Vere is back at Dunham Massey

Portrait of a lady, presumed to be Vere Egerton, attributed to Robert Peake (c. 1551-1619). ©Sotheby's

The portrait of a lady, probably Vere Egerton, which we purchased recently at auction with help from the Art Fund, is now back at Dunham Massey.

English School, portrait of Lady Elizabeth Cecil, Countess of Berkshire (1596-1672), eighteenth-century copy after an original by the Comet Master, at Dunham Massey. ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

Vere Egerton married William Booth of Dunham in 1619, and her connections and wealth marked a rise in the family fortunes. The newly acquired portrait of her is the most spectacular of the early portraits at Dunham.

English School, portrait of Mary Bunce, Lady Langham (1599/1600-1652), 1650, at Dunham Massey. Lady Langham's granddaughter Mary married Henry Booth, 1st Earl of Warrington. ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

Its acquisition is important for that reason, but also because it allows the picture to be seen in the context of other late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century portraits of the Booth and Grey families at Dunham.

English School, after Cornelius Jonson, portrait of Lady Diana Cecil, Countess of Oxford and Elgin (c. 1603-1654), at Dunham Masey. ©National Trust/Robert Thrift

Vere’s great great granddaughter, Lady Mary Booth (1704-1772) married Harry Grey, 4th Earl of Stamford (1715-1768), and it was through that marriage that Dunham was inherited by the Earls of Stamford.

The Stone Parlour at Dunham, originally an informal dining room in the Tudor period, with early eighteenth-century (but deliberately old-fashioned) panelling, which was remodelled in antiquarian fashion in 1906. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

So the copies of the Jacobean portraits of the Countesses of Berkshire and Oxford, sisters-in-law of the 1st Earl of Stamford, who would have been Vere’s contemporaries, only came to Dunham much later. But it is those historical loops and connections, (as also seen in the development of the Stone Parlour shown above, for instance) that make country house collections so interesting.

5 Responses to “Vere is back at Dunham Massey”

  1. columnist Says:

    I am intrigued by the similarity of the framing. It’s not a style I particularly favour, but it is much improved by the containment of the fretwork within another singular band, either gilded, or in black.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Columnist, yes this is a kind of ‘livery’ frame that was brought in by the family at some point to unify the look of some of their paintings. One sees this phenomenon at other country houses too: at Nostell Priory, for instance, there is a uniform, Chippendale-made frame that is used on a large number of pictures, and at Belton House, too, there is a ‘house’ frame.

    Interestingly, nowadays interior design experts often caution against using the same framer for all one’s pictures, to avoid an overly bland or impersonal look. But at the same time we all know that it sometimes makes visual sense to frame a set of pictures in the same type of frame.

  3. HRH The Duchess of State Says:

    Congratulations dahhling on your latest aquisition! I am always fascinated by the stories the portraits always try to tell of their subjects, the items each person chose to depic that meant something to them or was meant to mean something to everyone else…

  4. visitinghousesandgardens Says:

    I was at Dunham Massey today (Boxing Day) visiting the winter garden (one of the few northern NT houses that keeps its gardens open year round) and it was the busiest NT property I’ve ever visited (and I’ve been to DM before). Such a shame the house wasn’t opened.

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    HRH, thank you..

    Visiting, I am glad you enjoyed the winter garden at Dunham ( – good to hear there were so many visitors.

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