‘I will cut off their legs, I do not want their petticoats.’ With this command, the 3rd Earl of Egremont shortened the Petworth ‘Beauties’, a series of eight paintings of women of the late Stuart court. The cut ‘legs’ were folded up behind the portraits. Now, two centuries on, two ‘Beauties’ have been restored for Tate Britain’s 2020 exhibition ‘British Baroque: Power and Illusion’. This talk will consider our research into the pictures, displayed at Petworth House in West Sussex since the 1690s, the complexities of their restoration, and the new information it has brought to light.
Richard Ashbourne is Assistant Curator for the National Trust’s London and South East region. Previously, he worked at Polesden Lacey in Surrey. He studied Classics at Selwyn College, Cambridge.
Katya Belaia is Assistant to the Adviser on Paintings Conservation for the National Trust.
Organised by Professor Aviva Burnstock (The Courtauld)