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Our latest collection acquisitions

The painting Penelope and Euriclea by Angelica Kauffman, on display at Stourhead
Penelope and Euriclea by Angelica Kauffman, on display at Stourhead | © National Trust Images/Petra Mirosevic-Sorgo

We’re committed to developing collections by acquiring items with special connections to the places we care for, so they can be enjoyed by current and future generations. Discover some recently added items and the stories behind them, from objects kindly donated to the National Trust to those purchased with funds raised thanks to the generosity of visitors.

How does the National Trust collect items?

We benefit from gifts, bequests and occasionally purchase items, often with the support of generous donors and funders. We are also a major beneficiary of the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme, which allocates items to national bodies which have been accepted by HM Government in lieu of tax.

Examples of recent acquisitions

Penelope and Euriclea by Angelica Kauffman

Angelica Kauffman's Penelope and Euriclea returned to Stourhead in 2023. It was originally bought by Stourhead’s creator, Henry Hoare II 'the Magnificent' (1705–85), back in 1773. However, faced with debts and falling income, the family sold the painting in 1883 for the modest sum of 7 guineas.

This year, exactly 140 years after leaving Stourhead, it was bought at auction by the National Trust, with support from a National Trust fund (set up by the late Simon Sainsbury), and a member of the Hoare family.

Angelica Kauffman (1741–1807) was a prominent figure in the art world, and a leading female artist working in a male-dominated sphere. In Penelope and Euriclea, she captures a scene from Homer’s Odyssey, where the faithful servant Euriclea wakes Penelope, bringing news that Penelope’s husband Odysseus has finally returned from fighting in the Trojan War and a perilous ten-year journey home.

Portraits by Daniel Mytens and Thomas Gainsborough

Two superb portraits that have been on display at Knole for over 200 years were accepted in lieu of tax by HM Government and allocated to the National Trust.

The first is a 1620 portrait of Lionel Cranfield, 1st Earl of Middlesex (1575–1645), by Daniel Mytens (c.1590–1647/8), which shows Cranfield in his robes of state and with the white wand of the Lord High Treasurer.

The second, of Lord George Sackville (1716–85) by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–88), continued the family tradition of patronising fashionable court artists. It was painted in the early 1780s, at a time when Gainsborough was favoured by George III (1738–1820) and at the height of his power.

A yellow and black carriage seen at Arlington Court and the National Carriage Museum
The Chichester Carriage at Arlington Court and the National Carriage Museum | © National Trust Images/Trevor Ray Hart

​​​Chichester carriage

A family travelling carriage made for Robert Chichester (1804–82) of Hall, North Devon, was generously donated to the National Trust by Mr Garth Pedler.

The carriage was made in around 1840 as a town chariot and converted later in the 19th century to a slightly larger and less formal carriage for regular family use.

It’s displayed in the National Trust’s Carriage Museum at Arlington Court, where over 40 carriages are on display in the former stable block.

Dolci's Saint Agatha

A painting by Baroque master Carlo Dolci (1616–87) of the early Christian martyr Saint Agatha was acquired by the National Trust for Osterley Park and House in Middlesex, thanks to a grant from Art Fund and other generous donations.

The painting was purchased by Sir Robert Child (1674–1721) at the beginning of the 18th century for the great picture collection at Osterley. It was recorded in a 1782 inventory, however, was later sold along with other family heirlooms in the 1930s.

‘Saint Agatha’ was purchased for £248,750 at the Christie’s Old Masters Evening Sale in London thanks to a grant of £85,000 from Art Fund, support from private donors, Trust members and visitors to Osterley Park. A fund set up by the late Simon Sainsbury to support acquisitions for the historic houses of the National Trust also contributed.

See Dolci's Saint Agatha

Other acquisitions

A round oil painting on copper perspective, showing the inside of Antwerp Cathedral by Hendrick van Steenwyck
Van Steenwyck's perspective hangs at Ham House, Surrey | © National Trust/Hannah Mawdsley

Van Steenwyck perspective for Ham House, Surrey

An oil on copper perspective based on Antwerp Cathedral, by the Anglo-Dutch painter Hendrick van Steenwyck (1604–49), was purchased for Ham House. This painting used to hang in the Green Closet at Ham. When Ham House was transferred to the National Trust in 1948, it remained with a member of the historic family. In April 2020, with generous support from the Art Fund and a fund set up by the late Simon Sainsbury, the National Trust was able to purchase the work, and it now hangs once again in the Green Closet.

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Sevres Wine Cooler, showing nymphs worshipping the bust of Pan, from a service made for Louis XVI, dated 1792, in the Porcelain Lobby at Upton House, Warwickshire

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We care for one of the world's largest and most significant collections of art and heritage objects. Explore the highlights, our latest major exhibitions, curatorial research and more.

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