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The painting depicts West Wycombe Park estate. The house can be seen in the distance on the left hand side. West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire is infamous for its association with the Hellfire Club, which was run by the house’s owner, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and a famous dilettante Sir Francis Dashwood.
Sir Francis Dashwood began designing West Wycombe’s gardens in the 1740s. The painting depicts ‘The Temple of Venus’, one of the garden’s earliest features – a circular temple, perched on a small manmade hill which housed a copy of the Venus de Medici. ‘Venus’ Parlour’ is the section of the garden below the Temple and a path led down the hill to a grotto built underneath. This was cleared when Humphrey Repton began re-landscaping West Wycombe in 1796, clearing the site of its most explicit references to sexuality, libertinism, and anti-virtue. West Wycombe is now a National Trust Property. In 1982, Quinlan Terry completed his reconstruction of the replica of the original grotto and temple. This commission was part of a plan to re-introduce the landscape’s illicit history, referencing the world of the Hellfire Club.
William Hannan is believed to have been born in Scotland and is associated with topographical landscape and decorative historical painting. Hannan exhibited work at the Society of Artists between 1769 and 1772, of which many were views of the Lake District. A major part of his painting career is associated with his employment at West Wycombe Park. There, the artist painted numerous views of the house and grounds in c.1751, as well as executing a neo-classical interior ceiling and a fresco depicting the ‘Chariot of the Night’ for the west portico in 1770. He died in West Wycombe in around 1775.
|Height||37.00 cm||(14.57 inches)|
|Width||55.50 cm||(21.85 inches)|
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