Robert Stayner Holford was among the many men in the second half of the nineteenth century who took advantage of the unrest in Europe after the Napoleonic wars, and the subsequent availability of masterpieces from the continent. At the time it was said that he had ‘an eye for quality and the means to indulge it without stint’.
When Westonbirt House was sold to become a school, the sales of his pictures and other works of art reached record figures in the late 1920s; figures that remained unbeatable for about 50 years, and the collection was dispersed to famous galleries around the globe.
Here at Westonbirt the walls have since been almost bare, except for shadows on some of silk brocade wall coverings. But no longer. Thanks to very generous donations we have been able to reproduce some of the lost pictures, with grateful thanks to the various galleries and museums who have kindly allowed us to do so.
We now have work by painters such as Rembrandt, Vandyk, Joshua Reynolds, and Belllini. They are beautifully reproduced photographically to scale, in their frames, and so have a contemporary look, while losing nothing of their impact.
In future we hope to be able to increase this wonderful addition to the current experience of the fabulous building that is Westonbirt House.’