• 7 October 2016
  • 9:00 – 6:45 pm
  • Lecture Room, Paul Mellon Centre

The conference is the first in a series associated with the Paul Mellon Centre’s flagship research project, Art in the British Country House: Collecting and Display, which investigates the collection and display of works of art in the country house in Britain from the sixteenth century to the present day.

The crucial importance of the country house to understanding the history of art-collection and display in Britain is indisputable and of long-standing interest to historians of British art. This project, in turning a fresh eye on the collections of art associated with the country house, builds on exciting new developments within this area of scholarship, which shed new light on the wide range of motivations and circumstances that have shaped such collections. The project extends to the country house a growing scholarly interest in modes of pictorial display, which has hitherto tended to focus on the display of paintings, sculpture and prints within more urban and public environments, and on the exhibition space in particular.

The conference will consist of eight papers, followed by a keynote lecture. The papers will be grouped together in themes over four sections, addressing subject matter ranging from the mid-seventeenth century to the late nineteenth century. In the first section Emily Burns will address the formation of collections and related displays at Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire during the 1650s, and Amelia Smith will examine the picture collection at Longford Castle and responses to its display in the late eighteenth century. The second section, which focuses upon sculpture, will include an examination of the display of marble copies of antique statuary at Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, by Joan Coutu and General James Dormer’s collection of bronze and other statuary at Rousham House, Oxfordshire. In the third section the collections of two major patrons, Charles Jennens and the 3rd Earl of Egremont, whose collections at Gopsall Hall, Leicestershire and Petworth House, Sussex, combined contemporary British and European art, are investigated by Peter Kerber and Andrew Loukes. The fourth section, which consists of papers by Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth and Nicola Pickering, looks at the fine and decorative collections at Waddesdon Manor and Mentmore Manor, Buckinghamshire, both of which reveal the importance of display in forming the style and character of the houses that epitomized ‘le gôut Rothschild’. The conference will conclude with a keynote lecture by Adriano Ayminino, who will address the aspects of the history and methodology Country House scholarship over the past hundred years.

Image caption: Joseph Mallord William Turner, The South Wall of the Square Dining-Room, 1827, Gouache on paper, 13.8 x 18.8 cm, Tate, London