During my years studying with The Open University, I have made many friends. Some have lived nearby, some have lived throughout the country & further afield, some I’ve met & some I haven’t (yet). The magic of social media has allowed me the sort of friendbase which ‘brick’ uni students get automatically. This weekend just gone I went to Chatsworth House to meet an OU friend for the first time & to enjoy the House & it’s wonderful collection of artworks. I was nervous about both, – I have suffered with social & general anxiety most of my life – a new place, which I traveled to on my own, & a new person (though we had been friends online for over 2 years). I was not disappointed by either.
Chatsworth House is spectacular, if a little frustrating. Each room’s ceilings, walls & floors are painted, carved or tiled & each room is also filled with decorative or domestic pieces of art & history.
Scenes from Julius Caesar’s life adorn the Painted Hall including his ascension depicted in vibrant colour & with a superb sense of depth on the ceiling.
There are several fantastic portraits of Georgiana Spencer, who was the intriguing Duchess of Devonshire from the 18th century.
& the wonderful Oak Stairs are surrounded by portraits of the rich & influential, including the magnificently dandy coronation portrait of King George IV.
My favourite parts of or pieces in the house are:
1) The miniature statue of Pluto, Prosperina & Ceres.
2) The Library & the Dome Room.
3) The Veiled Vestal Virgin statue (1847) by Rafaelle Monti, in the Dome Room.
4) The Sculpture Gallery in the final room.
On talking to one of the wonderfully helpful & enthusiastic staff members, we were told that the collection rotates regularly. Apparently for every month out on show, a piece spends the same amount of years in dark storage for conservation reasons, so 6 months on display equals 6 years in storage (I believe this refers to the paintings, drawings, etching prints, etc)
The frustrating parts of the day were technical: lack of toilets in the house, only being allowed through the house once, which after having to pay £19.90 for the House & Garden ticket & not being told in advance angered me a little, & equally not being able to pay for the house alone.
Chatsworth House is a rather exquisite art gallery, one in which the context & function of some of the pieces are showcased to the fullest. It is a spectacular place, from your first glimpse as your wind your way up the driveway, to the awe of the very last room (the sculpture room). & enjoying it with a companion who is as infatuated with its display as much as you are, makes it a dream experience & a wonderful day out.