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NADFAS REVIEW / WINTER201029ESSENTIAL ACCESSORIESThe Lightbox has worked with theTassen Museum to bring the cream ofthe collection to the UK and theexhibition will provide a historical surveyof the development of the bag, withhistoric examples from the 17th and18th centuries up to present-daydesigner bags. The Lightbox likes to putits own stamp on any exhibition and soit will also feature the work of emergingUK fashion designers and a programmeof associated lectures, events and anextensive education programme. Obviously, the idea of the bag as anessential accessory through the agesbrings to mind that other vital accessorywhich has moved into the world of thefashion 'must-have', the shoe. A displayof shoes through the ages seemed anatural partner and The Lightboxcontacted Northampton Museum andArt Gallery who look after and curate thenational collection of shoes in the UK.The Shoe Collection at Northampton isthe largest collection of shoe heritage inthe world, containing more than 12,000items ranging from Ancient Egyptiansandals to contemporary design and isdesignated as being of national andinternational importance. Like the TassenMuseum, the Northampton collectionpresents a historical survey of theirspecialist subject, from medieval timesto present-day designer shoes, but alsolooks at shoes as symbols of socialchange. The collection's strength lies inits scope and range, includingeverything from fine historic footwear tobuttonhooks and shoelaces. It has anumber of shoes with historicalsignificance, such as Queen Victoria'swhite satin wedding shoes worn for herwedding to Prince Albert in 1840.Together, the bags and shoes on displaywill not only be a wonderful feast for theeye, but will also allow the visitor totrack social changes through theseessential accessories - how and whydid social changes affect the way peopledressed and what does the humble handbag and shoe tell us about history. Essential Accessories: A History of Handbags and Shoes, 29 March -17July, 2011, The Lightbox, Woking,Surrey. Entry free. The Lightbox'sFriends organisation will be arranging aprogramme of events alongside theexhibition. For details see: www.thelightbox.org.uk Tel 01483 737800Clockwise from top:Velvet reticuleembroidered withpearls and turquoise,France 1850-1870;Patent leather clutch,1980s; Clutch withmatching shoes, India1980s

walls of the gallery, decorating thewindows or stewarding. Attempting to show the breadth ofrural achievement, the exhibition focuseson 1727 to 1800 and simultaneouslylooks at the lives and portraits of sitterswho lived or regularly visited Dorset. Thisnarrative weaves aristocracy, gentry andpolitical elite with Poole's 'merchantprinces' and artists, natural philosophersand architects, such as the Bastardbrothers. By emphasising theimportance of the sitters, the exhibitiondraws on portraits from local andnational museums, though the largestnumber are mainly unseen portraits fromprivate collections. Some were ofnational significance, showing Dorsetwas far from an isolated rural county. Bythe end of the century, the ReverendThomas Rackett's clique brought newintellectual thinking from London torustic centres such as Blandford Forum,returning to report Dorset's scientific andantiquarian discoveries.Dorset landowners were determinedto defend their property from the fear ofFrench invasion and local unrest and theDorset militia was formed in 1757 withthe county's largest landowner, LordRivers, as its first commanding officer.Thomas Gooch's 1782 portrait showsRivers mounted, wearing the uniform, asits Colonel. Set in a Dorset militia camp,the prominence given to a soldier'sfamily promotes the ordered societyproffered under Rivers's command. Bythe 1790s, invasion of coastal Dorsetbecame increasingly likely and variousDorset nobility and landowners formed alight cavalry force, the Dorset VolunteerRangers, to protect their land from local"riots and tumults". As George III recovered from seriousillness, he visited Weymouth for itscurative properties; consequently thecourt effectively relocated there mostsummers between 1789 and 1805. TheKing used these visits to inspect30NADFAS REVIEW / WINTER 2010www.nadfas.org.ukRight:RebeccaSteward(1766-1859), ThomasBeach.Reynolds's firstpupil, and one ofhis most capableimitators, Beachpaintedmetropolitanclientele andlocal DorsetpatronsRegional portraiture in the 18thcentury is increasingly the subjectof study. Plymouth City Museum'sSir Joshua Reynolds: the Acquisition ofGenius, recently explored theimportance of Devon patronage toReynolds's career. The Dorset NaturalHistory and Archaeological Society'srecent purchase of the Rackett familyportraits by George Romney providesthe catalyst for a new exhibition,Georgian Faces: Portrait of a County,opening at the Dorset County Museumin January 2011. Key is Romney's full-length portrait of 12-year old ThomasRackett painted while Rackett wasunder the guidance of Linnaeanbiographer, botanist and Dorsetphysician Dr Richard Pulteney, laterRackett's neighbour when he became aDorset parson. The acquisitionprompted research into Rackett and hiscircle's activities as antiquarians andnatural philosophers. While Dorset did not produce apainter of Reynolds's calibre, it didprovide patronage to three paintersduring the century: Sir James Thornhill,Giles Hussey and Thomas Beach. Theirsare among the 70 portraits featured inthe forthcoming exhibition, which alsoincludes work by the century's leadingportraitists: Sir Joshua Reynolds,George Romney, Jonathan Richardson,Thomas Hudson, William Hoare, RichardCosway, Pompeo Batoni, ThomasGainsborough and Allan Ramsay.The exhibition has receivedsponsorship from Axa Art Insurance,Farrow & Ball paint suppliers, Duke's ofDorchester, Fine Art Auctioneers,Humphries Kirk, RK Harrison and privatetrusts. In addition, NADFAS membershave offered their support to theexhibition, including funding fromWessex Area and the local DorsetCounty DFAS. They will join members ofDorset Natural History andArchaeological Society in painting theFaces from the pastThe fascinating social circles of Georgian Dorset - which included aristocracy, 'merchant princes', artistsand architects - are the subject of a new exhibition of regional portraiture. By Gwen YarkerPORTRAIT OF A COUNTYnumerous troops from around the countrywho were camped on the surroundingdowns and to maintain close contact withthe local nobility, often accompanied byColonel Stephen Digby. Digby was from amajor Dorsetfamily living at SherborneCastle and he cared for the King duringhis illness; his portrait is one of a seriesof six brothers in the exhibition, fivepainted by Reynolds. Since neither Dorset sitters nor itsartists could claim responsibility for anymajor developments of the Englishschool during the century, the exhibitionfocuses on the sense of place andconservatism of Dorset's audience.Thomas Beach was its principal itinerantpainter. As Reynolds's first pupil and oneof his most capable imitators, Beach'sprolific portrait practice tells us muchabout the strategies of itinerant artists inthe 18th century, yet he has receivedlittle scholarly attention. Born andbrought up at Milton Abbas, hebenefited from the patronage of JosephDamer, first Earl of Dorchester, whocreated a fine picturesque landscape byflooding Beach's home village. Afterworking with Reynolds, Beach built uphis clientele in London and the WestCountry. From 1771, he was based inBath during the Season, spendingsummers mostly in Dorset, though alsovisiting Somerset and Devon. Theviability of the region for peripateticportraitists is also demonstrated by visitsmade around the same time by JohnDownman, who is represented throughhis 1778 portrait of the Reverend JohnRichards of Long Bredy. The recent discovery of Beach'spocket diary for 1798 details his life andworking practice in Bath and Dorset,revealing his commercial strategy andlife working for metropolitan clientelesuch as Lord Rivers and more localDorset patrons. During his summer visitsto Dorset, he stayed at his sitter'shomes; the diary provides glimpses of