elizabeth I. BUT, we don’t see this painting in the show because the Bridgerton team decided to hide it! Which is all kinds of rude in my opinion. You can see the portrait I’m talking about in Image 9. This is a spectacular portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, and interestingly was painted when she was 60. As you can see in the portrait she’s depicted much younger and is holding, one of my personal favorite accessories found in art, a rainbow! Hence the name Rainbow Portrait. It’s full of all kinds of heavy symbolism, for example the pearls in the Bible are a representation of God’s perfect creation since man does not need to polish or cut the object to make it more beautiful. The pearls also offer a reminder of the success England has had in the New World, since pearls are not indigenous to England. Now we’re not entirely sure who the artist is of this work but it is believed to have been done by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Marcus Gheerarets the Younger was a predominant Flemish artist at English court. He was also a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. Supposedly he was the first artists to paint his sitters in 3D! So this painting sits in the main ballroom of the estate, where we have the famous ball where Siena, the opera singer, is performing with this sort of cage thing on her head and Anthony Bridgerton is all kinds of upset because he loves her but has pushed her away. Very dramatic stuff. If the singers hadn’t been in that exact spot we would’ve been able to see the Rainbow portrait. Obviously I’m still a bit upset about this, but I will leave it be.
Some of you may also recognize the ballroom or even the front of the estate based on other movies, most notably The Favourite and Enola Holmes were filmed here. Another fun fact about this house is, Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil was Prime Minister for 3 terms under Queen Victoria. During his time in office he was notorious for putting family members into government positions (talk about nepotism). Now because of this, it’s believed this is where the saying “Bob’s your uncle” comes from, since if Robert was your uncle things would turn out ok for you.
Now last but certainly not least, let’s talk about Simon’s, the Duke of Hastings, family home. Castle Howard is still a private estate to this day and remains the home to the Howard family. They are a very old English family and can trace their lineage back to the 1400s. While Castle Howard is absolutely stunning, it technically isn’t a castle, but the structure we see today was actually built where Henderskelf Castle once stood. The estate is massive and sits on about 13,000 acres and had its own train station from 1845 to 1950s! It also has two follies for visitors to see, and one of which was used in the filming of Bridgerton. Some of you may remember the mention of follies at the beginning of Part One. Castle Howard was built in 1699 by John Vanbrugh, for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, Charles Howard, and took over 100 years to complete.Originally the house started out in a Baroque style but then the West Wing was done in a Palladian style, due to of course the longevity of the building of this. Unfortunately in 1940 there was a massive fire that caused damage to the dome and quite a bit of the house, which led to some major pieces of art being lost. Of course over time they rebuilt the damaged parts of the house and we see it in its full splendor. Fun fact: the house has over 145 rooms, making it one of England’s largest homes!
I love Castle Howard and I would love nothing more than to spend a week wandering it’s halls, but I want to quickly note that it bothers me to no end that there’s a portrait behind Daphne when she’s talking to the head housekeeper in the yellow room (I’ve put a picture of it up on the website for you all in Image 10, this is absolutely not my image so Netflix please don’t come after me). Now to me this looks like a portrait of a man by Hans Holbein the Younger. It looks like the right time period and has similar fashion to that of other Holbein portraits. For those of you not familiar with Hans Holbein the Younger was a German-Swiss painter and printmaker who was THE court painter during King Henry VIII’s reign. At one point Anne Boleyn was one of his patrons! So anyone who was anyone had their portrait done by Hans Holbein the Younger, and if they couldn’t afford him they would’ve found an artist to make a knock off version if you will. I’ve put in Image 11 a portrait of King Henry VIII painted by Hans Holbein the Younger, so you can see what I mean when it looks like the painting behind Daphne.
Ok you all are going to come for me for this, but the next room I want to discuss in Simon’s estate is not actually at Castle Howard but back at Wilton House, which I discussed in Part One. So in Image 12 you’ll see that this is the scene where Daphne and Simon are at his family’s home and he’s busy catching up on the affairs of the estate. Again this is Netflix’s image not mine! And what is particularly fun about this room is two things. The first is the GORGEOUS Chippendale bookcase on the left near Daphne. This bookcase is known as the Violin Bookcase, because of the wonderful violin carving on the front, which you can see in Image 13. The bookcase was commissioned by the 10th Earl of Pembroke, and it really is a breathtaking example of how skilled Chippendale and his artisans were. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the name, Thomas Chippendale is one of the most well known cabinet-makers of history. Chippendale lived from 1718 to 1779, and worked in London. What Chippendale is best known for publishing The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director in 1754. Why this is so significant is because most furniture makers during this time period had booklets of designs but never published them formally like Chippendale did. It made him a huge success amongst English aristocracy, who were the majority buyers of his book. Chippendale and the legacy of the craftsmanship is fascinating so I’ve put a link in the Resources section for you all, to act as a sort of starting point for learning more.
Now the second and last item I wish to discuss with you all is the numerous horse portraits we see behind Simon in Image 12. I’ve put in a couple of examples for you to see in Images 14 and 15. This was actually something interesting I learned from another historical society last year. Paintings like these acted as a safe topic of conversation for men to have, so we see frequently paintings of horses hung in men’s chambers or offices, and we actually see in Anthony Bridgerton’s office he also has a painting of horses. The other reason for paintings like these is they were a way to show off prize winning horses. So every time a horse won a race the owner would have had a painting like Images 14 and 15 created to mark the occasion. I think we are safe to assume then, that based on the staggering number of horse paintings in this particular room at Wilton House that the family has raised and or owned a large amount of successful racing horses! Part of me desperately hopes we do get to see horse races in Season 2 since it would make for a great example of a male dominated sphere of the ton. And with that we have come to the end of my thoughts for Season 1.
While I couldn’t get to everything I had wanted to, I hope you all found this episode incredibly helpful and you feel properly prepared for Season 2, I know I’ve blocked off the entire weekend of March 26 to binge watch Season 2. If you feel you can’t make heads or tails of the sumptuous visual world of Bridgeton I will always be here to answer any questions, comments, or thoughts you all may have. As always Tweet at me @boozyarthistorian or DM me on Instagram @boozyarthistorian. For those of you wanting to be a bit more booze with your art history. You can check out my TikTok channel where I pair drinks to artists and artworks every week! You can find me @boozyarthistorian. If you want less booze, you can find fun art history facts on my more “sober” account, @thecuriousarthistorian. If you liked this episode or any of my work, please consider donating so I can keep all of my episodes ad free! You can find me on Buy Me a Coffee under Boozy Art Historian. You can also keep up to date on all of my upcoming episodes and other news by subscribing to my monthly newsletter. No spam, just one email at the beginning of each month highlighting upcoming episodes and news. You can subscribe through the link in my Instagram profile or through my website www.boozyarthistorian.com. Thanks for listening in and see you next time on The Boozy Art Historian!