Victorian London - Directories - Dickens's Dictionary of London, by Charles Dickens, Jr., 1879 - "SKI-STA"

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Skinners’ Hall (The) is by no means as pleasant an apartment as the drawing-room, which is lavishly decorated and built entirely of cedar-wood. The hall, which dates from the Fire, was redecorated some five years ago. A portrait of Mr. T. G. Kensett, formerly clerk to the company, painted by Richmond, R.A., is the latest addition to the art collection. The company possesses fifteen university exhibitions and four free schools. Skinners’ Hall was frequently used by the Lord Mayor as a residence before the present Mansion House was built. When a master of the company is to be elected, the ex-holder of the office tries on a cap, which he declares to be a misfit. The cap is then passed from one to another till it reaches the person for whom it has been made, who declares it to be a fit, and so becomes master. The trade of skinner has decreased in importance latterly.

Smithfield Club, Half Moon-street, Piccadilly.—Strictly speaking, not so much a club as an agricultural society for offering prizes for improvements in feeding and fattening of cattle, &c. its annual shows take place at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, and are known as the Christmas Fat Cattle Show, held in December. The subscription is £1 1s. per annum, or life, £10 10s. No entrance fee. Qualification: Being proposed by any member of the club.

Soane Museum. 13, Lincoln’s-inn-fields—A collection of curiosities and pictures formed by the late Sir John Soane, the eminent architect, and given by him to the nation, together with a large sum of money for the support of the museum in perpetuity. The trustees have framed somewhat arbitrary restrictions as to the days and hours during which the public can have the advantage of inspecting their own property, and as an inevitable result this most interesting collection is less generally known than it deserves to be. Intending visitors must either apply personally or by letter to the curator a day or two before they propose to visit the collection, and even then certain frivolous, not to say vexatious, regulations must be complied with. Hogarth is here seen at his strongest in the series of pictures known as “The Rake’s Progress,” the truest and most tremendous work of any satirist since the days of Juvenal himself; and the great master is seen in his broader and more distinctly humorous view in his “Election” pictures. In addition to the Hogarths is a fine example of Sir Joshua Reynolds, “The Snake in the Grass” ; three views in Venice by Canaletto; a remarkable Watteau; and a Fuseli. A sarcophagus discovered by Belzoni, the first of the Egyptian explorers, at Thebes; ivory furniture from Seringapatam; a watch reputed to have been the property of Sir Christopher Wren; and a collection of gems and cameos, may be mentioned amongst the omnium gatherum which makes up Sir John Soane’s somewhat bizarre collection.

Soho Bazaar, 106, Oxford street—The best and oldest bazaar in London, chiefly devoted to the
supply of the various requirements of ladies and children. NEAREST Railway Station, Gower-street, Omnibus Routes, Gt. Portland-street, Oxford-street, Tottenham-court-road; Cab Rank, Deane-street.

Somerset House, Strand is the one memento left of the long succession of palaces which formerly lined the Middlesex bank of the Thames between London and Westminster. It is only a memento, not a relic; the old Somerset House, built in the middle of the sixteenth century for the Protector Somerset, by John of Padua, having been pulled down in 1775 when Buckingham House was settled upon Queen Charlotte in its stead. The resent building is the work of Sir  W. Chambers, and was erected with an express view to the purpose to which it has ever since been devoted, viz, the accommodation of various Government and semi-public offices. It is a fine work of its kind, though the effect of the river front, which is its finest visible façade, is naturally not improved by the removal of the river. It is in the Italian style, with capitals of various Grecian orders copied from original antiques. Bacon, Banks, Carlini, Flaxman, Geracei, Nollekens, and Wilton had all a hand in the ornamental portion of the work. NEAREST Railway Station, Temple (Dist.); Omnibus Routes, Strand and Waterloo-bridge; Cab Rank, Catherine-st.

South Australia.—AGENCY GENERAL, 8, Victcria-chambers, Victoria-street.—NEAREST Railway Station, St. James’s-park; Omnibus Routes, Victoria-street and Parliament-street Cab Rank, Victoria-street.

South Kensington Museum stands on twelve acres of land, acquired by the Government at a cost of £60,000; these are a portion of the estate purchased by Her Majesty’s Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851 out of the surplus proceeds of that undertaking. Here, in 1855, a spacious building was constructed, chiefly of iron and wood, under the superintendence of the late Sir W. Cubitt, CE., at a cost of £15,000; which was intended to receive several miscellaneous collections of a scientific character, mainly acquired from the Exhibition of 1851, and which had been temporarily housed in various places. In addition to the collections already alluded to, the whole of the Fine Art collections which had been exhibited at Marlborough House since 1852 were also removed to South Kensington ; and these were supplemented by numerous and valuable loans from Her Majesty the Queen and others. This iron building was opened on June 22, 1857, as the South Kensington Museum. It occupied the site of the new South Court, in which the cast of the Trajan Column and other architectural works are now exhibited. Immediately after the opening of the museum, the erection of permanent buildings was commenced ; and the Picture Galleries, the Schools of Art, the North and Central Courts, the Keramic Gallery, LectureTheatre, and Refreshment Rooms were completed and opened in successive years. The iron building was removed in 1865, and has been re-erected as a branch museum at Bethnal-green. The MUSEUM is open daily; free on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays. On students’ days, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, the public are admitted on payment of sixpence each person. The hours on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays are from 10 a.m. till 19 p.m.; on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 10 am. till 4, 5, or 6 p.m., according to the daylight. Tickets of admission to the museum, including the library and reading-rooms, and the Bethnal Green Museum, are issued at the following rates:, Weekly, 6d.; monthly, 1s. 6d.; quarterly, 3s. ; half-yearly, 6s.; yearly, 10s. Yearly tickets are also issued to any school at £1 which will admit all the pupils of such school on all students’ days. Tickets to be obtained at the catalogue sale stall of the museum.
THE COLLECTION OF BRITISH, PICTURES at South Kensington was commenced by the gift of Mr. Sheepshanks, who, in presenting his pictures to the nation, stipulated that they should be kept in suitable building in the immediate neighbourhood of Kensington. This gift was followed by other donations of pictures, and the galleries now contain 617 oil paintings and 1291 water-colour drawings, specimens of the works of the best British Masters, nearly all contributed by private individuals for the advancement of the public art-education in this country.
THE COLLECTIONS OF SCULPTURE consist chiefly of decorative sculpture of the Renaissance period in marble, stone, and terra-cotta, including numerous specimens of the glazed terra-cotta of the 15th century, known as Della Robbia ware.
THE EDUCATIONAL COLLECTION was begun by the Society of Arts, and first exhibited in St. Martins Hall in 1854, after which exhibition numerous objects were presented to the Government to form the nucleus of an educational museum. These were added to the other collections at the South Kensington Museum, and this collection has now, by means of the voluntary contributions of the publishers of educational works and by the aid of the State, become a very important branch of the South Kensington Museum. Its library contains upwards of 36,000 volumes of educational books, and the collections of scientific apparatus, models, and appliances for educational purposes, number some thousands of specimens.
MATERIALS FOR BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION.—The nucleus a this collection was formed partly by gifts and purchases from the Exhibition of 1851 and from the Paris Exhibition of 1855. It has since been greatly increased, and chiefly maintained by contributions of building contrivances offered for exhibition by inventors and manufacturers. It comprises sample of building stones, cements, terra. cottas, bricks, fire-proof floors ornamental tiles, enamelled slate specimens of woods for construction, &c.
REPRODUCTIONS by electrotype by casting, and by photography of historical art-monuments an of art-objects existing in the collections of other Countries, have been obtained and used, not only for exhibition in the South Kensington Museum, but to furnish models for the use of the student in the schools of art in the provinces. Many such objects, of great educational value, have been secured by the convention for international exchange made by some of the leading powers of Europe at the Paris Exhibition of 1867.
NAVAL MODELS.—In the year 1864 the collection of the naval models belonging to the Admiralty was removed from Somerset House to South Kensington. This collection has, for educational purposes, since been transferred to the Royal Naval School at Greenwich. During the time of its remaining in the galleries at South Kensington, however, many acquisitions were made; these are still exhibited at South Kensington, and comprise several important models, and various appliances for modern warfare.
LOANS FROM PRIVATE COLLECTORS—In addition to those important collections of art-objects acquired by the State, the Sooth Kensington Museum contains in one of its courts, especially devoted for this service, a large collection of art-objects on loan from various private owners, who desire to co-operate with the Government in carrying on the art-education of the public. Objects lent for exhibition are accepted on the understanding that they remain for a period of not less than six months; and although every care that the State can command is guaranteed for such deposits, the authorities of the Museum do not hold themselves responsible for loss or damage.
RULES RESPECTING THE RECEPTION BY THE SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM AND ITS BRANCH MUSEUM AT BETHNAL-GREEN, OF OBJECTS GIVEN, LENT, OR SENT ON APPROVAL FOR PURCHASE- Donors or lenders of objects, and students of the department are admitted free to the Museum and Branch Museum, on signing their names in a book at the entrance, on all days when they are open to the public. All gifts are received on the understanding that they are at the absolute disposal of the committee of council, and are to be exhibited wherever the Committee of council may think fit. Objects received on loan must be lent for a period of not less than six months and may be exhibited at any affiliated institution, unless special agreement be made to the contrary. Whilst every care is taken of objects lent for exhibition, or deposited on approval for purchase, the Museum (following the rule of the Royal Academy and other bodies) cannot be responsible for loss or damage. No object can he received on approval for purchase unless the price be named before or on delivery; and it is to be understood that the Museum has the first right of making a purchase at any time within the period for which the objects are lent. Photographs, copies or casts, are made of such loans as may be useful for instruction in schools of art, unless the lender objects in writing. Two copies of each photograph are sent to the lender. Permission to copy or photograph objects on loan is not granted to private persons without the sanction in writing of the lender. For convenience of reference and comparison, objects submitted for purchase are liable to be photographed solely for official purposes and not for sale, unless an objection in writing be made by the proprietor at the time of the delivery of the objects. When photographs are taken, two copies will be given to the proprietor of the object photographed.
REGULATIONS FOR COPYING IN THE SOUTH KENSINGTON MUSEUM—Any person may, at any time when the Museum is open to the public, sketch or make notes of any objects in the Museum (see exceptions below), provided such copying do not necessitate his or her using an easel or extra seat, or otherwise obstructing the circulation of visitors. Any person wishing to copy by using an easel, &c., can do so on any students’ day, under proper arrangements to prevent inconvenience to the public. The following are the exceptions referred to:
a. The paintings in Water colours, to copy which no permission is granted. b. Objects on loan can only be copied on the production of the written permission of the Owners, which will be retained by the department. c. Pictures in the Sheepshanks’ Gallery, to copy which special permission must be obtained, in accordance with the following conditions: Forms of application for permission to copy are supplied by the attendant in the gallery, or will be sent in reply to a letter addressed to the Director, South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. No application to copy the works of any living artist can be entertained unless it be accompanied by the written permission of such artist. Such permission will only allow of works being copied by means of water colours, or on porcelain, or by drawing or engraving, copying in oil not being permitted. Applicants must, if required, send specimens of their competency. No copying can be permitted except on the days devoted to study; and not more than four persons can be admitted at the same time to work in any apartment. No work can be removed from the walls for the purpose of copying.
THE LIBRARY is contained in rooms on the west side of the north court, and is entered through a door in the west arcades. (See ART TRAINING SCHOOL.)
THE EDUCATIONAL READING ROOM is at present situated in a temporary building at the extreme western side of the museum, and is entered from the west corridor. On students’ days the reading-room is open to all visitors ; on free days admission is restricted to clergymen, teachers of schools for the poor, or holders of tickets. Among the most noteworthy and interesting objects are: In the ARCHITECTURAL COURT, a rood loft of alabaster and coloured marbles, with sculptured decoration; a fine specimen of Flemish architecture, brought from the cathedral at Bois-le-Duc, North Brabant, and dated 1625. in the SOUTH COURT Dr. Schliemanns (loan) collection of antiquities from Hissarlik, consisting of stone, flint, and bone implements, pottery of a variety of forms, terra-cotta balls with incised surfaces (whorls), copper and bronze articles in great variety, and a case of gold and silver cups, gold earrings, and two extraordinary gold frontlets or head-dresses. Against the west wall is a fine marble sculpture of the 4th century, representing Phoebus Apollo driving the horses of the sun, originally forming a metope of the Doric temple of Phoebus Apollo at Ilium; beside it is a stele or memorial pillar with Greek inscription, probably of the 3rd century, found on the site of the temple of the Ilium Minerva. In front of the colossal figure of a Bodhisatura, or sacred person destined to become a Buddha, is a case containing a sea eagle, or osprey, with outspread wings, and standing on a rock, made by Miyochin Muneharu, who is thus described in a Japanese cyclopaedia:
Under heaven there never was a smith the equal of Miyochin Muneharu.
It is a specimen of Japanese ironwork of the 16th century, showing great technical skill in the workmanship, each feather being dexterously executed, and the whole forming a work of great artistic excellence. In the ORIENTAL COURTS the cases contain weapons of war, swords, Spanish rapiers, daggers, wheel-lock rifles, pistols, powder-flasks, &c. showing the peculiarities of ancient construction or artistic decoration. Many of these formed part of. the celebrated Bernal collection, the sale of which, in the year 1855, had so great an influence in spreading the taste for collections of Renaissance art. One case is filled with steel coffers, some of them remarkable for their large and intricate locks; other cases with examples of metal work, chiefly art bronzes, statuettes and groups, inkstands, candlesticks, snuffers, ewers, mortars, door-knockers, handles, lock plates, a pair of gilt bronze (16th century) fire dogs, or andirons, lent by the Queen, a statuette of Ceres (17th century), a cupid holding a dolphin ascribed to Donatello; especially to be noticed are the candlesticks and other objects in bronze from the Soulages collection. Here also are salvers of pewter by, or in the manner of, Francois Briot, a French goldsmith of the 17th century, who lavished on this comparatively poor material skill and labour worthy of the precious metals; also damascened salvers and ewers, Saracenic and Venetian. In cases in this row are a collection of English and foreign gold and silver coins, given by the Rev. R. Brooke, and others bequeathed by the late Mr. T. Millard; a collection of snuff-boxes, bequeathed by Mr. G. Mitchell; also snuff-boxes and etuis in gold, enamelled, jewelled, &c., and miniatures in oil and water-colour —chiefly French, German, and English—lent by Mr. C. Goding. Mr. Goding’s collection of painted and enamelled boxes is probably the finest in existence, and is valued at £40,000. Fine Italian bronze busts of the 16th century, ascribed to Bernini, are placed on pedestals near here. In the NORTH COURT two fine examples of the peculiar flat relief introduced by Donatello should be studied: his Christ in the Sepulchre supported by Angela, and the Delivering of the Keys to St. Peter. On brackets and screens on the left or west side of this court are placed several terra-cotta busts, chiefly contemporary portraits of Florentine citizens of the 15th century. The evident fidelity of these portraits is very striking. Among them is one of the celebrated Dominican preacher and reformer, Jerome Savonarola, who was burnt in the Piazza del Signoria, at Florence, in 1498; and near these are bas-reliefs, figures and groups, chiefly in unglazed terra cotta, some of singular beauty. Here also is a large collection of sculpture in terra cotta, both plain and enamelled. Of the enamelled terra cotta known as Della Robbia ware, the museum possesses more than fifty examples, several of them of great excellence. A very important example is an altar-piece representing the Adoration of the Magi, and containing upwards of twenty figures, many of which are believed to be portraits of contemporaries of the sculptor, probably Andrea della Robbia, during the lifetime of his uncle Luca. Another very beautiful example of Della Robbia ware is a full-length figure of the Virgin, with the Infant Saviour in her lap, under an arched border of fruit and flowers, and supported on a triangular bracket. Twelve circular medallions of enamelled terra cotta painted in blue, with representations of the agricultural operations of the twelve months of the year, and with the zodiacal signs, are attributed to Luca dell Robbia, and are supposed to have been used for the interior decoration of the writing cabinet of Cosmo de’ Medici. The EAST ARCADE is divided into several bays by transverse-walls, into which are built several fine carved stone chimney-pieces. Conspicuous among these is one brought from Padua, which was made about the year 1530. Its frieze is filled by a continuous band of hunting scenes, in which are represented human figures, horse dogs, and wild animals in full relief. It is protected by glass In the READING-ROOM of the ART LIBRARY is a harpsichord formerly the property of Handel which has recently been presented to the museum by Messrs. Broadwood and Sons. Near it is a spinet made by Annibale de Rossi of Milan, and dated 1577; it is remarkable for the decoration of its case, of pear-tree wood carved and encrusted with ebony, ivory lapis lazuli, and rare marbles. A spinet in leather case, decorated in coloured glass, made at Murano towards the end of the 16th century, and said to have belonged Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, daughter of James I.; and two other Italian spinets, dated 1555 and 1568, stand close by; and a small German finger-organ of the 16th century, in a highly decorated case: this organ was said by its late owner to have once belonged to Martin Luther. A virginal, signed “John Loosemore, fecit 1655,” stands near, in an oak case painted in oil on the inside. Near is a cabinet of marqueterie, the fronts of the drawer carved with emblematic groups of figures in high relief. This is said to have been made from the design of Hans Holbein for Henry VIII. It was formerly in the Strawberry-hill Collection. In the PERSIAN COURT is arranged the fine collection of Persian textiles, given by H.I.M. the Shah; the earthen. ware, tiles, metal work, carpets, &c., purchased in Persia by Major R. Murdoch Smith, R.E., and M. Richard. In the PRINCE CONSORT GALLERY are placed many of the most interesting and costly possessions of the museum, including a valuable collection of ancient enamelled objects, chiefly of ecclesiastical use. The most important of these is the large shrine or reliquary, in the form of a Byzantine church surmounted by a dome. This shrine which is 22 in. high, and 20in. wide, was bought for the museum in 1851, at the sale of the celebrated Soltykoff collection, for £2,142. The columns, walls, and roof are covered with champleve enamelling, and 4 panels and 28 statuettes of carved ivory are incorporated in the design. Altogether it is one of the most important existing remains of Rhenish Byzantine art of the 12th century. A large altar cross of Rhenish Byzantine work of the 12h century is also specially interesting, on account of its symbolism. Five medallions of champleve enamel are inserted in it; one in the centre bears the holy lamb, the others bear representations of: 1. Jacob blessing the sons of Joseph, by crossing his arms. 2. Aaron marking the house of an Israelite with the letter tau a recognised emblem of the cross. 3. The brazen serpent. 4. The widow of Zarephath standing before Elijah, with the two sticks she had gathered held in the form of a cross. In the upper arm of this cross is a cavity for the insertion of a relic. Many of the altar-crosses in this collection have similar cavities. The 8 cases immediately following contain numerous examples of the various classes of enamel, ancient and modern. Pre-eminent among these are the painted enamels of Limoges of the 16th and 17th centuries. These consist of plaques, salvers, ewers, salt-cellars, caskets, &c.; and furnish to the art student a very complete illustration of this manufacture. The most important example in these cases is the large casket, enamelled on plates of silver, on which is painted a band of dancing figures. It is attributed to Jean Limosin, about the close of the 16th century, and is accounted the finest work of this artist. It was acquired for the museum at a cost of £1,000. Another remarkable enamel is the large medallion portrait of Charles de Guise, Cardinal de Lorraine. In a case, among several examples of engraved crystal, the most remarkable is an ewer of Byzantine workmanship of the 9th or 10th century. It is difficult to conjecture how such a vessel could be carved and hollowed out in so hard a substance. A cup of oriental sardonyx is distinguished for the beauty of its mounting, which bears the English hall-mark for the year 1567. Objects in the precious metals, generally combined with other materials, as wood, ivory, nautilus shells, cocoa-nut shells, fill another case. Among these are some examples of mazer-bowls formed of maple wood and mounted in silver, together with several stoneware jugs, in silver and silver-gilt mountings, of the 16th and 17th centuries. The celebrated Martelli Bronze or mirror cover, which has been reproduced in electrotype by Messrs. Franchi, is placed in the case in the centre. This work of the Italian sculptor Donatello was made about the year 1440 for the Martelli family of Florence. It was obtained for the museum from the representative of this family in the year 1863 for the sum of £650. A case beside it contains examples of damascened work. A metallic mirror, in a lofty and elaborate stand of steel damascened with gold and silver, is one of the finest existing specimens of the damascened work of Milan. It was made in that city for one of the Dukes of Savoy, about the year 1550. Two large plaques damnscened in gold and silver, with views of the cities of Urbino and Pesaro, are from a piece of furniture made for one of the Dukes of Urbino in the 16th century. In the GALLERY OF WATER-COLOUR DRAWINGS is a collection of precious stones, jewellery, &c., amongst which will be found the gold missal case said to have belonged to Henrietta Maria, the queen of Charles I. It is covered with delicately-chased figures encrusted with brilliant translucent enamels of various colours. It is Italian work, about the year 1580. Of the same date is a beautiful example of English work, a miniature case of gold, enameled, the front set with diamonds and rubies; it contains a miniature, by Hilliard, of Queen Elizabeth, wearing a jewelled crown and necklace. NEAREST Railway Station, South Kensington; Omnibus Routes, Brompton-road, Fulham-road, anti Kensington-road; Cab Rank, Opposite.

Southwark Bridge has of late years been much improved by the introduction of a little colour into the painting of its ironwork arches which were formerly all in solemn black, and had a very heavy appearance. The credit of being the handsomest iron bridge across the river rests between it and Blackfriars Bridge; and on the whole though the latter is the more gorgeous, the former is perhaps the more striking. The length is 708 ft.,or little more than half that of Waterloo. The arches, three in number, rest on stone piers; the centre arch having a span of 402 ft. — the longest ever attempted until the adoption of the tubular principle—and the two shore arches 210o ft. each. From the inconvenience of its approaches this handsome bridge has been from the first comparatively valueless.

Southwark Park has been formed within the last ten years in the dreary district beyond the Bermondsey tan-yards.—NEAREST Railway Stations, Spa-road and South Bermondsey; Omnibus Routes, Deptford-road and Blue Anchor-road.

Spain.—MINISTRY, 22, Queen’s-gate-place, South Kensington. NEAREST Railway Station, Gloucester-road ; Omnibus Routes,Kensington-road and Fulham-road; Cab Rank, Queen’s-gate. CONSULATE, 21, Billiter-street. NEAREST Railway Stations, Bishopsgate and Cannon-street (S.E.R.); Omnibus Routes, Billiter-street, Leadenhall-street, and Fenchurch-street; Cab Rank, Fenchurch-street.

Standard Theatre, Shoreditch, one of the principal East-end houses, as well as one of the largest theatres in London, just opposite the old terminus of the G.E.R. Provides at times a rather higher class of performance than is customary in these districts, with leading actors, or at times whole companies, from the best West-end houses. NEAREST Railway Stations, Bishopsgate and Shoreditch Omnibus Route, Shoreditch.