Until last year a painting of the house and garden in the 1st Duke of Devonshire’s period was missing from the Devonshire Collection. This large-scale, detailed view painting, acquired by the Chatsworth House Trust in 2017, is on display at Chatsworth, with a series of landscape paintings of the house and garden detailing major changes through more than 300 years.
At the time of its acquisition, the Duke of Devonshire said, “I am extremely excited that this landscape has joined the Devonshire Collection. It will be of great interest to our visitors as it portrays on a grand scale a complete view of Chatsworth House, Garden and Park as built and laid out by the 1st Duke and this enables us all to know so much more about Chatsworth at the very beginning of the 18th century.”
The 1st Duke presumably commissioned the painting from Siberechts as payments to the artist in 1699 and 1700 are recorded in the Chatsworth Archives. Additionally, a number of watercolours by Siberechts exist from the 1690s showing views of the Peak District in Derbyshire, some close to Chatsworth. However, there are no records at Chatsworth of the painting having been part of the Devonshire Collection.
It is known though that this large view of Chatsworth originally belonged to Admiral Edward Russell, later 1st Earl of Orford, a friend and political colleague of the 1st and 2nd dukes of Devonshire. Russell and the future 1st Duke had both been signatories to the secret document inviting Prince William of Orange to take the English throne. As Russell had no children, the painting passed on his death to his great-niece Letitia Tipping who married the 1st Lord Sandys in 1725. It remained in the Sandys family until 2017.
The painting was transformed when fully cleaned before its sale. It enabled art historians to attribute the painting to Jan Siberechts, a Flemish-born artist who specialised in painting bird’s eye views of English country houses in the late seventeenth century.