Art, library and archive collections

At Chatsworth we care for one of the largest and most significant private collections in Britain. Through the following pages you can explore a selection of some of the most significant objects in the collection.

We also have an active programme of loans from the collection to external exhibitions. Find out which objects from the Devonshire Collection are currently on loan.

If you have any questions about the collection, or if you would like to arrange access to the archives or to view an item that is not normally on display in the house and galleries, please contact us.

The Sleeping Endymion

Antonio Canova (1757 - 1822)
Marble; 1819 - 1822

In May 1819 the 6th Duke of Devonshire, on his first trip to Rome, paid a visit to the studio of the most celebrated sculptor of the time, Antonio Canova. He marvelled at what he saw and commissioned a marble statue from Canova, leaving both its size and subject to the sculptor to decide, and paying a deposit in advance. The marble was roughed out by 1822, when Canova asked for a further £1,500. It was completed before his death later that year. It arrived in London the following year and caused a stir when first displayed at Devonshire House. The 6th Duke, who regarded it as his greatest sculptural treasure, also commissioned a large bronze copy of it from the sculptor Francis Chantrey, which can be seen on the South Lawn.

In Greek mythology Endymion was a handsome shepherd boy of Asia Minor, the earthly lover of the moon goddess Selene, and each night he was kissed to sleep by her. She begged the god Zeus to grant him eternal life so she might be able to embrace him forever. Zeus granted her wish and put Endymion into eternal sleep. The highly polished finish on Canova's statue is believed to represent the reflected light of the moon goddess.