Enlightened Eclecticism The Grand Design of the 1st Duke and Duchess of Northumberland Adriano Aymonino

Publication date:
22 Jun 2021
Paul Mellon Centre
400 pages: 284 x 246mm
285 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

A beautifully illustrated exploration of opulent tastes and the power of patronage in 18th-century Britain

The central decades of the eighteenth century in Britain were crucial to the history of European taste and design. One of the period’s most important campaigns of patronage and collecting was that of the 1st Duke and Duchess of Northumberland: Sir Hugh Smithson (1712–86) and Lady Elizabeth Seymour Percy (1716–76). This book examines four houses they refurbished in eclectic architectural styles—Stanwick Hall, Northumberland House, Syon House, and Alnwick Castle—alongside the innumerable objects they collected, their funerary monuments, and their persistent engagement in Georgian London’s public sphere. Over the years, their commissions embraced or pioneered styles as varied as Palladianism, rococo, neoclassicism, and Gothic revival. Patrons of many artists and architects, they are revealed, particularly, as the greatest supporters of Robert Adam.  In every instance, minute details contributed to large-scale projects expressing the Northumberlands’ various aesthetic and cultural allegiances. Their development sheds light on the eclectic taste of Georgian Britain, the emergence of neoclassicism and historicism, and the cultures of the Grand Tour and the Enlightenment.

Adriano Aymonino is senior lecturer and director of undergraduate programs, Department of History and History of Art, University of Buckingham.

“A magnificent array of illustrations reconstitutes the houses —at Syon, it is still possible to judge the splendour of what architect Robert Adam created. Dr Aymonino has produced a well-written, thoughtful book that brings these extraordinary achievements sharply into focus.”—John Goodall, Country Life

“Draws on photos of surviving objects (both in situ and not), plans, elevations and interior decoration schema, and contemporary paintings and drawings. That makes for a beautiful publication.”—Historic House Magazine

“Beautifully illustrated and persuasively argued, Aymonino’s account restores this determined, occasionally vainglorious couple to prominence.”—Matthew Dennison, World of Interiors


“This volume is an important addition to the bookshelves of those interested in civic
improvement and personal virtue. It sheds light on the eclectic taste of Georgian Britain,
emergence of neoclassicism and historicism, the Grand Tour and the Enlightenment as
well as an engaging observation on the role played by these important collectors and
patrons.”—WSG Bulletin