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Vauxhall Gardens 1729 – 1786

Submitted by on June 25, 2012 – 12:50 amNo Comment
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First a bit of background. The Foundling Museum was established in London, England, in 1998 as a charity to care for the Foundling Hospital Collection.

The Vauxhall Gardens existed in London from the mid-17th to the mid-19th Century.

This summer, the Foundling Museum celebrates Vauxhall Gardens with the biggest UK exhibition on the Gardens in over 40 years. “The Triumph of Pleasure: Vauxhall Gardens 1729 – 1786” explores the Gardens, which for its visitors was an escape from daily realities and a re-affirmation of all the good things that life had to offer.

In the eighteenth century, Vauxhall Gardens was a refuge for Londoners from the filth and noise of the city, offering an all embracing sensual experience that entertained up to 100,000 people a year.

Under the management of Jonathan Tyers, the Gardens enabled ordinary Londoners to experience contemporary art and design, high quality music and al fresco dining. Tyers’ two most important allies in the 1730s were his friend and neighbor, the artist William Hogarth, and the composer George Frideric Handel. Between them, Tyers, Hogarth and Handel created the phenomenon that came to be known as the English Pleasure Garden, imitated across Britain and Europe and as far afield as the Americas, New Zealand and Australia.

The exhibition, open through September 9, 2012, displays original works by Canaletto, Gainsborough, Hayman, Roubiliac and Rowlandson. Manuscripts and song sheets of works by Handel, Arne and J.C. Bach will be on display alongside contemporary engravings and other objects associated with the Gardens and with the Foundling Hospital.

One of the last surviving supper box paintings will be on display alongside objects associated with the Gardens and the Foundling Hospital. This will include an identifying token left by a mother with the baby she left at the Foundling Hospital. This token is a copper 1737 Vauxhall Garden season ticket, attributed to Hogarth.

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