Carlo Dolci's painting of Saint Agatha returns to Osterley Park and House
Saint Agatha will be the highlight of a winter exhibition at the historic former home of the art-collecting Child family.
A painting of the early Christian martyr Saint Agatha, by Italian artist Carlo Dolci (1616-1687), has been acquired by the National Trust for Osterley Park and House in Middlesex thanks to a grant from Art Fund and other generous donations.
The return of Saint Agatha to Osterley has provided the opportunity to stage a special winter exhibition for visitors, 'Treasures of Osterley - Rise of a Banking Family', opening 4 November. 2019. The exhibition will explore the rise to fame and fortune of the Child family who acquired the painting and showcase the art and design that they commissioned and collected from around the globe.
The painting of Saint Agatha, purchased by art lover Sir Robert Child at the beginning of the 18th century, became one of the works in a great picture collection at Osterley and was recorded in a 1782 inventory. However, it was later sold along with other family heirlooms in the 1930s.
Saint Agatha is a dramatic depiction of Agatha of Sicily, a Christian martyr, who suffered dreadful torture at the hands of the Romans. It is an example of the work of the Baroque master Carlo Dolci, a leading figure of 17th-century Florentine art, whose passionate depictions of holy figures aimed to inspire reverence and empathy for the divine. It captures the miraculous moment when Saint Peter the Apostle appeared to Saint Agatha in a vision and healed her wounds.
John Chu, National Trust Assistant Curator of Pictures and Sculpture explains:
"The homecoming of Saint Agatha provides the chance to look more closely at the importance of pictures to the story of the house. She will be the highlight of our exhibition exploring the Child family’s meteoric rise and what these precious objects meant to them at a remarkable moment in British history. Saint Agatha will be displayed alongside other European and Asian works of art and design, including furniture and ceramics, bought by the family."
" We are very grateful to Art Fund and our other generous donors and supporters for enabling us to acquire Saint Agatha and hope the exhibition will inspire all those who enjoy discovering examples of the highest quality art and design."