The Lady Mayoress, Dr Clare Gifford, is hosting a unique day at her present home, the stunning Mansion House in the heart of London’s City.
Guests will be welcomed by her and coffee will be served in the magnificent Salon and she will introduce the lecturer Dr Michael Hall, who has co-written with Dr Gifford, a guidebook about the Harold Samuel Art Collection.
It is not generally known that the Mansion House is home to one of the finest collections in the world of 17th century Dutch paintings, the period many refer to as The Golden Age. It was given to the City in 1987 by Lord Samuel of Wych Cross, a wealthy property developer with an eye for masterpieces. He managed to gather 84 of these for his collection and it is looked upon as the finest of Dutch Art in Britain.
Dr Gifford has initiated these very special tours followed by pre-lunch drinks and a two course lunch hosted by her in order to support the conservation of these glorious paintings as well as restoration work of the collection. It is most unlikely that such an event will be repeated after her husband’s term of office ends this year.
This will be a unique opportunity to see such well-known works of art as The Merry Lute Player, painted in oil on panel by Frans Hals 1624 – 1628. Not only is it a fine painting it also has made history as it was bought by Lord Samuel at a New York auction in 1963 – and it was the first time the bidding had been done via telephone from London.
Another pearl in the collection is A Young Woman Sewing painted by Nicolaes Maes in 1655. The woman sits on a low dais with the light caught from behind her. Maes had learnt his masterly technique when he trained as a young man in the late 1640’s at Rembrandt’s studio. There are also paintings by Jacob Ruisdael and other famous artists of that golden age.
Lord Samuel was one of the leading entrepreneurs of his era and was knighted in 1963 and was made a peer in 1972. His interest in the arts and no doubt aided by his philanthropy ensured that he was made a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge and University College, London.
But there is more to see at the Mansion House. There is a fine collection of marble statuary. The idea of having a collection of marble statues for the Mansion House was first mooted by Prince Albert in 1850 as it was thought that The Egyptian Hall “was deficient in embellishment”. It took thirteen years before the collection of 80 statues was complete.
The Mansion House is a building that many have seen from the outside during the Lord Mayor’s Parade, an annual event after the new Lord Mayor has been installed. The building itself is Palladian and was finished in 1752. Until the building was finished the lord mayors had to provide their own houses and space for entertainment –for some it was such a costly year that they ended up in debtors’ prison.
The first Lord Mayor was installed in 1189 and since then more than some 700 men have held this prestigious title – and one single woman, Dame Mary Donaldson 1983. Dr Clare Gifford’s husband Roger has a background in banking and they share an ardent interest in art – and music. What Clare Gifford wants is to secure the future of this fine art collection in the Mansion House – and to ensure that interested parties will have a chance to see it.
Wednesday 25 September 11am – 2.30pm
£98, £95 Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery
Includes coffee, drinks, two-course lunch and the Guidebook to the Collection.
Tickets are available online: dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk
By telephone: 020 8299 8750 Mon-Fri 10am – 4pm
Or visit the friends Desk in the Gallery
Booking to this event is now open
This event is organised by Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery and is open to all.