Claude Lorrain, Landscape with Apollo guarding herds of Admetus and Mercury. Oil on canvas

The Hall

On Loan

Holkham Hall, by John Piper

This painting will appear at a major exhibition of John Piper’s work at Tate Liverpool from 17th November 2017 to 11th March 2018 and then at the Mead Gallery in Warwich from 5th May 2018 to July 2018. The exhibition presents a major exhibition exploring the work of the great British artist John Piper (1903-1992). Displaying more than 40 works, including paintings and collages, it offers a new perspective on his powerfully sensitive depictions of his native land and cityscapes. Piper’s painting of Holkham Hall is described by David Fraser Jenkiins as a very unconventional view of a famous English country house. Holkham was one of the first and most successful results of Piper’s return to oil painting, and was his first oil painting of a great country house.


A Venetian Lady with a Youth by Zacchia

This painting has been loaned to the Palazzo di Venezia, Rome for their exhibition Heart Labyrinths, The Two Friends by Giorgione and the Italian art of the sixteenth century which runs from 22nd June to 17th September.

This painting shows an earlier Renaissance style than most works in the collection. The painting has the precise outlines, even lighting and bright localised colour, which are typical of earlier tempera technique. On this evidence it seems that the painter here is likely to be Zacchia il Vecchio.

During this period we have replaced the Zacchia with a painting not currently on the public route, Deborah and Barak by Francesco Solimena (1657-1747).

Sangallo painting returns to Japan and travels to USA

The Battle of Cascina by Aristotile da Sangallo is currently in Japan on display at The Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum from June to October 2017. The painting will then be on display in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 6th November 2017 through to February 2018 as part of: Michelangelo Divine Draftsman and Designer. It will then be on loan to the Nagoya City Museum on the 16th February 2018 where it will be on display until the 3rd June. A copy of the painting has been made to hang in place of the original.

Holkham loans Sangallo painting to Japan, May 2015

The Battle of Cascina by Aristotile da Sangallo is currently on loan at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum until 9th August, it will then move on to The Museum of Kyoto and then The Miyagi Museum of Art until 29th May 2016. It is part of the exhibition ‘Leonardo da Vinci and The Battle of Anghiari: The Mystery of Tavola Doria’. The exhibition will present a wide variety of Leonardo’s achievements in his life, focusing on Tavola Doria, which will be shown to the public for the first time in Japan. The exhibition will also attempt to shed some light on the mystery and fascination of the two lost frescoes, The Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci and Battle of Cascina by Michelangelo Buonarroti, commissioned for the Salone dei Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

The Battle of Cascina by Aristotile da Sangallo
The Battle of Cascina by Aristotile da Sangallo

Holkham and Italy, 2014

‘The Seduction of the Etruscans: From the secrets of Holkham Hall to the Marvels of the British Museum’
2014 saw Holkham Hall’s largest international collaboration since the eighteenth century. From March to September, the MAEC (Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Città di Cortona: www.cortonamaec.org) in Cortona, Tuscany, will host an exhibition of sculpture, paintings, prints, drawings and manuscripts drawn from the Uffizi museums in Florence, the Vatican Museums, the British Museum in London, and Holkham Hall.

The exhibition which ran from 22nd March to the end of September centres on a moment of crucial importance in the history of archaeology and of Tuscany itself, that is the publication of Thomas Dempster’s De Etruria regali (On Royal Tuscany) in Florence in 1723 and 1726. The publication was entirely funded by the young Thomas Coke, the builder of Holkham Hall, and led to the foundation in 1727 of one of most important learned societies in Italy, the Accademia Etrusca. Since its beginnings, the Accademia has been housed in the medieval Palazzo Casali in Cortona, now the home of the MAEC itself.

Thomas Dempster (1579-1635) was an impoverished Scottish nobleman who taught at universities throughout Europe, and ended his career as Professor of Humanities in Bologna. Between 1616 and 1619, he compiled the De Etruria Regali, a monumental history of the Etruscan (broadly, Tuscan) people, the very first attempt to demonstrate the existence of a highly developed civilisation in Italy before the Romans. The work remained unpublished in Dempster’s lifetime, and survived in only one copy, in his own handwriting. This unique manuscript copy was purchased for Thomas Coke by his Grand Tour tutor-governor, Thomas Hobart, in July 1719, from the Florentine scholar Anton Maria Salvini, at a price of eleven guineas. It is still in the library at Holkham Hall, as MS 501.

Thomas Coke returned the manuscript to Florence and paid for the publication of work at a cost of over 2,000 Florentine scudi. Under the supervision of the antiquarian Senator Filippo Buonarotti, whom Coke and Hobart had visited several times while they were in Italy, a substantial programme of illustration was added to the printed edition. For the first time, a work of ancient history was based on the evidence of surviving artefacts and objects rather than on written sources, laying the foundations for modern archaeology. The printed volumes were dedicated to the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, whose dynasty was traced in the text back to the Etruscans themselves! The frontispiece to volume 2 is a portrait of Grand Duke Gian Gastone de’ Medici. He was the last of the line, and on his death in 1737, the family who had dominated Tuscany for centuries died out.

The importance of Coke’s role was only fully understood in 2007 with the discovery at Holkham by Dr Suzanne Reynolds of the accounts for the production process, documenting payments to the artists, engravers, and editors who worked on the project. These documents will be on display in the exhibition, along with the autograph manuscript of the text. Also on display will be the original drawings and copper plates for the illustrations which were discovered in the attics at Holkham by the 5th Earl of Leicester in 1964. The drawings were in the original leather wallet in which they had been sent back to England from Italy after publication.

Some three hundred years after Thomas Coke first arrived in Italy in November 1713, Holkham is also lending paintings, drawings and manuscripts that attest to his passion for Italian history and art. Highlights include Procaccini’s Tarquinius and Lucretia, paintings and drawings by Claude and Vanvitelli, and some of the most beautifully illuminated medieval manuscripts of ancient history from the Holkham Library.

Dr Suzanne Reynolds (Curator of Manuscripts and Printed Books, Holkham Hall) Sept 2013.

Click here to read a press release from Holkham about the Cortona Exhibition.

The Opening Ceremony in Cortona. Right to left: Viscount Coke, The Mayor of Cortona Andrea Vignini, J. Lesley Fitton keeper department of Greece and Rome at The British Museum and Vincenzo Ceccarelli Concillor of Provincia di Arezzo.
The Opening Ceremony in Cortona. Right to left: Viscount Coke, The Mayor of Cortona Andrea Vignini, J. Lesley Fitton keeper department of Greece and Rome at The British Museum and Vincenzo Ceccarelli Concillor of Provincia di Arezzo.
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Procaccini’s Tarquinius and Lucretia on display in the exhibition. This painting normally hangs in The Saloon at Holkham

Holkham and the Victoria and Albert Museum 2014

Designing Georgian Britain
Designing Georgian Britain was an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which ran from 22nd March to 13th July 2014. The exhibition focussed on William Kent the architect and designer. Click here for details of the exhibition.

Holkham loaned the following items: A portrait of the builder of Holkham Hall, Thomas Coke, as a 20 year old. The painting by Trevisani was painted during Thomas Coke’s Grand Tour of Europe from 1712-1718. Original Kent drawings for Holkham Hall. These feature the Library, the Marble Hall, the north front and the south elevation drawings of the hall. Kent Cornucopia settee and two chairs. William Kent watercolour entitled ‘The Death of Cleopatra’ which hangs in the Dressing Room of the Green State Bedroom.

Holkham and Norwich Castle Museum

The Wonder of Birds Exhibition
Holkham supported the “Wonder of Birds” exhibition held at the Norwich Castle Museum from 24th May to 14th September 2014.
On loan was a painting attributed to Campidoglio, an Italian artist (circa 1610- circa 1670) who had been active all his life in Rome producing animal and still life paintings. It evolved that in 1988 this painting was then attributed to David de Coninck a Flemish painter known for his still lifes and landscapes showing hunting scenes.

Also on loan was Vol 2 of Gould’s Hummingbirds 1861 edition, this volume is part of A Monograph of the Trochilidae or Humming Birds, there are 5 volumes in the set with 360 coloured plates.