After World War II, Andrew Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire (1920-2004), and his Duchess, the former Deborah Mitford (1920-2014) worked for many years to renovate and enhance the estate as a national treasure house, family home, artistic legacy, and as a tourist attraction. In addition to balancing all these competing needs and resources, they were devoted to the continuation of the Cavendish family's tradition of collecting contemporary art. Their eldest son, Peregrine Cavendish, aka Stoker, b. 1944, inherited the title in 2004 as 12th Duke of Devonshire. He and his wife also collect art.
Below, also from the NYC exhibition, left, portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Gainsborough, 1785-87; right, Lucien Freud, Woman in White Shirt (Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire), 1957. Which do you prefer?
Are you with me so far? We should have been well prepared for a wild mixture of art when we approached Chatsworth in September 2022. Their summer collaboration with the event in Nevada known as Burning Man festival had been well publicized, however odd a partnership it seemed.
Below, from the car park, one could see the sculpture Wings of Glory by Adrian Landon (See it in motion on youtube:
At right, part of a collection of 100 metal crow sculptures Murder Inc. by Charles Gadeken.
The 2022 exhibition was titled Radical Horizons, and though some of it was appealing in my opinion, other installations spoiled their surroundings instead of enhancing the rooms. For example, the gilded statue Exquisite Pain, St. Bartholomew by Damian Hirst (b. 1965), 2006, stands in a two-story alabaster altar by Caius Gabriel Cibber (1630-1700), once in a 17th C. court chapel. Before it, the oblong object by Tom Price. To me it just looks like a bench.
After spending a considerable amount of my visit trying to appreciate the juxtaposition of the new and old works, I decided to concentrate on some old favorites remembered from former visits to Chatsworth. Though I approve in principle of the Cavendish interest in more modern art, I have to admit most of the newer items do not appeal to my taste. Here are a few of my favorite Chatsworth snaps.
Below, left, a colossal foot, a marble fragment from ancient Greece. Right, the figure of the goddess Sekhmet from ancient Egypt.
Below, my absolute favorite: a trompe d'oeil violin on a peg in the State Music Room. You would swear it was a three-dimensional violin not a flat painting, the work of Dutch artist Jan van der Vaardt, c. 1723. It was moved from its original position in Devonshire House, London, before the house on Piccadilly was demolished in 1924.
Right, from the sculpture gallery, Ganymede and the Eagle, 1823, by Adamo Tadolini (1788-1863). In poetry, Ganymede was the ideally beautiful youth captured by Zeus.
Below, left, The Cascade dates from 1696, named as England's best water feature in 2004, a mere 300+ years later. Right, The Emperor Fountain, 1843, built for a visit in 1844 from the Russian Tsar which never occurred. Nevertheless it is beautiful sight.
Great Britain's longest reigning monarch, 1952-2022
September 22, 2022, Chatsworth