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Thomas Hope

(1769—1831) art collector and connoisseur


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(1769–1831).

British connoisseur and virtuoso, born in Amsterdam, where his family, of Scots descent, had resided and worked as merchants and bankers for several generations. An avid collector of antiques as well as modern Neo-Classical sculpture, he became an arbiter of taste by exhibiting his collections and publishing books on architecture and furniture including Household Furniture and Interior Decoration (1807), Costumes of the Ancients (1809), An Historical Essay on Architecture (1835), and Anastasius, or Memoirs of a Modern Greek, written at the Close of the Eighteenth Century (1819). A member of the Society of Dilettanti, he was asked to comment on James Wyatt's designs for Downing College, Cambridge, and published his opinions in Observations on the Plans and Elevations… for Downing College… (1804) which had the effect of discrediting the Roman Doric proposals in favour of the Greek Revival. The result was the building of Wilkins's College in a suitably Greek style, and Hope was established as a champion of modernity and judge of architecture.

Influenced by the example of his second cousin, Henry Hope (1735–1811), Hope designed two remarkable houses for his collections. At Duchess Street, Portland Place, London, he altered and enlarged (1799–1804, and 1819) a house designed by Robert Adam (demolished 1851), adding a picture-gallery decorated in a Neo-Classical style, a sculpture gallery, another picture-gallery in the Greek style, a Hindoo room, an Egyptian Revival room (with furniture in an extraordinarily powerful Graeco-Egyptian style designed by Hope), a Flaxman room, and various other rooms for the display of Greek vases. These interiors were published in Household Furniture (1807). Like Soane's house, the building was open to the public, and played no small part in popularizing Neo-Classicism (the picture-gallery was one of the earliest English interiors to be articulated with the Greek Doric Order). The other house was The Deepdene, near Dorking, Surrey, enlarged with the assistance of William Atkinson (c. 1773–1839) in 1818–19 and 1823 in an asymmetrical Picturesque yet Classical manner, and containing much Egyptian ornament, including a bed derived from published French sources. Many of Hope's designs were related to the Empire style of Percier and Fontaine.

Apollo (Sept. 1987), 162–77;Colvin (1995);J. Curl (2005);Hope (1804, 1835, 1962, 1971);Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);Jane Turner (1996);D. Watkin (1968)

Subjects: Architecture — Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.


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