Pictures and their uses

Attributed to Gaspard Dughet, Landscape with a Storm, at Osterley Park, London, donated by the estate of Sir Denis Mahon, 2013. ©National Trust Collections, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation.st, Osterley Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Gaspard Dughet, Landscape with a Storm. NT 771276. ©National Trust Collections, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation.

It has just been announced that the estate of Sir Denis Mahon is donating a painting attributed to Gaspard Dughet (1615-1675), Landscape with a Storm, to Osterley Park, where it had been on loan since 2001. Through the Art Fund the Mahon estate is also donating a further group of important Italian baroque paintings to a number of UK museums.

Sir Denis Mahon (1910-2011)

Sir Denis Mahon (1910-2011)

Sir Denis Mahon, CH, CBE (1910-2011) was an art historian of independent means who in the 1940s and 1950s pioneered the study of Italian 17th-century painting. He built up his own collection of Italian baroque pictures at a time when they were out of favour and relatively inexpensive.

Perhaps as a result of his fascination with ‘unfashionable’ pictures, Sir Denis was strongly opposed to the deaccessioning of art from public collections. He also campaigned for free entry to museums and to improve the effectiveness of the scheme whereby works of art can be accepted by the Government in lieu of inheritance tax. He effectively used his own collection as a juicy carrot dangled in front of the various civil servants and ministers of the day – an interestingly ‘political’ use of fine art.

Gaspard Dughet, Wooded Rocky Landscape, at Osterley Park, London, donated by Sir Denis Mahon, 1996. NT 772275. ©National Trust Collections, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation.

Gaspard Dughet, Wooded Rocky Landscape, at Osterley Park, London, donated by Sir Denis Mahon, 1996. NT 772275 ©National Trust Collections, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation.

Sir Denis had already donated another Dughet, Wooded Rocky Landscape, to Osterley in 1996. Both paintings help to recreate the lost late 18th-century picture hang at Osterley. This painting had previously been owned by the important 19th-century collectors William Graham (1818-1885), a Glasgow cotton manufacturer, and Charles Henry Mills, 1st Baron Hillingdon (1830-1898), owner of the bank Glyn, Mills & Co (which, coincidentally, took over the bank Child & Co, owned by the Child-Villiers family of Osterley, in 1924).

Dughet, a French painter born in Italy, was the brother-in-law and pupil of Nicolas Poussin, and his pictures were popular among British Grand Tourists.

4 Responses to “Pictures and their uses”

  1. Susan Walter Says:

    I’m a big fan of Sir Denis Mahon. If only he had been well enough in those last few years to see ‘our’ local Caravaggios. Sadly, the Louvre is being quite sniffy.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    About Mahon’s reordering of Poussin’s chronology, you mean?

  3. Susan Walter Says:

    No, about the 2 Caravaggios that were rediscovered in a church in Loches in the late 1990s. They are listed in Phillip de Bethune’s inventory as originals, not copies. Pigments and canvas all match for Caravaggio, so if they are copies, they are contemporary with the other versions of Supper at Emaus and Doubting Thomas, and from the same studio. The curator at the Louvre who was asked to examine them just comes across as mean spirited and sour grapey. Especially in the light of Mahon’s authentication of the one in Dublin.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    How interesting. The reactions of those involved seem to echo the Blunt-Mahon controversy about Poussin in the 1960s :)

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