Art & the Country House, launched in autumn 2020, is an online publication edited by Martin Postle, Deputy Director for Grants and Publications at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Published in the year of the fiftieth anniversary of the Paul Mellon Centre, Art & the Country House underlines the Centre’s long-term commitment to country house studies. Focused specifically on the collection and display of works of art in the country house in Britain from the sixteenth century to the present day, it contains eight case studies: Castle Howard, Doddington Hall, Mells Manor, Mount Stuart, Petworth House, Raynham Hall, Trewithen and West Wycombe. Each house has been carefully selected so as to ensure a broad range of research topics and to provide an appropriately varied set of examples, in terms of geographical location, scale, patterns of ownership, chronologies, collections and displays.

In addition, eight essays have been commissioned on themed topics, ranging from the evolution of customised picture galleries, the conscious preservation of the past, women’s collecting and display strategies, to country houses as homes and tourist destinations and to the economic and political structures that underpinned the extravagant acquisition policies of the owners of so-called ‘power houses’. These essays serve to amplify and provide a context for the materials and topics explored in the case studies. Collectively, they offer a rich, sharply focused set of new perspectives on the country house and on the role of art collections within the dynamics and history of such properties.

Involving research by over forty authors, Art & the Country House brings together detailed catalogues, document transcriptions, essays, films and an abundance of specially commissioned photography. Through its search facility, objects, artists, art works and bibliographies can be located and compared in what we hope will prove new, productive and more rapid ways. In addition, individual contributions can be downloaded, preserved in hard copy and shared. Art & the Country House, as with all other Paul Mellon Centre digital publications, is open access.