Family portraits and treasures return to Osterley

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A collection of rare portraits and artwork is now on display at Osterley Park and House in West London.

Once described by Horace Walpole as the ‘palace of palaces’, Osterley Park and House's spectacular interiors were created in the 18th century by the Child family, the owners of Child’s Bank. But for over sixty years their portraits have been absent.

Now a major ten-year loan marks the return of the Child family to the house they so lovingly transformed with rare items of furniture and over twenty paintings including many portraits of family members.

Among the most famous artworks to return is a self-portrait by William Dobson (1611-1646), court painter to King Charles I, which was bought by the family in the early 18th century and has not been on public display at Osterley  since 1949.

The family portraits

  • Francis Child III - he succeeded to Osterley in 1756 and began transforming the house with the help of fashionable architect Robert Adam.
  • Robert Child – Francis’ brother, he inherited Osterley Park and House in 1763 and continued to employ Adam who worked at Osterley until 1781.
  • Sarah Jodrell – Robert’s wife and a woman of many accomplishments which included her exquisite embroidery, examples of which can be seen at Osterley Park and House.
  • Sarah Anne Child – Robert and Sarah’s beloved daughter and a talented musician, whose harpsichord is still on display in the house. She was disinherited from her father’s fortune for eloping to Gretna Green to marry the Earl of Westmorland.

Claire Reed, our House and Collections Manager explains: 'This is an exciting moment as it really feels as though the family are returning to Osterley. We have beautiful interiors and fascinating objects at the house but until now visitors couldn’t see the faces behind the names of those who made this such a wonderful place.'

Art works in the collection

Other art works include The Music Lesson by Sir Peter Lely and a large painting of Temple Bar, a detailed London scene depicting the area close to the location of Child’s Bank.

Rare pieces of lacquer furniture and other treasured family objects will also be on display, telling stories of the fashions and tastes for collecting in the 18th century.

Osterley Park and House was first opened to the public by the 9th Earl of Jersey in 1939 following a steady stream of requests to see inside the house. It was then transferred to us in 1949.

This ten-year loan has been made by the trustee of the Earldom of Jersey Trust, following consultation and backing from the 10th Earl of Jersey.

Osterley Park and House opens on Saturday 1 March. For opening times, events and other information telephone 0208 232 5050 or visit the Osterley Park website.