Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 144

The Sutherland Gallery at Stafford House
British artists may be seen as part of a wider tendency
within the aristocracy from the 1830s onwards, leaving
a void in patronage that was soon to be filled by newlywealthy members of the middle classes.59 In the case of
the Duke, it may also be seen as part of a less-embattled
patriotism and a greater cosmopolitanism, made
possible in his generation by the post-Waterloo freedom
to travel abroad. Certainly he and his wife were manifest
Francophiles in a way that a way that would have been
difficult during the long wars with France, and as is
reflected in their preference for Delaroche and the Parisbased Winterhalter over their British contemporaries.
Perhaps significantly, one of the Duke’s few known
commissions from a living English painter – apart
from portraits – was not for a genre picture, of the
type favoured by Stafford, but for a history painting:
the Assuaging of the Waters, painted for him in 1840 in
characteristically apocalyptic mode by John Martin
(Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco).60 The Duke also
owned three works by Haydon (all three untraced), in
addition to another three inherited from his father. But
in this case, charity towards an unfortunate seems to
have played a greater role than aesthetic preference.
In 1834 the Duke commissioned him to complete an
already begun, but presumably otherwise unsellable
Cassandra Prophesying the Death of Hector; and in 1843
he bought the full-scale cartoon for a Black Prince
Entering London in Triumph, which Haydon had exhibited
in Westminster Hall in the vain hope of gaining a
commission to paint a mural of his composition in the
newly rebuilt Houses of Parliament. The third picture
was one of several reduced versions of his Wellington
Musing on the Field of Waterloo, commissioned in 1838
for Saint George’s Hall, Liverpool (now Walker Art
Gallery), and it may, like the Waiting for The Times for
his father, have been painted by the artist as a gift for
his patron. After his death in 1846, the 2nd Duke made
a generous contribution to a fund set up to support
his family; and Duchess Harriet likewise made a great
show of public support for the painter in his frequent
hours of need. On the accession of Queen Victoria in
1837 Haydon requested the Duchess to intercede with
the Queen to appoint him her historical painter, but
it is difficult to know whether his failure to obtain any
such appointment was the result of an only half-hearted
effort in private by his patroness, or whether it was
blocked by some perceptive court official.61
The Duke did not commission many portraits of
himself and of his large family, but those he did
The Sutherland Gallery at Stafford House
commission tended to be by the most fashionable
practitioners, and ambitious in format. The portraits
of himself and his wife with their eldest child painted
by Lawrence in the 1820s (see above) were followed in
1844 by an already intensely Victorian double portrait
by Edwin Landseer of their second daughter Evelyn,
then aged thirteen, with their eldest son and heir
George, then aged ten (Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland
Trust) (fig. 18).62 The children are shown in idyllic
natural surroundings, in front of a bosky cave, with a
view of Dunrobin (where the painter was a frequent
guest) in the left background. She appears to be
twining garlands of flowers to place on the heads of
her adoring pet animals; he, although still in nursery
clothes, already sports highland socks, and the dirk and
sporran in the foreground – as in the bronze sculpture
by Feuchère – allude further to his ancient Scottish
lineage. A few years later Landseer went on to paint
oval portraits of George, Evelyn and two of their sisters
in the guise of the Four Seasons, designed for placing
over their doors of their mother’s sitting room at
Stafford House (Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland Trust).63
Probably likewise in the mid-1840s the Duke had himself
painted by John Partridge (Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland
Trust), in an austerely dignified seated portrait that
appears to owe much to Venetian painting of the
sixteenth century. The unusual, broad format is highly
effective, and allows room for another dynastic allusion
in the glimpse of Feuchère’s sculpture of the future
3rd Duke through an arch at the right edge. Although
Partridge was currently riding high as official portrait
painter to the Queen and Prince Albert, he was soon to
be replaced in royal favour by Winterhalter; and in 1849
the Sutherlands likewise employed the latter to paint a
full-length of the Duchess. As has been seen, they had
already met the painter in Paris and had commissioned
a version of his Decameron, five years before his first trip
to London; but although they had approached him
for a portrait when he was in London in 1844-1845,
they had to wait another five years before he was next
available.64 The sittings took place at Stafford House,
and Winterhalter depicts the buxom Duchess swathed
in floaty silken draperies against the background of the
Grand Staircase, now sparkling with the copies after
Veronese (see fig. 10). More dix-huitième than Venetian
or Vandyckian, the portrait perfectly captures the whole
flavour of the Sutherlands’ aristocratic life style.
As will be seen, the Duke did not follow his father’s
example in making his collection regularly accessible to
Guercino Saint Gregory, likewise recently bought in Paris;
in 1838 he lent the Delaroche; and so on.65 In some
of these cases it is clear that such loans had a major
impact on the London art world; it has been noted,
for example, that the display of the Murillos at the
British Institution created a veritable “Murillo mania”,
prompting the immediate acquisition of two important
works by the painter for the National Gallery.66
Fig. 18 / Sir Edwin Landseer,
The Sutherland Children, oil
on canvas, Dunrobin Castle,
Sutherland Trust.
the public, and nor apparently did he share any feeling
that he owed it to the health of British art by making
it accessible to painters. By way of compensation, he
lent regularly to the annual summer exhibitions at the
British Institution of Old Masters (a category that also
included British artists who were no longer alive). By
lending at least one of his pictures almost every year
between 1828 and his death he must have felt that he
was doing his duty to the public, while also advertising
to his peers the richness of his collection and the
quality of his new acquisitions. In this latter respect
it may be observed how often he lent his pictures
directly after he had acquired them, or at a moment
when they were otherwise the subject of particular
public curiosity. Thus in 1830, in the months after the
artist’s death, he lent Lawrence’s portrait of his wife
and daughter; in 1836 he lent the pair of Murillos
just bought from Marshal Soult; in 1837 he lent his
As mentioned above, when analyzing the strengths
and weaknesses of the Sutherland Collection, Anna
Jameson noted that there was “no first-rate example of
Rubens, and no Rembrandt”;67 and she might have said
the same of Raphael and Titian. In these respects the
Duke was doubly unfortunate that it was his younger
brother who had inherited the great works from the
Orléans Collection, as well as a Rembrandt Self-Portrait
(Scottish National Gallery, Bridgewater loan), bought
by the Duke of Bridgewater, and that their father had
donated his outstanding Rubens (the Allegory of Peace)
to the National Gallery. He was reasonably successful,
nevertheless, in compensating for his losses by acquiring
other works in the Orléans taste, by such painters as
Fra Bartolomeo, Veronese, Turchi, Guercino and
Poussin. Essentially conservative as a collector, he
ventured only occasionally into areas unknown to his
father; and even then, as with the Delaroche, or with a
painting from the school of Giovanni Bellini,68 he did
not follow it up with any wider exploration of French
or of early Italian painting.
The great exception to this generalization was his evident
interest in Spanish painting – despite the fact that he
never actually went to Spain. Although the Marquess
had already set an example in this field by buying the two
beautiful half-length Murillos (as well as a Cabezalero) at
the Altamira sale in 1827, the Duke went much further.
Not only did he add further Murillos, including the pair
of large-scale narratives that were unanimously regarded
as the jewels in the crown of the Sutherland Gallery,
but he also bought pictures by other, previously much
less known Spanish painters: Alonso Cano, (supposedly)
Velázquez, and especially Zurbarán. No wonder
Jameson commented approvingly that “no other gallery
in England to which I have as yet had access contains so
many and various productions of this school.”


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