1 Holland Park Road

<em>1 Holland Park Road</em>

Maurice B. Adams, "1 Holland Park Road," from Artists' Houses, 1883.

<em>1 Holland Park Road</em>

Maurice B. Adams, "1 Holland Park Road," plans, from Artists' Houses, 1883

Although not as well known as the home of his neighbor Sir Frederic Leighton,  Val C. Prinsep’s studio house ws the one that began the wave of studio-building in Holland Park.[1] Prinsep selected Philip Webb, architect of William Morris’s Red House at Bexley Heath, to build his new home at No. 1 Holland Park Road in Kensington. This selection is not surprising: like Prinsep, Webb had been involved with the Pre-Raphaelite circle. Not yet the hub of artistic activity it would later become, Holland Park held special significance for Prinsep, since it encompassed Little Holland House, where he grew up in the company of the painter George Frederic Watts. This connection likely influenced Prinsep’s decision to build his studio house in the neighborhood, and shortly after construction began, other artists, including Frederic Leighton and Hamo Thornycroft, followed his example. Webb began developing plans for Prinsep’s studio in 1864, and in 1866 the house was completed by the building company Jackson and Shaw.[2]

Prinsep’s studio, featured in the photogravure in Artists at Home, occupied nearly the entire first floor of his home and measured forty feet by twenty-five feet. This working space had two large north windows and a gallery. In 1877, after the first of a series of alterations made by Webb, a drawbridge was added to help move large canvases. Mayall’s photogravure appears to conflate the gallery and working space of Prinsep’s studio: the viewer faces a wall of completed works at the back of the photogravure, and, in the front, resting on easels, Prinsep’s more recent accomplishments, including Portrait of a Woman with Dark Hair (1884) and The Bookworm. Following Prinsep’s death in 1904, considerable alterations were made to the house, and in 1948 it was converted into apartments and the address was changed to No. 14 Holland Park Road.[3]

-Jenifer Norwalk

[1] Giles Walkley, “Establishment Kensington: Melbury Road,” in Artists’ Houses in London 1764–1914 (Aldershot, Hants, England; Brookfield, VT: Scolar Press, 1994), 65.

[2] “The Holland Estate: Since 1874," British History Online, accessed October 18, 2016, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol37/pp126-150#h3-0007. 

[3] Ibid. As Giles Walkley puts it in Artists' Houses in London 1764–1914, "Sadly despoiled now" (p. 269). And according to Charlotte Gere, "These old, often dilapidated buildings were not in tune with post-war Utopianism and the mood in the 1950s and 1960s posed a real threat" (Artistic Circles: Design & Decoration in the Aesthetic Movement (London: V&A Publishing, 2010), p. 215.

Drawing of Prinsep, Pettie and Alma-Tadema's Studios

From the Century Illustrated Magazine, August 1882.

The studio has three large windows on the north side, with an oriel at the end, and all these are seen in our perspective view [above]. A top light is arranged over the central north window, and a second skylight is provided in the centre of the ceiling, but this latter is not often used. A store-room, for artists' properties and studio lumber, is arranged on the second floor, and rreached from the gallery. The third window to the east is made to take out for the removal of large paintings. A dressing-room adjoins the ante-room, and the back-stairs to the servants' rooms are planned behind. Models usually come up the main staircase. The woodwork in the studio and house throughout is painted a dark brown, of no pearticular tint, and the walls are papered with "Morris" papers. The studio walls are distempered salmon-red, and the gallery-front and columns are of oak, unvarnished. The heating is by means of open grates, hot-water pipes havin been given up as a failure.

--Maurice B. Adams, Artists’ Homes: A Portfolio of Drawings including the Houses and Studios of Several Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (London: B. T. Batsford, 1883), 6.

14 Holland Park Road (formerly 1 Holland Park Road), Kensington, London

14 (formerly No. 1) Holland Park Road, London

Mr. Prinsep is a very ancient inhabitant of the artists' corner of the Old Court suburb. Long before Melbury Road existed, his substantial gabled red-brick house stood, side by side with Sir Frederick Leighton's dwelling, and over against the garden that backed Mr. Watts's old-world home. There was no general taste for ruddy brick and tiles in those days, and while these few artist-friends housed themselves in charming forms and pleasant colours, the rest of the world was building itself Ionic and Corinthian porticoes, with a coating of paint, bearing balconies in bluntly moulded iron of abominable design. It has not taken many years to convert the world to the side of the artists.

--Wilfred Meynell, ed., The Modern School of Art (London: W. R. Howell & Co., 1883), II:37.