Masterpieces from National Trust houses will go on display at the Holburne Museum to celebrate the ‘Golden Age’ of Dutch painting

Press release
The Duet ('Le corset bleu') by Gabriel Metsu
Published : 17 Nov 2017

Prized Possessions – Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses The Holburne Museum, Bath, 25 May – 16 September 2018

Dutch seventeenth-century paintings by some of the finest masters of the ‘Golden Age’ from National Trust collections around the country are to go on display together for the first time at the Holburne Museum in Bath.

The Trust cares for one of the largest and most significant collections of art in the UK including many important seventeenth-century Dutch paintings acquired by country house owners for over 300 years.

Prized Possessions will celebrate the enduring British taste for collecting Dutch paintings and explore how and why this style of art was desired, commissioned and displayed.

The exhibition will include works by celebrated artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Lely, Gabriel Metsu, and Cornelis de Heem alongside less well-known names such as Simon Pietersz Verelst and Adriaen van Diest.

David Taylor, Curator of Pictures and Sculpture at the National Trust explains,

“The Dutch gained independence from Spain in 1648 and in a relatively short period of time there was a new confidence and prosperity that saw a burgeoning middle class with money and an interest in commissioning and displaying art.

“The artists who were flourishing at this time mastered various painting genres, from portraits, still lives and landscapes, to religious, maritime, and subject pictures, and the quality of their work attracted patrons and collectors from across Europe. Examples of all those types of Dutch pictures will be showcased in the exhibition.”

Highlights of the exhibition, which is curated by Rupert Goulding and David Taylor of the National Trust, include:

  • Rembrandt van Rijn’s Self-Portrait, Wearing a Feathered Bonnet
  • Jan Lievens’ A Magus At a Table
  • Gabriel Metsu’s The Duet
  • Pieter Jansz. Saenredam’s The Interior of the Church of St Catherine, Utrecht

Amina Wright, Senior Curator at the Holburne notes, “We are delighted to be working with the National Trust on this exciting exhibition of some of the finest Dutch paintings from country houses. The display in the Museum’s purpose-built exhibition gallery will allow the paintings to be seen at their very best and in a new and inspiring context. Sir William Holburne’s eclectic collection of Dutch paintings is one of the jewels of the Museum founded in his name, and he would have been proud to see such an outstanding group of works alongside his own.”

There will be 22 works in the exhibition chosen from National Trust houses. They include seventeenth-century mansion Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire, designed and decorated in the Dutch style by owner William Blathwayt, and Ham House in Richmond which includes the Peter Lely portrait of the Duchess of Lauderdale who encouraged the artist’s career.

Later houses include Upton House in Warwickshire, the twentieth-century home of Shell Oil chairman Lord Bearsted, whose eclectic collecting included some of the finest examples of Dutch art.

David Taylor continues, “Works from our collections are loaned to exhibitions across the world, but this is the first time in over twenty years that paintings from around the country have left their homes to appear together in a dedicated National Trust exhibition.

“We are thrilled that the Holburne Museum will be hosting this exhibition and we hope that the works we have chosen will delight not only enthusiasts of Dutch art but anyone who is discovering the joy of ‘Golden Age’ paintings for the first time.

For further information and opening times for the exhibition visit

A catalogue for the exhibition will be available.

Following the exhibition at the Holburne Museum, Prized Possessions will move to the Mauritshuis in The Hague in October 2018, and then to Petworth House in West Sussex in January 2019.

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