Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 147



146
The Sutherland Gallery at Stafford House
The Sutherland Gallery at Stafford House
“THE MOST MAGNIFICENT ROOM IN LONDON…”
Anna Jameson was no less admiring of the physical
surroundings of the collection:
The picture gallery in Stafford House, is
not only the most magnificent room in
London, but is also excellently adapted
to its purpose, in the management of the
light, and in the style of the decoration.
There is no colour but the dark rich
crimson of the furniture, the walls being
of a creamy white, the ornaments of dead
and burnished gold. The length of the
gallery is 126 feet, by 32 feet in width.
The central division, 45 feet in length, is
illuminated by a vast lantern, 48 feet from
the ground; the two ends are each 24 feet
in length, by 24 in height. On one side of
the central division are hung the two great
pictures by Murillo…Each is surmounted
by the bust of Murillo, crowned by two
reclining genii, life size, bearing palms.69
Occupying the full length of the east flank of today’s
Lancaster House (see fig. 7 and figs. 20-21), the spacious
and richly gilded Gallery still exists as a showpiece
hung with paintings. Naturally still in place are the
monumental niches designed for the Murillos, together
with their sculptured lunettes; but the Sutherland
pictures themselves are all long gone – with a single
exception. This is one of the Marquess’s last purchases,
Guercino’s Saint Chrysogonus Borne by Angels, which was
specifically intended by him for the Gallery ceiling, and
was incorporated by Wyatt into his architectural design
for the high lantern (see fig. 9).
Fig. 19 / Photograph of
Sutherland Gallery, 1895,
Historic England.
In her list of the most important works in the Sutherland
Collection, Jameson marks all those formerly in the
Stafford Gallery at Cleveland House with the initials
‘S.G.’, thereby helpfully distinguishing those added by
the Duke from those he inherited from his father. She
was, in fact, unusually privileged in being given access
not just to the Picture Gallery, but to all the other rooms
in Stafford House in which paintings were displayed. As
she notes, “this is a private collection, to which admission
is obtained only by the express invitation or permission
of the Duke of Sutherland.”70 In contrast to Cleveland
House after its refurbishment by the Marquess, Stafford
House was never intended to be accessible to the general
public, even on a limited basis. It is not clear whether
the Marquess himself was responsible for this reversal
147
of policy, overwhelmed, perhaps, by an increasing
quantity of unwelcome applications for tickets, and
probably feeling that it was now the function of the
National Gallery to cater for public interest in looking
at paintings.71 Certainly the 2nd Duke and his Duchess
did not regard it as their responsibility to educate, let
alone to satisfy the idle curiosity of ordinary people.
In this respect their attitude chimed with that of other
aristocratic owners of London town houses, including
their kinsman, the 1st Marquess of Westminster, who
similarly closed the Grosvenor Gallery after an initial
period in which it was open.72 Although after 1851 the
Bridgewater Gallery was, by contrast, open to the public
for several hours a week, the attitude of Lord Francis to
allowing wider access remained at best ambivalent.
As a direct result of this renewed exclusiveness of its
owners, the Sutherland Gallery is in many ways less well
documented than its predecessor the Stafford Gallery
– despite the fact that it survived well into the era of
photography. Because it was difficult of access, there was
no need for the kind of vademecum guides that existed
for the Stafford Gallery since its opening in 1806, and
similarly, it was not covered by semi-popular, visitorfriendly accounts or illustrated catalogues such as those
that appeared in the 1820s. The only printed catalogues
consist essentially of simple lists of the paintings, giving
no more than the name of the artist and the title, and
sometimes also the most recent provenance. The first
of these was published in 1844 as an appendix to a
posthumously published reprint of Hazlitt’s Criticisms
of Art; the second, more of a booklet than a book, was
the one published by Colnaghi in 1862 (reprinted in
1868 and 1898); and the third, published with a very
small print run in 1908, was compiled by the 4th Duke,
after many pictures had already been sold, and many
more had been brought to London from the recently
abandoned Trentham.73 In complete contrast to the
sumptuous four-volume catalogue of the Stafford
Gallery by Ottley of 1818, none of these publications
included illustrations or diagrams, either of the hang or
of the paintings themselves.
The standard 1862 catalogue does, however, list
the paintings by room, and within each room the
numbering follows a clockwise circular tour. This
shows that while seventy-three of the largest and
most prestigious Old Masters were concentrated in
the Picture Gallery in the east wing – the Sutherland
Gallery proper – a further 162 were distributed round
the rest of the ground- and first-floor rooms, from the

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