New perspectives on a world-class art collection
Discover Upton House and Gardens, the country house high on the Warwickshire hill, where 2nd Viscount Bearsted, Walter Samuel, created one of the finest art collections in twentieth-century England.
Immerse yourself in a remarkable range of world-class paintings, from Stubbs and Hogarth to Bosch and El Greco. See how Lord Bearsted furnished every spare inch with his pictures and eighteenth-century English and French porcelain.
Outdoors you can stroll through Lady Bearsted’s gardens, designed by the pioneering Kitty Lloyd Jones, and find your own sense of leisure, peace and beauty that we continue to nurture.
" Heavens, the contents! … Some marvellous Chelsea china of the very best quality. The picture collection superb, as fine as any private collection in England."
Beauty and pleasure
Upton House and Gardens was the beloved country home of the Jewish philanthropist, collector and Chairman of Shell, Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, and his family. Remodelled in the 1930s as a weekend retreat, with its modern comforts, gardens and outstanding collections of paintings and porcelain, Upton was about beauty and pleasure.
An elusive, private man but one of great generosity, Lord Bearsted’s concern for people and the world around them is reflected at Upton in his choice of paintings. Guests of Lord and Lady Bearsted, visiting Upton, were struck by the combination of warmth and charm they encountered in their hosts and which they felt in the house itself.
" Every possible provision shall be made to safeguard the Bearsted collection."
By the end of his life the world had changed immensely. Lord Bearsted wanted the collections and gardens he and Lady Bearsted lovingly created to be kept together for future generations to ‘love, appreciate and respect’, so he gave them and Upton House to the National Trust.
Our world has changed greatly again since 1948. We see Upton and the collections through eyes shaped by new technologies, new fashions and cultures.
Over the next five years we will be drawing upon the spirit of Upton’s playful past to offer new perspectives on Upton’s collections of paintings, porcelain and garden plants. 2020 marks an exciting start, collaborating with guest curators to present new styles of interpretation. Jenny Lister, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the V&A in London, and comedian, Marlon Davis, will each be writing their own set of labels for a selection of Upton’s paintings.
‘Fashion in Paintings’ runs until 23 July, and ‘Marlon Davis’ runs from 25 July until 27 November 2020.
For the first time too, from May visitors will see one of the rarest and most accomplished figures created by the Chelsea porcelain factory, The Music Lesson, with its own specially curated display. We invite visitors’ feedback from these and other future trials, which will inform the direction of our interpretation in the years ahead.