Independent charity The Art Fund
announced that Nottingham City Museums and Galleries in Nottinghamshire has bought a rare set of ornate 19th century porcelain plates at auction in New York, which will be displayed across three heritage sites; Newstead Abbey, Wollaton Hall and Nottingham Castle. Acquired with a grant of £2,195 from The Art Fund towards the hammer price of £3,519, the plates will now return to their former home at the Abbey.
The ten plates were painted between 1818 and 1821, and they have a link to the celebrated British poet Lord Byron. They were decorated by Maria Wildman, sister of Colonel Thomas Wildman, who lived at Newstead Abbey. Five of the plates depict exquisitely detailed scenes from the estate and five are illustrated with scenes relating to important events in Colonel Wildman's military career.
Colonel Thomas Wildman bought Newstead Abbey from Lord Byron, who was his friend, in 1818 and the estate remained in his possession until his death in 1859. Maria, a talented amateur artist, was a frequent visitor to Newstead and drew much creative inspiration from the estate. It is believed that the ten plates were originally part of the contents of the house and are from the set referred to in Thomas Bailey's Handbook to Newstead Abbey, 1855.
Stephen Deuchar, Director of The Art Fund, said: It is wonderful that Newstead Abbey was able to acquire these plates at auction, as they are so intrinsically bound into the history of the house. We're very pleased we could help bring them home to Newstead, where they will remain for visitors to the Abbey to enjoy.
The Art Fund has helped Newstead Abbey to buy works of art for its collection on five previous occasions, the most recent being a grant of £8,750 in 1999 towards the purchase of two paintings of the 4th Lord Byron's favourite racehorses by Peter Tillemans, 1684 - 1734 bought for £35,000.
The plates will initially go on display at 3 of Nottingham City Museums and Galleries major heritage sites, at Newstead Abbey, Wollaton Hall and Nottingham Castle Museum and will be on display from the 2 April, when Newstead Abbey re-opens to the public.