Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 131



130
The Sutherland Gallery at Stafford House
The Sutherland Gallery at Stafford House
works – which, together with the Bridgewater paintings,
totalled more than 500.
The extensive collection accumulated by Stafford may
be described, therefore, as consisting of four main
components:
1.
2.
3.

4.

Leveson-Gower family portraits.
The Bridgewater Collection.
The Marquess’s own collection of continental
Old Masters.
The Marquess’s collection of contemporary
British pictures.
The distinction made here between components 3
and 4 is meant to reflect the fact that the Marquess
housed his so-called “English Gallery” – in other
words, components 1 and 4 – at the Leveson-Gower
country seat of Trentham Hall, near Stoke-on-Trent in
Staffordshire;11 whereas component 3 was temporarily
fused, between 1806 and 1830, with the Bridgewater
Collection in the Stafford Gallery at Cleveland
House. Then, in accordance with the division of
the Marquess’s property as a whole after his death,
component 2 – the most impressive in terms of quality,
and numerically equal to the other three put together
– was inherited, together with Cleveland House itself,
by Lord Francis Egerton. By contrast, components 1, 3
and 4, as well as Trentham, were inherited by Stafford’s
elder son, the 2nd Duke of Sutherland, who drew on 4
as well as 3 for the pictorial decoration of his London
palace of Stafford House.
Fig. 4 / Anthony van Dyck,
Portrait of Thomas Howard,
Earl of Arundel, oil on
canvas, 102.6 x 79.7 cm,
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty
Museum.
Fig. 5 / Giovanni
Battista Moroni, Titian’s
Schoolmaster, oil on canvas,
96.8 x 74.3 cm, Washington,
DC, National Gallery of Art.
The great Bridgewater Collection was then inherited
by the Marquess on his uncle’s death in 1803 together
with the rest of his fortune, including his London
residence of Cleveland House. From his father’s side,
by contrast, the Marquess inherited a rather small
number of what Jameson calls “family pictures” – that
is to say, Leveson-Gower portraits – although some
of the more recent, by painters such as Reynolds,
Romney and Angelika Kauffman, were of considerable
distinction.10 In forming his own collection, therefore,
Stafford, like Bridgewater, began virtually from scratch;
but his collecting career was spread over a much longer
period of about four decades. As Earl Gower, he was
also a member of the three-man syndicate that bought
the choice of the Orléans pictures; and he, too, bought
large quantities of Dutch, as well as of paintings by
contemporary British artists. By the time of his death,
the Stafford Collection comprised another some 250
The Marquess turned his mind to creating the Stafford
Gallery immediately upon coming into his dual
inheritance in 1803. Cleveland House, situated between
St James’s Palace and Green Park – just across the street,
in fact, from the future Stafford House – was the ancestral
town house of the Egerton family; and in the 1790s the
Duke of Bridgewater had made extensive renovations,
including the construction of a Picture Gallery to
accommodate his new collection. His nephew now had
the neoclassical architect Charles Heathcote Tatham
undertake further renovations, adding a suite of rooms
to his uncle’s gallery on the piano nobile for the display
of paintings, including the central, most prestigious
space of the New Gallery. The completed Gallery was
inaugurated amid great excitement and publicity in
May 1806; and for two decades, until it was dismantled
in the late 1820s, it represented the largest and most
comprehensive display of Old Masters in London.
Although the Stafford Gallery enjoyed a rather short
life, and its home of Cleveland House was demolished
by Lord Francis in the 1840s, it is exceptionally well
documented with both verbal descriptions and visual
records. In large part this quantity of contemporary
information was the direct consequence of the decision
of the Marquess to take the step, highly innovative
among the owners of aristocratic town houses, of
opening his gallery to the public.12 It is true that the
opening hours were limited to a single afternoon
a week in the summer months, and effectively to a
genteel, middle- to upper-class public. But even this
limited accessibility resulted in the publication of a
number of guide-books and catalogues, and discussions
of the gallery in newspapers and journals, including
by writers of the eminence of William Hazlitt.13 The
most detailed publication – a permanent monument to
the Stafford Gallery – was the four-volume catalogue
published in 1818 by William Young Ottley, which,
as well as providing descriptions of its nearly 300
131
paintings, illustrated almost every single one with
an engraving.14 Furthermore, Ottley’s catalogue also
provided full documentation of the hang, as well as of
the general distribution round the gallery, by means of
diagrammatic elevations of all four walls of every room
in which paintings were displayed.
Ottley’s diagrams show a relatively conventional hang,
with the paintings arranged on the walls, in eighteenthcentury fashion, in several tiers – although it should
be said that it allowed for easier and more relaxed
viewing than the very crowded hangs recorded in views
of the Royal Academy exhibitions at Somerset House,
or of the National Gallery in its earliest home in Pall
Mall.15 Rather more innovative – and to some extent
anticipating the art-historical distribution later adopted
for public museums – was the separation of the paintings
into two main schools of Italian and Dutch. Whereas
traditionally paintings were arranged by size, shape
and prestige, with no consideration of place or time of
origin, in the Stafford Gallery the Old Gallery, created
by the Duke of Bridgewater, was given over to the
Dutch and Flemish, while the New Gallery, the Drawing
Room and the Dining Room were hung with the
Italians – and even here, a general distinction was made
between the schools of Rome/ Bologna and Venice.
The relatively few English pictures kept in London (as
opposed to Trentham) were likewise concentrated into
the separate area of the library. The thinking behind
this still half-hearted attempt to organize the collection
by school remains unclear, but it is likely to have been
stimulated, at least in part, by a sense – also reflected in
the discussions in the published catalogues – that many
of the new breed of visitors to the Gallery would require
some sort of basic art-historical education.16
During the lifetime of the Stafford Gallery, the
respective Bridgewater and Stafford components
were physically completely integrated, and even
the catalogues made no reference to their separate
identities. From the beginning, however, the Marquess
must have been perfectly aware that they were
eventually destined to be re-divided; and a wish to
pass on to his Leveson-Gower descendants a collection
of equivalent stature to that of his uncle must have
informed virtually his entire career as a collector. As
has been mentioned above, as Lord Gower he also
made a block purchase from the Orléans Collection in
1798; but this consisted of only twenty-three pictures
(in contrast to the sixty-four acquired by his uncle),
and nearly all of them were relatively small in scale,

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