Thomas Hope

 

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Triumph, Tragedy: Obverse Worlds

Anastasius

Towards Background and Meaning

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Interior Designer

A Study of the Beechey Portrait

Sandor Baumgarten, Hope's Forgotten Champion

'Racial' Politics in Anastasius

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Thomas Hope was the eldest son of John Hope (1737-1781), a Dutch merchant of Scottish extraction and a member of a very wealthy and powerful family of merchants and bankers who had settled, four generations earlier, in Holland. Thomas was born on 30 August 1769 in Amsterdam. By the early 1780s the merchant bank of Hope & Co were in the business of raising large sums for kings and governments throughout Europe and in the United States of America, and were recognised as one of Europe’s greatest banking dyna­sties. After the death of his father in 1784, Thomas shared his father’s fortune with his two brothers and the lucrative family business, remained the source of his considerable wealth.  As a young man Hope began to devote intellect, fortune, time and energy to the arts, with the study of  the archi­tecture of ancient civilisations as the starting point.

 

From 1787 onwards, Hope spent most of the following eight years travelling as a student of cultures. During these travels, Hope stayed for about a year in Istanbul/Constantinople where his considerable skill in drawing was practised – some 350 drawings of the life style which he observed among the rich and powerful in the Ottoman Empire now form part of the  collections held by the Benaki Museum, Athens.

 

After years of travel, Hope  returned to acquire an Adam House in Duchess Street, London.  Hope was to establish himself in London, for the rest of his life: as a scholarly collector of art, an interior designer and a patron of artists and craftsmen. In 1804 Hope opened exhibition galleries, after having had the Duchess Street house extended by one of the foremost architects and designers of the period where visitors paid for admission by ticket. In 1807 Hope acquired the country house and estate of Deepdene, near Doking in Surrey as a retreat for himself as  scholar of cultures  and  collector of  all the arts. The popular view of Hope was as ‘the Furniture Man’. The sobriquet was regarded as  a compliment by enthusiastic supporters;  but in the case of hostile critics, it was often used as  a term of ridicule. Eventually the number of his books as designer were:  Household Furniture and Interior Decoration (1807); Costumes of the Ancients (1809); Designs of Modern Costumes (1812); and posthumously An Historical Essay on Architecture, with the illustrations based on early Hope drawings (1835).

 

Hope married Louisa, the beautiful youngest daughter of William de la Poer Beresford, Archbishop of Tuam in Ireland.  They had three sons, one of whom, Charles, died in childhood.

 

Hope’s novel was published by John Murray in 1819 as Anastasius or Memoirs of a Greek, written at the close of the eighteenth century in three volumes.  Hope held back from revealing his authorship of Anastasius in the first edition.  In the light of the immediate success of the novel, Murray persuaded Hope to reveal his identity as author in the second edition of 1820.  The revelation that Hope was the author was greeted with widespread incredulity in the literary journals.

 

A few weeks after Hope died in February 1831, his final work, Essay on the Origin and Prospects of Man, was published in three volumes.  Unfortunately after his death most of his private papers were destroyed, Anastasius became unfashionable and today he is largely remembered as the ‘Furniture Man’ and not as the author of the astonishing Anastasius.

Home

Thomas Hope - Triumph, Tragedy: Obverse Worlds

Anastasius

Anastasius:  Towards Background and Meaning

Philosophy

Interior Design

A Study of the Beechey Portrait

Sándor Baumgarten, Hope's Forgotten Champion

 

'Racial' Politics and Personal Ethics

Contact us

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