Having a stately home in which you can display superb sculptures is every collector's dream. This autumn, the Duke of Devonshire is having a Sotheby's selling exhibition of sculptures in Chatsworth's gorgeous grounds.
Chatsworth in Derbyshire is hosting a Sotheby's selling exhibition of monumental sculptures in its magnificent grounds. It's a unique experience to enjoy fantastic sculptures in a lush, leisurely setting.
The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire have teamed up with Sotheby's to organize the third edition of "Beyond Limits" at Chatsworth. This exceptional sale of monumental sculptures, which are displayed throughout Chatsworth's magnificent grounds, was first launched three years ago. It offers visitors the unique opportunity to discover 25 works by 23 leading modern and contemporary artists and designers. For many collectors, being able to buy one of these artworks and install it outside in a landscape garden would be a dream come true.
"The idea came about because of the demand by our clients for monumental sculpture," says Alexander Platon, director in Sotheby's Impressionist and modern art department. "Before there was no platform for seeing groups of monumental sculpture, except for places like the Yorkshire Sculpture Park but the sculptures there aren't for sale. We were selling pieces in auctions but it wasn't giving the right impression because monumental sculpture really has to be experienced in an outdoor setting."
Sotheby's took the concept to Chatsworth after having launched a selling exhibition of large-scale sculptures in Isleworth in Florida. The fact that the Duke of Devonshire sits on Sotheby's board and is a passionate art collector facilitated the project. Indeed, the Duke of Devonshire is probably the envy of many. Not only does he live in Chatsworth, he also has the possibility of hosting an exhibition of first-rate sculptures in his grounds.
The scope takes in cutting-edge, traditional, figurative and abstracted pieces that either come from collectors, dealers or even from the artists directly. Jaume Plensa's "House of Knowledge" of a man with his arms wrapped around his knees made from laser-cut steel letters looks out to the trees. Marc Quinn's baby boy sculpture, called "Planet," seems to float in mid-air. Kiki Smith's "Seer (Alice II) lies majestically above the cascading water. And Richard Hudson's "Love Me" heart reflects the beautiful green surroundings. Other works have been made by the likes of Salvador Dali, Aristide Maillol, Robert Indiana, Zaha Hadid, Lynn Chadwick and Ron Arad.
Covering 105 acres, the grounds provide a marvellous setting to stroll around and enjoy the works, creating a dialogue between the architecture, the landscape and the sculptures.
"Beyond Limits is an absolutely top quality outdoor sculpture show and it generates a fantastically enthusiastic response amongst our visitors," says the Duke of Devonshire. "People of all ages and backgrounds are inspired by seeing these works. It's open to everybody and visitors are free to wander around in their own time, viewing the exhibits from different angles with the magnificent landscape giving them an ever-changing context."
The exhibition has certainly proved popular. Last year, 30,000 extra people visited the grounds. And 22 sculptures were sold to international collectors, some of which had flown in from the US, Asia and Europe. Around a quarter of the sculptures in this year's show, which has been guest-curated by Janice Blackburn, have already been sold, reflecting the growing demand for large-scale sculpture.
Encouraged by the success of "Beyond Limits," Sotheby's is considering exporting the model and has been approached by several places around the world that are keen to host a similar exhibition.
Chatsworth is also developing a permanent collection of contemporary sculptures. One outstanding piece is the site-specific installation by Allen Jones called "Djeuner sur l'herbe" referencing Édouard Manet' painting, which consists of three, red metal figures having a picnic.
For a wonderful weekend break, take advantage of this opportunity to visit "Beyond Limits".
"Beyond Limits" is at Chatsworth from September 9 through November 2, 2008. Address: Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1PP. T. +44 (0)1246 565300.
How to Get There
It takes an hour to fly to Chatsworth by helicopter from London. Chatsworth requires 48 hours notice and its helicopter coordinates are SK 259 703. Call Liz Hamilton at Chatsworth for landing requests. T. +44 (0)1246 565 434. The landing area is between the house and the river. Helicopters can be booked through Premier Aviation. T. + 44 1293 852 688. www.premieraviation.com
What to Do
Chatsworth is a huge stately home dating back to 1553 that was rebuilt in the 1700s. A majority of its 297 rooms are open to visitors and feature artworks by the likes of Rembrandt. In addition to "Beyond Limits," Chatsworth is displaying costumes worn in the film "The Duchess", which was inspired by the life of Duchess Georgiana (1757-1806), who was the wife of the fifth Duke of Devonshire. Until October 31, 2008, you can see three dresses worn by Keira Knightley and two gentlemen's outfits worn by Ralph Fiennes and Dominic Cooper.
Where to Stay and Eat
Within Chatsworth's grounds are the Chatsworth Estate Holiday Cottages, including a romantic Swiss cottage overlooking its own lake, and a hunting tower, 400 feet above Chatsworth House on the edge of Stand Wood.
The Devonshire Arms at Beeley, which is on the Chatsworth estate, is a charming bed and breakfast that was re-designed by the Duchess of Devonshire. Featuring oak beams and stone crannies, it has the character of an historical inn. It also has a relaxed restaurant where Alan Hill serves dishes such as Scottish salmon, steamed Scottish mussels and roasted free range chicken. www.devonshirebeeley.co.uk
The Cavendish Hotel, originally called the Peacock Inn, is another fine hotel where the Duchess of Devonshire selected the dcor and furnishings, some of which came from Chatsworth House itself. www.cavendish-hotel.net
On the edge of the Chatsworth Estate is the Fischer's Baslow Hall, a country house that Max and Susan Fischer have transformed into a hotel with a restaurant. www.fischers-baslowhall.co.uk
There's also the Peacock at Rowsley, a small luxury hotel in the Peak District which, since being acquired by Lord Edward Manners, has been refurbished by the interior designer, India Mahdavi. www.thepeacockatrowsley.com