Volo non Valeo quia Nequeo quod Desidero : antithetic aristocrat : George Howard, ninth Earl of Carlisle (1843 - 1911), artist and patron
The current thesis is concerned with the artistic life of George Howard, and with his role as patron-participant. Howard was bom in 1843, eventual heir to the earldom of Carlisle and the vast estates pertaining to Castle Howard in Yorkshire and Naworth Castle near Brampton in Cumberland. He sought to live the life of an artist, eschewing, to a greater or lesser degree, both political and ancestral responsibilities. On his accession to the title Ninth Earl of Carlisle in 1889 he agreed, at his wife's request, to place the lion's share of the management of the family estates in her hands; by this date Rosalind Howard had already proved herself a highly competent and rigorous administrator. Having overcome familial opposition to his desire to become an artist, Howard faced a lifelong struggle for self-determination. Howard's intentions were epitomised by the studio-house which he commissioned Philip Webb to design during the early years of his London life in 1868. This marked the beginning of a lifelong relationship and, literally, cemented his place at the heart of the former Oxford Set. However, his vacillating self-belief, his wife's misplaced political ambitions on his behalf, and a social climate which distinguished amateur artist from professional more usually on an economic basis rather than by merit, combined to place him in an anomalous position. The artistic road along which Howard doggedly travelled was a circuitous one, punctated by crises of confidence succeeded by renewed endeavour and altered direction. It took him through Pre-Raphaelitism under the tutelage of Burne-Jones, to French realism under Alphonse Legros, and beyond. He finally opted to follow the teachings of Giovanni Costa, whom he visited in Italy on an almost annual basis from 1866. Howard, with a small band of Costa's acolytes from England, America and Italy, comprised the Etruscan School. Members' work aimed at the expression of landscape's latent sentiment, characterised by a panoramic format. Italian subjects predominated in Howard's work for many years, being augmented by those depicting India, Egypt and other countries to which he travelled later in his career. Throughout his life Howard remained unimpressed by social distinctions, and his role as patron to Legros, Costa, Webb and many other fellow artists whose economic wellbeing he underpinned, is inseparable from his friendship with them. Particularly noteworthy is his role as facilitator which, in several instances, resulted in some of the principal works associated with those concerned. Howard was widely acknowledged by his contemporaries as being an influential figure in cultural matters. He stood for Parliament three times, with varying degrees of unwillingness, and was returned as Liberal MP for East Cumberland twice. He was a Trustee of the National Gallery for thirty years and expended much energy working with galleries and museums both in Britain and abroad, as well as other reform- and education-based bodies such as the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the National Association for the Advancement of Art and its Application to Industry.