New paintings by Stephen Farthing at Ham House

Stephen Farthings Titian: The first ghost is on display at Ham House © Stephen Farthing

Stephen Farthings Titian: The first ghost is on display at Ham House

Latest update 20.06.2014 16:21

With the support of the National Trust, contemporary artist and Royal Academician Stephen Farthing has created new paintings specially for the Great Staircase at Ham House and Garden.

Three intriguing canvases by Farthing, entitled Titian’s Ghosts, explore the theme of copies and echo Ham’s ghostly atmosphere. The new works hang in the spaces of historic paintings, which have been removed for conservation, on the Great Staircase and in the hall beneath.

The Great Staircase is lined with ten significant paintings in their original frames. They include copies of four Titian paintings: ‘Diana and Actaeon’, ‘Venus and Adonis’, ‘Venus del Pardo’ and ‘Venus and Organ Player’. However, discoloured varnishes and aged paint layers mean that they are now in need of conservation work. A new three year project has begun, funded by the Wolfson Foundation and the National Trust, to include technical analysis to identify the artists’ materials and techniques. 

Stephen Farthing says: “After the mixing of the colours, most important were the narratives.  I wanted to demonstrate how happily new and old could sit together, that the angles you experience paintings from as you climb (and descend) staircases can become a part of the drama of seeing (and not a distraction or inconvenience) and finally how little our sense of mischief has changed over time.”

The House

Ham House is famous for its hauntings and Professor David Kastan, of Yale University, in his essay ‘Ghostworks’ describes the new works by Stephen Farthing as “a less paranormal kind of haunting.”

Virtually unchanged for around 400 years, Ham House and Garden on the banks of the River Thames near Richmond, is a rare survivor of the early 17th century.

Ham House was the home of William Murray, who became the Earl of Dysart.  He was King Charles I’s childhood friend and whipping boy and in 1626 the King gave Murray the lease for Ham: evidence of Charles’s affection and gratitude.

  • Ham Street, Ham, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 7RS
  • 8 March – 2 November 2014, Saturday – Thursday, 12pm – 4pm
  • Free for National Trust members
  • Non-member admission charges: adult £11, child £5.50, family £27.50

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