Prized Pos­ses­sions - an ex­hi­bi­tion of fine Dutch art from some of the great masters

West Sussex Gazette - - SUSSEX HERITAGE - BY RU­PERT TOOVEY | visit www.tooveys.com

The Na­tional Trust’s land­mark ex­hi­bi­tion Prized Pos­ses­sions has just re­turned from The Mau­rit­shuis mu­seum in the Hague to Pet­worth House in Sus­sex. The Mau­rit­shuis houses the Royal Cab­i­net of Paint­ings which in­cludes many of the finest Dutch Golden Age art in­clud­ing Jo­hannes Ver­meer’s Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring. Nev­er­the­less long queues formed to see Prized Pos­ses­sions which speaks of the im­por­tance of the works on show in this ex­hi­bi­tion. Prized Pos­ses­sions builds on the tra­di­tion es­tab­lished at Pet­worth House by house and col­lec­tions man­ager An­drew Loukes of re­ex­am­in­ing the col­lec­tions and art of the Na­tional Trust. In the 17th and 18th cen­turies Dutch art in­formed English taste. It is won­der­ful to see these works dis­played in the con­text of, ar­guably, Eng­land’s finest coun­try house. Pet­worth has a fine col­lec­tion of Dutch masters. The ex­hi­bi­tion re­flects the di­ver­sity of sub­jects and styles in Dutch Golden Age art with won­der­ful re­li­gious scenes, land­scapes still lifes and por­traits. Prized Pos­ses­sions has been cu­rated by David Tay­lor and Ru­pert Gould­ing. The paint­ings on show are amongst the most cel­e­brated and prized in the Na­tional Trust’s col­lec­tions. The vis­i­tor to Pet­worth will uniquely also be able to see a se­lec­tion of Dutch masters gen­er­ously loaned by Lord Egre­mont from his pri­vate col­lec­tion.

As you en­ter the ex­hi­bi­tion gallery you are met by Rem­brandt van

Rijn’s re­mark­able ‘Self-Por­trait, wear­ing a Feath­ered Bon­net.’

There is such life to the por­trait. It dis­plays the psy­cho­log­i­cal in­sight and un­sur­passed tech­nique which un­der­pins Rem­brandt’s rep­u­ta­tion as an artist. Here we see Rem­brandt’s con­fi­dence at the height of his wealth and fame. The por­trait is typ­i­cal of the pop­u­lar tronie genre where the sit­ter is de­picted in cos­tume play­ing some sort of role. Rem­brandt’s cos­tume with its vel­vet bon­net dec­o­rated with os­trich feath­ers, the gor­get armour and aris­to­cratic hair lends the paint­ing a time­less qual­ity. His pose and the dra­matic use of light seems to unite sit­ter and viewer.

The por­trait is signed and dated 1635, the year that the artist and his wife Saskia moved to the fash­ion­able Nieuwe Doe­len­straat in Am­s­ter­dam.

Un­til re­cently the por­trait was at­trib­uted to one of Rem­brandt’s pupils, Go­vaert Flinck. How­ever, re­cent sci­en­tific and his­tor­i­cal re­search has es­tab­lished the paint­ing as one of a large group of some forty au­to­graph self-por­traits by Rem­brandt. The por­trait of Prince Ru­pert of the Rhine (16191682) by Si­mon Pi­etersz Verelst is of con­trast­ing style. The paint­ing forms part of Pet­worth’s per­ma­nent col­lec­tion and de­picts Prince

Ru­pert in mid­dle age af­ter the restora­tion of his cousin Charles

II. He wears the robes of the Or­der of the Garter. Verelst em­ploys light and colour beau­ti­fully to em­pha­sise the op­u­lence and power ex­pressed in his at­tire. The ex­hi­bi­tion is a cab­i­net of ex­quis­ite paint­ings and the con­text of Pet­worth House and its ex­hi­bi­tion rooms al­lows us to re­ex­am­ine these prized pos­ses­sions and their in­flu­ence on English coun­try house taste with fresh eyes. I am de­lighted that Toovey’s are once again sup­port­ing Pet­worth House’s ex­hi­bi­tion pro­gramme.

Prized Pos­ses­sions is a jewel like ex­hi­bi­tion and a must see.

The show is sure to be a sell out so book early. For more in­for­ma­tion on the ex­hi­bi­tion, to book tick­ets and for open­ing times visit www. na­tion­al­trust.org.uk/pet­worth.

Ru­pert Toovey is a se­nior di­rec­tor of Toovey’s, the lead­ing fine art auc­tion house in West Sus­sex, based on the A24 at Wash­ing­ton - www.tooveys. com - and a priest in the Church of Eng­land Dio­cese of Chich­ester.

Si­mon Pi­etersz Verelst (1644-1721), Prince Ru­pert of the Rhine c.1680-82, oil © Na­tional Trust.

Rem­brandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Self-Por­trait, wear­ing a Feath­ered Bon­net, c.1635, oil, signed and dated © Na­tional Trust.

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