Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 129

The Sutherland Gallery at Stafford House
The Sutherland Gallery at Stafford House
supervision of Dominic Colnaghi, this no doubt drew
on a number of earlier manuscript inventories.4 Other
important sources for the present reconstruction are
a number of visual records, notably a series of three
paintings of 1848 by James Digman Wingfield showing
interior views of the Gallery (see figs. 20-21), and a few
photographs taken in 1895 (see fig. 19). Fundamental,
too, is the recent, well-documented monograph on
Lancaster House by James Yorke.5
Fig. 2 / Samuel William
Reynolds after Thomas
Lawrence’s portrait of ca.
1824, Portrait of Earl Gower
(later 2nd Duke of Sutherland),
1839, mezzotint, 36 x 28 cm,
London, National Portrait
the absence of its original contents it is now hung with
paintings from the Government Art Collection.
The founder of the Gallery, the 1st Duke of Sutherland
– but usually known by his previous title of the
Marquess of Stafford – was the owner of the largest,
most important, and best-publicized art collection of
the Regency period. An account of the formation of
this collection, and of the display between 1806 and
1830 of its continental Old Masters in the so-called
Stafford Gallery at Cleveland House, has already been
provided in a separate article and need not be repeated
in detail.6 Nevertheless, it is necessary to go over some
of this ground again, both because as Jameson implied,
the Stafford Gallery provided a high proportion of
the contents of the Sutherland Gallery, and because
it provided an immediate precedent for the way in
which a great aristocratic picture collection should
be arranged, hung, and presented to its viewers. In
the present context, it is also important to understand
the circumstances under which only one half of the
Marquess’s collection – comprising some five hundred
paintings – was inherited by his elder son, the 2nd Duke,
whereas the other half passed to the younger, Francis
(later 1st Earl of Ellesmere) (1800-1857), creator of the
Bridgewater Gallery.
The purpose of the present article is to reconstruct
the Sutherland Gallery, identifying its now dispersed
contents, outlining the history of their acquisition,
and attempting to visualize the way in which they
were distributed and displayed – both in the picture
gallery proper and throughout the house – at the
time of its inauguration in 1841.3 An essential source,
complementing the lists of works provided by Jameson
and Waagen – both of whom arrange them on arthistorical lines, by approximate chronology within
their schools – is the room-by-room Catalogue of Pictures
in the Gallery at Stafford House, published by P. & D.
Colnaghi, Scott & Co. in 1862, soon after the death
of the 2nd Duke the previous year. Compiled under the
The Marquess derived his exceptional wealth from
a dual inheritance, to both of which he succeeded in
1803: first, from his childless maternal uncle, Francis
Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater (1736-1803), who
had made a fortune building canals on his estates in
the North West; and second, from his father, Granville
Leveson-Gower, 1st Marquess (1721-1803).7 The
Leveson-Gowers were relative newcomers to the ranks
of the aristocracy, having been raised to the peerage
only in 1703; but their subsequent ascent had been
rapid, and their vast estates in the West Midlands
were, like those of the Egertons, ripe for commercial
exploitation with the advancing Industrial Revolution –
including, from the 1820s, with the development of the
Fig. 3 / Antoine Le Nain,
Village Piper, oil on copper
sheet, 22.5 x 30.5 cm,
Detroit, Detroit Institute
of Arts.
railways. The 2nd Marquess was also the owner, through
his wife Elizabeth, suo jure Countess of Sutherland,
of even vaster estates in the north east of Scotland.8
Although these were much less lucrative than his
properties in Staffordshire and Lancashire, it was perhaps
a wish by this Englishman to be remembered as a landed
aristocrat (despite the bitter controversy already raised
by the Highland Clearances) rather than as an industrial
plutocrat that made him choose the name of Sutherland
when he was raised to his ducal title five months before
his death. Of these three lines of inheritance, the second
and third – the Stafford and the Sutherland patrimonies
– naturally passed to his elder son, the 2nd Duke. Under
the terms of the Duke of Bridgewater’s will, however,
the Marquess held only a life interest in the Bridgewater
inheritance, and this was destined to pass after his
death to his younger son, Francis – who, upon taking
possession in 1833, changed his surname from LevesonGower to Egerton, in honour of his great-uncle.
Both Bridgewater and Stafford were creators of major
collections of paintings. That of the former, comprising
some 250 works, was assembled almost entirely
within an astonishingly brief period, in the last eight
or ten years of the Duke’s life, and largely under the
guidance of his more cultivated nephew.9 As a collector
Bridgewater is best known for his acquisition in 1798 of
sixty-four Italian paintings from the Orléans Collection,
including the group of stellar works by Raphael, Titian
and Poussin that has been on loan since 1946 to the
National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh; but these
were far outnumbered by the many Dutch pictures
acquired by the Duke in the same period, many of
them likewise of very high quality.


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