The second of the new series of Temple Newsam videos is now available on YouTube and gives a tour of the grandest room in the house, the Picture Gallery or Long Gallery. Situated on the first floor in the north wing of the house, it is by far the largest room. Its great size allowed the family to hold gatherings and large parties or use the space to take a walk indoors in poor weather. Primarily the function of this spacious room was to display the family collection of paintings.
The interior of the Gallery was originally Jacobean, from its creation by Sir Arthur Ingram in the early 17th century. When Henry the 7th Viscount Irwin inherited Temple Newsam in the 1730s, the room was in decay. Henry’s finances had taken a big hit and he had to face up to restoring the Gallery on a relatively small budget. Consequently, instead of London craftsmen, he chose several of York’s finest artisans to create plasterwork reliefs.
In retrospect this appears to have been a lucky choice as the room is now considered one of the best examples of a mid-Georgian interior in England.
Pictures and Plasterwork
The plasterwork relief placed prominently in the centre of the ceiling is the King, George I. Other members of the royal family are similarly represented around the room. Henry was making a political statement of his loyalty to the royal house of Hanover. Paintings in this gallery reinforced this royalist message, but there were also portraits of Henry’s family and of himself and his wife.
In a large, bright and life-like portrait, Henry is shown standing before Temple Newsam House holding part of the plan for the restoration of this Picture Gallery, a task of which he was clearly proud.
Furniture and Decor
The family also displayed their fine collection of Italian cabinet paintings, seascapes, landscapes and battle scenes. Today, many of the paintings hang exactly where they were in 1730. Henry purchased from London two grand fireplaces and numerous fine chairs, couches, tables and candle-stands carved with classical scenes, much of which remain in the room today and give it the appearance of a truly comfortable space.
Words and Photography by Janet Tankard, Volunteer Blogger