1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hope, Thomas

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HOPE, THOMAS (c. 1770–1831), English art-collector, and author of Anastasius, born in London about 1770, was the eldest son of John Hope of Amsterdam, and was descended from a branch of an old Scottish family who for several generations were extensive merchants in London and Amsterdam. About the age of eighteen he started on a tour through various parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, where he interested himself especially in architecture and sculpture, making a large collection of the principal objects which attracted his attention. On his return to London about 1796 he purchased a house in Duchess Street, Cavendish Square, which he fitted up in a very elaborate style, from drawings made by himself. In 1807 he published sketches of his furniture, accompanied by letterpress, in a folio volume, entitled Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, which had considerable influence in effecting a change in the upholstery and interior decoration of houses, notwithstanding that Byron had referred scornfully to him as “House-furnisher withal, one Thomas hight.” Hope’s furniture designs were in that pseudo-classical manner which is generally called “English Empire.” It was sometimes extravagant, and often heavy, but was much more restrained than the wilder and later flights of Sheraton in this style. At the best, however, it was a not very inspiring mixture of Egyptian and Roman motives. In 1809 he published the Costumes of the Ancients, and in 1812 Designs of Modern Costumes, works which display a large amount of antiquarian research. He was also, as his father had been—the elder Hope’s country house near Haarlem was crowded with fine pictures—a munificent patron of the highest forms of art, and both at his London house and his country seat at Deepdene near Dorking he formed large collections of paintings, sculpture and antiques. Deepdene in his day became a famous resort of men of letters as well as of people of fashion, and among the luxuries suggested by his fine taste was a miniature library in several languages in each bedroom. Thorvaldsen, the Danish sculptor, was indebted to him for the early recognition of his talents, and he also gave frequent employment to Chantrey and Flaxman—it was to his order that the latter illustrated Dante. In 1819 he published anonymously his novel Anastasius, or Memoirs of a Modern Greek, written at the close of the 18th century, a work which, chiefly on account of the novel character of its subject, caused a great sensation. It was at first generally attributed to Lord Byron, who told Lady Blessington that he wept bitterly on reading it because he had not written it and Hope had. But, though remarkable for the acquaintance it displays with Eastern life, and distinguished by considerable imaginative vigour and much graphic and picturesque description, its paradoxes are not so striking as those of Lord Byron; and, notwithstanding some eloquent and forcible passages, the only reason which warranted its ascription to him was the general type of character to which its hero belonged. Hope died on the 3rd of February 1831. He was the author of two works published posthumously—the Origin and Prospects of Man (1831), in which his speculations diverged widely from the usual orthodox opinions, and an Historical Essay on Architecture (1835), an elaborate description of the architecture of the middle ages, illustrated by drawings made by himself in Italy and Germany. He is commonly known in literature as “Anastasius” Hope. He married (1806) Louisa de la Poer Beresford, daughter of Lord Decies, archbishop of Tuam.