Bought with Love: The Secret History of British Art Collections
Britain’s country houses are home to astonishing world-class art collections full of priceless old masters and more. In this three-part series art historian Helen Rosslyn opens the doors of some of our most impressive country houses to tell the story of how so many great paintings came to Britain and of the adventurous men and women who brought them here.
Part 1: The Pioneers
In the first episode she reveals the immense influence of the 17th-century pioneer collectors such as Thomas Howard, the ‘Collector’ Earl of Arundel, King Charles I and his entourage known as the Whitehall Group. Rosslyn explores how this group also brought a taste for the Baroque to Britain, commissioning continental artists such as Rubens, Van Dyck and later Antonio Verrio.
Part 2: The Golden Age
In this episode she focuses on the 18th century, the Grand Tour era when aristocrats filled their Palladian villas with masterpieces by 17th-century classical painters. Throwing open the doors of some of our most magnificent stately homes, Rosslyn visits Holkham Hall in Norfolk to view the Grand Tour collection there, before going on to explore the legacy of the Dukes of Richmond at Goodwood House. She also visits Petworth House in Sussex where the one-time Lord Egremont patronised JMW Turner.
Part 3: The Age of the Individual
Helen Rosslyn explores how collecting reached its maturity in the 19th century when unprecedented wealth from Britain’s booming economy encouraged enlightened, philanthropic industrialists to spend their fortunes on art, and in many cases then donate their collections to the nation. With different taste from the British aristocracy who had dominated collecting to this point, a new breed of art buyer enriched Britain’s cultural story by acquiring adventurous and often avant-garde work. Helen looks at the influence of pharmaceutical magnate Thomas Holloway, the Rothschild banking dynasty and the Welsh Davies sisters