Pieter Tillemans (Antwerp 1684-1734 Norton, near Bury St. Edmunds)
Pieter Tillemans (Antwerp 1684-1734 Norton, near Bury St. Edmunds)

A panoramic view of Chatsworth House and Park, with mares and foals in the foreground

Pieter Tillemans (Antwerp 1684-1734 Norton, near Bury St. Edmunds)
A panoramic view of Chatsworth House and Park, with mares and foals in the foreground
signed 'P. Tillemans. F.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
26 1/8 x 68 1/8 in. (66.3 x 173.1 cm.)
Lord George Augustus Cavendish (d.1794), Holker Hall, Lancashire, where recorded in the Drawing Room in a list of 1776 ('The sizes of pictures at Holker that are in any way fit for hanging up'), and by inheritance through his nephew,
George Augustus Henry Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington (1754-1834), and by descent through his grandson,
William, 2nd Earl of Burlington and 7th Duke of Devonshire (1808-1891), and his grandson,
Lord Richard Cavendish (1871-1946), at Holker Hall, to the present owner.
J. Harris, The Artist and the Country House, London, 1979, p. 233, no. 251.
R. Raines, 'Peter Tillemans, Life and Work, with a list of representative paintings', in The Walpole Society, XLVII, 1978-1980, p. 48, no. 25.

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Georgina Wilsenach
Georgina Wilsenach

Lot Essay

Chatsworth was built by 'Bess of Hardwick' (c. 1527-1608) and her second husband Sir William Cavendish (1505-1557), and remained little changed until 1686, when William, 4th Earl and 1st Duke of Devonshire (1640-1707), embarked on an ambitious programme of remodelling which was only completed shortly before his death. For over a century, the house then remained largely as seen in this great panorama, until the celebrated 'Bachelor Duke', the 6th Duke of Devonshire, engaged Sir Jeffry Wyatville to build the long North Wing in the early nineteenth-century.

John Harris, who dates this picture to the mid-1720s, comments that none of the four other recorded views of Chatsworth by Tillemans 'come up to the quality of the Holker example'. Harris also notes Tillemans's 'mastery of the equine form with his horses strung out like a classical frieze'. The artist painted other houses in the north, including Newstead, whose owner -- the 4th Lord Byron -- he taught, and Knowsley. His work at Knowsley for James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby is well documented.

It is interesting to note that the three most prominent foals in the foreground have the four socks and blaze of their presumed father, Flying Childers. By The Darley Arabian out of Betty Leedes, Childers (whose prefix 'Flying' was a sobriquet added later as his racing performances grew into legend), was foaled in 1715 and sold as a yearling to William, 2nd Duke of Devonshire. After an exceptionally long career, during which he was never beaten, he retired to stud at Chatsworth. The most influential mare at Chatsworth in the mid-1720s was Old Ebony by Basto. The 'No. 5 Family' - one of the principal female bloodlines - has her as its founding matriarch, and approximately 7 of all thoroughbreds descend from it in the direct female line. Old Ebony was black, a rare colour in high class stock, and it seems highly likely she is the mare shown to the left of the group.

While it might be presumed that this picture was painted for William, 3rd Duke of Devonshire (1698 1755), the father of its first recorded owner, Lord George Augustus Cavendish, or indeed for his father, William, 2nd Duke of Devonshire (1672-1729), it is perhaps more likely that this was commissioned for the latter's daughter, Lady Elizabeth Cavendish or her husband, Sir Thomas Lowther, 2nd Bt. of Marske (d. 1745), at the time of their marriage in 1725. Lowther sold a notable copy after Titian by Rubens to Lord Derby, and significantly a watercolour, now lost, of Furness Abbey, which Sir Thomas had inherited in 1705 is recorded at Holker in 1776. Sir Thomas and Lady Elizabeth's only son, Sir William Lowther, 3rd Bt (1727-1753) left Holker and the other estates inherited from his father to his mother's nephew, Lord George Augustus Cavendish.

We are grateful to David Oldrey and Tim Cox for their thoughts on the identification of the horses.

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