Eight objects to look out for on your visit
Petworth has been described as ‘a world- class museum collection set in the Sussex countryside’. These 8 highlights from our sculpture, furniture and decorative arts collections are not to be missed.
Thomas Tompion (1639 - 1713) long-case clock
With its case of burr walnut, this clock was among the last clocks to have been made by ‘the father of English clock-making' around 1712. Among the most outstanding examples of Tompion’s craft, it still bears splashes of wax on its interior workings from where it was wound by candlelight in years gone by.
Emery Molyneux (d.1598-9) Terrestrial globe
Made by the pioneer of globe-making, Emery Molyneux, this example is thought to be the earliest English-made terrestrial globe in existence. It includes coloured lines which show voyages of exploration made by Francis Drake and others, and was acquired by the 9th ‘Wizard’ Earl of Northumberland – perhaps a gift from Walter Raleigh.
Geoffrey Chaucer (b. around 1343 - d.1400) The Canterbury Tales
This handwritten copy by different hands of Chaucer’s famous work is written on vellum and illuminated in ink and gold. Written around 1420-1430, it predates the first printed version by over 50 years and probably entered the collection through the 2nd Earl of Northumberland, whose wife Eleanor was Chaucer’s grandniece. It is the most important book in the care of the National Trust.
The book is too delicate to touch so if you want to have a read and turn the pages take a look at the copy online. You can read the first 300 pages and the second 300 pages by following the links here.
John Flaxman (1755-1826) St Michael triumphing over Satan
A monumental piece of carving, from a single block of marble, this was the supreme sculptural commission of the 3rd Earl of Egremont – a rare aristocratic champion of British art in the 19th century. The subject was inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Square Bay of the North Gallery was designed especially for it.
André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732) Sarcophagus-shaped commode
Featuring ormolu-moulded sphinxes at its corners and lion’s paw feet, this major piece of furniture made around 1710 is uniquely identical to two pieces ordered by Louis XIV for the Palace of Versailles. It is a very rare example by Boulle himself, whose name is generally associated with this type of brass and tortoise-shell inlaid lacquered furniture.
Roman (1st century BC) The emperor Nero as a boy
The Little Dining Room
Among around 100 pieces of antique classical marble acquired by the 2nd Earl of Egremont, a great Grand Tourist, this example was recently identified as one of only three likenesses in existence of Nero as a boy. All others are thought to have been destroyed by the Roman mob following the unpopular emperor’s suicide.
Claude Passavant (d.1766) Exeter carpet
The Grand Staircase
In the year before this carpet was made the Royal Society of Arts expressed concerns that the craft of hand-knotted carpet-making was dying out in England. Made in Exeter in 1758, based on French designs, this carpet responds to that challenge. It is one of only three such carpets to survive, one is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the other is in a Scottish private collection.
Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) Giltwood sofa
The Somerset Room
The 3rd Earl of Egremont bought several pieces of furniture from Chippendale, England’s premier 18th-century cabinet-maker. This sofa made around 1760-70, with its separate elbow partitions at either end, is unique in Chippendale’s work.