08 April 2014

KENTINO & The Duchess

"The Duchess" (Pathé Productions) filmed in 2007-at a number of grand locations: Chatsworth, Bath, Clandon Park, Kedleston Hall, Somerset House, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and Holkham Hall. The film starred Keira Knightley as Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire and Ralph Fiennes as the Duke of Devonshire.

Holkham Hall's Marble Hall and the Saloon served in many scenes as the interior of Devonshire House, the London residence of the Duke of Devonshire, no longer in existence. An eighteenth-century country house on the north coast in the county of Norfolk, Holkham Hall's Thomas Coke-"architect earl" met William Kent in Italy & Coke's Hall  would become Kent's masterpiece of the Anglo-Palladian ideal.

a scene from The Duchess, played out in Holkham Hall's Marble Hall

Constructed from 1734 to 1764, the 1st Earl of Leicester (Coke) commissioned Kentino-as he was called, to reach for phantasmagorical proportions in the Marble Hall.

to the heights-the ceiling of the Marble Hall

Ceiling & Coiffure-both the Height of Fashion

Kiera Knightley as Georgiana, at left, and right a stipple engraving of Her Grace the Dutchess of Devonshire (Georgiana) after a drawing by her cousin Lady Diana Beauclerk circa 1779.  The full engraving measures, plate size, 9 x 7 inches.

Devonshire House was the setting of many brilliant social and political maneuvers involving Lady Georgiana Spencer, William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire and the Whig supporters of statesman Charles James Fox.
In "The Duchess"-Holkham Hall becomes Devonshire House.

 Kentino by William Aikman
Britain’s leading architect, furniture designer, theatrical designer and landscape gardener of the second quarter of the 18th century

When a fire destroyed the original house along Picadilly, Cavendish sought an architect to build his new Devonshire House-
Enter, Kentino.
Holkham Hall  was under construction at the time-and Devonshire House would be Kent's first London commission. Rising to the occasion, Kentino created an austere facade for the Duke in the Palladian style-the epitome of  sophistication and style, while the interiors were in Kent's flamboyant zest for several period styles. Kent envisioned rooms that would equal the Devonshire art collections, rare books and portfolios. In the Duke's private sitting room his collection of engraved gems, Renaissance and Baroque medallions were housed in a glass case over the chimney piece.

 The Ballroom at Devonshire House before the house was destroyed to make way for progress in 1920. Highlighted pieces are associated with Georgiana (here) , from the Attic Sale at Chatsworth in 2010.

 William Kent's Saloon at Holkham Hall

Holkham Hall's Saloon in scenes from The Duchess

Why Kent? Why now? There is a major exhibition about his influence at the V&A “William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain” March 22 until July 13. The V&A site is teeming with Kentino- here for an in depth look, and if that's not enough- there is a book (688 pages) accompaning the exhibit. It's interesting to note the show is the result of a major research collaboration between the V&A and the Bard Graduate Center.

and Yes-Kentino has a twitter page, join him here

The movie was adapted from the book by Amanda Foreman “Georgiana the Duchess of Devonshire”, 2001. Foreman served as advisor to the movie. other sources for photographs and text not noted in the body of this story
Holkham Hall


  1. Fantastic! I do not think there is anything Kentian that I do not admire.
    __ The Devoted Classicist

  2. Home is a place one finds their Happiness within...Georgiana never did find it! I loved that book and movie, her friendship with Marie Antoinette, Romney and Reynolds paintings...wonder what happened to THAT Crystal Escalier of Devonshire House - so Dolmabace on the Bosphorus!

  3. What an amazing creature so far ahead of her times. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Loved the book and the movie - I am wondering if I can hold the book from the exhibit to read or if I will need a stand of some sort! Thanks for this great post!

  5. One can see why Bresson and de Sica preferred unfamiliar or unprofessional actors. Here the cast, officially brilliant as it is, inevitably imports diverse memories of prior roles - and while this usefully reminds us of the complexity of human character, whatever the script has to say, such convenings can have the aura of reunions of confusion. But even that is somehow gratifying and constructive, the more it is considered. Simon McBurney, to take an example, the figure on the right, clutching a glass of wine like a pint of ale, comes in as a jaded Whitehall spymaster from Tomas Alfredson's Le Carré movie, a crooked Oxford cop, and a cuckolding murder victim for ITV. Elements and flickers he retains from those embodiments, and others which we project back to him, cannot be said to be ill-anticipated by the English Baroque setting where he stands. On the contrary, it's invigorating to contemplate that architecture's reconciliation of such complexity. It isn't ornate, it's prudent. And of course this is a brilliant posting.

  6. The exhibition was at the Bard Graduate Center and we were on our way their but were prevented by a heavy fall of snow, lack of taxis, unavailable Uber, etc. However, we have tickets for the V&A show. I bought the book the minute it was published and it really is brilliant.

  7. Those ceilings especially have me mesmerized! Wonderful feature Gaye!

    The Arts by Karena

  8. Wouldn't it have been fun to have gone into Devonshire House in 1920 with one's own salvage crew!

  9. Loved the movie and Keira is my favorite actress. Knew nothing about the filming, etc.I think Georgina found a certain peace toward the end of her life.



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