Experience the Londonderry Loan Collection at Mount Stewart
In 2013, the Executors of the Londonderry Estate approached the National Trust with the offer, on loan, of a significant group of family-owned works of art and memorabilia. This followed the death of the 9th Marquess in 2012, who had generously loaned Mount Stewart the family’s State Chariot in 2010 which is housed in the coach house just off the path from the car park.
The loan includes twenty-seven paintings, twenty-three of which are family portraits including no less than nine by Sir Thomas Lawrence; a Canova bust and eleven other pieces of sculpture; objets de vertu; furniture; a large collection of silver, including one of the racehorse Hambletonian’s racing trophy cups from 1796; some of the 3rd Marquess’s Ambassadorial plate; a collection of Berlin plates; two clocks; sixteen pieces of arms and armour; and a collection of medals, honours and orders of chivalry.
This important loan has enabled us to bring to the forefront many of the principal figures in the earlier history of the Londonderry family, in particular, Viscount Castlereagh (1769-1822), later the 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, and his half-brother Charles Stewart (1778-1854), 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, as well as their immediate families and descendants. Many of the paintings and objects were originally commissioned or intended for the family’s other houses, such as Wynyard, Co. Durham (sold in the 1980s) and Londonderry House, London (sold in 1962 and subsequently demolished). The loan has presented us with an unparalleled opportunity to enrich the presentation of Mount Stewart with works of art and sculpture of national and international significance.
There are now two portraits on loan by Lawrence of Viscount Castlereagh, one of Britain’s greatest Foreign Secretaries and a key negotiator at the Treaty of Paris in 1814 and the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), and a portrait of Castlereagh’s beloved wife Lady Emily Hobart . The magnitude of Castlereagh’s performance on the international stage in the years before and after the defeat of Napoleon I of France in 1815 is represented by additions such as the Empire style Congress of Vienna Desk , on which the Final Act or Treaty of Vienna is said to have been signed according to a later brass plaque, and Canova’s Ideal Head of Helen of Troy. This was presented to Castlereagh by its sculptor, Antonio Canova, the Pope’s envoy, in gratitude for Castlereagh’s help with the repatriation of works of art looted by Napoleon from the Louvre back to the Vatican – this piece is personally inscribed by the sculptor to Castlereagh.
The principal portraits on loan are mainly hung in the Drawing Room, Dining Room and on the West Staircase; the Congress of Vienna Desk stands, as it did before the Second World War, at the east end of the Drawing Room, under Lawrence’s magnificent full-length portrait of Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry in his Garter Robes, 1821. This portrait, along with the portraits by Lawrence of Charles Stewart’s two wives- firstly, Lady Catherine Bligh (1774 - 1812) and Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry who he married in 1819, were allocated to the National Trust at Mount Stewart through the Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance Tax scheme managed by Arts Council England.
The array of ambassadorial silver and small precious works of art (known as objets de vertu), can be seen alongside an extensive collection of plate and decorative objects already at the property in the Silver Display, just off the Central Hall.
These displays have been made possible as a result of the Government Indemnity Scheme. Mount Stewart would like to thank HM Government for providing Government Indemnity and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England for arranging the indemnity.
The National Trust wishes to thank the 10th Marquess of Londonderry, and the Trustees of the Londonderry Settlement for the loan of these significant items to Mount Stewart.
Explore our collections
Search the National Trust's collections, including the special items at Mount Stewart.