Few pleasures come sweeter than a spring morning on the Thames path. Whether from Isleworth to Twickenham or Kew to Richmond, there is something in the air that lends an unusual geniality to the folk one passes. Thus did your editor make his way to the only place to be on Wednesday 13th April in 2016 – that is, the charming levée that heralded the opening of the ‘Capability Now’ exhibition at Orleans House, Twickenham. There amidst a crowd of Capability Brown’s most concerned admirers I happened across Dr S, famous – nay – notorious for his impersonations of a Confederate General. He was in hunting pink and full of enthusiasm for the new exhibition, which has so much to say about Richmond, about the Thames, and about their influence on the great man.
Rachel Tranter and Rickie Plant have managed to grab a first casting of the Haddonstone bust, coupled it with the Brown portrait from the National Portrait gallery on which it was based, and then topped it all with Brown’s plan for Richmond from the Royal Archive. What a heist – what a string of pearls! The confection is bejewelled with numerous other gems from the Orleans House collection – not least numerous engravings of Syon House from Kew – and it was hardly surprising in the circumstances that the learned Dr S should have been there, along with Lord T and Professor R, if I was not mistaken, with Mrs D expected any moment from Hampshire – in short with more dignitaries and people of worth than could possibly cram themselves into a note such as this.
I urge you to swell the throng and thither make your pilgrimage.