Visiting Velázquez

La Tela Real on loan from the National Gallery to Kingston Lacy in Dorset

A unique landscape by artist Diego Velázquez, painted for King Philip IV of Spain, is on loan from the National Gallery in London for the first time, to Kingston Lacy.

As part of a reciprocal loan, La Tela Real has taken centre stage in the dining room at Kingston Lacy whilst The Judgement of Solomon by Sebastiano del Piombo joins a major exhibition charting Sebastiano’s extraordinary friendship with Michelangelo, master of the Italian High Renaissance.

Having arrived at Kingston Lacy in March, the landscape La Tela Real depicts a type of boar hunt, staged by the Spanish kings on feast days and to honour special guests.  The quarry was hunted within a canvas (tela) enclosure (so giving the name La Tela Real, i.e. ‘The Royal Enclosure’). Owing to the tremendous expense and labour involved, only the king could afford such a spectacle.

A close up of the painting reveals the detail of the figures in the foreground
La Tela Real on loan from the National Gallery at Kingston Lacy in Dorset
A close up of the painting reveals the detail of the figures in the foreground

Specialist lectures...

An exciting programme of activities over the summer includes specialist lecture which will reveal the story of La Tela Real and the fascinating associations with Kingston Lacy’s own outstanding collections:- 

On 7 July, Josephine Oxley will talk at Kingston Lacy about the Spanish Royal Collection in the Wellington Collection, Aspley House, and will reveal the exciting story of their arrival from Spain, their reception in London and the importance of the collection today.

On 21 July, Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, who is a renowned expert on Spanish Art will be giving a lecture at Kingston Lacy looking at Velázquez as an artist along with the history surrounding Philip IV of Spain and the art of boar hunting.

Tickets for each lecture are £12 per person, with a welcome drink from 6.30pm, with time to explore the servant’s hall, Egyptian room and the state room at Kingston Lacy, before the lectures start at 7pm. Tickets must be booked in advance on 0344 249 1895 or by visiting

Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says: 'We are delighted to be lending Velázquez's 'Tela Real', an exceptional work in the artist's oeuvre, to join the exceptional collection of Spanish paintings housed at Kingston Lacy, where it can be seen throughout the spring and summer of this year.’

Kingston Lacy has a remarkable collection of Spanish paintings, assembled by William John Bankes and proudly displayed in his opulent ‘Spanish room’.  The finest works include Velázquez’s portrait of Cardinal Camillo Massimi, and a near-contemporary copy of the artist’s Las Meninas, one of the most enigmatic and famous images in the history of Western art.

The original painting of Las Meninas has been in the Prado Museum in Madrid since 1819 and is too valuable, important and large to ever be loaned. William John bought the small-scale copy at Kingston Lacy in 1811, probably believing it to be the sketch for the original. A colourful adventurer and collector, William John travelled across Spain in his twenties amassing one of the earliest collections of Spanish paintings in Britain. He regarded his version of Las Meninas as 'the glory of my collection ... which I flatter myself will be the finest in England, tho' not a finished picture'. National Trust experts today attribute the work to Juan Bautista Martinez del Mazo, Velázquez’s son-in-law and successor as Painter to the Spanish Crown. However, debate over the painting’s authorship continues and in recent years some scholars have made the tantalising suggestion that William John may have been right all along and this could just be by the master himself.

General Manager at Kingston Lacy, Tim Turner, comments “we are delighted to have this one-off opportunity to display Velázquez’s La Tela Real, an important piece of art which enhances the collection we already have at Kingston Lacy and which gives our visitors a chance to see the painting outside of a large gallery environment, in a historic house context.”

La Tela Real compliments the historic furnishings of the Bankes family home
La Tela Real on loan from the National Gallery at Kingston Lacy in Dorset
La Tela Real compliments the historic furnishings of the Bankes family home

Katrina Thomson, senior manager for the collections in the Trust’s South West region, says “Kingston Lacy boasts one of the finest picture collections in the National Trust and regularly lends paintings to major exhibitions across the world. But this is the first time that we’ve hosted a loan exchange of this significance. La Tela Real is exceptional amongst Velázquez’s body of work – an extremely rare and individual landscape, designed around 1636-8 for The Torre de la Parada, Philip IV’s hunting lodge near Madrid. Encountering a familiar piece of art in a different surrounding can be like seeing it for the first time. So we are thrilled to be able to show off this National Gallery star in a different light, by offering visitors a more intimate experience, which we might imagine to be closer to that enjoyed by the king and his court, in its original private, royal setting.”

To visit the internationally acclaimed art collection, Kingston Lacy house is open via timed tickets. You can book yours in advance now via the What's on page to avoid disappointment on the day.

Upcoming events

Kingston Lacy Health Cycle Rides

Thu 21 Feb 2019
Every Thursday, in partnership with Moors Valley Country Park, come and join our fun, friendly and active free cycle rides from 9.30am (please arrive by 9.15am for a prompt start).

Snowdrops at Kingston Lacy

Thu 21 Feb 2019
Mark the beginnings of a new year by enjoying a walk amongst the snowdrops. Snowdrops flower at Kingston Lacy throughout January and February, though the best time to see them is normally in February. Normal property admission applies.

February half-term

Thu 21 Feb 2019
Whatever the weather join us this half-term to explore the gardens and parkland and spot the first signs of spring.

February house tours

Thu 21 Feb 2019
Ever wondered what it takes to care for Kingston Lacy? Enjoy an exclusive guided tour around the State and Ground floor rooms of Kingston Lacy house during its winter closure.


Wed 27 Feb 2019
Following a sell-out performance in London, renowned singer songwriter David McAlmont brings his unique show to Kingston Lacy for an exclusive performance at the home William John Bankes, whose story inspired his work.

Kingston Lacy house tickets

Fri 01 Mar 2019
Planning to explore the house on your visit? Please pre-book your free timed entry ticket here. There’s plenty to see in this lavish home built to resemble an Italian Palace, from beautifully detailed carvings to intimate family souvenirs.