Putting a modern face on a Georgian mansion

Katt Nellist from Beningbrough Hall looks at a giant painting of Dame Judi Dench by  Alessandro Raho
Katt Nellist from Beningbrough Hall looks at a giant painting of Dame Judi Dench by Alessandro Raho
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The decor is traditional 18th century but the faces on the walls at Beningbrough Hall are, for the moment, strikingly contemporary.

A portrait of the actress Dame Judi Dench, born 10 miles away at Heworth, is among those to have been hung for a new exhibition celebrating the achievements of creative women.

The dancer Dame Darcey Bussell and author JK Rowling, creator of Harry Potter, are also featured.

All are from the National Portrait Gallery, to whose collection of 18th century portraits Beningbrough is also home.

The new collection, displayed over four “saloon galleries, includes a costume from the 2008 film, The Duchess, in which Keira Knightley played the 18th century aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.

The exhibition, staged partly to mark the centenary of women getting the vote, is the biggest to be staged at the hall since it forged its partnership with the National Portrait Gallery in 1979. It runs until November.

In its Georgian heyday, Beningbrough was itself at the centre of the creative world, playing host to evening balls, amateur theatricals, music, art and portraiture.

Alison Smith, chief curator at the National Portrait Gallery said: “We are delighted to be sharing portraits of some of the most exciting and influential creative women of the last 100 years. These include significant Gallery commissions of Dame Janet Baker, Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Iris Murdoch and Dame Darcey Bussell.

“These remarkable women are an inspiration to future generations.”