Two Chinese lidded vases, Kangxi period (1662-1722), acquired by Elizabeth Duchess of Somerset in the late 17th century. They stand in front of a Chinese lacquer screen that dates from the same period but was acquired for Petworth in 1882 in the Hamilton Palace sale. ©National Trust Images/Christopher Hurst
In his new book about Petworth, Christopher Rowell highlights the sumptuous taste of Eizabeth Percy, Duchess of Somerset, the late 17th-century chatelaine of the house.
Portrait of Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Somerset with her son Algernon, by John Closterman, c. 1692. ©National Trust Images/Matthew Hollow
Like her friend Queen Mary, Duchess Elizabeth was a keen collector of blue and white porcelain.
Some of Duchess Elizabeth’s Chinese vases on display in the Carved Room. They originally stood on the baroque carved stands which now hold some of the busts. ©National Trust Images/Bill Batten
Several dealers are known to have supplied porcelain to the Duchess, including a ‘Mrs Vanderhoven’, a ‘Mr Van Collema’, and a ‘Mrs Bull for Delf [i.e. Delft] ware.’
Some of the lacquer cabinets and coffers collected by Duchess Elizabeth in what is now called Mrs Wyndham’s Bedroom. ©National Trust Images/Bill Batten
‘Mrs Harrison’, who also supplied the Queen, was paid £52 for ‘a Jappan Cabinet and frame’ in 1695.
The front of one of the 17th-century Japanese lacquer cabinets at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel
In characteristic baroque style, reflective materials were combined wherever possible. Two ‘India Cabinets’ (‘India’ being a generic terms for East Asian products) in the King of Spain’s Drawing Room were each surmounted by no fewer than 22 pieces of China. In Duchess Elizabeth’s China Closet, the walls were covered with mirrors ‘ornamented wth carved work & 45 pieces of China.’
Detail of the interior of the 17th-century Japanese lacquer cabinet below the Grand Staircase at Petworth. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel
Christopher’s book can be purchased through the National Trust Bookshop and via Amazon.