‘That House of Art’ : Petworth House

On Sunday last week I took one of my American friends (and fellow book group member) to Petworth House in West Sussex. I’d picked her up the day before from a Charlotte Bronte Conference at Chawton House Library near Alton in Hampshire; taken her back to Godalming where we walked with Oliver Pug to Munstead Wood (just a glimpse) and dropped her at her Ewhurst B&B after a pub supper nearby.

Alton Church

Alton Church

Chawton House Library

Chawton House Library

JA's House

Petworth is truly a ‘House of Art’ (as John Constable described it in 1834). It’s owned by the National Trust and really needs several visits to do it justice. We had barely four hours but we still managed, without feeling under pressure, to wander round the house which is home to countless significant works of 18th century art, including 20 Turners;  to eat a sausage and mash lunch in the cafe; to browse in the shop and to walk out to the lake and almost into the Capability Brown landscape. And Diana even spent time (and made a purchase) in the Petworth Antique Market (while I fetched the car) in the estate village.


With the vast array of art, and more, to see the National Trust have come up with an assortment of leaflets to help one choose a selection of the ‘best’. These include ‘Mr Turner at Petworth’ which highlights just 8 of his paintings. JMW Turner (1775-1851) was the most famous figure associated with the house. He was a regular guest of Lord Egremont, who bought 20 of his paintings. These now form the largest group of Turner oils outside Tate Britain. Please excuse my photos. My camera is not good inside and the lighting makes the pictures even worse but maybe you get the idea.

Marbel Hall

Turner’s Billiard Players in the Marble Hall at Petworth is part of The Tate Gallery’s Turner Bequest

Marble Hall

The Marble Hall

Petworth Park

Petworth Park by JMW Turner


Brighton From the Sea

The Petworth Park painting reflects the 3rd Lord Egremont’s keen interest in agriculture, rare breeds, fallow deer and the fact that he generously allowed free use of the park for sports and recreation.

The ‘Petworth Park’ and ‘Brighton from the Sea’ paintings above hang in the Carved Room which is full of ornate and intricate carvings mainly (but not all) the work of Grinling Gibbons. In this room, also, hangs a copy from Holbein’s studio of the portrait of Henry VIII, almost certainly commissioned by Edward Seymour (brother of Jane, Henry’s 3rd wife).

Carved room

The Carved Room

GG and carvings

Grinling Gibbons’ own Portrait in the Carved Room

GG work

Amazing Carving by Grinling Gibbons

Henry VIII

Henry VIII

The Carved Room is also the home of a series of paintings of scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. The 3rd Lord Egremont also owned some very early editions of the plays.


Here’s Falstaff

The World-Class Objects included :

Boulle Commode

Sarcophagus-shaped Commode by André-Charles Boulle


Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Manuscript (not the best pages!)


Thomas Chippendale Giltwood Sofa


Claude Passavant Exeter Carpet

There was still a mass of art on the walls of the Sculpture Gallery besides the sculptures themselves.

sculpture gallery

Believe me I have here only tipped the iceberg of Petworth and I look forward to many more visits in future.

Before I take you out onto the estate (next post) here is one of my favourite paintings The Card Players by Jan Matsys.

card players

And when Diana saw the Turner’s ‘Hulks on the Tamar‘ she was reminded of the song ‘Fields of Athenry’. She serenaded me with a rendition once we were out in the estate. Here it is performed (topically) by The Dubliners.

CoCA : Centre of Ceramic Art, York

Last week was a very arty/gallery week for me what with the Whitworth on Tuesday and a re-visit to York City Art Gallery on Thursday. Back in April I first visited the recently re-opened Art Gallery in York with the local Art Fund.

Centre of Ceramic Art, CoCA.
York City Art Gallery
11am, Friday 1st April 2016
York’s wondrously refurbished Art Gallery is now host to the new Centre of Ceramic Art, a splendid addition to the Museum’s collection. On show are the collections of three major 20th century collectors of contemporary pottery in a display which rivals the works themselves. Helen Walsh, Curator of Ceramics, will talk about the bringing together of the collection before showing us round. In addition, a guided session on handling pots will give you a chance to learn much more about the making processes and understand the unique appeal of the items in the York collection.
This display of ceramics is a real eye-opener. 
Own transport starting in foyer at 11 am
Light Refreshments are available in the café of the gallery but space is limited. There are
numerous cafes adjacent to the gallery.

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Glasgow Weekend : The Remains

In addition to all the Mackintosh connections in Glasgow we found time to explore the permanent collections at both the Hunterian and the Kelvingrove Galleries; to visit Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis and enjoy a session at Glasgow’s Annual Book Festival “Aye Write“. The festival takes place in the beautiful Mitchell Library, one of Europe’s largest public libraries, which has been one of Glasgow’s iconic landmarks since it opened in 1911.


Waterstones Pop-up Shop at The Mitchell Library

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Glasgow Weekend : Mostly Mackintosh

people make glasgow

Never having visited Glasgow before, I was delighted when Ann suggested a weekend visit to the city. Gosh! Mackintosh! His work is everywhere.  I was familiar with his flower paintings created during his time in Walberswick in Suffolk. Last year I read Esther Freud’s ‘Me and Mr Mac’ a fictionalised story of his time there.

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A 90-Minute Walk Around Renaissance Florence [Morning]

It seemed like a good idea on our first morning to follow the self-guided walk described in the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Florence and Tuscany Guide Book.

This walk takes in the Renaissance heart of the city and passes some of its greatest landmarks. Ideally it should be done early on in your visit to get a real feel for the place and if you incorporate a climb up Giotto’s Campanile, you will get a bird’s-eye view of the narrow streets, the characteristic red-tiled rooftops and the many towers that are not so easy to see from ground level.” Continue reading