Houghton Hall

L: William Kent, architectural drawing for the Marble Parlour at Houghton Hall, ca. 1730. Black and brown ink and brown wash on paper. Collection of Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. R: John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Sybil, Countess Rocksavage, later Marchioness of Cholmondeley, 1913. Oil on canvas. Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. Photo: Bridgeman Art Library

Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House

October 18, 2014January 18, 2015
Rosekrans Gallery, Special Exhibition Galleries 20B-F

Discover the history and elegance of Houghton Hall, one of England’s grandest country houses, built in the 1720s by Sir Robert Walpole (1676–1745), Britain’s first prime minister. Constructed in the Palladian style by architects James Gibbs and Colen Campbell and decorated by the influential designer William Kent, it has survived through the centuries in a remarkably well-preserved state.

Tucked away in Norfolk, England, Houghton Hall was built as a setting for Walpole’s spectacular collection of Old Master and 18th-century paintings, tapestries, and Roman antiquities. His strong tradition of artistic patronage and collecting was continued by members of the Cholmondeley family when they inherited the estate in 1789.

This exhibition captures an intimate look inside Houghton Hall amid a re-creation of some of its spectacular interiors. Rarely-exhibited treasures and exquisite furniture that has been passed down through the centuries evoke the sophistication of aristocratic entertainment in the 18th century.

Key highlights include works by British painters Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and William Hogarth; Italian painters Artemisia Gentileschi and Andrea del Sarto; and American painter John Singer Sargent. This exhibition also offers a unique opportunity to view Houghton Hall’s distinguished collection of 18th-century silver, Roman marble busts, 17th-century Mortlake tapestries, Sèvres porcelain, and a fascinating group of objects reflecting the present owner’s role as hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain. 

Exhibition Preview

Exterior view of Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England. Photo: Nick McCann
Sir Robert Walpole’s Library, Interior view of Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England. Photo: Nick McCann
Frans Hals, Portrait of a Young Man, 1646–48. Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Andrew W. Mellon Collection, Washington, EX.2013.HH.041
Sir Anthony van Dyck, Philip, 4th Lord Wharton, 1632. Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Andrew W. Mellon Collection, Washington, EX.2013.HH.040
One of a Pair of Armchairs, ca. 1730.. designed by William Kent, probably made by James Richards, Parcel gilt mahogany; beech and oak; original velvet upholstery, Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. Photo: Pete Huggins, by kind permission of Houghton Hall, EX.2013.HH.044.1.2
The Cabinet, Interior view of Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England. Photo: Nick McCann
Charles Jervas, Sir Robert Walpole, ca. 1708–10. Oil on canvas, Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. Photo: Pete Huggins, by kind permission of Houghton Hall, EX.2013.HH.093
Sir Cecil Beaton, George and Sibyl Cholmondeley ,  Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley in their coronation robes, 1937. Gelatin silver print, Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. Photo: Pete Huggins, by kind permission of Houghton Hall, EX.2013.HH.065
Uniform, worn by the 4th Marquess of Cholmondeley, 1901. Wool, metallic thread, Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall, Photo: Pete Huggins, by kind permission of Houghton Hall, EX.2013.HH.060.1
Plate from the Walpole Service, ca. 1715.Chinese, Hard paste porcelain, Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. Photo: Pete Huggins, by kind permission of Houghton Hall, EX.2013.HH.102.1-3
R., J., and S. Garrard, The Cholmondeley Coronet, ca. 1902. Gilt-metal, ermine, velvet, silk, metallic thread, Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. Photo: Pete Huggins, by kind permission of Houghton Hall, EX.2013.HH.062
Diego Velázquez, Pope Innocent X, c. 1650. Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art; Andrew W. Mellon Collection, Washington, EX.2013.HH.043
William Kent, Architectural drawing for the Marble Parlour at Houghton, ca. 1730. Black and brown ink, brown wash on paper, Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. Photo: Pete Huggins, by kind permission of Houghton Hall, EX.2013.HH.132
Sibyl, Marchioness of Cholmondeley’s oronation Robe and Train, 1937. Velvet, ermine and silk, Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. Photo: Pete Huggins, by kind permission of Houghton Hall, EX.2013.HH.100
Throne of the Prince of Wales, 1847. designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, made by John Webb, Giltwood and embroidered velvet upholstery, Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. Photo: Pete Huggins, by kind permission of Houghton Hall, EX.2013.HH.059.1

Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in collaboration with Houghton Hall.

Director’s Circle

The Buena Vista Fund of Horizons Foundation
The Michael Taylor Trust
Diane B. Wilsey

Patron’s Circle

Giselle Parry-Farris and Ray K. Farris
Mr. and Mrs. William Hamilton

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