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Perhaps Jan van der Vaardt, 1647–1721
Formerly possibly Jan Wyck, ca. 1645–1700
Formerly unknown artist seventeenth century-eighteenth century
Formerly attributed to John Wootton, 1682–1764
Formerly Jan Siberechts, 1627–ca. 1703

Bifrons Park, Kent

Former Title(s):

Hunting Scene with Brifons Park in the Background

between 1695 and 1705
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
61 1/2 x 91 1/2 inches (156.2 x 232.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
architectural subject | cathedral | costume | country house | dogs (animals) | fields | gardens | hills | horses (animals) | hunting | landscape | men | park (grounds) | sporting art | women
Associated Places:
Bifrons House | Canterbury | Canterbury Cathedral | England | Kent | Patrixbourne | United Kingdom
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

The early seventeenth-century manor Bifrons Park is shown situated in an idyllic valley of green fields surrounded by woodland. The house was so-named for its two “faces” or wings. Once home to John Bargrave, canon of Canterbury Cathedral and a famous collector of curiosities, Bifrons was acquired by the politician John Taylor in 1694. This view was probably commissioned by Taylor as a record of prosperity and legacy: the members of the hunting party in the foreground are likely his children. They included the brilliant mathematician Brooke Taylor, author of an essay on the theory of perspective over curved surfaces. This may explain the picture’s carefully planned perspective, which includes the unusual introduction of several identifiable church towers scattered throughout the landscape. Canterbury Cathedral is the larger tower visible in the distance on the left, and St. Mary’s Patrixbourne is the church closest to the house, nestled among the trees in the valley on the right. Together, the churches orient the position of the house almost as well as any map.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Bifrons House was situated in a valley about three miles southeast of Canterbury in Kent. The tower of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury, can be seen in the middle distance at the left. Built in the early seventeenth century, Bifrons took its name from the architectural plan. The house had two fronts-or was, in other words, "bi-fronted."

The house and park are viewed here from above, not from a putative bird's-eye view (as in some later seventeenth-century house portraits currently on display in the Long Gallery) but, more plausibly, from the foreground hill some distance away. The gardens, sprinkled with statuary in the Dutch taste, are walled off from the surrounding estate, yet the artist carefully sets both house and geometrically formal garden squarely within the larger countryside, implying their natural integration. The hawking party on horseback in the foreground suggests that Bifrons was not only for farming, but was also the sporting playground of the squire and his guests.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

Noble Exercise - The Sporting Ideal in Eighteenth-Century British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 1982-07-14 - 1982-09-19) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Country Houses in Great Britain - Yale Center for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 1979-10-10 - 1980-01-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Nicholas Alfrey, Mapping the landscape, essays on art and cartography , Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham [England], 1990, p. 12, fig. 6, GA105 M27 1990 (YCBA) + [YCBA]

Jane Austen, Pride and prejudice, an annotated edition , Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2010, p. 287, PR4034 P7X 2010 + (SML) [ORBIS]

Stephen Bann, Under the sign, John Bargrave as collector, traveler, and witness , University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1994, pp. 35-36, 136, no. 10, AM401 B37 B36 1994 (YCBA) [YCBA]

British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, April 1977, p. 290, N1 .A54 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's Sale Catalogue : Old Pictures : 16 February 1945, Christie's, February 16, 1945, p. 9, Lot 70, Fiche B51 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Douglas Cooper, The Courtauld Collection, a catalogue and introduction , Athlone, London, 1954, p. 184, no. 240, N5247 C68 C66 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, A Selective Promenade, Apollo, v.105, April 1977, p. 290, N1 A54 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 32-33, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Country houses in Great Britain., Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1979, pp. 9, 29-30, 105, no. 10, pl. 10, N6764 Y34 1979 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Stephen Deuchar, Noble exercise : the sporting ideal in eighteenth-century British art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1982, pp. 13-14, 39, no. 2, ND1388 G7 D48+ (YCBA) [YCBA]

Stephen Deuchar, Sporting art in eighteenth-century England, a social and political history , Yale University Press, New Haven, 1988, p. 175, N8250 D48 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Theresa Fairbanks-Harris, Papermaking and the art of watercolor in eighteenth-century Britain, Paul Sandby and the Whatman Paper Mill , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2006, pp 40-42, fig. 13, NJ18.Sa56 A15 V5 2006 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Roger Friedland, NowHere, space, time and modernity , University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1994, pp. 245-249, fig. 14, CB430 N68X 1994 (SML) [ORBIS]

John Robert Gold, Representing the Environment, Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group), London ; New York, 2004, pp. 121-122, fig. 5.2, GE195 .G65X 2004 (Ctr for Sci & Soc Sci) [ORBIS]

John Harris, Bird's-eye Views at Yale, Country Life, vol. 164, November 30, 1978, p. 1823, fig. 7, S3 C68 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Harris, The artist and the country house, a history of country house and garden view painting in Britain, 1540-1870 , Sotheby Parke Bernet, London Totowa, N.J., 1979, pp. 47, 48, 76, no. 73, fig. 73 and cl. pl. VI, N6764 H36 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Jacques, Gardens of Court and Country : English Design , 1630-1730, New Haven : Yale Univeristy Press, 2017, p. 31, fig. 18, SB466 G7 +J334 2017 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Jennifer Kowitt, Jennifer Kowitt on Bifrons Park, Kent, [electronic resource] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2011, Yale Internet Resource http://www.youtube.com/v/a8HYbvT3Zb8 [Website]

Jennifer Kowitt, Treasures at Yale: #2. Bifrons Park, Kent, http://www.youtube.com/v/a8HYbvT3Zb8 , October 19, 2010, Available Online via YouTube video [ORBIS]

Anne Laurence, Space, Status and Gender in English Topographical Paintings c. 1600-c.1740, Architectural History, vol. 46, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, London, 2003, pp. 35, 87, fig. 5, NA1 A69 OVERSIZE (HAAS) [ORBIS]

Nigel Nicolson, The World of Jane Austen, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1991, pp. 57-59, 61, 78, PR4038 E46 N53 1991 [ORBIS]

David H. Solkin, Art in Britain 1660-1815, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2015, pp, 66-67,, fig. 64, N6766 S65 2015 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

B.M. Thomas, A History of Bifrons Mansion House, Archaeologia cantiana, vol. CX, Kent Archaeological Society, London, 1992, pp. 315, 316, 317, 318, DA670 K2 A7 (SML) [ORBIS]

Beth Fowkes Tobin, Colonizing nature, the tropics in British arts and letters, 1760-1820 , Academy, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2005, pp. 92-93, 105, fig. 8, PR129 T76 T63 2005 (YCBA) Also available online - Project Muse (ORBIS) [YCBA]

Blair Worden, Stuart England, Phaidon, Oxford, 1986, p. 253, no. 185, DA375 S78 1986 [ORBIS]

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