Find Out About The 'Loveable Rogue' Philippe De Loutherbourg

Artist and kabbalist lived on Hammersmith Terrace and is buried in Chiswick

A painting of Philippe de Loutherbourg is in the National Portrait Gallery
A painting of Philippe De Loutherbourg is in the National Portrait Gallery

Buried in the churchyard of St Nicholas, Chiswick is a feted landscape and maritime artist, stage designer, inventor, mason, mystic faith healer, kabbalist, alleged bigamist and former resident of number 7 Hammersmith Terrace.

Philippe De Loutherbourg was undoubtedly multi-talented, but his fame as an artist and ground-breaking set designer was matched by the notoriety of his private life, some questionable marriages and dubious dabbling in quackish enterprises and the occult.

De Loutherbourg, already a successful landscape artist in France, and one who had caught the eye of Louis XIV, moved to Britain in 1771 to pursue a more lucrative career as a theatre designer. His most spectacular innovation, the Edophusikon was a revolutionary mechanical theatre and the precursor to the cinema of today.

Loutherbourg was elected a full member of the Royal Academy in 1781, where he exhibited rural landscape paintings which influenced other great English artists such as another former Hammersmith resident, J.M.W. Turner. But the Italian trickster, Count Alessandro di Cagliostro, taught him about the occult and faith healing and it was as a result of de Loutherbourg’s dalliance in these enterprises which caused a near riot in the quiet backwater of Hammersmith Terrace, where he lived in numbers 7 and 8 between 1795 and 1799.

Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg, The Evening Coach, London in the Distance, 1805, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art
Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg, The Evening Coach, London in the Distance, 1805, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art

Art historian and lecturer, Hugh Belsey, MBE, Chairman of the Emery Walker Trust and an expert in 18th century British Art, says of de Loutherbourg, “He was a wonderful artist and his set designs drew as much admiration as the performances on them. But he was an absolute chancer”.

Daniel Lysons, British, Tomb of Philip James de Loutherbourg, from Chiswick Churchyard, Yale Center for British Art
Daniel Lysons, British, Tomb of Philip James de Loutherbourg, from Chiswick Churchyard, Yale Center for British Art

You can discover more about this lovable rogue at a live, interactive talk, Philippe James de Loutherbourg: an Early Resident of Hammersmith Terrace, on 23 March at 6pm, part of a programme of monthly events via Zoom organised by Emery Walker’s House Trust. Entry is by donation. You are asked to prebook via The house reopened on 3 March and prebooking for guided tours is available now.

Lucinda MacPherson


Coming Up Next

27 April at 6pm - Furniture and the Arts and Crafts home, given by Max Donnelly

Furniture defined the character of Arts and Crafts interiors. Drawing largely on examples from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection, Max Donnelly will consider the philosophies that motivated designers, and the variety of contexts in which furniture was produced, from designer-makers to established cabinet making firms. He will also look at how furniture was marketed and retailed, and some of the ways it was used and presented in homes at the turn of the twentieth century.

Max Donnelly FSA is the Curator of 19th Century Furniture and Woodwork at the Victoria and Albert Museum and a trustee of Emery Walker’s House.

The Emery Walker Trust is a registered charity which aims to preserve and open the House for as many people to enjoy as possible. The Trust also aims to improve knowledge of the Arts & Crafts movement and the life and work of Sir Emery Walker.

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March 21, 2022