Chatsworth draws big names for exhibition

Old masters from Chatsworth House's Devonshire Collection
Old masters from Chatsworth House's Devonshire Collection

THE work of some of the world’s greatest artists are to go on show to the public at Chatsworth this summer for the first time in 100 years.

Da Vinci, Raphael, Reubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Titian will be represented among 12 Old Master Drawings from the Devonshire Collection to go on display from July 1 to November 9.

They will form a rolling exhibition, with each work displayed for a limited time before it is returned to dark storage in order to preserve it for future generations.

Chatsworth has been able to bring the drawings out of storage for display in a specially-built cabinet, which has the appropriate lighting, environment and security, thanks to the recent £14m ‘masterplan’ restoration work at the house.

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire said: “It is considered the greatest historic family collection outside the Royal Collection at Windsor, due to its scope and quality.

“The first exhibition of drawings is called World Class: Masterpieces from the Devonshire Collection.

“It will display many of the collection’s finest works.”

The Old Master Drawings collection began with the acquisition in the 1680s of 14 landscapes by Guercino by the 1st Duke of Devonshire.

The 2nd Duke was the principal collector and most of the drawings have been in the family since the 1720s.

Works include Leonardo da Vinci’s Leda and the Swan, a landscape picture of a riderless horse by Titian, Raphael’s picture of a seated woman reading with child and a Rembrandt artwork depicting an actor in his dressing room.

The announcement of the exhibition comes as interest in Chatsworth is heightened as a result of the three-part BBC TV documentary that gave a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life at the house and estate.

The programmes have prompted a surge in numbers of visitors to the house and gardens, while farm shop takings are up and enormous interest is being shown in getting married at Chatsworth.

lChatsworth hosted a 1950s-style street party over the Diamond Jubilee weekend when Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg was one of the visitors.

lThe farm shop stages a summer food fair from today (Thursday) until Saturday.