Author(s): Robert J. Gemmett
Vilified publicly as a paedophile, William Beckford sought refuge in his Fonthill estate where he amassed works of art fit for a king.
He resided initially in a magnificent house called Fonthill Splendens, but then ordered it demolished to fund a work of art on a grand scale called Fonthill Abbey. Four public sales in 1801 and 1807 provided accessibility to Splendens and thousands came to examine the opulent offerings. Then the new structure with its extravagant Gothic interior, extraordinary possessions and scenic landscaping effects began to draw obsessive attention. This interest reached a pitch in 1822 when the entire estate was offered for sale, developing into a ‘Fonthill fever’ with over 7,000 people gravitating to Beckford’s ‘Holy Sepulchre’.
William Beckford’s Fonthill: Architecture, Landscape and the Arts examines Beckford’s building, landscaping and collecting habits that led to this remarkable public interest. The building collapsed in 1825, but contemporary drawings and engraved ‘views’ have continued to keep it alive as an indelible icon of the Romantic period.
|234 x 156 mm
|15 March 2016
|93 colour illustrations