A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to visit Chatsworth House for Sotheby’s annual selling exhibition “Beyond Limits”, which featured modern and contemporary sculpture, some of which was commissioned just for the sale. The weather was crummy and the drive was long, but seeing the house and the grounds in person was worth it.*
The grounds are very traditional English estate, including a rose garden, water features, classical sculptures, and designed “wilderness” (a sort of mini-Alps to cross through). The logistics of transporting and installing artwork is incredibly expensive, so the overhead for a selling exhibition of this sort is nearly equal to the income. As a result, the exhibition is really more of a marketing tool for Sotheby’s. However, seeing sculptures (whether contemporary or not) in spectacular surroundings such as Chatsworth was a truly unique experience.**
The Duke and Dutchess of Devonshire (the current owners) are art collectors, so the Baroque style manor house has injections of modern art and design throughout the house. In fact, the Duke of Devonshire sits on the board at Sotheby’s–one reason this exhibition at Chatsworth is even possible. The art collection in the house was pretty marvellous, but a bit overwhelming, given that I only had an afternoon for exploration.
*Chatsworth was the filming location for the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice and The Dutchess, the biopic of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.
**The ice cream from the Chatsworth cows was pretty good, too!