The Hermitage Museum is at Houghton Hall in Norfolk until September 29th, 2013 thanks to Houghton revisited, an exhibition curated by Thierry Morel.
Sir Robert Walpole, the United Kingdom first Primer Minister, was a dedicated art collector. He gathered in the course of his life a collection of masterpieces by the likes of Velazquez, Rembrandt, Van Dyck…paying £400 for a Poussin, the most one had ever paid for a painting of the master.
The family estate met with some hardship and Sir Walpole’s gambling grandson sold the collection in 1779 to Catherine the Great. It has since been a jewel of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
The collection is back to its home in Houghton Hall for the first time in 200 years each artwork having been placed where it once belonged.
From the entrance one can tell that the said home was essentially designed by the architect William Kent to welcome the art from paintings to sculptures and tapestries. The luxury is as much into the grandeur as it is into the details. Indeed, one can admire the light in Rembrandt’s portrait as much as the shine of the golden threads passing through the deep green velvet of the four-poster bed designed to accommodate prestigious guests.
Should the weather allow it, one should not miss a visit of the grounds. The pristine gardens are in themselves worth a tour made complete by the encounter with monumental contemporary installations. For instance, one can admire a Land Art sculpture by Richard Long or experience, Skyspace an installation by James Turrell. For some, it may be a way to discover the artist closer to home before the opening of his solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in June 2013.
To book tickets please visit www.houghtonrevisited.com
Text: Reine Okuliar
Images: Reine Okuliar and The State Hermitage Museum