Rysbrack Paintings

A history of the Rysbrack Paintings at Chiswick House.

To celebrate the £12.1 million restoration of Chiswick House Gardens, eight landscape views of Chiswick by the 18th century Dutch artist Pieter Andreas Rysbrack have been reunited as a complete set.

The Rysbracks have always been held in private estate, some were dispersed by auction, and the current exhibition is the first time in over fifty years that the public has had any opportunity to view them in their entirety.  

Chiswick House Gardens was created by the third Earl of Burlington and William Kent from 1717 onwards and is regarded as a birthplace of the English Landscape Movement. The paintings depict the early results of this famous and hugely influential design.

Lord Burlington commissioned two sets of the paintings.  While a single or pair of paintings of an aristocratic estate was not unusual, the wide scope of this commission was extremely uncommon.  It illustrates Burlington’s desire to capture the new developments and the variety of features at Chiswick.

The only previous occasion the public has had to view the paintings was when the set belonging to Burlington’s sister, Lady Bedingfeld, was put up for auction in 1951. Following that auction, Marcus Whiffen, writing for the Architectural Review in 1952 lamented, ‘It is regrettable that the set had to be broken up: in a better world someone would have bought it for hanging in Lord Burlington’s villa when its repairs should be completed.’

That wish has been realised with the current exhibition. English Heritage has been collecting paintings of Chiswick House Gardens since 1985. To be able to present a complete set, English Heritage has gathered paintings from both the Burlington and Bedingfeld collections, the set completed with two loan paintings from Chatsworth.

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