Baddesley Clinton: a Victorian painter's passion
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Records show that Baddesley was a sumptuous and splendidly decorated mansion in the late Tudor period but as the Ferrers family fortunes declined, so did the decoration. The future looked bleak until Marmion Ferrers moved back to Baddesley with his wife, the talented artist Rebecca Dulcibella Orpen, in 1867.
Rebecca Dulcibella Orpen
A skilled and dedicated painter in watercolours and oils, Rebecca spent many years painting the portraits and homes of her aristocratic connections. Many survive as a unique record of country house interiors in the early Victorian period.
Her slightly derelict but utterly romantic new home at Baddesley Clinton inspired her creativity further. She began a series of Baddesley-themed paintings designed to decorate and reinvigorate their marital home.
The bare, oak-panelled walls were soon covered in her works, showing her husband, their friends and family in poses and sometimes historic costumes around the house and gardens. Her images brought their home to life and she supplemented portraits and landscapes with painted heraldic shields tucked in the remaining spaces.
Through Rebecca's artistic influence, Baddesley Clinton took on the air of an ancient fortress from the rapidly industrialising Victorian world. The transformation was so complete that photographs of Baddesley’s interiors were chosen to feature in the first issue of Country Life magazine in 1897.
Rebecca provided countless devotional pieces to local Catholic churches, from large altar pieces and Triptychs to palm-sized illustrations of the life of Christ. Many pieces have returned to Baddesley and it now boasts the world's largest collection of Rebecca's work.
In 2011, we acquired one of Rebecca's more unusual paintings at auction. Following urgent conservation works, the 'Vision of King Edward and Earl Leofric at Westminster' will go on permanent display at Baddesley Clinton this year.