National Trust, Petworth House

National Trust

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Petworth House is a great house with an immensely distinguished collection. It is set in a superb location in a ‘Capability’ Brown deer park on the South Downs. The central figures in its creation were Algernon Percy (1602–1668), 10th Earl of Northumberland and Charles (1662–1748), 6th Duke of Somerset, who inherited Petworth by marrying Lady Elizabeth Percy, heir of the last Duke of Northumberland. Later owners included Sir Charles Wyndham (1710–1763), 4th Bt and 2nd Earl of Egremont, and George O’Brien Wyndham (1751–1837), 3rd Earl of Egremont, who was a great patron and collector of Turner, Thomas Phillips and other British artists of his time, and whose mistress and later wife, Elizabeth Iliffe, commissioned pictures from William Blake. The paintings at Petworth range from Venetian ‘Cinquecento’ paintings, notably Titian’s ‘Portrait of an Unknown Man in a Black Plumed Hat’, to an exquisite set of eight little Elsheimers, as well as Van Dyck, Lely and Michael Dahl beauties. Other highlights include Claude Lorrain’s ‘A River Landscape with Jacob, Laban and His Daughters’, Bellotto’s ‘Piazza del Campidoglio with Santa Maria d'Aracoeli, Rome’, Sébastien Bourdon’s ‘The Selling of Joseph by His Brothers’ and landscapes by such luminaries such as Bril, Berchem, Cuyp, Ruysdael, Van Goyen and Van de Velde. Harold Macmillan’s private secretary, John Wyndham (1920–1972), persuaded his childless uncle Charles (1872–1952), 3rd Lord Leconfield, to give the house and park to the National Trust to ensure their permanent preservation, which he did in 1947. The contents of the state rooms were subsequently acquired by HM Treasury in part payment of death duties and the pictures were transferred to the National Trust in 1956–1957, while the rest remain on loan from the Egremont Private Collection.

Petworth, West Sussex GU28 0AE England

01798 343929

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