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Family portraits and treasures return home to tell the stories of Osterley Park and House
Visitor at Osterley Park looking at George Romney
(1734 – 1802), 
Portrait of Sarah Jodrell, Mrs Robert Child (c1740 – 1793)© National Trust / Chris Lacey.

LONDON.- A remarkable family has been brought to life when a collection of rare portraits and other artworks went on display to visitors at the National Trust’s Osterley Park and House in West London.

Once described by Horace Walpole as the ‘palace of palaces’, Osterley’s spectacular interiors were created in the 18th century by the Child family, the owners of Child’s Bank. But for over sixty years their portraits have been absent.

Now a major ten-year loan marks the ‘return’ of the Child family to the house they so lovingly transformed with items of furniture and over twenty paintings including many portraits of family members.

Among the most famous artworks to return is a self-portrait by William Dobson (1611-1646), court painter to King Charles I, which was bought by the family in the early 18th century and has not been on public display at Osterley since 1949.

Claire Reed, Osterley’s House and Collections Manager says: “This is an exciting moment as it really feels as though the family are returning to Osterley. We have beautiful interiors and fascinating objects at the house but until now visitors couldn’t see the faces behind the names of those who made this such a wonderful place. “

Among the family portraits coming home to Osterley are:

• Francis Child III - he succeeded to Osterley in 1756 and began transforming the house with the help of fashionable architect Robert Adam.

• Robert Child – Francis’ brother, he inherited Osterley in 1763 and continued to employ Adam who worked at Osterley until 1781.

• Sarah Jodrell – Robert’s wife and a woman of many accomplishments which included her exquisite embroidery, examples of which can be seen at Osterley.

• Sarah Anne Child – Robert and Sarah’s beloved daughter and a talented musician, whose harpsichord is still on display in the house. She was disinherited from her father’s fortune for eloping to Gretna Green to marry the Earl of Westmorland. [1]

Other art works that are on display include ‘The Music Lesson’ by Sir Peter Lely and a large painting of ‘Temple Bar’, a detailed London scene depicting the area close to the location of Child’s Bank.

Rare pieces of lacquer furniture and other treasured family objects also are on display, telling stories of the fashions and tastes for collecting in the 18th century.

Osterley was first opened to the public by the 9th Earl of Jersey in 1939 following a steady stream of requests to see inside the house. Osterley was transferred to the National Trust in 1949.

This ten-year loan to Osterley has been made by the trustee of the Earldom of Jersey Trust, following consultation and backing from the 10th Earl of Jersey.

Neil Cole, Osterley’s General Manager says: “We’re delighted by this generous loan to Osterley and that we now have the chance to tell the stories of the family through these objects. We want Osterley to be more widely known for its remarkable collections and for people to come and enjoy them.”

The 10th Earl of Jersey says: “The link, for me, with these items and this house is an incredible and indelible one. They allow us to keep the memory alive of those who were here before us and I’m so happy that they are on loan here. They have given the house a new boost of life, of identity and meaning.”

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