A story in 100 objects
This painting records the recovery of Mount Edgcumbe and its owners following the English Civil War and the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. The estate had been attacked by Roundheads during the Civil War and some outbuildings destroyed but the main house was protected when Colonel Piers Edgcumbe surrendered peacefully in 1646.
In 1664 Colonel Piers obtained a Royal Licence from King Charles II to enclose the old road to Maker and build a new one so that he could enlarge Mount Edgcumbe House. His son, Sir Richard, inherited in 1667 and started to modernise the house and grounds in the style of Charles II. A new stone portico was erected over the front door (which still stands) and a new banqueting hall was built to replace the one destroyed by the Roundheads. Charles II himself visited twice. Other distinguished visitors included Samuel Pepys.
It was fashionable at the time to employ English and Dutch landscape artists to create paintings of country houses and grounds, often for display over doors or fireplaces. Sir Richard employed a Dutch artist, Gerard Van Edema, to paint a series of views of Mount Edgcumbe.
Edema had come to England around 1670 and had made his name painting exotic scenes of North America and the West Indies which proved popular with London businessmen and the nobility. He often employed others to paint details onto his landscapes, especially Jan Wyck. Interestingly Sir Richard engaged Edema, Wyck and Van De Velde (whose paintings can also be seen at Mount Edgcumbe) to work together.
This landscape painting of Mount Edgcumbe contains a wealth of detail. It shows the modernised house, the newly built banqueting hall and the new road to Maker. The shadowy area to the right of the main house may have been the 17th century stables and service yard. The painting also depicts a busy waterfront at Cremyll and the gated avenue leading up to the house. Further along the coastline are the Blockhouse and garden pavilions.
“In 1768 Cookworthy founded a factory in Plymouth to produce Plymouth Porcelain, similar to Chinese porcelain but using local materials.”