Conceived and produced by Sotheby’s and presented by Huntsman, ‘Treasures from Chatsworth’ celebrates the Cavendish family’s centuries-long passion for art and collecting.
Collecting is an art form in itself. For over 16 generations the Cavendish family has commissioned and collected contemporary art. Their passion for the present as well as the past is what makes Chatsworth one of the world’s greatest collections.
The seat of the 12th Duke of Devonshire and home to the Cavendish family since 1549, Chatsworth is where the past and present co-exist, with a collection at once steeped in history and forward looking. At Chatsworth, visitors encounter works by Da Vinci and Damien Hirst, breath-taking monumental sculpture, cutting-edge portraiture and remarkable design pieces. The legacy of commissioning inspiring contemporary pieces lives on.
Each short episode takes you on a journey where you are led, by the Duke and Duchess themselves as well as family members, artists and art experts, on an intimate journey that explores treasures both little-known and best loved in the collection
Sotheby’s 13-part series, presented by Huntsman and produced by Chrome Productions, explores the diverse works of art in the Devonshire Collection with insight into their history and significance from the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, curators, keepers and contemporary artists such as Michael Craig-Martin and Jacob van der Beugel. Each work of art tells a very human story, revealing the ongoing inspiration and legacy that lives on at Chatsworth. Please see the full list of episode synopses below with corresponding release dates.
Speaking about the paternship, Huntsman owner, Pierre Lagrange commented, “the Treasures from Chatsworth strikes a chord with the heritage that Huntsman represents and I’m delighted to be supporting the series. As custodian of Huntsman and its unique approach to the craft of bespoke clothing since 1849, I appreciate and am full of admiration for the patronage of great artists through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. The creative process between patron and craftsman in our atelier, and the way in which contemporary designs are influenced by those of previous generations of craftsmen resonates with the stories that Sotheby’s has woven through this series of films.”
The Duke of Devonshire said: “This film series provides new insights not just into Chatsworth but collecting art and the extraordinary process of working with contemporary artists – something that not only gives me great pleasure but is of great significance to the present and future of Chatsworth. Chatsworth and Sotheby’s has a history of its own when it comes to art, having hosted Sotheby’s monumental sculpture exhibition Beyond Limits here in the grounds of Chatsworth for over a decade. We’re absolutely thrilled to be collaborating on a further exciting and unexpected way for a house such as Chatsworth to share its art with the public. I enjoyed being involved in the making of this series immensely, and hope you’ll enjoy the results.”
David Goodman, Executive Vice President, Digital Development & Marketing comments: “Having launched Sotheby’s Museum Network, Sotheby’s Apple TV channel and our Amazon Fire app this year, it felt a natural progression for our video productions to evolve beyond one-off short films to the series format to engage with the growing global audience who are seeking to experience the world of art and collecting. Beyond our longstanding relationship with the Duke, Chatsworth is the perfect subject for our inaugural series – suitably enthralling and aesthetically stunning.
“Each short episode takes you on a journey where you are led, by the Duke and Duchess themselves as well as family members, artists and art experts, on an intimate journey that explores treasures both little-known and best loved in the collection. But this is by no means a deluxe art historical house tour. The series goes to the heart of patronage and collecting as an art from in itself, and the profound impact it has on the history of art as we know it. Access to extraordinary places and exceptional art, objects, history, expertise and stories is in Sotheby’s DNA, and this series is an extension of this in a form we very much hope you’ll enjoy – the first of many original films that will reveal the wonder of art and collecting.”
Episode 1 – Lucian Freud’s Woman in a White Shirt, launched on the 28th November at a Champagne Brunch to celebrate the premiere of the series. Two epsiodes a week are due to be released in the run up to Christmas and the New Year.
To watch the series and learn more about Huntsman’s link to each episode visit our ‘Treasures from Chatsworth’ page on the website and check back on our journal. Alternatively please visit www.Sothebys.com/Chatsworth
Episode 1 – Lucian Freud’s Woman in a White Shirt A portrait of Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, commissioned from Lucian Freud, caused a sensation in British society. Now Woman in a White Shirt is “probably the most beautiful thing at Chatsworth,” says the current Duke, who recalls the close friendship between Freud and the Cavendish family in the series premiere of Treasures from Chatsworth, Presented by Huntsman.
Episode 2 – Commissioning Artworks Across Generations There is a rich history of patronage at Chatsworth, which is filled with works commissioned directly from artists of their time, be it the early 19th century or the early 21st. This episode explores the relationship of trust between the artist and their commissioner, highlighting Jacob Van der Beugel’s 2014 DNA Wall and Antonio Canova’s Sleeping Endymion, made almost exactly 200 years earlier.
Episode 3 – Leonardo Da Vinci’s Drawing of Leda and the Swan We take you inside the Old Master cabinet at Chatsworth – a room usually closed to the public – where one of the world’s finest and most extensive collections of Old Master drawings is kept. Among these is a Leonardo da Vinci that was almost lost in the chaos of the Second World War.
Episode 4 – The Lewinski Photo Archive Between 1940 to 1970, photographer Jorge Lewinski took hundreds of images of important postwar artists in their studios: Francis Bacon, Bridget Riley, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore among many others. “He recorded people, but he did it in such a way that gave you so much of an insight into the artist’s way of being,” says the Earl of Burlington, who acquired the Lewinski Archive for Chatsworth. In this episode, the Earl explains that the passion for art that he inherited from his ancestors has inspired him to become not only a collector himself but also an artist.
Episode 5 – The Needlework of Elizabethan Chatsworth A rare depiction of the original Chatsworth House from around 1550 provides a vital connection to the past. Hundreds of years from now, visitors will look to Johnny Warrender’s many renderings of Chatsworth and its gardens for a 21st-century view of the house and its surroundings as well as a window onto the interests and enthusiasms of the current Duke and Duchess.
Released on 20th December: Episode 6: Jan Van Der Vaardt’s Trompe l’oeil Violin There are certain artworks that we feel an emotional connection to and to which we return again and again. Among the many such beloved pictures at Chatsworth, one in particular stands out: Jan Van Der Vaardt’s Trompe l’oeil Violin. Episode 6 reveals the mysterious history of this all-time favourite.
Episode 7 – The Landscape as a Work of Art At Chatsworth, the Devonshire Collection extends beyond the walls of the house. Throughout the gardens and grounds, carefully curated sculptures are thoughtfully integrated with the landscape – “it’s like one amazing piece of land art,” says the 12th Duke. Take a tour of the picturesque setting that has been shaped over time by generations of dukes and duchesses.
Episode 8 – The Changing Face of Portraiture From the earliest days at Chatsworth, the dukes and duchesses have commissioned Britain’s greatest artists to capture their likenesses. Among the most celebrated of these is Thomas Gainsborough’s depiction of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Learn about the famously extravagant Duchess and see an innovative contemporary portrait of Lady Burlington.
Episode 9 – Design Through the Ages: The Counterpart Bench and George III Coronation Chair Form and function go hand-in-hand in great furnishings, whether antiques of royal provenance or cutting-edge creations by today’s most innovative makers. As this episode reveals, at Chatsworth, functional objects have always been valued for both their beauty and their utility.
Episode 10 – The Mortlake Tapestries Even a familiar, well-documented masterwork that has been hanging on the wall for hundreds of years can still contain untold stories. This episode focuses on how the 17th century Mortlake Tapestries reveal surprising evidence of an unusual period in Chatsworth’s history.
Episode 11 – The Devonshire Parure Of all the objects that one can collect, jewellery is perhaps the most personal, intimate and precious. From the coronation-worthy 19th-century tiara in the Devonshire Parure to a witty, wearable gold brooch by a contemporary designer, jewels have a special legacy at Chatsworth.
Episode 12 – The Queen Zenobia Ball Gown Among the Duchesses of Devonshire, there have been several tastemakers whose flair for style is evident in the carefully preserved garments that can be found in the closets of Chatsworth. Among the most elaborate of these is the Queen Zenobia gown, commissioned by Duchess Louise in 1897 for a summertime ball. Fashion continues to play a role at Chatsworth today, as the Countess of Burlington explains in this episode.
Episode 13 – Masterworks in Silver It may be difficult to imagine packing up an enormous silver chandelier for a weekend visit to your country house, but for the 6th Duke of Devonshire, toting the elaborate fixture from one residence to another was simply a necessity. This episode explores the ‘pure bravado’ of many silver objects in the Devonshire Collection as well as a few more understated recent commissions.