5 November 2021

Fireworks Time!! Celebrating November 5 (1)

A mighty day of celebration! After all, November 5 1694 was the natal day of Richard Wall! Yes!!

Wall ... the Wall who was born in County Cork and became First Minister of the Spanish Empire. That Wall. Which Wall did you think I meant?

You want even more specificity? The Wall who, earlier in his political career, was the ambassador in London of the King's Majesty of Spain. The Wall who ordered that striking picture ...

Ah! this is where Ricardo Wall might just possibly have intersected with your lives, as he has with mine. While he was Mr Spain in London, he ordered from "il famoso artista Tiepolo di Venezia" an altar piece for his embassy chapel in Spanish Place. It is regarded as one of (Giambattista) Tiepolo's finest pieces. So every decade or so, whenever there is an exhibition in this country of Venetian art or Baroque art or Tiepolo or ... , the Art People ship it back and S James the Great peers out of his frame and murmurs to his horse "ah ... London yet again ... "

He could have stayed here; he might still have been under the kindly jurisdiction of Canon Colvin. But they seem to have misinformed Tiepolo about the measurements. And Wall, being British himself ...

You weren't listening. Wall came from County Cork; his family fled after the Dutch Invasion, like so many of the best and brightest in the Three Kingdoms, and made their fortunes on the continent in the service of the Catholic and Christian (and other) monarchies. Richard did well in the Navy and the Army and the Diplomatic Service. He was acquainted with the Fitz-James Dukes of Berwick; in his collateral descendants within today's Spanish Aristocracy the blood of the Stuarts and of the Walls is still mingled.

Always strictly faithful to the monarch he served, he nevertheless worked for peace between the Three Kingdoms and the Spanish dominions. He was witty and popular ...

... yes, they had misinformed Tiepolo about the dimensions of the Embassy Chapel. And the Ambassador got cold feet about English reactions to the warlike ethos of the Spanish Patron Saint. And that horse did seem rather to loom ... Perhaps a Crucifixion would be more tactful ...

So the canvas went to the Royal Collection in Madrid and was eventually sold on to the Esterhazys. That is why, in the dying days of WW2, it, together with a lot of the Esterhazy collection, was found dumped in the Hungarian snow. The assumption is that the Wehrmacht was, very responsibly, conveying it quamquam inter arma to a place of safety.

There is a question I would like you to help me with tomorrow. Meanwhile, you will find a good Wikipedia piece on Walls, and, I'm sure, representations of the Picture of S James helping to defeat the Moors at the Battle of Clavijo in 844. Perhaps that more-than-adequate Cava which Messrs Wait and Rose purvey, which is also served by King Philip VI at Receptions in the Zarzuela Palace near Madrid, would be a suitable tipple to accompany your toasts.. 

"Walls!" "The Glorious Memory!" "Richard Walls!". "The Fitz-Jameses!" "The Clergy of Spanish Place!!" "Vivat Hispania!!!" "His Grace the Duke of Berwick!!!!"

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