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The Londonderry Collection at Mount Stewart

Oil Painting on canvas. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry (1769-1822), British (English) School, after Sir Thomas Lawrence, PRA (Bristol 1769, London 1830), 20th century.
Oil Painting on canvas. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry (1769-1822), Mount Stewart, County Down | © National Trust Images

Family portraits and other fine and decorative art now join the displays at Mount Stewart through a generous loan. With many works commissioned especially for the family, this is the first time they have been displayed together for centuries. Discover paintings and fine sculpture by famous artists that help to tell the stories of life from this much-loved family home.

A new loan

The Executors of the Londonderry Estate have kindly loaned a significant group of family-owned works of art and memorabilia. At the same time, three portraits were allocated to Mount Stewart through the Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance Tax scheme (AIL), which is administered by Arts Council England.

A settlement of the estate

The loan arose from the settlement of the estate of the 9th Marquess of Londonderry, who died in 2012. He had already generously loaned Mount Stewart the family’s State Chariot in 2010, which is housed in the coach house just off the path from the car park.

The silver collection on display in the Central Hall at Mount Stewart, County Down
The silver collection on display in the Central Hall at Mount Stewart, County Down | © National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Famous artists and creators

The loan includes 26 paintings, 22 of which are family portraits including eight by Sir Thomas Lawrence; a bust by Canova and 11 other pieces of sculpture; objets de vertu; furniture; a large collection of silver, including one of the racehorse Hambletonian’s racing trophies from 1796; some of the 3rd Marquess’s ambassadorial plate; a collection of Berlin plates; two clocks; 16 pieces of arms and armour; and a collection of medals, honours and orders of chivalry.

The array of silver and small precious objects known as objets de vertu, are shown in the silver display, alongside an extensive collection of decorative objects, just off the Central Hall.

Important pieces

These important pieces have enabled us to bring to the forefront many of the principal figures in the earlier history of the Londonderry family, including Viscount Castlereagh (1769-1822), and his half-brother Charles Stewart (1778-1854), 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, as well as their immediate families and descendants.

Original commissions

Many of the paintings and objects were originally commissioned or intended for the family’s other houses, such as Wynyard, Co. Durham (sold in the 1980s) and Londonderry House, London (sold in 1962 and subsequently demolished). They have given us an unparalleled opportunity to enrich the presentation of Mount Stewart with works of art and sculpture of national and international significance.

One of Britain’s greatest Foreign Secretaries

There are now two portraits on loan by Sir Thomas Lawrence of Viscount Castlereagh, later 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, one of Britain’s greatest Foreign Secretaries and a key negotiator at the Treaty of Paris in 1814 and the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), and a portrait of Castlereagh’s beloved wife Lady Emily Hobart .

The Treaty of Vienna

The magnitude of Castlereagh’s performance on the international stage in the years before and after the defeat of Napoleon I of France in 1815 is represented by additions such as the Empire style Congress of Vienna Desk, on which the Final Act or Treaty of Vienna is said to have been signed according to a later brass plaque, and Canova’s Ideal Head of Helen of Troy.

Marble busts on display at Mount Stewart, County Down
Marble busts on display at Mount Stewart, County Down | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Presented by Canova

This was presented to Castlereagh by its sculptor, Antonio Canova, the Pope’s envoy, in gratitude for Castlereagh’s help with the repatriation of works of art looted by Napoleon from the Louvre back to the Vatican. This piece is personally inscribed by the sculptor to Castlereagh.

Family portraits

The principal portraits on loan are hung in the Drawing Room, Dining Room and on the West Staircase. Lawrence’s magnificent full-length portrait of Robert, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry in his Garter Robes, 1821.

Along with the portraits by Lawrence of Charles Stewart’s two wives- firstly, Lady Catherine Bligh, who died in 1812 and Frances Anne, Vane Tempest who he married in 1819, were allocated to the National Trust at Mount Stewart through the AIL scheme.

Frances Anne’s portrait hangs near that of her aunt and guardian, Lady Frances Anne Vane, Mrs Michael Angelo Taylor, portrayed as Miranda by John Hoppner, part of the Londonderry Loan. In addition, three further family portraits by Lawrence came to Mount Stewart via AIL.

A generous gift

Previously, Lady Mairi Bury, had generously gifted Mount Stewart house and many of its contents to the National Trust in 1976 including the magnificent horse painting by George Stubbs: Hambletonian, Rubbing Down.

Additional works of art

Prior to the AIL allocations were further groups of items including two early landscape views of the demesne by Solomon Delane, c1786. Together these magnificent loans and transfers have helped preserve Mount Stewart’s character and spirit of place as well as ensuring the items are available for everyone to enjoy and experience.

Thank you

We thank the 10th Marquess of Londonderry, and the Trustees of the Londonderry Settlement for the generous loan of such significant items to Mount Stewart.

We would also like to thank HM Government, HMRC and Arts Council England for their continued support of the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme which has seen so many great works of art saved for the nation.

These displays have been made possible as a result of the Government Indemnity Scheme. We would like to thank HM Government for providing Government Indemnity and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England for arranging the indemnity.

Three Portrait Studies of Lady Mairi Elizabeth Vane-Tempest-Stewart as a girl, by Edmond Brock 1924 at Mount Stewart, County Down

Mount Stewart's collections

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at Mount Stewart on the National Trust Collections website.

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