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Contemporary Art

Great Collectors

At Chatsworth, one of England’s most celebrated private houses and the seat of the Cavendish family for sixteen generations, the past meets the present in its vast art collection, acquired over more than four centuries. Sir William Cavendish, ancestor of the Dukes of Devonshire, bought Chatsworth Manor for £600 in 1549, and since then a passion for collecting has been spliced into the family DNA. 

In Great Collectors: The Duke of Devonshire and 13 Treasures from Chatsworth, an original video series featuring members of the Cavendish family, the fascinating story of Chatsworth’s great art collection – one of the largest in Britain – is told through historic treasures ranging from Leonardo’s drawing Leda and the Swan to Canova’s marble sculpture The Sleeping Endymion, as well as through contemporary installations such as Jacob Van der Beugel’s newly commissioned DNA Wall.

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(Left) Detail of Thomas Gainsborough’s Portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, 1785, and

(Right) Detail of Michael Craig-Martin’s Digital Portrait of Lady Burlington, circa 2011.
The art at Chatsworth keeps the past alive in every room and on every wall. For instance, Thomas Gainsborough’s enigmatic 1785 portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, shares a home with Lucian Freud’s depiction of the former Deborah Mitford, youngest of the Mitford sisters and the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. That painting was commissioned in the late 1950s by Deborah’s husband, the 11th Duke. More recently, the Earl of Burlington, son of the current Duke, turned to Michael Craig-Martin for a likeness of his wife: in its ever-changing colours and features, the artist’s Digital Portrait of Lady Burlington now mesmerises every visitor to Chatsworth. It is delightful proof that, with each generation, the collection is still growing and looking to the future.

 

The Duke of Devonshire and 13 Treasures from Chatsworth, an original video series, premieres on sothebys.com this November.

 

LEAD IMAGE: THE 12TH DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE PREPARING FOR AN INTERVIEW IN ONE OF CHATSOWRTH'S DRAWING ROOMS. © BEN PAGE PHOTOGRAPHY 2016.

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