Picture Perfect

The Picture Gallery at Althorp remains very much as it was created by Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland (1641-1702) and is based on the original Elizabethan gallery in the south-west wing of the house. At 115 feet long one of it’s original uses was to provide an area for the ladies of the house to exercise in inclement weather in days gone by.

Educated at Oxford, Robert Spencer traveled extensively on the ‘Grand Tour’ in France, Italy and Spain and afterwards followed an active diplomatic career with appointments to Madrid (1671), Paris (1672), Cologne (1673), The Hague (1678).  With both discernment and the opportunity for acquiring pictures on the continent, he was the first member of the Spencer family to collect paintings.  Within the gallery (see below) are a unique series of portraits of the ladies of Charles II’s court painted and signed by the artist Sir Peter Lely.

At the south end and focal point of the gallery, is Van Dyck’s (1599-1641) famous whole-length double portrait (c.1637) known as War and Peace, representing the brothers-in-law George Digby, Second Earl of Bristol, and William Russell, First Duke of Bedford.

The Picture Gallery, with Van Dyck's 'War and Peace' seen at the end of the corridor. To the left of the image are the Lely portraits, and the sofa in the foreground provides the model for The Spencer House Sofa.

The Picture Gallery Table, George II, circa 1750.

The Picture Gallery today contains a carefully edited array of furnishings, with include a superb writing desk (as seen above) and a set of sofas that originate from Spencer House in London.

The Picture Gallery LIbrary Table by Althorp Living HIstory

The original George III sofa designed by James 'Athenian' Stuart for Spencer House and supplied by John Gordon, circa 1758-65.

The original Spencer House sofa has a gilded finish which compliments to framing of the historic portraits and contrasts against the darkness of the wooden panelling.

The Spencer House Sofa by Althorp Living History is replicated in more subtle finishes.

The Spencer House Sofa, by Althorp Living History

The Spencer House Sofa in an Antique Ivory finish

In a more modern application, the classical lines of the The Spencer House Sofa by Althorp Living History centre this contemporary yet classical sunroom at a house named ‘Villa Farmer’ in Tulsa.

The Spencer House Sofa is the focal point in this Tulsa Sunroom

Read the full article in the digital edition of Tulsa People.

Credits: Tulsa People text by Anne Brockman and Interior Design by Steven Vogler of Lou’s Antiques

Share and Enjoy:
    This entry was posted in Althorp | Art History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.