Friday, 20 December 2013

Face to Face with Reynolds

Last week the house team were busy moving paintings, in preparation for the 'Constable at Petworth' exhibition which starts on January 11th 2014.

The Somerset Room and Square Dining Room will be open during the exhibition, but will look very different to how visitors will have seen them in the past. Much of the artwork has been redisplayed in order to show paintings that would have inspired Constable during his stay at Petworth in 1834.

Taking down a number of paintings from the North Gallery so they can be redisplayed in the showrooms open during the exhibition.

Taking down a painting from the Square Dining Room - those on a lower level require as many hands as possible to safely lower and remove the painting. Those higher up require ropes and pulleys to get them down. 

On top of this, the lighting consultants who visited the property earlier in the year have been back to the house, to add further lighting to some of the paintings which will be on display. The pictures look fantastic!

Newly-instated painting, with new picture light
Two paintings now installed for the exhibition in the Square Dining Room - my camera does not do these paintings justice; the lighting illuminates them beautifully.
One of the biggest jobs (quite literally) in the Square Dining Room was the lighting of the Macbeth and the Witches. When I last wrote about this painting, conservators were at Petworth determining what could be done to improve the visuals of the painting. The painting will be going away in April for this conservation work, but part of the project includes having the canvas properly lit.

Here the lights have been fixed to the top of the Macbeth. You can already see the difference it makes to the detail visible on the canvas - as well as how well it lights compared to the older picture lights (for example those down the right hand side, which unfortunately inclue a lot of glare and a lit circle from the light).
Having the lighting consultants in also meant we were able to get the scaffolding right up close to the portrait of Reynolds himself – who will look fantastic when he is lit properly lit.

The photo is rather distorted (the inherent problems of dealing with scaffolding and cameras!) but it does bring out the detail in the portrait of Reynolds which it is currently very difficult to see, due to his dark location above the Macbeth! We look forward to seeing him properly with picture lights in a few months time.
Do come and see the changes that have been made for the exhibition - as well as, of course, the fantastic collection of over 40 watercolours and oil paintings by Constable which are being exhibited together for the first time in our exhibition room. Many of these paintings were produced by Constable during his visit to the house in 1834. The Old Library - usually closed to the public - will also be open to those visiting the exhibition. Booking is essential - click here for more information and to book tickets.

We hope to see you in the new year for the exhibition!

Conservation Assistant

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