Our latest acquisitions
We are always interested in acquiring objects that hold connections to our historic houses. We benefit from gifts and bequests and occasionally we purchase works of art at auction or by private treaty. We're also a major beneficiary of the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme, through which we are allocated objects that have been accepted by the Government in lieu of tax.
Masterpiece by Isack van Ostade returns to Waddesdon Manor
Isack van Ostade's painting, Figures Outside an Inn, has returned to Waddesdon Manor as a gift from Lord Rothschild to the National Trust through the Cultural Gifts Scheme.
This landscape is one of the finest examples of van Ostade's work. Painted in 1647 towards the end of the artist’s life, this work demonstrates masterful technical and colouristic skill.
The painting is recorded in Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild's ‘Red Book’ which he printed privately in 1897 and lists his collection of favourite works of art and pictures at Waddesdon.
The Cultural Gifts Scheme enables UK taxpayers to donate important works of art and other heritage objects to be held for the benefit of the public or the nation. In return, donors receive a tax reduction based on a set percentage of the value of the item they donate.
Edward Sackville West's copy of Orlando, with dedication by Virginia Woolf, acquired for Knole
A copy of the novel Orlando by Virginia Woolf (1882–1941), with a dedication by the author to Edward Sackville-West, fifth Baron Sackville (1901–65), was purchased at auction at Sotheby’s, London.
The novel follows the adventures of a poet who lives for centuries and changes from a man into a woman. It is a meditation on history and gender, partly inspired by Woolf’s relationship with Vita Sackville-West (1892–1962) and by the latter’s ancestral home, Knole, which, as a woman, she couldn’t inherit because of the rules of primogeniture. The reluctant heir to Knole was her cousin, Edward Sackville-West.
This copy was presented by Virginia to Edward Sackville-West, a cousin of Vita, who was known as ‘Eddy’ by his friends. Eddy was a prolific writer, journalist and broadcaster, passionate about art, music and books. He had an apartment at Knole from 1926 in anticipation of inheriting the house. Part of his extensive library is still at Knole. This copy of Orlando is a poignant symbol of the complex relationship between Virginia, Vita, Eddy and Knole.
This acquisition was made possible by a grant from the Friends of the National Libraries, by various gifts to Knole and to the National Trust generally and to a fund set up by Miss D.E. Johnstone to support book projects at Hallhouse Farm, Appledore, and elsewhere in Kent.
Iconic Elizabethan miniature portrait secured for Powis Castle and for the nation
One of the most important miniature paintings of the Jacobean age has been secured in perpetuity for Powis Castle, its historic home, and for the nation.
The painting is a cabinet miniature portrait of Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1581/3–1648), famed poet, philosopher and statesman. He lived at Montgomery Castle and was first cousin of Sir William Herbert, 1st Lord Powis. It has been in the Powis family since its creation.
It was painted between c.1613-1614 by the royal miniaturist Isaac Oliver. Oliver was a pupil of Nicholas Hilliard and was one of the earliest and most important Renaissance artists working in England.
Oliver shows Lord Herbert in a melancholic and contemplative pose, at rest in a lush landscape along the banks of a stream. His shield, decorated with a heart emerging from flames, is inscribed ‘magica sympathia’. 'Sympathetic magic’ was an aspect of Herbert’s philosophical treatise, 'De Veritate' ('On Truth'), in which he explores the transformation of human desire into sublime knowledge. The sparks rising from the heart represent the struggle to attain this heavenly wisdom.
This work is exceptional not only for its unusual iconography, with the sitter shown full-length, recumbent and in a landscape setting, but also for its comparatively large size (230mm x 189mm) in relation to most miniatures.
The painting will undergo conservation over the next few months. Following this work, it may be loaned to other organisations and museums for display before it returns to Powis Castle.
It was purchased by private treaty, with the help of grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, a fund set up by the late Hon. Simon Sainsbury and a bequest from Winifred Hooper, 2016.
Thomas Gainsborough portrait returns to Knole
Thomas Gainsborough’s elegant portrait of Louis-Pierre Quentin de Richebourg, marquis de Champcenetz (1754– 1822), has returned to Knole after an absence of more than eight decades. This reacquisition for Knole marks the important return of a significant work by one of Britain’s most treasured artists.
Champcenetz was a French courtier and soldier who fought in the American War of Independence. He later served as Governor of the Tuileries Palace where he survived an assault by revolutionary forces on 10 August 1792. His portrait formed part of the collection at Knole since at least 1793 when it was in the possession of John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset. In 1930 it was sold to a collector in the United States where it remained, in several different hands, until its reappearance for sale this year.
The portrait was purchased at auction at Sotheby's, New York with contributions from a fund set up by the late Hon. Simon Sainsbury, from the Winchelsea National Trust Centre and Association and from other gifts and bequests.