New portraits at Greys Court

the school room at Greys Court in natural lighting.

There are two previously unseen portraits now on display at Greys Court for the first time. These family portraits were recently moved from storage and framed thanks to a generous gift to the National Trust. These portraits offer an intimate glimpse into the Brunner family history, completing the story that the mansion tells.

An intimate family history

Greys Court had long been in the Brunner family before Sir Felix and Lady Elizabeth bequeathed it to the National Trust in 1969. They continued to live at Greys Court until Lady Brunner's death in 2003. Their considerable legacy lives on in the intamacy of small, family rooms and the eclectic collection displayed around the house.

The new additions to our collection have allowed us to shed more light on this dynamic family, and we were able to display these portraits with the help of a team of specialists and with two of Sir Felix and Lady Brunner's sons.

'It's such a joy to have these on display. The portraits draw the story of the house together. We hope that more visitors will be able to follow generations of the Brunner family around the house pictorially, through our collection.' Tessa Blake, Senior House Steward.

Sir John Fowler Leece Brunner portrait

The portrait of Sir Felix's father was painted at the turn of the twentieth century by Arthur Hacker, an English Classicist painter twice exhibited at the Royal Academy. It's late Victorian style captures Sir John's assured gaze and hints at the stature of a gentleman.

Portrait of Sir John Fowler Leece Brunner
Portrait of Sir John Fowler Leece Brunner

We used the help of a specialist framer to set about researching how the painting should be framed. In the end, we chose a replica frame copied faithfully from another portrait in the collection, to make it seem at home in the house.

Sir Felix Brunner portrait

The second portrait is a charmingly informal image of Sir Felix and his sister Joyce, later Lady Worsley, that is a soft depiction of the Sir Felix as a young boy and his sister in a closely-worked style.

Portrait of Sir Felix Brunner and sister Joyce as young children
Portrait of Sir Felix Brunner and sister Joyce as young children

When choosing a frame for this portrait, we wanted something much simpler- a frame which might not look out of place in a London interior where the portraits would've originally been hung. 

Whilst we were framing the portrait we stumbled upon an important discovery. The artists signature had largely been indecipherable before framing, when we discovered the painter to be Millicent Etheldreda Gray. She is best known for her illustrations for A Treasury of Children's Verse as well as an edition of Louise May Alcott's Little Women, prompting further study opportunities for the team.

See the portraits on display in the house at Greys Court, now in the permanent collection.