Painting acquired for Petworth

July 14, 2015
Attributed to Aurelio Lomi (1556-1622), The Circumcision. NT2900157. ©Christie’s

Attributed to Aurelio Lomi (1556-1622), The Circumcision. NT2900157. ©Christie’s

We have just purchased this painting for Petworth House. It came up at auction at Christie’s in London on 10 July.

Detail of The Circumcision, attributed to Aurelio Lomi. ©Christie’s

Detail of The Circumcision, attributed to Aurelio Lomi. ©Christie’s

The picture is attributed to the late-Renaissance, early-baroque painter Aurelio Lomi and depicts the circumcision of the Christ child.

Detail of The Circumcision, attributed to Aurelio Lomi. ©Christie’s

Detail of The Circumcision, attributed to Aurelio Lomi. ©Christie’s

It was recorded in the 1671 Petworth picture list and was almost certainly owned by Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland (1602-68).

Portrait of Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland, his first wife Lady Anne Cecil, and their Daughter, Lady Catherine Percy, by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, c. 1633-5. ©National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty

Portrait of Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland, his first wife Lady Anne Cecil, and their Daughter, Lady Catherine Percy, by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, c. 1633-5. ©National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty

The 10th Earl was a keen art collector and patron. He had collections of pictures at all of his principal southern English houses – Syon House in Middlesex, Northumberland House in London, and Petworth.

St Joseph and the Christ Child, by Adam Elsheimer (c.1578-1610), acquired by the 10th Earl of Northumberland in 1645. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

St Joseph and the Christ Child, by Adam Elsheimer (c.1578-1610), acquired by the 10th Earl of Northumberland in 1645. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Later generations also admired this picture. George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751-1837), the patron of Turner, hung it among his ‘modern’ paintings at Petworth.

Portrait of George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751-1837), in the North Gallery at Petworth, by Thomas Phillips, RA, 1839. ©National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty

Portrait of George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751-1837), in the North Gallery at Petworth, by Thomas Phillips, RA, 1839. ©National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty

This acquisition was made possible by a substantial contribution from a fund set up by the late Hon. Simon Sainsbury and by other gifts and bequests to Petworth and to the National Trust generally.

Detail of The Circumcision, attributed to Aurelio Lomi. ©Christie’s

Detail of The Circumcision, attributed to Aurelio Lomi. ©Christie’s

The picture will receive conservation treatment before going on display at Petworth.

The state bed canopy at Hardwick

July 7, 2015
Full-length portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, English School, 1590s, oil on canvas, at Hardwick Hall, acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to the National Trust in 1959,  NT1129128. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Full-length portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, English School, 1590s, oil on canvas, at Hardwick Hall, acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to the National Trust in 1959, NT1129128. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The previous two posts about textiles at Hardwick Hall gave me the idea to show some images of the Long Gallery there.

This imposing, almost hieratic portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, which hangs in the Long Gallery, illustrates the importance of textiles in Elizabethan interiors and court display. In her spectacularly embroidered clothes, encrusted with jewels, the queen is effectively en suite with the hangings behind her, the upholstered chair next to her and the carpet beneath her feet.

The late seventeenth-century silk canopy in the Long Gallery at Hardwick, originally part of a state bed made for Chatsworth by Francis Lapierre in 1697. Acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to the National Trust in 1959, NT1127772. ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

The late seventeenth-century silk canopy in the Long Gallery at Hardwick, originally part of a state bed made for Chatsworth by Francis Lapierre in 1697. Acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to the National Trust in 1959, NT1127772. ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

Near this portrait is a red silk bed canopy and headboard. It was originally part of the bed in the State Bedroom at Chatsworth and is one of the most magnificent surviving examples of late-seventeenth-century English upholstery.

The interior of the canopy in the Long Gallery. National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The interior of the canopy in the Long Gallery. National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

It was brought to Hardwick by the 6th Duke of Devonshire in the nineteenth century and set up as a kind of romantic stage set.

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth I hanging on top of one of the Gideon tapestries in the Long Gallery. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth I hanging on top of one of the Gideon tapestries in the Long Gallery. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The walls of the Long Gallery are hung with a set of thirteen Flemish tapestries, probably made in Oudenaarde, showing the Biblical story of Gideon and his triumph over the Midianites.

These unusually tall tapestries were purchased by Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, the builder of Hardwick, in 1592. Originally they were the sole wall decoration in this room, but by the second half of the eighteenth century a number of paintings had been added on top.

Cut-velvet at Hardwick

July 3, 2015
The voided cut-pile velvet hangings and headboard of the bed in the Cut-Velvet Bedroom at Hardwick Hall. NT1127838 ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

The voided cut-pile velvet hangings and headboard of the bed in the Cut-Velvet Bedroom at Hardwick Hall. NT1127838 ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

In the previous post about the flossy silk hangings at Hardwick Hall I mentioned the Cut-Velvet Bedroom next door. Here are some images of that room, with its cut-velvet bed.

The Cut-Velvet Bedroom at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The Cut-Velvet Bedroom at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The bed was made in about 1740 by Thomas Vardy and was originally at Chatsworth. It was brought to Hardwick by the 6th Duke of Devonshire as part of his antiquarian redecoration of Hardwick during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Detail of a voided cut-pile velvet curtain at Blickling Hall. NT355834 ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

Detail of a voided cut-pile velvet curtain at Blickling Hall. NT355834 ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

Velvet is made by raising warp threads over wires so that a looped pile is created on the surface of the cloth. Sometimes these loops were left uncut, or ‘unshorne’ in early-seventeenth-century parlance. But if they were cut in order to create a short tufted pile the resulting fabric would be called cut-velvet or cut-pile velvet.

Eighteenth-century mahogany chair from the Cut-Velvet Bedroom at Hardwick Hall, upholstered with voided-cut pile velvet en suite with the bed. NT1127929.2 ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

Eighteenth-century mahogany chair from the Cut-Velvet Bedroom at Hardwick Hall, upholstered with voided-cut pile velvet en suite with the bed. NT1127929.2 ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

One way of forming a pattern on velvet was to leave some areas pile-free or ‘voided’, as has been done here. The similar voided cut-pile velvet curtains at Blickling Hall show bright the colours originally were.

Flossy silk at Hardwick Hall

June 30, 2015
Detail of the flossy silk hangings in the Cut-Velvet Dressing Room at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Detail of the flossy silk hangings in the Cut-Velvet Dressing Room at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

One of the meanings of the word ‘floss’ is fine silk in spun strands not twisted together. I was looking this up because apparently the hangings in the Cut-Velvet Dressing Room at Hardwick Hall are made of ‘flossy silk’ – and they look rather good.

The Cut-Velvet Dressing Room. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Cut-Velvet Dressing Room. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Another meaning of ‘flossy’ is ‘showy or overdressed’. I suppose these hangings are quite showy, but in the context of Hardwick, which was all about show when it was built in the late sixteenth century, they don’t look out of place.

In fact much in this room, including the silk hangings, dates from the late seventeenth century, when the 1st Duke of Devonshire created two new apartments on the first floor at Hardwick, one for his wife and one for himself. But of course this is not really surprising in a many-layered house such as Hardwick.

Detail of the flossy silk hangings. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Detail of the flossy silk hangings. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Even the name ‘Cut-Velvet Dressing Room’ is layered in a characteristically country house way. There is no cut-velvet in this particular room, and the name actually refers to the fact that it is the dressing room to the Cut-Velvet Bedroom next door. The splendid cut-velvet bed in that room, in turn, was a relatively late addition, having been brought to Hardwick by the 6th Duke of Devonshire in the nineteenth century.

The immediate inspiration for this post was the beautifully illustrated post about Hardwick over at the ArchitectDesign blog.

 

Hope for Clandon

June 25, 2015
The interior of Clandon the day after the fire. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The interior of Clandon the day after the fire. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

On April 29 Clandon Park suffered a devastating fire which destroyed most of its interior. Thousands of items are feared to have been lost. Following the initial firefighting and salvage operations, structural engineers and insurers have been assessing the site.

A bust from the Marble Hall which was salvaged immediately after the fire. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

A bust from the Marble Hall which was salvaged immediately after the fire. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

Helen Ghosh, our Director General, has now said that ‘We’re hopeful that one day we can rebuild Clandon, but quite how, when and in what form is far from certain at this early stage. Nevertheless we would like to reassure all those people who love Clandon as much as we do that it will continue in some shape or form in the future.’

Firemen recovering the frame of the portrait of the 1st Lord Onslow from the Speakers' Parlour. The portrait itself had been cut from the frame during the initial salvage operation. ©National Trust/John Millar

Firemen recovering the frame of the portrait of the 1st Lord Onslow from the Speakers’ Parlour. The portrait itself had been cut from the frame during the initial salvage operation. ©National Trust/John Millar

The external walls remain largely intact and work will begin shortly to erect scaffolding. Once that is complete and the building has been declared safe, specialist teams will undertake an archaeological salvage operation to recover more of what remains.

State purse of Arthur Onslow, the 'Great Speaker' (1691-1768). ©National Trust

State purse of Arthur Onslow, the ‘Great Speaker’ (1691-1768). ©National Trust

3D laser scanning, geophysical surveys and both ground-level and aerial photography are all being used to assess the site.

Carved and gilded armchair associated with the 'Great Speaker'. ©National Trust

Carved and gilded armchair associated with the ‘Great Speaker’. ©National Trust

Significant objects from the collection were rescued from the fire, including paintings, furniture and silver. However, it will not be possible to confirm the full list of items saved and lost until the the full salvage operation has been completed.

The 4th Countess of Onslow's dinner book, recording menus and guests for dinners given at Clandon between 1875 and 1910. ©National Trust

The 4th Countess of Onslow’s dinner book, recording menus and guests for dinners given at Clandon between 1875 and 1910. ©National Trust

But curator Sophie Chessum, who is leading the conservation team, has said she is pleased that a number of significant objects with connections to the Onslow family, who built Clandon, have been saved.

Prisoner of war badge belonging to the 6th Earl of Onslow, who was imprisoned at Offlag 79 camp near Brunswick during the last months of the Second World War. ©National Trust

Prisoner of war badge belonging to the 6th Earl of Onslow, who was imprisoned at Offlag 79 camp near Brunswick during the last months of the Second World War. ©National Trust

Some of the latest items confirmed as saved include the purse of state of ‘Great Speaker’ Arthur Onslow, an armchair associated with the Great Speaker, the 4th Countess of Onslow’s dinner book and the prisoner of war badge of the 6th Earl of Onslow.

Do Chinese wallpapers show the gardens of Guangzhou?

June 23, 2015
Chinese painting on paper showing a garden, used as wallpaper at Saltram. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Chinese painting on paper showing a garden, used as wallpaper at Saltram. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Two papers presented at the Chinese garden history conference, held at the University of Sheffield last week, gave me a lot to think about with regard to the – at first sight unrelated – subject of Chinese wallpapers.

Photograph by Felice Beato showing Howqua's garden, Canton, 1860. ©J. Paul Getty Trust

Photograph by Felice Beato showing Howqua’s garden, Canton, 1860. ©J. Paul Getty Trust

Liyuan Gu spoke about rockwork in Chinese gardens and Josepha Richard discussed the gardens of Guangzhou (Canton) in the nineteenth century. The images both Liyuan and Josepha showed were very reminiscent of Chinese wallpapers.

Chinese wallpaper previously at Beaudesert, Staffordshire, illustrated in Nancy McClelland's book Historic Wallpapers (1924).

Chinese wallpaper previously at Beaudesert, Staffordshire, illustrated in Nancy McClelland’s book Historic Wallpapers (1924).

Many Chinese wallpapers show floral imagery, and it is generally assumed that most of these wallpapers were made in Guangzhou, the international port from where they were shipped to the west.

Photograph by John Thomson of a garden in Guangzhou, probably Howqua's garden, 1870s. ©J. Paul Getty Trust

Photograph by John Thomson of a garden in Guangzhou, probably Howqua’s garden, 1870s. ©J. Paul Getty Trust

The visual evidence shown at the conference strongly suggests that at least some of these wallpapers specifically show the gardens of Guangzhou, or of the wider Lingnan region, with their abundant use of water, their stone embankments and balustrades and their profusion of potted shrubs and dwarf trees.

Chinese wallpaper in the Lower India Room at Penrhyn Castle, including decorative rockwork and a stone-edged waterway in the foreground. ©National Trust Images/Michael Caldwell

Chinese wallpaper in the Lower India Room at Penrhyn Castle, including decorative rockwork and a stone-edged waterway in the foreground. ©National Trust Images/Michael Caldwell

So this would seem to confirm the link between the wallpapers and Guangzhou. And it also provides more clues as to what we are actually seeing in Chinese wallpapers: a glimpse of Guangzhou on our British walls.

The Chinese taste in British gardens

June 16, 2015
A 'peacock pheasant' perched on a camellia, plate 67 in George Edward's Natural History of Uncommon Birds, 1745.

A peacock pheasant perched on a camellia, plate 67 in George Edwards’s Natural History of Uncommon Birds, 1745.

This Friday (19 June) I will be speaking at the New Approaches in Chinese Garden History conference, organised by the Centre for East West Studies at the University of Sheffield.

The conference is in honour of Dr Alison Hardie, who has been central to burgeoning field of scholarship on Chinese gardens. I am looking forward to learning more about historical Chinese gardens from an international group of speakers including Lucie Olivová, Georges Métailié, Lei Gao, Bianca Rinaldi and Peter Blundell Jones.

Detail of pheasants in the Chinese wallpaper at Felbrigg Hall, hung in 1752. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Detail of pheasants in the Chinese wallpaper at Felbrigg Hall, hung in 1752. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

In preparing my own paper, which will be about the changing significance of the Chinese taste in British gardens, I came across the wonderful plate shown at the top of this post, of a peacock pheasant on a camellia, from George Edwards’s 1745 book A Natural History of Uncommon Birds.

Detail of a bird in the Chinese wallpaper at Erddig, hung in the 1770s. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Bushsh

Detail of a bird in the Chinese wallpaper at Erddig, hung in the 1770s. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Bush

Although Edwards claimed to have drawn the camellia from a real plant – and camellias were indeed beginning to be grown in Britain at that time – the picture is strongly reminiscent of a Chinese bird-and-flower painting.

Detail of a cockerel in an English printed cotton, about 1780. ©Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Detail of a cockerel in an English printed cotton, about 1780. ©Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

In the decades following the publication of that book by Edwards you can see the Chinese bird-and-flower imagery ricocheting back and forth between east and west: in the Chinese wallpapers that were starting to be produced in Guangzhou for export to the west, and in the European imitations of that wallpaper, for instance in the form of printed cottons.

Did the European interest in Chinese plants stimulate the development of Chinese wallpaper? Or was it the other way around? We may never find the exact answer to that question, but it is nevertheless useful to discover these correlations between gardens and interiors.

The Waddesdon Bequest redisplayed

June 11, 2015
One of a pair of maiolica vases with ormolu mounts, circa 1565-1571. Before being acquired by Baron ferdinand, theyy were in the collection of Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill. The Waddesdon Bequest. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

One of a pair of maiolica vases with ormolu mounts, circa 1565-1571. Before being acquired by Baron ferdinand, theyy were in the collection of Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill. The Waddesdon Bequest. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

In 1898 Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild left his magnificent collection of medieval and Renaissance treasures to the British Museum, to be displayed together as the Waddesdon Bequest, named after his beloved country house, Waddesdon Manor.

The newly displayed Waddesdon Bequest at British Museum. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

The newly displayed Waddesdon Bequest at British Museum. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

This collection has now been redisplayed in a new gallery at the museum (room 2A, entry free), enabled by a donation from the Rothschild Foundation.

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in his sitting room at Waddesdon with his favourite poodle Poupon. ©Waddesdon Manor

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in his sitting room at Waddesdon with his favourite poodle Poupon. ©Waddesdon Manor

Baron Ferdinand inherited some of these objects from his father, Baron Anselm von Rothschild, but he greatly increased the collection himself as well. He was consciously emulating the art collections formed by the princes of Renaissance Europe.

Portrait busts of Margaret of Austria and Philibert of Savoy, boxwood, about 1515. The Waddesdon  Bequest. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

Portrait busts of Margaret of Austria and Philibert of Savoy, boxwood, about 1515. The Waddesdon Bequest. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

The collecting and building activities of various members of the Rothschild family, with its branches in Vienna, Frankfurt, Paris and London, demonstrated that they saw themselves as a new enlightened European aristocracy.

Aerial view of Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust Images/John Bigelow Taylor

Aerial view of Waddesdon Manor. ©National Trust Images/John Bigelow Taylor

Of the 45 Rothschild mansions across Europe, only Waddesdon remains intact and open to the public. The house and grounds were bequeathed to the National Trust in 1957 and are managed by the Rothschild Foundation.

The Ghisi Shield, hammered iron, silver-plated and damascened with gold, about 1600. The Waddesdon  Bequest. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

The Ghisi Shield, hammered iron, silver-plated and damascened with gold, about 1600. The Waddesdon Bequest. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

Baron Ferdinand’s Renaissance collection was kept in the Smoking Room at Waddesdon. His sister Alice, who inherited the house, replenished the room with further treasures in a similar taste, which can still be seen there today.

The Smoking Room at Waddesdon. ©Waddesdon Manor

The Smoking Room at Waddesdon. ©Waddesdon Manor

The new display at the British Museum was designed by architects Stanton Williams in collaboration with the British Museum’s curators, conservators and other specialists. The large but subtle display cases, made by Goppion, lead the visitor around the objects and allow close viewing of their beautiful surfaces and exquisite craftsmanship.

Miniature tabernacle and case, boxwood, leather, gold fittings, 1510-1525, coming apart and opening like a flower to reveal further areas of minute carving with scenes from Life and Passion of Christ. The Waddesdon  Bequest. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

Miniature tabernacle and case, boxwood, leather, gold fittings, 1510-1525, coming apart and opening like a flower to reveal further areas of minute carving with scenes from Life and Passion of Christ. The Waddesdon Bequest. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

Evocative images of life at Waddesdon in Baron Ferdinand’s time are projected in a slow cycle on the upper level of the gallery. Discrete wall-mounted video screens show magnified details of some of the more intricate objects.

Turquoise glass goblet, Venice, late 1400s. The goblet is enamelled and gilded with pairs of lovers, suggesting that it may have been a betrothal gift. The Waddesdon  Bequest.  ©The Trustees of the British Museum

Turquoise glass goblet, Venice, late 1400s. The goblet is enamelled and gilded with pairs of lovers, suggesting that it may have been a betrothal gift. The Waddesdon Bequest. ©The Trustees of the British Museum

The new display is accompanied by a splendid catalogue by curator Dora Thornton. The British Museum’s website also includes a dedicated Waddesdon Bequest microsite. And there is an exhibition at Waddesdon specifically about Baron Ferdinand’s Renaissance collection, until 25 October.

The tragic Arbella Stuart at Hardwick Hall

June 4, 2015
Lady Arbella Stuart as a child, 1577, at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Lady Arbella Stuart as a child, 1577, at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

2015 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Lady Arbella Stuart, granddaughter of the redoubtable Bess of Hardwick and at one time a candidate to succeed Queen Elizabeth I.

Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, by Rowland Lockey, 1590s, at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Bethell

Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, by Rowland Lockey, 1590s, at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Bethell

To mark the anniversary, the colleagues at Hardwick Hall have put on an exhibition about Arbella’s privileged but tragic life.

The south front of Hardwick Hall seen from the Orchard. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The south front of Hardwick Hall seen from the Orchard. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

Orphaned at the age of seven, she was brought up by her grandmother, Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury – known as Bess of Hardwick – at Hardwick Hall. She received a princely education, studying several languages and learning to play the lute, the viol and the virginals.

Lady Arbella Stuart aged 13, by Rowland Lockey after an unknown artist, 1589, at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Lady Arbella Stuart aged 13, by Rowland Lockey after an unknown artist, 1589, at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Through her father’s side Arbella was the great-great-grandaughter of King Henry VII of England and therefore potentially in line to the throne. Ultimately, however, the influential courtiers Lord Burghley and his son Sir Robert Cecil invited Arbella’s cousin King James VI of Scotland to become Elizabeth I’s successor.

Lady Arbella Stuart, by Robert Peake, 1605, in the National Galleries of Scotland. ©National Galleries of Scotland, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Lady Arbella Stuart, by Robert Peake, 1605, in the National Galleries of Scotland. ©National Galleries of Scotland, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Because of Arbella’s connection to the royal line, the question who she might marry was a fraught political issue. In 1610 Arbella secretly married William Seymour, Lord Beauchamp, who himself was sixth in line to the throne. King James imprisoned them for marrying without his permission. They managed to escape separately, but Arbella’s ship was overtaken by the King’s men just before it reached France.

The Tower of London, by Wenceslaus Hollar, 1647. Source: Project Gutenberg

The Tower of London, by Wenceslaus Hollar, 1647. Source: Project Gutenberg

After being imprisoned in the Tower of London, Arbella refused to eat, fell ill and finally died on 25 September 1615. Her life and death are a poignant illustration of the uncertainties and upheavals of Elizabethan and Jacobean Britain.

A painting by Cornelis de Heem acquired for Dyrham Park

June 1, 2015
Cornelis de Heem (1631-95), A Still Life of Flowers and Fruit arranged on a Stone Plinth in a Garden, at Dyrham Park, NT 2900107. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Cornelis de Heem (1631-95), A Still Life of Flowers and Fruit arranged on a Stone Plinth in a Garden, at Dyrham Park, NT 2900107. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

It has been announced today that we have acquired this painting by Cornelis de Heem for Dyrham Park.

The de Heem being taken out of its crate on arrival at Dyrham Park. ©National Trust Images/Barry Batchelor

The de Heem being taken out of its crate on arrival at Dyrham Park. ©National Trust Images/Barry Batchelor

The picture was purchased by the builder of Dyrham, William Blathwayt, in the 1690s. It stayed in the house until it was sold at auction in 1956.

A moment of contemplation after the de Heem has been hung in the Diogenes Room. ©National Trust Images/Barry Batchelor

A moment of contemplation after the de Heem has been hung in the Diogenes Room. ©National Trust Images/Barry Batchelor

Now, after an absence of almost sixty years, it is returning to Dyrham. The acquisition has been made possibly by grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Mr and Mrs Kenneth Levy bequest, the Art Fund, a fund set up by the late Hon. Simon Sainsbury, the Royal Oak Foundation’s Ervin-DesChamps Fund and a private donation.

Silk flowers being arranged in the Delft vase underneath the de Heem. ©National Trust Images/Barry Batchelor

Silk flowers being arranged in the Delft vase underneath the de Heem. ©National Trust Images/Barry Batchelor

Apart from being a display of virtuoso painterly skill, the picture also hints at the transience of material culture. Some of the fruits are beginning to rot and the wild plants are encroaching on the garden, ready to undo man’s efforts.

Further Delftware in the Diogenes Room, also from Blathwayt's collection. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Further Delftware in the Diogenes Room, also from Blathwayt’s collection. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Blathwayt is thought to have acquired this picture on one of his trips to the Low Countries in the 1690s, when he was accompanying King William III on his military campaigns.

Another flower still-life, signed 'PHK', in the Balcony Room at Dyrham.©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Another flower still-life, signed ‘PHK’, in the Balcony Room at Dyrham. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Blathwayt’s ‘Hollandophile’ taste is still very much in evidence at Dyrham, with its collections of Dutch paintings (including other flower paintings) and blue and white Delftware. The de Heem will look right at home in the Diogenes Room, next to the Diogenes tapestries (also richly festooned with flowers) and Delft flower pyramids.


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