National Trust's Dutch masters exhibition at Petworth House

Prized Possessions: Dutch Masterpieces from National Trust Houses is on show at Petworth House in West Sussex from 26 January until 24 March 2019.

This exhibition brings together some of the finest 17th-century Dutch pictures from our collections and is the first major exhibition of our paintings in 22 years.

The exhibition

Prized Possessions highlights works by some of the most celebrated artists of the Dutch Golden Age. This rich period in Dutch art is a particular strength of our collections, with masterpieces at Ham House, Dyrham Park, Ascott, Upton House and Polesden Lacey.

The 22 works in the exhibition include a recently-discovered self-portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn, a masterpiece riverside landscape by Aelbert Cuyp and the magnificent 'Interior of the Church of St. Catherine, Utrecht' by Pieter Jansz. Saenredam.

Tickets for Prized Possessions Book now

The taste for Dutch pictures

We look after one of the largest and most significant collections of art in Britain, created over seven centuries by some of our most important and fascinating patrons. The paintings in the exhibition reveal to visitors the taste for the collecting of Dutch pictures in Britain, and how these pictures were desired, commissioned, displayed and treasured by their owners, from the 17th century to the present day.

" a glittering snapshot of the National Trust's collection"
- The Telegraph

As David Taylor, Curator of Pictures and Sculpture, explains:

'The Dutch gained independence from Spain in 1648 and in a relatively short period of time there was a new confidence and prosperity that saw a burgeoning middle class with money and an interest in commissioning and displaying art.

'The artists who were flourishing at this time mastered various painting genres, from portraits, still lives and landscapes, to religious, maritime, and subject pictures, and the quality of their work attracted patrons and collectors from across Europe. Examples of all those types of Dutch pictures are showcased in the exhibition.'

An additional highlight includes Sir Peter Lely’s portrait of the Duchess of Lauderdale, chatelaine of Ham House, who encouraged the artist’s career. Later examples of Dutch Golden Age art from the collection at Upton House in Warwickshire, the 20th-century home of Shell Oil chairman and eclectic collector Lord Bearsted, are also in the exhibition.

Three Dutch masters in the spotlight on video

Join three art experts on film as they examine their favourite works in the exhibition.


Rupert Goulding decodes a still life

There's more to this painting of flower and fruit than meets the eye. In this video, Rupert Goulding uncovers the symbolism and hidden meanings of 'A Still Life of Flowers and Fruit' by Cornelis de Heem.


David Taylor on The Duet

The fine details of this great painting disguise hidden layers of sexual tension. In this video, David Taylor interprets the symbolism of 'The Duet' by Gabriel Metsu.


Christine Sitwell on A Magus at a Table

Sometimes a painting's surface can conceal moments of artistic indecision. In this video Christine Sitwell exposes the hidden layers of 'A Magus at a Table' by Jan Lievens.

Prized Possessions book cover

The exhibition catalogue 

An accompanying multi-author catalogue, produced by the National Trust in association with Paul Holberton Publishing, explores the themes of the exhibition in further detail and will act as a lasting legacy to this important exhibition. On sale now.

Prior to coming to Petworth, the exhibition was shown at these venues:

  • Holburne Museum, Bath, 25 May to 16 September 2018
  • Royal Picture Gallery, Mauritshuis, The Hague, 11 October 2018 to 6 January 2019