Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Unseen Old Master Drawings Confirmed for Chatsworth

Twelve of the finest Old Master Drawings from the Devonshire Collection, considered the greatest historic family collection after the Royal Collection at Windsor due to its scope and quality, have been confirmed for display in ‘World Class: Masterpieces from the Devonshire Collection’.

For the first time in more than 100 years (see notes to editors) Old Master Drawings from the collection will go on public display at Chatsworth in a new, purpose built Old Master Drawings Cabinet. Selected from more than 3000 works from both Italian and Northern Schools, the exhibition includes many of its greatest works and will run from 1 July to 9 November 2012.

Confirmed for the exhibition:

  • Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Il Guercino, A river in flood, and peasants with axes and other tools
  • Brueghel the Elder, View of the Ripa Grande
  • Annibale Carracci, A hunchback boy
  • Dürer, Madonna and Child
  • Leonardo da Vinci, Leda and the Swan (picture and see notes to editors)
  • Claude Gellée, called Claude le Lorrain, Landscape with Christ Preaching the Sermon on the Mount
  • Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse, Adam and Eve
  • Raphael, Seated woman reading with child (picture and see notes to editors)
  • Rembrandt, An Actor in His Dressing Room
  • Rubens, A Peasant Girl Churning Butter
  • Titian, Landscape: a rider-less horse pursued by a serpent
  • Van Dyck, Pieter Brueghel the Younger
Visitors will walk through the most lavish, important rooms in the House (the 1st Duke’s State Apartment) to find themselves in a jewel-like collector’s cabinet with the Old Master Drawings on display at eye-level. 

Wall fabric selected by the Duchess with interior designer David Mlinaric will be hung with upper tiers of gilt-framed botanical drawings dating from the 1500s. To complement the drawings, Rembrandt’s ‘King Uzziah’ will hang above a Florentine pietra dura cabinet. A French Boulle marquetry cabinet housing ivories and Limoges enamels, which have been specially conserved, completes the display. The creation of a room with the correct lighting, environment and security will enable the Old Master Drawings to be shared with visitors on a regular basis.

The Old Master Drawings on show from 1 July will start a rolling exhibition drawn from more than 3000 works with each displayed for a limited time before it ‘goes dark’ (into store) for 3-6 years during which time it cannot be displayed.

The drawings were previously kept in albums at Devonshire House in London until the 19th century when the 6th Duke of Devonshire brought many of the family’s finest works of Art to Chatsworth. He removed several hundred from their albums to frame them but the display was dismantled in 1906 to prevent deterioration caused by light and environmental conditions and the drawings were put into storage.

The collection began with the acquisition in the 1680s of 14 landscapes by Guercino by the 1st Duke of Devonshire. The 2nd Duke was the principal collector and most of the drawings have been in the family since the 1720s.

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