Contemporary Art

Episode 8: The Changing Face of Portraiture

By Sotheby's


Throughout history, the Cavendishes have been extraordinarily perceptive about working with the greatest artists of their time. One of the most iconic works of art at Chatsworth is Thomas Gainsborough’s 1785 portrait of the famously extravagant Georgiana, Duchess to the 5th Duke of Devonshire and a renowned hostess who had a tremendous influence on fashion and style in England. Just as Gainsborough’s likeness was utterly of its moment, a recent portrait of Lady Burlington by Michael Craig-Martin captures the essence of the present day. “I chose Michael because I really admire his practice,” says Lady Burlington. The digital work comprises a drawing put through a computer program that enables it to change colors. “I was completely stunned to think it would come here to be with the portraits of Gainsborough and Lucian Freud,” says Craig-Martin. “But I thought it was so adventuresome to agree to such an extremely contemporary thing.”

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