Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 138

The Sutherland Gallery at Stafford House
The Sutherland Gallery at Stafford House
Since five pictures from this sale – including Panini’s
Wedding Feast at Cana (Louisville, KY, Speed Museum), a
River Landscape attributed to Jan van Goyen,46 and three
other Dutch pictures – are later recorded with the Berri
provenance in the Sutherland Collection, it is fair to
deduce that he acquired them on this occasion, probably
with an agent acting as an intermediary.
Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist Museum). A
month earlier, and again in 1830, he bought a total of
fifteen pictures from the collection of the painter Richard
Westall,42 two of whose own works had been acquired by
the Marquess and are recorded in the Stafford Gallery
in 1806.43 Westall’s Old Masters bore quite illustrious
names, among them those of the Venetians Bassano,
Paris Bordone, Giorgione, Schiavone, Tintoretto and
Titian; and again it may be suggested that Gower was
perhaps seeking to find substitutes for the Bridgewater
pictures by these painters destined for his younger
brother. But the fact that almost none of the Westall
purchases are now identifiable prompts the suspicion
that their attributions were greatly over-optimistic.
Fig. 12 / Paul Delaroche,
Strafford led to Execution,
oil on canvas, Private
the tradition of the family portraits commissioned by
his father of showing the sitter in a restrained kit-cat
format (see fig. 1). In that of Countess Harriet (fig. 11),
however, the painter pulled out all the stops to produce
a work in the most glamorous Van-Dyckian manner of
which he was capable. Conceived from the outset as a
full-length composition, in which the comely countess
was represented enthroned in front of a cluster of
columns draped with red velvet curtains, it later became
a double-portrait when her three-year old daughter
Elizabeth was added in 1827.40 Perhaps the mountains in
the luxuriant background landscape are meant to refer
to the Scottish highlands and the county of Sutherland.
From about the mid-1820s until the death of his father,
Gower is recorded as buying a number of paintings at
London auctions. In 1826 he bought a Shooting Wild Duck
by Cuyp and a Christ Healing the Blind by Poussin;41 but if
he was seeking to acquire his own counterparts to the
Bridgewater Cuyps and Poussins, he perhaps did not
realise that the Christ Healing the Blind was a mere copy
of the original in the Louvre. He then bid alongside his
father at the Altamira sale in June 1827, and came away
with two much cheaper, but more enterprisingly-chosen
Spanish pictures than the Marquess’s Murillos: a Zurbarán
Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John (San Diego
Museum of Art); and Cabezalero’s Saint Jerome (Dallas,
After Gower’s succession as 2nd Duke his name is never
recorded in the sales catalogues of the auction houses,
and it is clear that his purchases were effected through
dealers or other agents. One of these is likely to have
been Dominic Colnaghi, who although operating at this
date principally as a seller of prints, was a leading figure
in the art trade more generally, and as an intermediary
between the markets of London and Paris.44 As has
been mentioned above, it was he who was responsible
for compiling and publishing the first catalogue of the
Sutherland Gallery in 1862; and earlier, in 1837, it was
he who passed on to the Duke the bulk purchase of the
Lenoir Collection in 1837 (see below). Indeed, it may
well have been Colnaghi who regularly performed a
service for the Duke similar to that performed by his
rival dealer John Smith for the Duke’s brother, Lord
Francis Egerton: that is to say, taking responsibility for
supervising the practical aspects of the collection, such as
moving the paintings between the family residences and
to and from the exhibitions at the British Institution, for
having them cleaned and reframed, and perhaps also for
arranging the hang at Stafford House.45 Unfortunately,
any further contacts between the Duke and Colnaghi –
or, for that matter, with any other dealer – seem not to
be documented, and as a result, there is sometimes no
information about when and where he bought certain
individual works such as Poussin’s Holy Family on the Steps
(Washington, DC, National Gallery of Art), or a Mystic
Marriage of Saint Catherine by Van Dyck (untraced). Since,
however, the Duke seems to have been particularly partial
to illustrious provenances, the name of the previous
owner is often mentioned in the principal catalogues of
his collection, and also by expert visitors such as Jameson
and Waagen. An early case in point is the sale of the
collection of the assassinated French prince, the Duc de
Berri, by his exiled widow at Christie’s in April 1834.
Fig. 13 / Franz Xaver
Winterhalter, Decameron,
oil on canvas, 81.5 x 116
cm., Karlsruhe, Staatliche
The seven years between the Berri sale and the
inauguration of the Sutherland Gallery in 1841 were
unquestionably the most productive of the Duke’s
life in terms of the acquisition of high-quality works
of art. His most impressive haul of paintings, not to
mention of furniture and bronzes, was achieved during
an eighteen-month stay in Paris with his wife and
young family between October 1835 and April 1837.
Writing from Paris a year earlier, in March 1834, his
brother Lord Francis had aroused his interest in the
work of Paul Delaroche, then at the height of his public
success, reporting that when the Execution of Lady Jane
Grey (London, National Gallery) was exhibited at the
Salon it made “people fall into fits”;47 and on their own
visit in 1836 the couple saw, and subsequently bought,
another tragic scene from English history by Delaroche,
the three-metre wide Strafford led to Execution (fig. 12).
Also exhibited in the Salon of 1836 was a picture with
an altogether less serious subject, the Dolce Far Niente
(Private Collection) by Delaroche’s younger German
contemporary, Winterhalter; and before they left Paris
the couple took the opportunity to commission from the
painter a reduced version of his scarcely less hedonistic
Decameron, exhibited at the Salon in the following
year (Private Collection).48 Representing Boccaccio’s
young, gaily-dressed story-tellers participating in a
sort of medievalizing fête champêtre, surrounded by an
Italianate garden, complete with splashing fountain and
background belvedere (fig. 13), the scene closely mirrors
the idyllic environment that the Duchess was seeking
to create at Trentham. In yet another demonstration of
admiration for contemporary French art, the Duke (or
the couple together) commissioned a full-length bronze
statue of their eight-year-old son and heir, George,
Marquess of Stafford, wearing full highland dress, from
the sculptor Jean-Jacques Feuchère (1807-52) (Dunrobin
Castle, Sutherland Trust).49
In addition to these commissions from contemporary
artists, the Duke acquired a number of outstanding
Old Masters in Paris. These included Van Dyck’s
Lucas Van Uffel, which had been seized by Napoleonic


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