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Spring Garden : The First Public Art Exhibition in London

Spring Garden : The First Public Art Exhibition in London

From the early eighteenth century to 1730s, the option of displaying art was very limited.[1] Artists could display in their atelier and only in the auctions.[2] Sometimes, they displayed their artworks in a coffee house. An example of this is Don Saltero’s coffee shop nearly 1708.[3] But it was unsure whether it was for sell or only displayed to the public.

 

In 1732, entrepreneur Jonathan Tyers reopened Spring Gardens at Vauxhall.[4] This garden was famous for its beautiful walkway under Charles II.[5] Jonathan developed it with elegant supper boxes and interesting paintings by William Hogarth and Francis Hayman (1708-1776). He decorated the garden with more than thousands of lights.[6] The landscape was decorated with old ruins and even an artificial waterfall, but the main attractions were the artworks [7]. People gathered there from all classes of the society, including men, women even children.[8] A catalog was published for them.[9] Prince of Wales also attended in the exhibition.[10] He refurbished the garden with 50 large paintings, including four Shakespearean subjects, four contemporary paintings by Francis Hayman, William Hogarth’s Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn (Figure 3), four contemporary naval voyage pictures by Peter Monamy, and twelve scenes from a popular novel, Pamela (Figure 4), by Joseph Highmore (1692-1780).[11]

 

The Spring Garden had some significant importance over the earlier art industry. Firstly, it was a very popular place. Vauxhall Garden was not only a successful business enterprise, but also acted like a theme park.[12] Its Romantic environment took the English people far from the madding crowd. Secondly, Tyres efforts took out the artists from their atelier to a bigger environment. It had another importance. It had separated artists’ studio and the display of art for the first time.[13] It had also separated the artists’ from the business. It showed that painting was a commodity and could be a highly profitable business. Finally, though, art was not the only product in Vauxhall, but this was acted as an early art gallery in London.[14]

 

The artists involved in the Spring Garden at Vauxhall, were also engaged with some social work. This was the time to donate charity schools, hospitals, and orphan homes.[15] William Hogarth gave some of his paintings to refurbish the common rooms of the Foundling Hospital.[16] After him, at least, twenty other painters gave their artworks to the charity. With this charitable work of artists’ organisation, they were more familiar and respectable in the society.

 

[1] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53-57.

[2] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53.

[3] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53.

[4] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53.

[5] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53.

[6] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53.

[7] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53.

[8] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53-4.

[9] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 55.

[10] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53.

[11] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 54.

[12] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53-7.

[13] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53-7.

[14] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 53-7.

[15] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 56.

[16] Bayer and Page, The Development of the Art Market in England, 56-7.

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Mustafa Ahmed Khan 10Mar 2021

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