Rysbrack - Restoration
The paintings have a key role in the historical research of ChiswickRysbrack’s paintings have a central place in the historical research of Chiswick undertaken for the restoration. They document the appearance of the House and Gardens as they were in the late 1720s or early 1730s and provide a clear record of the breadth and scope of Burlington’s Arcadian vision and the work undertaken.
In addition, the Rysbracks are full of details that no longer survive: the two ponds beside the canal, the elaborate gardens west of the water, garden buildings such as the Bagnio and Casina, and of course major lost structures such as the Jacobean House, which was demolished in 1788.
The paintings are also beautiful in their own right and of the sources for Lord Burlington's gardens and buildings, they are the only ones to provide detail about colour. For example, they show that the villa was originally rendered or painted so that the walls were the same colour as the Portland stone of the portico. The original Jacobean House was likewise rendered, but the stable block was in bare purple brickwork.
Over the past 300 years, the gardens have been transformed from a great nobleman’s estate to a public park. The restoration project at Chiswick House Gardens was designed to view the history of Chiswick more widely than just the period of Lord Burlington.
Today the different areas within the estate each embody a distinct historical period and together combine to deliver a beautifully illustrated history of English garden design. And while some of Burlington’s features recorded in the paintings that were lost over time have been reinstated – such as the original alignment of the western allée in the Patte d'oie, or the layout of terms and cedars in the villa forecourt – the project has also tried to respect the changes in the periods after Lord Burlington's death.
Today visitors can view the paintings brought together in the house, and with them in mind, can go out into the gardens and see more clearly than ever not only Burlington’s original vision but also how later owners of Chiswick transformed the landscape to their own wishes and tastes.