The Earl of Leicester is passionate about ensuring Holkham’s collections of art and antiquities, manuscripts and books, are enjoyed by as many people as possible. Every year, roughly 45,000 visitors come to Holkham to see the collection in situ. In addition to this, many works are loaned to other institutions, both internationally and within the UK, ensuring that the Holkham collection can be appreciated by an even wider audience.
This autumn four works, examples of the variety and breadth of the collections at Holkham, are exhibited in London and Rome.
Ovid, Opera, MS 324
On loan from 17th October 2018 to 20th January 2019, Ovidio. Amori et Metamorfosi, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome.
This illuminated manuscript, dating to the late 15th Century, includes sixteen full page miniatures illustrating the ancient metamorphosis myths narrated by the poet, a scene from the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe among them. The work is on loan to the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome, for its exhibition 'Ovidio. Amori e Metamorfosi'. This exhibition celebrates the 2000th anniversary of Ovid's death, by aiming to present an insight into the culture and society of Rome as Ovid would have known it. Later representations of Ovid's work – including the written word, art, and sculpture – will be used to cast light on the world of Imperial Rome.
Humphry Repton, Holkham Red Book, E/Gar 2
On loan from 24th October 2018 to 3rd February 2019, Repton Revealed, The Garden Museum, London.
Humphry Repton (1752-1818) was a landscape gardener of the late-18th and early-19th centuries, and often seen as the natural successor of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Thomas William Coke (later 1st Earl of the 2nd Creation) commissioned Repton to reconsider the pleasure grounds around the lake. Repton viewed his commissions rather like an artist might and created beautifully illustrated bound volumes of ‘before’ and ‘after’ views and enticing prose that he hoped would sway his clients to take up his suggestions. These became known as ‘Red Books’ as each one has the same distinctive red leather binding and the very first one he produced was for the parkland at Holkham. This volume is being displayed along with 23 of Repton’s other ‘Red Books – the largest number to be united in one place for 25 years- as part of the exhibition ‘Repton Revealed’, held at the Garden Museum, London, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his death.
After Sir Godfrey Kneller, Lady Anne Osborne
On loan from 20th October 2018 to 24th February 2019, The Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham.
Lady Anne Osborne, daughter of Thomas Osborne, 1st Duke of Leeds, was firstly married to Robert Coke, an ancestor of the present Lord Leicester. Her second husband was Horatio Walpole, whose descendants included the celebrated author Horace Walpole. The painting has travelled to Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, the Gothic villa built by Horace Walpole for an exhibition entitled the 'Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill'. This exhibition aims to reunite many of the items that once belonged in the collection of Horace Walpole, previous to their sale and dispersal in 1842. Walpole left detailed descriptions of the main rooms of his villa, meaning that for the first time in 170 years, Strawberry Hill can be seen as Walpole conceived it. The Portrait of Lady Anne Osborne, which Walpole had folded to match the size of the other paintings in the room, will be displayed in the Great Parlour on the same wall as the famous portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Ladies Waldegrave, which is normally displayed in the National Gallery of Scotland.
Sir Thomas Gainsborough, Self Portrait
On loan from 22nd November 2018 to 3rd February 2019,Gainsborough's Family Album, National Portrait Gallery, London.
The renowned British artist Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), is known to have stayed at Holkham in the early 1780s whilst painting a portrait of Thomas William Coke, the then owner of the property. It is thought that the self portrait was given to the family as a gift during one of Gainsborough’s visits, and it appears to be one of the latest self-portraits produced by the artist. The painting has been loaned to the National Portrait Gallery in London, where it will feature in its forthcoming exhibition, 'Gainsborough’s Family Album'. The exhibition will include over fifty works from public and private collections around the world, including uniting for the first time all twelve surviving portraits of Gainsborough's daughters.