Patterned with Paper Pictures: The Print Room at Petworth House

Essay by Esther Chadwick

Print rooms and paper culture

Sometime between 1749 and 1764 a new kind of room appeared at Petworth.1 In 1764 a ‘Print Closet’ is recorded in the inventory drawn up after the premature death of Charles Wyndham, second Earl of Egremont (1710–1763).2 A small rectangular space of about twelve feet by six, with one north-facing window and a single door leading from the adjacent bedroom, it was so named for a very clear reason: the 210 prints pasted to its high yellow walls. Printed paper had been used to decorate domestic interiors since at least the sixteenth century, but the elite trend for creating unified decorative schemes by means of cutting up and pasting etched or engraved images directly to walls – custom-designed integrated paper picture galleries – was a new departure.3 Although there is evidence of the phenomenon before 1700, extant examples date between the 1750s and 1820s, placing Petworth at the earlier end of what amounted to a craze among the aristocracy for ornamenting interiors of all kinds – dressing rooms, breakfast rooms, sitting rooms, even a cottage orné – with a wide variety of printed images, including caricatures, portraits, topographic views, religious and allegorical compositions, and genre prints.4 The Print Room at Petworth is among about fourteen eighteenth-century print rooms in British country houses that survive today, including the one at nearby Uppark, created around 1770. Many more are known to have existed, such as Lady Townshend’s dressing room at Raynham, which was ‘furnished with prints, stuck with much taste on a green paper’ and singled out as a highlight for tourists in the late 1760s.5 At Doddington Hall wallpaper commercially manufactured to simulate the effect of image-pasted walls, with none of the fiddly business of scissors nor the expense or adulteration of individual prints, is suggestive of how desirable the print room became as an aesthetic in its own right.6

Print rooms like the one at Petworth were part of a vigorous and multifaceted ‘paper culture’ of the eighteenth century, one that encompassed not only the voracious printing, reading and debating of newspapers, novels and pamphlets – that is, of texts – but also an intensely interactive engagement with all kinds of paper images, from silhouetting and collaging (as in Mary Delany’s ‘paper mosaicks’), to the assemblage of print portfolios by dedicated collectors and the widespread practice of extra-illustration.7 Printed images were produced and consumed for every conceivable purpose at all levels of society, but in the eighteenth century the pleasures of manipulating them through the practice of ‘cut and paste’ became high fashion. The French had already invented a special name for its fashionable cutters-up: découpeurs. ‘In the most serious company, in the most gallant circles, in the most diverting assemblies’, one Parisian commentator noted in 1727, ‘one no longer presents dice, cards, music, but only Prints & scissors for cutting out’.8 Découpage applied mainly, however, to the ornamentation of free-standing furniture and items such as screens and snuff boxes. Print rooms, which became particularly beloved of the British, took cutting out as a form both of entertaining sociability and spatialised aesthetic display to another level.

Largely due to its location in the private portion of the house, the Print Closet at Petworth has never been studied. It is absent from most overviews of known print rooms, and where it does appear it has been misdated.9 The first aim of this essay is to contribute to the growing scholarship of eighteenth-century print rooms by providing a detailed description and analysis of the room, along with an accompanying map, which for the first time identifies each surviving print individually. In the process of identifying the prints and the organisational structure of their layout on the walls, the essay’s second goal is to point towards more theoretical avenues for the study of print rooms, in particular by considering the status of the Print Room at Petworth as a virtual and intertextual space.

Introducing the 'Print Closet'

The 1764 inventory of Petworth House lists the contents of the ‘Print Closet’ as follows: ‘A Chimney Glass with a Glass Bordered frame Glass Ornaments with Blue Borders Round’; ‘Seven Pieces of Ornamental China over the Chimney Piece’; ‘four Black Japan Chine Chairs with Gold Edges & Cane Bottoms’; ‘white silk Bordered Cushions for D[itto]; ‘A Cherry tree Dressing Table for the Window with a Drawer & Shelf’; ‘A Inlaid Writing Desk on a fraime with 3 Drawers’; ‘A Mahoganey fly Table’; ‘A White Silk window Curtain to Draw up Compleat’; ‘Two Iron Doges’ [fire dogs] and ‘a fine Shovel & a pair of Tongs’.10

The Print Closet must have been a place to retire to, perhaps to sit with companions by the fire on those four ‘Japan Chine’ chairs. It was not a closet in the way we might think today of a commodious wardrobe for clothes, but a closed, secluded and personal space for contemplation and conversation or for writing. The prints themselves were not inventoried because, attached firmly to the walls, they counted for valuation’s sake as fixtures, not movables. Once pasted up in a print room these most mobile of artworks gained a paradoxical fixity, occupying a dual position as both ornament and image and defined differently from the ‘furniture prints’ (prints to be hung, rather than pasted directly to walls) that the second Earl is recorded as having had framed in the 1740s.11 The only access to the room was through the ‘Red Damask Bedchamber’, now known as the Great North Room, which was not assigned to any named individual: the private bedrooms of the Egremont family were located, as they are today, at the other end of the house. It is therefore difficult to determine the precise users and occupants of the Print Closet in its early days. Sometime after the death of the second Earl, when the house passed to his son, it was used as a dressing room by the third Earl’s wife, Elizabeth Ilive (1769–1822), the innovative future patron of William Blake, until she left her husband for London in 1803.12 Throughout the nineteenth century the adjoining Great North Room was used as guest quarters, where artists such as Turner were accommodated. However, the two interconnected rooms have long since been unoccupied, and the Print Closet appears to have been unaltered since the eighteenth century, save for the few prints that have been lost and the graffitied beard, nose and eyebrows, added to Pope Innocent X by a mischievous visitor (PT163).13

Each of the four walls is densely but neatly packed with prints arranged symmetrically in pairs and groups according to size and shape. The overall effect is of variety contained within regulated order, of profusion governed by pleasing rhythm. The prints are pasted to sheets of heavy paper that have been painted yellow, and mounted on a hessian backing stretched on moulded wooden panelling that was originally designed c.1690 to contain tapestries.14 They range in date from c.1677 to 1755 and include prints after antique sculpture and Roman friezes, topographical views of castles in the narrow upper row, portraits of eminent men, sets of allegories on the seasons, and engravings after Italian old-master paintings, baroque decorative schemes, seventeenth-century Dutch and the latest contemporary Italian and French works, on subjects comprising mythology, Christian religion and everyday life. Many of them were published in series, providing convenient ready-made groupings, as in the sets of Four Seasons after Teniers, Bassano and Carriera (PT184, PT196 and PT199; PT72, PT78, PT104 and PT109; PT2, PT8, PT116 and PT120); the ten plates from Heroicae virtutis imagines after Pietro da Cortona’s paintings in the Sala de Venere in the Palazzo Pitti, published in Rome (PT59, PT61, PT62, PT64, PT81, PT111, PT153, PT156, PT187 and PT200); the four prints after Jean-Baptiste Pater illustrating scenes from Sçarron’s Roman Comique (PT23, PT24, PT38 and PT46); the majority of Van der Gucht’s Twelve Labours of Hercules (PT75, PT130, PT133, PT141, PT146, PT168, PT170, PT174, PT176); eight prints by Houbraken from Birch’s Heads of Illustrious Persons (PT3, PT7, PT69, PT101, PT117, PT119, PT182 and PT194); and the twelve castle views from Samuel and Nathaniel Buck’s Views of Ruins of Castles & Abbeys in England (PT66, PT99, PT112, PT113, PT114, PT115, PT180, PT188, PT189, PT190, PT191, PT192).

Often the walls contain linked or pendant pairs, as in the prints by Jean Daullé after Jacques Dumont (PT28 and PT34), and Joseph Wagner after Jacopo Amigoni (PT60 and PT63). While prints by Hogarth and Piranesi are listed in the Egremont collection – and while both were chosen for print rooms elsewhere, including Hogarth by Queen Charlotte for her rustic cottage at Kew, and Piranesi for the print rooms at Blickling and Stratfield Saye – neither of these artists were selected for display in the Print Closet at Petworth.15 However, a number of other sought-after contemporary engravers and artists did make it on to the walls, including Robert Strange after Guido Reni and Andrea Sacchi, Joseph Goupy after Salvator Rosa, and Bernard Lépicié after Chardin and other contemporary French artists. The range of artists and genres encompassed in the choices on the Print Closet’s walls is quite consistent with the larger picture of the second Earl’s art collecting in this period, as his ‘Picture Book’ and lists of other purchases attest.16

Prints with straight sides and in roundels are contained within separately applied paper frames simulating carved wood (with modest acanthus and laurel leaf or egg-and-dart patterns), and each of the room’s sixteen panels is edged with a narrow scroll-pattern border. Such printed frames and borders, which gave cohesion to the overall scheme, were marketed especially for the use of print rooms. They were sold in sheets to be cut up by the user. In 1751 George Bickham the Younger advertised a ‘Great Variety of Chinese and other Bordering for Rooms, Closets &c.’ as well as ‘Prints of all kinds for Pannels, Ceilings &c. of the newest Fashion’. He offered ‘One hundred different borderings for hanging of rooms or Prints’, printed in black, at one shilling per dozen.17 Bickham was among a number of English engravers and printsellers from whom the second Earl purchased items in this period, and it is possible that he was the source of the borders at Petworth.18 Compared to other print-room ornaments on offer around 1750, such as the much more ornate swags and bows sold by Thomas Major or Francis Vivares, (fig. 1) the choices at Petworth are notably plain.19 The second Earl was a lover of rococo virtuosity, as the furniture and pier glasses he commissioned from Norman and Whittle elsewhere in the house demonstrate.20 But here the printed borders are more austerely neoclassical than other commercially available examples, and the effect is more restrained than in the exuberant print rooms at, for instance, Castletown (assembled by the Lennox sisters) with its profusion of differently patterned frames and large connective swags, chains, and still-life pendants with dead game, hunting horns or musical instruments held up by paper ribbons (fig. 2), or at Ston Easton where paper frames are fictively ‘attached’ to the walls by delicate printed bows and loops.21

Plate 12, decorative swag for a print room published by François Vivarès

Figure 1.
Peter Mazell, Plate 12, decorative swag for a print room published by François Vivarès, 1756. Etching. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (29486:162).

Digital image courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

The Print Room at Castletown House, completed by Lady Louisa Conolly in 1769

Figure 2.
The Print Room at Castletown House, completed by Lady Louisa Conolly in 1769, Castletown House, County Kildare.

Digital image courtesy of National Monuments Photographic Unit. (All rights reserved)

Punctuation, paper sculptures and virtuality

The unifying elements at Petworth are not swags or ribbons but, strikingly and unusually, prints after free-standing antique or to a lesser extent Renaissance or baroque sculpture, each carefully cut out along the contours of the figure. These paper sculptures ‘punctuate’ the arrangement of other prints, appearing at regularly paced intervals in each column or row. They all derive from the same source: Paolo Alessandro Maffei’s Raccolta di statue antiche e moderne, first published in 1704 by Domenico de Rossi in Rome. This foundational compendium of classical and modern sculpture, engraved by a group of esteemed printmakers including Robert van Audenaerde, Claude Randon, G. B. de Poilly, Francesco Aquila, F. Andriot and Nicolas Dorigny, was a staple of the libraries of gentlemen and grand tourists.22 It is listed in the library at Petworth among a number of well-known publications by de Rossi – along with ‘Statues & other loose Prints’ and ‘Prints of Sculpture history’ – as ‘Raccolta di Statua […] 1704’.23 The manuscript catalogue of 1780 describes it as having ‘the letterpress only’, suggesting that the copy recorded at Petworth could have been the very one from which the plates were taken for the Print Room. Selections from a second series of prints after antique sculpture complement those taken from Maffei’s Raccolta. The twenty-eight etchings by Pietro Santo Bartoli after reliefs in the arches of Titus and Constantine, from Giovanni Pietro Bellori’s Veteres arcus Augustorum triumphis insignes (published by Giovanni de Rossi, Rome, 1690), cut out as rectangles or roundels, can likewise be thought of as part of the structuring armature or grammar of the walls, perhaps most clearly seen in the central grouping of the east wall. Three copies of Bellori’s book are also listed as part of the Petworth library.24 Books of prints like these could easily have been acquired (probably unbound) in Rome during the second Earl’s grand tour in 1728 to 1730 or, as was the case with his prints by Piranesi, they may have been supplied to him by his agents in Italy, the painter Gavin Hamilton and the architect Matthew Brettingham the Younger.25 Through these two men on the ground Egremont had a direct link to Cardinal Albani and to Albani’s scholar in residence, Winckelmann, whose History of Ancient Art was published the year after the Earl’s death. The ‘bookish’ choices of the Print Room point in some ways to a Winckelmannian atmosphere of antiquarian scholarship, and they remind us that the Earl’s library was only a few paces away from the closet, facilitating an easy traffic between the two spaces. Yet in their translation from library to closet, the sculpture prints shed their principal function as ‘reference’ works and became involved instead in a more decorative game of recognition without the aid or encumbrance of words.

The paper sculptures of the Print Closet establish a relationship with another nearby space beyond it: the new sculpture gallery directly below, designed by Brettingham’s father and completed in 1754 to house the second Earl’s remarkable collection of antique marbles.26 There, the elevations of the sculpture gallery, with niches, plinths and wall brackets for displaying busts, full-length and seated-figure statues, their contours highlighted by the contrast of marble set against deep red paint, are echoed in the paper display above, where careful scissor-work highlights the sculptures’ varied forms. Although translated graphically from three into two dimensions and thereby made materially equivalent with the other ‘flat’ paper images in the room, a paragone of painting and sculpture is reanimated by this attention to cutting around the statues’ curving limbs and draperies. One might go so far as to think of the Print Closet as a ‘virtual’ manifestation of the newly built sculpture gallery, as a space in which reproductions of famous works such as the Laocoön, the Apollo Belvedere, the Farnese Bull and numerous others both affirmed the centrality of classical sculpture to Petworth’s culture under the second Earl and asserted the continuity of his collection with a larger canon in Rome.

On 14 November 1755 the second Earl paid Brettingham junior £105 for a ‘subscription for moulds of statues & busts’.27 He was evidently supplementing his collection of marbles with plaster replicas, much as the paper sculptures in the Print Closet enhanced and expanded his sculpture collection virtually.28 This point could be extended to paintings as well. The prints did not duplicate painted ‘originals’ elsewhere in the collection, but closely complemented them, filling out a richer picture of different artists’ oeuvres and different treatments of similar subjects. Thus, the paper Chardins on the Print Closet’s walls – The House of Cards, Le Bénédicité and The Young Schoolmistress – supplemented such purchases as the painting bought by the second Earl, ‘A Woman & girl by Chardin’ for £24 3s in April 1751.29 The ‘Finding Romulus by Pietro Cortona’, bought by him for £53 11s in 1754 could be linked to Cortona’s Palazzo Pitti decorations from the Heroicae virtutis imagines set, just as the Earl’s new ‘Martyrdom of St Andrew’ by Carlo Maratti (bought for the large sum of £273 in 1757) could be compared to the selected prints after other religious compositions by the same artist. The interconnections between the second Earl’s painting purchases in this period and the paper pictures on the Print Room’s walls are numerous.

This prompts us to think of the Print Room as a sort of fantasy museum – a musée imaginaire, even – where connections between the growing art collection at Petworth and a wider realm of antique and modern European masterpieces could be elaborated and enjoyed. One of the principal attractions of so-called reproductive prints was precisely the way they allowed for the formation of ‘paper museums’, as in the example of the ‘Dresden prints’ bought by the second Earl for £25 in 1757 – undoubtedly a reference to the Recueil d’éstampes d’après les plus célèbres tableaux de la Galerie Royale de Dresde, known as ‘The Dresden Gallery’, a collection of 100 prints after the principal works belonging to the Electors of Saxony, published in two volumes in 1753 and 1757 (fig. 3).30 The Print Room allowed one to play at picture hanging unburdened by the inconveniences of the original works’ physical locations. It was a kind of ‘virtual’ cabinet in which one could indulge the eye in an array of works gathered altogether in one small space.

Recueil d’éstampes d’après les plus célèbres tableaux de la Galerie Royale de Dresden (Dresden, 1753), title page to Volume Two

Figure 3.
Noël Le Mire after Charles Eisen, Recueil d’éstampes d’après les plus célèbres tableaux de la Galerie Royale de Dresden (Dresden, 1753), title page to Volume Two, 1753. Engraving. The Getty Research Institute.

Digital image courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Cabinet viewing conditions clearly appealed to the second Earl of Egremont. One of his prize pictures – purchased in 1756 as the second most expensive he ever bought – was David Teniers the Younger’s The Brussels Picture Gallery of the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm (1651), which shows a group of men surrounded by pictures sold to the Archduke from the collection of the royalist first Duke of Hamilton after the latter’s beheading by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in 1649.31 The walls of Teniers’ cabinet are stacked top to bottom with identifiable paintings in gold frames, with four sculptures atop the tall wooden structure at left. In front of this is a table laid out with a loose assemblage of prints for consultation by the cabinet’s visitors alongside the painted works. Teniers was the Archduke’s personal curator (here he shows himself holding up Annibale Carracci’s Pietà for the Archduke’s inspection), and the Brussels Picture Gallery was intended as a record of a selection of the finest Italian works in the collection, a documentary project that was to bear full fruit in Teniers’ ground-breaking paper museum, the Theatrum Pictorium, published in 1660 and considered to be the first illustrated catalogue of an art collection.32 The vicarious pleasure offered by Teniers’ gallery picture to a collector and art lover many miles away from Brussels, just like the paper paintings of the related Theatrum, was surely also an aspect of the Print Room’s appeal. The Print Closet was not one of Petworth’s ostentatious ground-floor showrooms in which cultural ambitions could be broadcast most openly to visitors, but it was a space in which the second Earl or his intimate family and friends might quietly affirm to themselves their belonging to an imagined community of connoisseurs, just as the prints served as a reminder of the place of the Egremont collection within a wider republic of taste.

Pattern-making, meaning and intertextuality

Print rooms dramatised two fundamental aspects of the print collector’s practice: selection and arrangement. Yet they provided a space in which to exhibit ‘editorial’ choices not simply by means of page-by-page sequence, as in the arrangement and storage of prints according to category, subject or producer in a library portfolio, but by a distinctive form of externalised pattern-making. Print-room walls could operate semantically, through playful juxtaposition and personal allusion, but the distribution of prints was frequently governed in the first instance by an overriding formalism, as the case of Petworth exemplifies.33

With the Print Closet’s punctuation and presiding visual theme established by the paper sculptures, how were the other prints to be distributed across the walls? The visual evidence suggests that whoever was responsible for the arrangement at Petworth began first with a large central print, or axis of larger prints, that served as an anchor from which to work outwards. Pendant pairs, series or groups of related prints could then be distributed symmetrically from this focal point. In the panel above the mirror on the south wall, for example, Claude Duflos’s engraving after Pierre Mignard’s St Cecilia (published by Audran in Paris c.1691–1703) forms the central ‘keystone’ around which are arranged prints by Bartoli from the Veteres arcus Augustorum or from Maffei’s Raccolta (PT88, PT89, PT90, PT91, PT92). A similar strategy is deployed over the door: Pierre Drevet’s dramatic translation of Restout’s Agony in the Garden (published in Paris, 1720–6) is surrounded by four cut-outs from the Raccolta and four prints from a series, the Twelve Labours of Hercules, ‘Design’d and Etched by L. Cheron, and finish’d by B. Picart, V. Vandergucht, &c.’ and published in Britain in two sets between 1729 and 1732.34 The choice of Hercules and Telephus from the Raccolta here is a fitting accompaniment to the Hercules series, creating a thematic link between the free-floating sculpture and the Twelve Labours group. Similarly, in the adjacent panel a playful connection might be drawn between Bacchus clashing his cymbals and the patron saint of music below him who looks piously heavenward (towards Bacchus, as it happens) as she elegantly plucks her harp. But in general the choice and combination of the punctuating statues seems motivated more by formal than thematic resonance, the placement of the sculpture prints dictated more by the basic figure types (standing, multi-figure, and so on) and the directions of their limbs and gazes.

The east wall is the largest continuous surface in the room, allowing for the full reign of an essentially formalist and spatial rather than content-driven distributive principle. In the centre is Audenaerde’s engraving from the Raccolta of the Farnese Bull, one of the largest and most elaborate prints in the Maffei set, here with its negative spaces intricately cut away to emphasise its multi-figural complexity (PT31). At the four cardinal points around this central work are four large rectangular prints, consisting of two pairs. To the left and right are bucolic peasant landscapes by Francis Vivares after Zuccarelli, published in London in 1753. Above and below are two fine contemporary engravings by the most sought-after living British engraver of his generation, Robert Strange. His Apollo Rewarding Merit and Punishing Arrogance after Andrea Sacchi (in fact an allegorical portrait of Marc’Antonio Pasqualini, a famous seventeenth-century castrato) was published by him in 1755 (PT15) (fig. 4). Echoing the musical subject of St Cecilia on the adjacent wall, it presides at the top of this central cluster of prints, while below is Liberality and Modesty after Guido Reni, published as a companion to the Sacchi composition in 1755 (PT42). Strange’s pendant prints were sold by subscription, and in the following decade they were listed in the engraver’s catalogue at 7s 6d each, falling in the higher price range for contemporary prints of this period.35 The second Earl’s account book records that he paid Strange the handsome sum of £4 19s for engravings in 1759.36 Quite possibly the prints on the walls here were among that very purchase. If so, some of the prints by Strange must have stayed with the rest of the print collection in the library, while two were separated from the larger group to be used for the Print Closet. Even the latest and costliest items from the print collection were considered fair game for the scissors, their margins discarded and new printed frames added.

Apollo Rewarding Merit and Punishing Arrogance

Figure 4.
Robert Strange after Andrea Sacchi, Apollo Rewarding Merit and Punishing Arrogance, 1755. Engraving. National Galleries of Scotland (P 2877.11).

Digital image courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland. (CC-BY-NC 3.0)

What was lost when cutting up one of these prints by Strange was a fairly bland margin with cursive script giving the composition’s title, the location of the original painting and the publication line. In other cases, such as the five by Simon Gribelin from Six of Her Majesty’s Pictures (1712), which face each other on the east and west walls, the rather elaborate fictive frames of the original prints were completely excised to make way for the much plainer separately cut paper frames (fig. 5). Such disregard for prints’ original fancy frames is most dramatically demonstrated by the treatment of the eight portraits engraved by Jacob Houbraken for Thomas Birch’s Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain (1743–52), interspersed in the upper rows. The inventive frames that distinguish this series were specially designed by Gravelot. They relieved the eyes from an otherwise monotonous barrage of bust-length portraits. Playful rococo ornament, fictive architecture and drapery surrounded each portrait roundel, while artfully arranged objects, attributes and figurative scenes elaborated a visual biography of the sitter. While in other print rooms Gravelot’s frames might be ‘remixed’ by cutting up and compressing their different elements into new collaged surrounds (fig. 6 and fig. 7), at Petworth they have been sliced clean through, leaving only parts of Gravelot’s inventions visible and enforcing a uniform rectangularity.37 Whether the resulting ornamental off-cuts would have been reused in some other way (such as for découpage decoration or japanning), or discarded outright, is an open question. We might wonder where all the unwanted scraps of frames, publication lines, titles, marginal verses and inscriptions went after they had been separated from the printed images to which they once belonged. If paintings gained new connotations when they were published as prints with framing devices such as moralising verses – as in the case of Lépicié’s engravings after Chardin, also on the east wall (PT21) (fig. 8) – the print room was a mechanism by which they could be once more untethered from the meanings or embellishments that publishers had attached to them.38

The Muses in Consort with their Proper Symbols, from Six of Her Majesty’s Pictures

Figure 5.
Simon Gribelin after Jacopo Tintoretto, The Muses in Consort with their Proper Symbols, from Six of Her Majesty’s Pictures, 1712. Engraving. The British Museum (1859,0709.2423).

Digital image courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Oliver Cromwell from Thomas Birch’s Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain

Figure 6.
Jacob Houbraken after Samuel Cooper and Hubert François Gravelot, Oliver Cromwell from Thomas Birch’s Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain, 1743-1752. Collaged etching and engraving. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (E291-1990).

Digital image courtesy of Esther Chadwick. (All rights reserved)

1743-1752. Engraving. Royal Collection (RCIN 602144).

Figure 7.
Jacob Houbraken after Samuel Cooper and Hubert François Gravelot,, Oliver Cromwell from Thomas Birch’s Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain, 1743-1752. Engraving. Royal Collection (RCIN 602144).

Digital image courtesy of Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020. All rights reserved.

Le Bénédicité (The Grace)

Figure 8.
Bernard Lépicié after Jean Siméon Chardin, Le Bénédicité (The Grace), 1744. Etching and engraving. The British Museum (1922,0410.298).

Digital image courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Sometimes the cropping of a print drastically altered the format of the image itself, as in the case of Le Bas’s engraving after Lancret’s Conversation Galante, published in Paris in 1743 (PT128) (fig. 9), which at Petworth has been radically altered to fill a required horizontal space on the west wall, creating the desired symmetry with Gribelin’s print after Tintoretto’s Concert of Muses (PT122) in the corresponding position. A concern for symmetry and overall spatial order overrode the claims of the individual image. Yet such patterning, rather than simply evacuating meaning from each print, encouraged ‘intertextual’ reading across and among images by inviting the eye to travel along axes or between corresponding pairs of prints. To anyone prepared to spend time looking for them, the walls could be a tissue of visual echoes and cross-references. Lancret’s gathering of modern amoureux could, for instance, be read in terms of Tintoretto’s ancient airborne muses, each an image of sensuously intertwined bodies in dreamscapes. What meaning there was to derive from this web of disparate yet potentially always relatable and relational images was open-ended and different for each viewer. Such an aesthetics of array recalls Roger de Piles’s writing on engraving earlier in the century:

Gallant conversation

Figure 9.
Jacques Philippe Le Bas after Nicolas Lancret, Gallant conversation, 1743. Etching and engraving. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2012.136.844).

Digital image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Public domain)

by means of Prints, one may easily see the work of several masters on a table; one may form an idea of them, judge by comparing one with the other, know which to choose, and by practising it often, contract a habit of a good taste.39

This was precisely the kind of scene depicted by Teniers in the left-hand corner of his Brussels Picture Gallery. The difference was, of course, that in the Print Closet the viewer was not dealing with a loose grouping of prints temporarily assembled on a ‘table’, but a pre-orchestrated and fixed arrangement. Nevertheless, there could be no prescribing the eye’s itinerary around the walls, and part of a print room’s appeal was surely the potential it left for the continual discovery of new links and allusions.

Whose print room?

Some items in the Print Closet at Petworth, however, were clearly chosen for their personal connection to the second Earl of Egremont. Three of the Houbraken ‘heads’ were famous English poets: Chaucer, Milton and Dryden, plus the celebrated dramatist Thomas Otway. The remainder could all be related to the Egremont family and its history. Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (PT182), here after the portrait by Rubens, was the ancestor of a neighbouring landowner. It was from Arundel that the second Earl’s grandfather had purchased the marble copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta in 1691.40 Edward Seymour, first Duke of Somerset (PT69), was a forebear of the second Earl’s father, here placed on the mirror wall in the corresponding position to Houbraken’s engraving of Algernon Percy, tenth Earl of Northumberland (PT101), an ancestor on his grandmother’s side. The Percys were noted Parliamentarians in the Civil War, and this might account for the choice of another notable Parliamentarian, Thomas, Lord Fairfax, to the right of the window on the north wall (PT194). The surviving castles of the frieze-like upper row, all by the Buck brothers, and all except one taken from the fourteenth set of their Castles & Abbeys of England and Wales, comprising views in Cumberland and Westmorland, can also be linked directly to the second Earl’s family.41 Egremont had inherited the Percy estates in Cumberland. He became Lord Lieutenant of Cumberland in 1751 and Vice Admiral of the same county in 1755. He had represented Appleby in Westmorland as MP from 1742 to 1747. It is no surprise to find Egremont Castle (PT99) on the south wall, and Cockermouth Castle (PT66) directly above the portrait of Algernon Percy, whose family had once held the castle. In the mid-eighteenth century Cockermouth was ruined, much as it appears in the print, but would be restored by the second Earl’s son.42

Do these allusions to Charles Wyndham’s family and land suggest that he was the driving force behind the room’s creation? Certainly, as we’ve seen, the choices in the Print Closet chime perfectly with his tastes in classical sculpture, in seventeenth-century Dutch and contemporary Italian and French painting, and there is no denying that the sum of the Print Room’s parts seems to point firmly in his direction. His active collecting of prints is also well documented in this period.43 Yet it is difficult to imagine a man with a busy political life, one that frequently took him away from Petworth, assuming much of a hands-on role in the Print Closet. Walls as symmetrically and regularly conceived as those at Petworth required careful planning. Other cases document the employment of professional decorators in the putting up of print rooms, such as at Mersham-le-Hatch in the 1760s and 1770s, where Thomas Chippendale was paid for ‘cutting out the prints, borders & ornaments and Hanging them in the Room Complete’.44 Likewise, the successful firm of decorators Bromwich and Leigh advertised their services for ‘Rooms fitted up with gilt Leather, Indian Pictures, or Prints &c’.45 The Earl’s account book contains an entry in June 1760 recording the payment of £80 14s to ‘Bromwich the paper man’.46 After the Earl’s death Lady Egremont, his executrix, paid the firm for ‘Papering Sundry Rooms’ (probably mainly at Egremont House in London), including ‘15 Dozen of Borders put up’ at a cost of 16 shillings 3 pence, or ‘4 Days taking down old hangings and mending 4 Rooms with your Ladyships own paper @ 3/6 = 14’.47 But there is no record of work done by Bromwich and Leigh in the Print Closet at Petworth, nor is it clear what her ladyship’s ‘own paper’ might have been.

Alicia Maria, Countess of Egremont (1729–1794), remains a shadowy figure in the literature on Petworth and the Egremont family. However, her potential role in the creation of the Print Room must be considered. As her husband’s executrix, she was responsible for settling many of his bills in 1763 and 1764, not only for decorations like those carried out by Thomas Bromwich but also for books and prints. She settled a bill with the printseller Celeste Regnier for £15 17s in 1763 to cover eight mezzotint portraits, a print after Reynolds’s Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy, and ‘7 prints of Giacomo Frey’.48 Presumably the three engravings by Frey on the Print Room wall after Maratti and Edelinck (PT4, PT6, PT149) were included in this purchase. But even while her husband was alive, Lady Egremont – known to have been an amateur artist – seems to have exercised an important role in the buying of works of art. In June 1753 the second Earl paid her £26 5s ‘to pay Liotard’, namely Jean-Etienne Liotard, who was then in London.49 In May 1756 he gave her £40 ‘to pay for lace ruffles, miniature pictures &c.’ and in February the following year he transferred her £53 4s 6d ‘for pictures bought in my absence’.50 In September 1762 he paid £30 5s for ‘what she had disbursed for a picture of Zuccarellis’ (along with ‘fees for my plate as Secretary’, i.e. Secretary of State).51 She also took charge of payments for furniture.52 The possibility of her involvement with the decoration of the Print Closet is given further scope by the fact that in 1761 she became a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte, along with Elizabeth Seymour Percy, Countess of Northumberland (from 1766, first Duchess of Northumberland) and others.53 Both the Queen and the Countess of Northumberland had their own print rooms, pointing, perhaps, to a network of women taken up by the fashion for them.54 Could it be that the Countess of Egremont had the Print Closet decorated as a tribute to her husband, either during his lifetime or immediately after his untimely death? In the absence of documentary evidence it is impossible to be conclusive. If the latter were the case, we would need to think about this virtual cabinet not so much as having been made for the enjoyment of the second Earl, whose art collection surely provided its underlying inspiration and whose print collection supplied its constituent elements, but as an intimate memorial to his collecting and tastes, quite possibly designed by Alicia Maria herself.

While it may never be possible to pin down its assembler, the Print Room at Petworth sheds light on a distinctive aristocratic practice and visual culture in mid-eighteenth-century Britain. It testifies to an interactive relationship with printed images as material objects that was part of a wider paper culture of the period. It suggests the ways in which the users of the room, an intimate personal space, might have enjoyed making connections between the wider collection at Petworth and the ‘virtual’ artworks arranged on its walls, especially by linking the carefully cut-out paper sculptures from Maffei’s Raccolta to the marble ones in the second Earl’s new gallery below. The organisation of the Print Closet’s walls encouraged its occupants to approach the assembled printed images intertextually, by reading between and among images as much as by focusing on individual works. One could revel in visual echoes, as in the matching poses of a gladiator and a neighbouring Hercules (PT121 and PT130), or in bathetic contrasts, as in the placement of peasant boys blowing a bladder next to a lofty Roman emperor (PT47 and PT48). Of course, it was perfectly possible for viewers to seek meaning among the juxtapositions of different prints; indeed this is what such an assemblage of varied items encouraged. Yet its underlying structures of symmetrical axes and pairs paced outwards from central works, and regularly punctuated by the sculpture prints, is evidence of a decorative sensibility in which formal order trumped the prints’ content. One could have it both ways, by approaching the walls of the Print Closet as an immersive imaginary museum, rather like the second Earl’s prized gallery by David Teniers, or simply by enjoying the regulated disposition of the cut-out prints as part of an overall pattern and visual rhythm. The Print Room was at once an exercise in the selection and spatial organisation of images, a device for entertainment and visual pleasure, and an affirmation of belonging to a community of taste.

Print Room Plans, Print Closet, East Wall

Figure 10.
Print Room Plans, Print Closet, East Wall,

Digital image courtesy of Martin Brown

Print Closet, East Wall

Figure 11.
Print Closet, East Wall,

Digital image courtesy of Alexey Moskvin. (All rights reserved)

Print Room Plans, Print Closet, North Wall

Figure 12.
Print Room Plans, Print Closet, North Wall,

Digital image courtesy of Martin Brown

Print Closet, North Wall

Figure 13.
Print Closet, North Wall,

Digital image courtesy of Alexey Moskvin. (All rights reserved)

Print Room Plans, Print Closet, South Wall

Figure 14.
Print Room Plans, Print Closet, South Wall,

Digital image courtesy of Martin Brown

Print Closet, South Wall

Figure 15.
Print Closet, South Wall,

Digital image courtesy of Alexey Moskvin. (All rights reserved)

Print Room Plans, Print Closet, West Wall

Figure 16.
Print Room Plans, Print Closet, West Wall,

Digital image courtesy of Martin Brown

Print Closet, West Wall

Figure 17.
Print Closet, West Wall,

Digital image courtesy of Alexey Moskvin. (All rights reserved)


  • Esther Chadwick_crop

    Esther Chadwick is Lecturer in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Before joining the Courtauld she was a curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum. She is working on a book that examines the formative role of printmaking in the work of British artists, entitled The Radical Print: Art and Politics in Late Eighteenth-Century Britain.


  1. I am grateful to Louise Voll Box and Kate Retford for generously sharing their current research into print rooms. For their assistance in preparing this essay, I would also like to thank Antony Griffiths, Sheila O’Connell, Jessica Feather, Martin Postle, Elenor Ling, David Pullins and Andrew Loukes. Special thanks to Emily Lees for her work on the print catalogue.

  2. Petworth House Archives (hereafter PHA) 6266. It is absent in the 1749 inventory made on the death of the second Earl’s predecessor (PHA 6263). The two inventories together provide crucial evidence for the Print Room’s date.

  3. For the pre-eighteenth-century period, see Gill Saunders, ‘Paper Tapestry and Wooden Pictures: Printed Decoration in the Domestic Interior Before 1700’, in Michael Hunter, ed., Printed Images in Early Modern Britain, Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010, pp. 317–35.

  4. For a useful summary, see Antony Griffiths, The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking, 1550–1820, London: British Museum, 2017, pp. 415–17. See also Kate Heard, ‘The Print Room at Queen Charlotte’s Cottage’, The British Art Journal, vol. 13, no. 3, Winter 2012/13, pp. 53–60; Julie Fitzgerald, ‘The Print Room in Britain and Ireland 1750–1830’, The Quarterly: The Journal of the British Association of Paper Historians, no. 55, 2004, pp. 25–31; Timothy Clayton, The English Print, 1688–1802, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997, p. 138; Malcolm Jones, ‘How to Decorate a Room with Prints’, Print Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 3, September 2003, pp. 247–9; Chloe Archer, ‘Festoons of Flowers for Fitting up Print Rooms’, Apollo, December 1989, pp. 386–91; Desmond Guinness, ‘The Revival of the Print Room’, Antique Collector, vol. 49, no. 6, June 1978, pp. 88–91. I would also like to acknowledge Louise Voll Box’s unpublished paper ‘Perceiving Prints in 18th-century Print Rooms: Commerce, Play, and Display’, presented at the Paul Mellon Centre, London, 25 May 2018.

  5. Arthur Young, A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Countries of England and Wales, 1768. Quoted in Clayton, 1997, p. 138.

  6. See examples in the Victorian & Albert Museum (E.472–1914, E.473–1914, E.474–1914 and E.475–1914).

  7. See for example, The Multigraph Collective, Interacting with Print: Elements of Reading in the Era of Print Saturation, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017; Mark Laird and Alicia Weisberg-Roberts, eds, Mrs Delaney and Her Circle, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009; and Lucy Peltz, Facing the Text: Extra-illustration, Print Culture and Society in Britain 1769–1840, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017.

  8. Les Découpeurs à la Mode. Lettre à Monseigneur le Prince de ***, Paris, chez Musier, 1727. Quoted in David Pullins, ‘The State of the Fashion Plate, c.1727’, in Suzanne Karr Schmidt and Edward H. Wouk, eds, Prints in Translation: Image, Materiality, Space, Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2017, pp. 136–57.

  9. Desmond Guinness gave the room’s date as c.1801, and remarked that the ‘arrangement is somewhat naïve, of the nursery screen variety’. See Guinness, 1978, p. 90.

  10. PHA 6266. The ‘Chimney Glass’ mentioned is the splendid seventeenth-century mirror by John Gumley or Gerrit Jensen, still hanging in the room today. M. D. Drury, then National Trust curator, reported to Desmond Guinness in 1978 that ‘a splendid late 17th-century marquetry floor has recently been found in a house in Petworth which is likely to have come from this room’. He also noted that the Print Closet ‘may be that described in the late 17th century inventory as the Duchess of Somerset’s China Closet’. See Guinness, 1978, p. 91. Throughout this article I use the terms print room and print closet interchangeably. However, it is worth noting that in the contemporary album of three print-room designs for Wricklemarsh in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art (B1975.5.779), the three separate spaces are distinguished as ‘Print Dressing Room’, ‘Print Room’, and ‘Print Closet’, demonstrating that terminological distinctions were made in the eighteenth century according to the principal functions of each room.

  11. The second Earl of Egremont paid John Havre £5 in 1741, and one Johnson £5 2s in 1744, both for ‘framing prints’. PHA 7451 and 7452.

  12. Guinness, 1978, p. 90. Guinness incorrectly attributed the room’s decoration to Ilive.

  13. There is no evidence of the prints ever having been removed or the room altered. Further clarification might be found by consulting the eighty-volume account book for repairs to Petworth House (PHA 4798–4804; 4805–4877; 5008). The only clear indication of any updating is a second layer of paler yellow paint over the original brighter yellow. Drips and slight overlappings of this second coat – an easy way to ‘refresh’ the walls – are visible on some of the prints, showing how it was applied after the prints were installed. (This second layer is apparent in various spaces vacated by prints that had become detached, suggesting that it was applied quite some time after the original installation.)

  14. M. D. Drury identified the ‘splendid bolection panelling’ as contemporary with the present house, i.e. c.1690. ‘The panelling is intact’, Drury reported, ‘although the tapestries which it is designed to contain have been removed.’ See Guinness, 1978, p. 91. The choice of yellow paint for the backing paper was a common one, as at Strawberry Hill, which was ‘hung with yellow paper with prints framed in a new manner invented by Lord Cardigan, that is hung with black and white borders printed’. Quoted in Griffiths, 2017, p. 416.

  15. Hogarth and Piranesi are listed in the Petworth library collection. See PHA 5379, ‘Catalogues of the Libraries of the Earl of Egremont at Petworth, Piccadilly and Shortgrove’, c.1780. Prints by Piranesi were imported from Italy by Hamilton. See Christopher Rowell, Petworth: The People and the Place, London: National Trust, 2012, p. 64.

  16. See especially PHA 5742 (the ‘Picture Book’) and 5743 (loose list of ‘Pictures’).

  17. General Advertiser, 8 October 1751 and Bickham’s catalogue. Quoted in Clayton, 1997, p. 138.

  18. Bickham’s bill of 19 May 1750 itemises ‘Engraving a Plate’ at £3 3s (presumably a reference to a private plate, possibly a bookplate, commissioned by the Earl) and printing 1500 impressions of it at a cost of 2s 6d per 100, totalling £1 17s 6d. PHA 7358 (receipted bills, 1748–51).

  19. For the Vivares examples, see the collection at the V&A E.O. 103; E.O. 108 to 110; E.O. 112 to 113B; E.O. 118 to 119. In 1755, Major sold floral swags by Peter Mazell for 4 shillings per dozen (V&A E.O. 118). Vivares offered basket-work frames with shell corners for 2 shillings 6 pence per dozen (V&A 25016.79).

  20. See Rowell, 2012, p. 53.

  21. For the Lennox sisters at Castletown, see Stella Tillyard, Aristocrats, London: Chatto & Windus, 1994, p. 203.

  22. Francis Haskell and Nicolas Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500–1900, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981, p. 23 and passim. Rossi imported most foreign prints into England. See Clayton, 1997, p. 32. See also Sarah Cree, ‘Translating Stone into Paper: Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Prints after Antique Sculpture’, in Rebecca Zorach and Elizabeth Rodini, eds, Paper Museums: The Reproductive Print in Europe, 1500–1800, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005, pp. 75–88; and, for comparative examples, see Élisabeth Décultot et al., Musées de papier: L’Antiquité en livres, 1600–1800, Paris: Louvre, 2011.

  23. PHA 5379, ‘Catalogues of the Libraries of the Earl of Egremont at Petworth, Piccadilly and Shortgrove’, c.1780.

  24. PHA 5379.

  25. See Rowell, 2012, p. 60 et seq. For records of purchase and transport of pictures, sculptures and books on behalf of Egremont, see PHA 626.

  26. Rowell, 2012, pp. 62–5.

  27. PHA 7460, the Earl of Egremont’s personal account book for 1755. See Rowell, 2012, p. 63.

  28. In 1756 Brettingham Jr supplied the third Duke of Richmond (a close neighbour of Egremont in Sussex) with casts for his London sculpture gallery, opened for students in 1758. See John Kenworthy-Browne, ‘The Duke of Richmond’s Gallery in Whitehall’, British Art Journal, vol. 10, no. 1, Spring/Summer 2009, p. 42.

  29. PHA 5742.

  30. PHA 7462, the Earl of Egremont’s personal account book for 1757. None of these plates, however, appears to have been used in the Print Closet. For comment on the ‘Dresden Gallery’ prints, see British Museum, museum number 1855,0609.1251.

  31. Rowell, 2012, p. 102.

  32. See Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen, ed., David Teniers and the Theatre of Painting, London: Courtauld Institute, 2006.

  33. Not all print rooms prided themselves on strong formal arrangement, however. The caricatures at Calke Abbey are a notable case of higgledy-piggeldy, even slap-dash application. See Antony Griffiths, ‘Printed Borders [Notes]’, Print Quarterly, vol. 5, no. 3, September 1988, pp. 287–8.

  34. Lowell Libson and Jonny Yarker, The Spirit and Force of Art: Drawing in Britain 1600–1750, London: Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd, 2018, p. 78.

  35. Compare this to one shilling for each of the prints in Vandergucht’s Twelve Labours of Hercules series, which was sold by subscription in 1732. Hogarth’s larger prints published in this period were sold for 10s 6d, see David Bindman, Hogarth and his Times: Serious Comedy, London: British Museum, 1997, p. 89. For Strange’s subscription advertisement, see London Evening Post, 19 February 1754. See Clayton, 1997, pp. 115–16 and 174. For Strange’s prices in 1769, see ‘Catalogue of Mr. Strange’s Works’, in A descriptive catalogue of a collection of pictures selected from the Roman, Florentine, Lombard, Venetian, Neapolitan, Flemish, French and Spanish schools, London, 1769, pp. 171–3. Strange’s Liberality and Modesty and Apollo Rewarding Merit were also chosen for the print room at Castletown. See Ruth Johnstone, ‘Lady Louisa Conolly’s Print Room at Castletown’, in Castletown: Decorative Arts, Trim, Co. Meath: Office of Public Works, 2011, p. 72. Liberality and Modesty also appears at Ston Easton, though without its pendant.

  36. PHA 7463, Charles Wyndham, second Earl of Egremont’s personal account book for 1759.

  37. See the group of Houbraken heads taken from a print room, V&A E290–1990 to 316–1990

  38. For inscribed verses on prints after Chardin, see Anne L. Schroeder, ‘Genre Prints in Eighteenth-Century France: Production, Market, and Audience’, in Richard Rand, ed., Intimate Encounters: Love and Domesticity in Eighteenth-Century France, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997, pp. 72–5.

  39. Roger de Piles, The Art of Painting, and the Lives of the Painters (trans.), London, 1706, p. 60. Quoted in Mark Hallett, ‘The Medley Print in Early Eighteenth-Century London’, Art History, vol. 20, no. 2, June 1997, p. 220. A comparison between the patterns of looking encouraged by the print room, on one hand, and by the slightly earlier phenomenon of the ‘medley’ print, on the other, is worth pondering. (Recall that the son of George Bickham Sr, a prolific producer of medley prints, was a purveyor of print-room frames.) Hallett describes the medley print as a ‘kaleidoscopic multiplicity of signs’ in which ‘the artist becomes an editor as much as an author, playfully manipulating a range of graphic readymades in order to produce a heterogenous, fractured assemblage of his own making’ (Hallett, 1997, p. 222). The variety of subjects and genres on offer in the print room may certainly be characterised as heterogenous and even kaleidoscopic, and the notion of an artist acting more like an ‘editor’ than an ‘author’ is true also of the print closet’s assembler. Yet where the medley print precisely aimed to bring ‘high’ and ‘low’ graphic genres crashing together, and to collapse the denser texture of urban print culture – including both texts and images – in one visual plane through the mechanism of trompe l’oeil, the prints in the print closet are uniformly elite in nature, all continuous with and constitutive of the world of ‘high’ art rather than print culture’s less refined totality.

  40. Rowell, 2012, p. 47.

  41. A letterpress broadside advertising the contents of each set and prices is in the Print Room of the British Museum (Buck, XVIII Unmounted Roy).

  42. An anomaly among the surviving views is Dover Castle, and its inclusion may simply be a case of filling space with available material. The losses of the other castle views make it impossible to know whether there was a linking theme among the views as a whole. However, it is conceivable that an allusion to the Earl’s political career was intended by Dover. In 1762 Wyndham succeeded William Pitt the Elder as Secretary of State for the Southern Department (the forerunner of the Foreign Office); he found himself in a major political role at the height of the Seven Years’ War, tasked with handling the diplomacy between England, France and Spain in the lead up to the Treaty of Paris. Positioned at the narrowest point of the English Channel, Dover was a crucial point in the British defensive system, and in the mid-1750s had been refortified in the face of the French military threat. If the inclusion of its image on the walls of the Print Closet was indeed intended to gesture towards the Earl’s activities as a statesman, then this was a rare moment where contemporary politics as such crept into the room.

  43. In addition to the prints already mentioned, other receipts in the Petworth Archive record that he bought a ‘Print of Ld Lovatt’ for one shilling in September 1746 and he paid Joseph Sympson 7s 6s ‘for a Print of the Conora [Cornaro] Family after Titian’ in April 1745 (PHA 7455).

  44. See H. Avray Tipping, ‘Thomas Chippendale and His Clients’, Country Life, 55, 1423, 12 April 1924, p. 583, and Guinness, 1978, p. 90.

  45. See the tradecard in the British Museum, museum number Banks, 91.1.

  46. PHA 7463.

  47. PHA 6615, receipted bills of London tradesmen etc. paid by executors of Charles, second Earl of Egremont, 1763–1764.

  48. PHA 6624, receipted bills of tradesmen, servants, and others, paid by the Countess of Egremont, as executrix to Charles, second Earl of Egremont, 1755–1764. The portraits included Augustus Keppel, Admiral Saunders, Lord Ligonier, Lord Albermarle, Lord Hardwicke, Mr Legge and Mr Pelham. Interestingly, Celeste Regnier was also patronised by Lady Louisa Lennox, probably also supplying prints for her print room at Castletown. Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy was one of the prints on the walls at Castletown. See Johnstone, 2011, pp. 68 and 72.

  49. PHA 7458.

  50. PHA 7461.

  51. PHA 7464.

  52. See PHA 7460 and 7463: ‘April 28 [1755] Pd Lady Egremont in part of what she is to pay for me on account of furniture at Petworth £50’; ‘Sep 2 [1760] Pd Lady Egremont on the London Furniture acct by bill on Drummond £100’. In addition to the transfer of cash for picture buying she received a quarterly allowance of £100, as various other entries in the Earl’s personal account books attest.

  53. See (accessed 24 August 2018).

  54. For Queen Charlotte’s print room, see Heard, ‘The Print Room at Queen Charlotte’s Cottage’, 2012. For that of the Countess of Northumberland, I have relied on Box, ‘Perceiving Prints in 18th-century Print Rooms’. This idea is supported by the overlap of at least one of the print choices, as in Dumont’s strolling bagpiper (no. 8640), which appears both at Petworth and at the Queen’s Cottage.



by Esther Chadwick
20 November 2020
House Essay
CC BY-NC International 4.0
Cite as
Esther Chadwick, "Patterned with Paper Pictures: The Print Room at Petworth House", Art and the Country House,