1. Mind the Carriage!

Chiswick House & Gardens
1. Mind the Carriage!

Jacques Rigaud:

(Drawing a picture) Can you see what it is yet? I’ve got the new house, dead centre. Lovely columns, pediment, Palladian front, dome worthy of the Eternal City itself, very nice. I’m putting in the old house to the side, the right-hand side there. I’m making it smaller than the new house, which it isn’t, but that’s a little bit of artistic license on my part – Lord Burlington wants a drawing of his new house, not his old one, so keep the old one in the background…

I’m putting in lots of people. A couple on the left, down at the front, under the trees. There’s some sort of assignation going on there. Leave it to you to guess what’s going on. What shall I do on the other side? Put in a cow… Hmm… To be honest I’m happier drawing buildings than cows. Sometimes my cows turn out like horses, sometimes like large dogs. Tell you what, I’m going to put myself in, standing under a tree, looking at the cow and wondering how to draw him properly.

Now, I’m putting three chaps leaning on the gate looking at the new house, and one of them’s got his arm out, waving it at the house. You can hear what he’s saying just from the angle of that arm: “Oh, I say, chaps, look at this marvellous new house wot the Lord Burlington has built.” More people, just beyond them, also looking at the house. Can’t have too many people looking at the new house.

What else? A bit of smoke, coming out of the chimney, to show that his Lordship is at home, toasting his noble muffins on the fire. What else…? I know! A carriage, going in through the front entrance. Look, these important people are coming to visit, isn’t our Lordship a popular man, by goodness he is. Got to make it look busy, people coming and going, troops of friends.

One last thing, make it stand out. What…? Hmm… I’ve got it! The road! The road runs right past the front of the house. A main road! Right past the front of the house! What could be more exciting? What could be more up to date? I’ll put lots of traffic on it. Carriages, horses, carts, riders. When people see this, they’re going to think – “Golly, look at Lord Burlington’s house, right on the main road! I wish my house was on a main road!”