Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Chatsworth Sculpture Gallery

I am borro
wing a vast tract from someone infinitely more able to explain the gallery than me - Professor Alison Yarrington, who has just overseen the 'restoration' of the gallery:

William Spencer Cavendish became the 6th Duke of Devonshire in 1811, and as part of his development of Chatsworth House during the 1820s and early 1830s he created a new north wing that included a Sculpture Gallery to house his collection of contemporary sculpture, the majority of which was sourced in Rome, and other rare and precious marbles. A major project was begun to re-display the sculpture gallery began in 2008 and was completed in 2009. 

After the Duke’s death, his thoughtfully arranged collection of sculptures and bases was gradually dispersed elsewhere in the house and garden. The Sculpture Gallery has now been returned to the way it looked in 1857, the year before he died.

The re-display is part of the Chatsworth Masterplan, a major project of essential restoration and development to safeguard Chatsworth's heritage and continue its history.  The Sculpture Gallery project has required months of work.  Historical evidence has been found and evaluated, missing pieces have been re-discovered and many tons of stone and marble have been carefully re-positioned by a team from Chatsworth and Cliveden Conservation. The lions have been raised to their original height, sculptures have been brought out of their niches in the Orangery, and the central Berlin granite 
tazza (vase) had to be dismantled to bring it in from the Garden. The Sculpture Gallery re-opened to the public in March 2009. 

Professor Alison Yarrington is academic adviser to the Sculpture Gallery project, working with Charles Noble (Curator, Fine Arts & Loans, Chatsworth), Matthew Hirst (Head of Arts and Historic Collections, Chatsworth), Hannah Obee (Curator, Decorative Arts, Chatsworth), Andrew Peppitt and Stuart Band (Archivists, Devonshire Archives).


The gallery has spectacular works by Canova and Thorvaldsen amongst others but my favourite thing is the use of rare marbles.


  1. It's a gorgeous house, and certainly the photo you show points towards a fantastic restoration. Whatever the treament is on the walls, it does provide an ideal backdrop. I shall have to return one of these days.

  2. It is so deeply steep in history, it is amazing they are willing to define and tune the place. As is- would do-but taking it back to its zenith is quite wonderful. la