Wednesday, 1 March 2017

March: Art treasures in Warwickshire


Upton House, near Banbury
Friday, 1st March 1946:

"I reached Upton [House, Warwickshire] at 6.30 to stay the night with the Bearsteds.  He and Lady B. both charming, with unassuming manners of the well-bred.  Hubert Smith arrived just in time for dinner, his car having broken down.

At midnight Lord B. took me round the house. Inside there is nothing of consequence architecturally save a  few early eighteenth-century chimneypieces and a beautiful Coleshill-style staircase, rearranged by Lord B. and extended.  Morley Horder, architect, built on to the house in the 1920s.  But heavens, the contents!  There is a lot of good Chippendale-style furniture and some marvellous Chelsea china of the very best quality.  It was badly packed away during the war when the house was occupied by a bank, and some on unpacking found to be damaged.  The picture collection superb, as fine as any private collection in England.  Many of the pictures are not yet back from the Welsh caves where they were stored with the National Gallery pictures.

It is only the garden he is offering with the house, but he wishes to include all the works of art.  So does his son who is to inherit."
Caves of Ice     James Lees-Milne, 1946


Upton House from the south  Anthony Devis c. 1784  © National Trust



View of the gardens and park

Lord Bearsted and his sister Mrs Nellie Ionides* were both great art collectors, as was their father Marcus Samuel the 1st Viscount, co-founder of the Shell Oil company.    Walter Samuel Bearsted, 2nd Viscount, acquired Upton House in 1927 and began remodelling it.  The wonderful art on display  includes original paintings for Shell Oil posters by well known British artists.   Here are just two:

 Farmers Use Shell    John Armstrong  1939 
© artist's estate  (Shell Art Collection loan) 


Charwomen Use Shell    Edward Ardizonne  1938
© artist's estate (Shell Art Collection loan)


Walter Samuel Bearsted was a  trustee of the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery, and Chairman of the Whitechapel Gallery;  both he and his son Richard wanted to bequeath the family collection to the National Trust.

The range and quality of the collection, which includes works by Stubbs, Hogarth, Brueghel, Canaletto, Tiepolo, Van der Goes - the list goes on, and many more can be seen at artuk.org.  Here are just three of nearly 200 paintings, selected almost at random.  


Crossing the Ford     Thomas Gainsborough c. 1750     © National 'Trust


Young man with a Pink     Hans Holbein the Younger 1533    © National Trust


Love among the Ruins   Edward Burne-Jones* 1894  © National Trust
*Burne-Jones was a friend of Nellie Ionides' father in law, Luke Ionides, and painted his sister, her husband Basil's Aunt Aglaia.

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