But even when faced with the daunting, once-in-a-generation task of sprucing up a stunning 150ft long room lined with magnificent works of art, the dedicated team of experts at Temple Newsam House couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
Over the past week, the house’s beautiful Picture Gallery has undergone its first “high clean” since 1996, when it was fully restored to its former glory.
The work has seen scaffolding erected in the gallery so the room’s elaborate ceiling and frieze, which features portraits of George I, George II, his children and grandchildren, can be carefully cleaned. The furniture, perhaps the most important English suite in the rococo style, is also being carefully checked and dusted.
The Picture Gallery’s walls are covered with a distinctive, green flocked wallpaper, re-created with real wool and using historical techniques. Two of the star attractions are the pair of sconces, or wall light depicting the mythological Greek Prince Actaeon, transformed into a stag and attacked by his own hounds after being caught watching the goddess Diana bathing.
Rachel Conroy, curator at Temple Newsam House said:
“The Picture Gallery really is one of the finest examples of its kind anywhere in the country, filled with unique features which have all been carefully crafted and combined to make it a genuinely stunning spectacle.
“It’s a real privilege to be part of ensuring the Picture Gallery will remain as beautiful and impressive for future generations as it is for us today.”
The Picture Gallery was originally conceived as an “indoor garden” and was completed between 1738 and 1745 by the 7th Viscount and his architect, Daniel Garrett.
Stretching the entire length of the mansion’s north wing, it was fully restored to its original condition in 1996 and remains one of the house’s most eye-catching rooms.
It is also home to a colourful suite of chairs and sofas upholstered with a distinctive pattern which helped them play a key role in the picture gallery’s original theme where they created a border of flowers around the room.
Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “Temple Newsam House is one of our cities most dazzling cultural and historical gems and we’re very fortunate to have such a dedicated and diligent team of experts there ensuring it remains is such incredible and beautiful condition.”
The house is open to visitors by appointment only while the work is ongoing.
There will also be a chance for visitors to help the team and learn a bit more about the house and Picture Gallery during a conservation experience on January 24 from 10am until 12pm. Tickets cost £10 and can be booked by calling 0113 3367460 or emailing [email protected]
For more information about Temple Newsam including opening hours and admission prices, visit: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Temple-Newsam.aspx