11 Apr 2021
May 4, 2012 - Filed under: History of Antiques — Richard

A portrait given by James I to the owner of Montacute House is once more overlooking the antique chests of the Somerset mansion.

Montacute is an outstanding building of the late Elizabethan period, representing the transition from mediaeval gothic to classical renaissance architecture. Built around 1598 by Sir Edward Phelps, it was the family seat for centuries until falling into disrepair. It was purchased by the grandson of Thomas Cook, founder of the travel firm, and donated to the National Trust. Unfortunately, the furnishings were not included, and when Montacute opened in 1932 it was practically an empty shell.

To visitors, the variety of antique dining tables , tapestries, antique desks and other furnishings in Montacute look as if they have always been there. However, the collection exists due solely to the generosity of those who have lent or donated items over the years. The exception is a selection of Tudor and early Stewart art, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, which can be viewed in the longest Long Gallery in England.

Few items directly associated with the Phelps family are displayed in the house. However, the National Trust recently acquired a portrait of James I, given by the King to Sir Edward Phelps shortly after Montacute was built. The portrait was purchased at Sotheby’s at a cost of almost £200,000 with buyer’s premium.

Any antique enthusiasts looking for artwork or furniture, whether to bolster their collection or spruce up a room, should turn to a reliable antique dealer in Preston.

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