Eight paintings not to miss at Petworth
John Constable described Petworth as 'that house of art' in 1834. We've highlighted 8 important paintings within the collection that you should look out for on your visit.
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) Rocky Wooded Landscape, c.1775
Best known as a portraitist, Gainsborough’s preference was for landscape painting. Constable said he could not think of this example ‘without tears in my eyes’.
William Blake (1757-1827) The Last Judgement, 1808
A radical and eccentric artist, Blake had few patrons in his lifetime and is not represented in any other major country house collection. One of three examples at Petworth, this depicts the ascent of the blessed (left) with the descent of the damned (right).
Titian (c.1490-1576) Man in a Black Plumed Hat, c.1515-20
As a young artist Titian became famous as a portrait painter. He pioneered the casual pose, with the sitter looking over his shoulder, which was later taken up by other great artists such as Rembrandt and van Dyck. The sitter is unidentified but seems to hold a block of stone, which may suggest he is a sculptor.
Hans Holbien the Younger (1497/8-1543) Henry VIII, 1537-57
Based on Holbein’s Whitehall mural, destroyed by re in 1698, this is one of only two copies of this famous image to come from the artist’s studio. It was almost certainly commissioned by Jane Seymour’s brother, Edward, and came to Petworth by descent to the 6th Duke of Somerset.
Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) Katherine Bruce, Mrs William Murray, circa 1637
Little Dining Room
One of 17 paintings by van Dyck at Petworth, this portrait represents the wife of the 1st Earl of Dysart, who owned Ham House (National Trust). It was acquired for Northumberland House by the 10th Earl of Northumberland, one of van Dyck’s great collectors, probably during the Civil War.
Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691) Rider and herdsman in an imaginary landscape, 1655
The Beauty Room
Paintings by Cuyp were particularly fashionable in the early 1800s and influenced artists such as JMW Turner. This example was bought for Petworth by the 3rd Earl of Egremont. The landscape around the picturesque Dutch town of Nijmegen inspired several of Cuyp’s paintings but they are rarely speci c views.
Joshua Reynolds (1729-1792) Macbeth and the Witches, 1789
The Square Dining Room
The largest of Reynolds’s paintings, this giant canvas was left unfinished in the artist’s studio on his death. It had been commissioned by John Boydell for his Shakespeare Gallery on Pall Mall. The painting underwent a major conservation project in 2014/15, revealing the gruesome detail of this famous scene.
David Teniers (1610-1690) The Brussels Picture Gallery of the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, 1651
This painting represents one of the great European picture collections, of which the artist was also the curator and appears holding a painting for his employer. The paintings represented are now dispersed across great museum collections; Titian’s Death of Actaeon (top right) is in the National Gallery, London.