A painting depicting The Holy Family at rest on their flight into Egypt is back on display at Lydiard House, fully restored with thanks to a £2,500 Woodmansterne Art Conservation Award.
Sarah Finch-Crisp, Keeper of Lydiard House & Park said: "We were delighted to receive this generous award from Woodmansterne Publications Ltd to fund the conservation of this impressive oil canvas painting and to restore the 18th Century gilt wood frame. Before professional Painting Conservator, Seonaid Wood set to work on this large oil canvas, the painting appeared so dark and discoloured that it was hard to make out what it depicted.
"Skilful cleaning and restoration work has brought the colours up and now everyone can enjoy this fascinating 17th Century painting showing the Holy Family at rest. While the actual artist isn't known, the painting is attributed to the circle of Italian artist, Pier Francesco Mola (1612-1666) and was quite typical of the taste for works of art depicting Biblical scenes at this time. It was given to Lydiard Park by Captain Goddard many years ago and is believed to have hung at the Goddard's former home, The Lawns, in Old Town Swindon."
The painting of The Holy Family can be seen hanging in the hall leading from the visitor entrance to Lydiard House. Previously this hall was not part of the museum visit, however following the opening of the new, fully accessible entrance at the side porch entrance of the house, all visitors will now pass by this striking painting on their way into the State Apartments. Lydiard House is open Tuesdays to Sundays 11am to 4pm – admission charge applies and tickets include entry to the beautifully restored, 18th Century ornamental fruit and flower Walled Garden.
This is the second time that Lydiard House has been granted a Woodmansterne Art Conservation Award. These awards were set up in 1995 to help the conservation of pre-twentieth century oil paintings. To date, 35 paintings have been conserved through these awards at a total cost of £125,000. Paul Woodmansterne said: "In the total absence of any national government funding for art conservation, our Woodmansterne Art Conservation Awards appear to be a rather solitary voice for this aspect of our national heritage. Lydiard is a country house in public ownership; I am always amazed at the results the staff there seem to achieve, year after year."
The Holy Family is the second oil painting from the Lydiard House Collection to receive an award. The first award was made in 1997 and enabled the restoration of a portrait of Oliver St. John, Vsct. Grandison. With the support of Woodmansterne Publications Ltd in 1998 Lydiard House launched their highly successful Treasure Forever campaign, which has attracted a considerable number of financial donations over the last ten years, enabling the conservation of many important pictures and furnishings in Lydiard House.