Dyrham Park paintings in close-up

SOME of the outstanding collection of paintings at the National Trust’s Dyrham Park are currently on show at very close quarters thanks to conservation work to re-vitalise the house.

The work on the house, part of a £10 million project across the whole National Trust site, means that both staircases are currently undergoing vital repairs and a large number of paintings have had to be moved. Rather than store them away, they are being housed on stands in two rooms, the Slop’t Parlour and Gilt Leather Parlour. The collection includes 17th century Dutch works by Samuel van Hoogstraten, Hendrick Danckerts  and  Melchior de Hondecoeter, a painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo dating from the 1660s and paintings of the Blathwayt family who created the house back in the late 1600s.

William Blathwayt lived and worked in Holland during his career as a prominent civil servant, so the collection reflects his life and love of contemporary perspective oil painting.

Eilidh Auckland, house and collections manager, says: “This is a once in a lifetime chance to see these magnificent pieces of art really close. You can see things you maybe wouldn’t normally spot. It’s a rare treat to be able to see these paintings at such close quarters in our specially created pop-up gallery.”

The conservation work on staircases, wall hangings and items in the collection follows the massive re-roofing work which was finished in 2016. The work is part of the Dyrham Park Rework’d project, which aims to create an engaging and meaningful journey into the 17th century while giving people more space to park, eat, shop and play.

The oil paintings on show in the temporary gallery include An Urchin mocking an Old Woman eating Migas, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (Seville 1617 – 1682), A Perspective View of the Courtyard of a House, by Samuel van Hoogstraten (Dordrecht 1627 – 1678), and Ornamental Fowl in and beside a Pond in a Park, with a Peacock in Flight, by Melchior de Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636 – Amsterdam 1695).

Pictured: Murillo’s An Urchin mocking an Old Woman eating Migas; William IV Blathwayt and his wife Frances © National Trust Images