Private art collection of The Duke and Duchess of Bedford to be shown in London for first time in over 60 years
In February 2020, the Queen’s House in Greenwich, in partnership with Woburn Abbey, will open Woburn Treasures (13 February 2020 – 17 January 2021), a major collaboration which will see significant works from the private art collection of The Duke and Duchess of Bedford on show in the Queen’s House. The collaboration marks the first time significant collection pieces have been on public display in a national museum since the 1950s.
Considered to be one of the most important art collections still in private hands, the Woburn Abbey loans will comprise of over 20 works by distinguished artists such as Van Dyck, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Poussin and Canaletto. The artworks will hang alongside significant works from the renowned national collection of Royal Museums Greenwich.
The historic collaboration has been made possible due to the 18-month closure of Woburn Abbey - the seat of the Earls and Dukes of Bedford since the 1620s - as it undergoes the biggest refurbishment and conservation project since it first opened to the public in 1955.
Highlights from the private collection will include a full length portrait of Anne of Denmark by Flemish artist Gheeraerts the Younger. Anne, queen consort of James I commissioned Inigo Jones to build the Queen’s House, the first Palladian villa in England. Additional portraits include a striking full length of Lady Elizabeth Keppel by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford. The collaboration also includes Canaletto’s large-scale Regatta on the Grand Canal, one of 24 paintings by the Italian artist commissioned for Lord John Russell, the Fourth Duke of Bedford, following his visit to Venice in 1731.
Alongside these masterpieces, a selection of sculptures, ceramics and a silver-gilt toilette set spanning the 17th to 19th century will feature in the display. The variety of artworks showcase the exceptional breadth and quality of the privately collected objects, which have been treasured by generations of the Russell family.
Exploring themes of British country house collecting, gender and identity, art and architecture, Woburn Treasures will cast new light on the collection at the Queen’s House, whilst revealing Woburn Abbey to new audiences, creating an unprecedented opportunity for visitors to access this outstanding collection for free in the capital.
Paddy Rodgers, Director of Royal Museums Greenwich, said: “The Queen’s House is arguably the most beautiful and architecturally important historic building in the country. Being able to host these treasures of Woburn Abbey to complement both the House and our own superb collections is a unique opportunity. This exciting collaboration breathes life into the House and collections illuminating the fascinating stories they illustrate.”
The Duke and Duchess of Bedford commented: “We are excited about this unique collaboration with the Queen’s House, especially given the synergies between our collections. This exhibition is a perfect opportunity for visitors to learn more about the Woburn story and to enjoy works of art from the collection to be on view in the year we are closed for major refurbishment works.”
Woburn Treasures is a collaboration between the Queen’s House - part of Royal Museums Greenwich - and Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire. The display will be free to access and opens from 13 February 2020 – 17 January 2021. For more information, visit www.rmg.co.uk/woburntreasures.
Exhibition information for visitors:
Venue: The Queen’s House, Royal Museums Greenwich
Dates: 13 February 2020 – 17 January 2021
Opening times: every day, 10.00 – 17.00 (closed 24–26 December)
Visitor enquiries: 020 8858 4422
Twitter: @RMGreenwich #QueensHouse
Instagram: @royalmuseumsgreenwich #QueensHouse
Notes to editors
- The 17th century Queen’s House, designed by Inigo Jones, was the first Classical building in England – it is known for its perfectly proportioned Great Hall, original marble floor and beautiful Tulip staircase. Part of Royal Museums Greenwich, the Queen’s House has Scheduled Monument status as it is a building of unique architectural importance and forms an important part of the UNESCO Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. Visitors to the Queen’s House can see highlights from the National Maritime Museum’s fine art collection, including: famous portraits of Elizabeth I and James Duke of York; and exquisite examples of the work of the van de Veldes.The Queen’s House is part of Royal Museums Greenwich which also incorporates the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory Greenwich and Cutty Sark. This unique collection of museums and heritage buildings, which form a key part of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, welcomes over two and a half million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research. The mission of Royal Museums Greenwich is to enrich people’s understanding of the sea, the exploration of space, and Britain's role in world history. For more information visit www.rmg.co.uk
For further information or images, please contact:
Sarah Sandall, Royal Museums Greenwich Press Office
Tel: 020 8312 6789 | 07960 509 802 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org