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Conserving Kauffman Spotlight Display

Conservator Sophie Reddington working on the Kauffman painting in her studio
Conservator Sophie Reddington working on the Kauffman painting in her studio | © Michael Cole

One of the most significant paintings at Petworth has undergone an extensive 8-month restoration process. A new, free display reveals the painting in its full glory, documenting its conservation and telling the story of the groundbreaking artist behind it.

Conserving Kauffman will run in the exhibition room in the Servants’ Quarters from 10 June until 24 November 2024.

From June 2024, we’ll be shining a light on the recent conservation of Angelica Kauffman’s Diomed and Cressida (1788) with a spotlight display. Visitors will be able to discover what it takes to care for a painting of this age, significance, and scale, and learn about one of the most renowned artists of the 18th century.

Conserving Kauffman will include a short film that documents the conservation of the painting and its frame, interwoven with fascinating historical details about Kauffman, the Shakespeare Gallery where the painting was originally exhibited, and the history of Petworth House itself.

“It’s so exciting to see this spectacular painting returning to Petworth. Previously hidden details have been painstakingly restored and vibrant colours have been revealed. We can’t wait to unveil it to visitors and shine a light on the fantastic work of our conservators in bringing it back to life”. - Dr Emily Knight, Property Curator.

Diomed and Cressida by Angelica Kauffman, before restoration
Diomed and Cressida by Angelica Kauffman, before restoration | © Matthew Hollow

Diomed and Cressida by Angelica Kauffman, before restoration

The painting before conservation work, with many details and colours hidden by layers of old varnish.

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Who was Angelica Kauffman?

Angelica Kauffman was one of the most celebrated artists of her age. One of only two female founder members of the Royal Academy, she was known for her celebrity portraits and history paintings, pioneering a new approach to the genre by placing the female protagonist at the heart of the composition.

Diomed and Cressida depicts a scene from William Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida. It was commissioned by engraver John Boydell for exhibition in his newly opened Shakespeare Gallery in London, which was part of a project he initiated to improve the reputation of British history painting.

Discover more about this magnificent work of art in the Exhibition Room at Petworth House, 10 June – 24 November 2024. The display is free but normal admission to Petworth House applies.

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