Osterley Park was originally a Tudor brick house, built between 1564 and 1577 by Sir Thomas Gresham (1519?–1579), merchant adventurer and creator of the Royal Exchange. By 1773, it was transformed for Robert Child the Younger (1739–1782) by Robert Adam to its present exquisite palatial form, with trompe l’oeil reliefs by G. B. Cipriani, inset ceiling paintings by Antonio Zucchi and a Picture Gallery hanging 49 works.
It was eventually inherited by George Francis Child-Villiers (1910–1998), 9th Earl of Jersey, who opened it to the public himself and gave it to the National Trust in 1949. He took the pictures though to the island of Jersey and they were subsequently destroyed in a devastating fire there.
The paintings that now hang at Osterley are owned by the Victoria and Albert Museum, who initially administered the property, and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The few, but interesting, group of National Trust paintings are from bequests of a variety of individuals and, more recently, family portraits which are being brought back by William (b.1976), 10th Earl of Jersey.