The Countess of Rosslyn, who previously presented the acclaimed BBC4 series on the Chapel, ‘A Treasure in Stone’, returns to television screens to explore the fascinating theme of art collections and collectors.
In a new three-part series for BBC Four, art historian Helen Rosslyn traces the stories of the men and women whose enthusiasm for art, sense of adventure, and powerful wealth built Britain’s national collection and shaped the history of art of our nation.
In the first episode, Pioneers, Helen revealed the immense influence of the earliest 17th century adventurers in art collecting. Starting with Thomas Howard, the ‘Collector’ Earl of Arundel’s passion for the Old Masters of the Italian Renaissance began an unparalleled revolution in the visual arts and the appreciation of painting in Britain.
Programme two followed collecting into its Golden Age, as the 18th century aristocratic collectors of the Grand Tour era create collections to fill their Palladian country houses, like the great Holkham Hall in Norfolk. This generation brought a new wave of art to British shores and championed an emerging school of British art, culminating in the foundation of our own national art school, The Royal Academy of Arts.
The third programme explores how the 19th century becomes The Age of the Individual. New wealth from Britain’s booming economy encourages enlightened, philanthropic industrialists to spend their fortunes on art – and in many cases donate their collections to the nation. Our national passion for art moved onto a new level with the opening of the National Gallery, fuelled and shaped by these donations.
Bought With Love: The Secret History Of British Art Collections – BBC4.