Prized Possessions at Petworth House

The Duet, Gabriel Metsu

Petworth House and Park will celebrate Dutch art and design when it hosts the final stage of the major National Trust exhibition, Prized Possessions - Dutch paintings from National Trust Houses, 26 January to 24 March 2019.

Prized Possessions - Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses

26 January - 24 March

Click here to book your tickets or call 0344 249 1895

'Prized Possessions' brings together Dutch 17th-century paintings by some of the finest masters of the 'Golden Age' from National Trust collections around the country and examines how and why this style of art was desired, commissioned and displayed in Britain.

At Petworth House, the exhibition can be seen for the first time in a country house context, having previously been exhibited in galleries at the Holburne Museum in Bath and The Mauritshuis in The Hague.

The exhibition includes nearly two dozen works from Trust houses around the country by celebrated artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Lely, Gabriel Metsu, and Cornelis de Heem.

Rembrandt van Rijn

Of particular interest is this intriguing self-portrait, painted c.1635 and shows Rembrandt at a period in his life when we was successful and rich - he had recently married and moved from his native Leiden to Amsterdam, where he had been made a burgess of the city, and where he was taking on pupils and studio assistants to learn his painting techniques. The portrait shows a confident man, aware of his importance and his skills as an artist.

A highlight of the Prized Possessions exhibition is this self-portrait by Rembrandt
Self-Portrait Wearing A White Feathered Bonnet, Rembrandt van Rijn
A highlight of the Prized Possessions exhibition is this self-portrait by Rembrandt

Every self-portrait by this great painter is important, and this particular work exemplifies his evolving painting style in the 1630s, when he experimented with how to paint different surfaces and materials (such as the curls of hair, described by scratching into wet paint with the wrong end of a paint brush). This self-portrait has only recently been reattributed as being by Rembrandt himself. As such it adds another picture to the known body of work painted by this celebrated and much-loved artist.

Aspects unique to Petworth

With Petworth House as a venue, the exhibition invites you to discover more about the influence of King William III and Queen Mary II on the Dutch-inspired design choices that were made for the property in the 1680s by the Duke and Duchess of Somerset at a seminal moment in the house's history.

Carved Room at Petworth House

Petworth was partly remodelled by the French architect Daniel Marot, who had worked extensively for the Dutch court. Decoration at Petworth includes the spectacular wood carvings of fruit, flowers, trophies and game by Anglo-Dutch master carver Grinling Gibbons, who had worked for William and Mary at Kensington Palace and Hampton Court. Prized Possessions at Petworth House gives you the opportunity to view these Dutch masterpieces in the state rooms of Petworth House where Dutch influences of the Golden Age exist within the very fabric of the building.

Unique to Petworth, the exhibition includes Dutch paintings on loan from the private collection of Lord Egremont that have never been displayed publicly at Petworth House before.

Alongside this, visitors to the exhibition can also see additional Dutch works on display permanently in the state rooms of Petworth House including 'The Three Younger Children of Charles I', 1647 by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), commissioned by Algernon Percy, the 10th Earl of Northumberland, after the King's children were put in to his custody by Parliament during the English Civil War.

Commissioned by the 10th Earl of Northumberland for Charles I while the Earl acted as steward for the King's children, the painting then returned to the Earl as a gift from Parliament following the King's execution
The Three Younger Children of Charles I by Peter Lely
Commissioned by the 10th Earl of Northumberland for Charles I while the Earl acted as steward for the King's children, the painting then returned to the Earl as a gift from Parliament following the King's execution

Grinling Gibbons: The Painter in Wood

There is also a unique opportunity to see a display of specially commissioned photographs of Grinling Gibbons' carvings by Peter Thuring, situated in the same room as the original carvings.

A limewood carving of musical instruments by Grinling Gibbons

Photographed in black and white, using a specially constructed lighting rig, the images will artificially replicate how these exquisite carvings would have been viewed in sunlight when originally carved and installed in 1692.