Obsessed with the drama that engulfs the otherwise refined Brits of the PBS smash Downton Abbey?
A new exhibition set to skip across the pond to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in the summer reveals what real life was like in a storied English country estate, one whose legacy dates back to the first prime minister of England.
Think of Houghton Hall, located 120 miles northeast of London in the county of Norfolk, as a 17th-century Palladian-style manse that holds the secrets of English aristocracy. A sample from its impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, furniture, textiles, silver and personal objects will travel for the first time outside of the United Kingdom for a tour that includes stops in Houston, San Francisco and Nashville.
"Houghton Hall and its superb collections epitomize the historic legacy of art, architecture and patronage among the great families and country houses of England."
The exhibit Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House — which will be on view from June 22 through Sept. 22, 2014 in Houston — showcases the holdings of a family's lineage that descends from Sir Robert Walpole, who was an influential in the cabinets of King George I and King George II. Walpole's bloodline is also known as the Marquess of Cholmondeley. Fancy.
Among the 100-plus items are portraits by William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds and John Singer Sargent, Sèvres porcelain, unusual silver by R. J. & S. Garrard and furniture by William Kent. Houghton Hall will also feature works that were once owned by the family — before Walpole's grandson sold some to Catherine the Great in 1779 — including paintings by Frans Hals, Anthony van Dyck and Diego Velázquez.
"Houghton Hall and its superb collections epitomize the historic legacy of art, architecture and patronage among the great families and country houses of England," Gary Tinterow, MFAH director, said a statement. "I am delighted to partner with David Cholmondeley to bring this extraordinary heritage to American audiences."
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Tinterow, alongside associate curator Christine Gervais, is working with the Seventh Marquess of Cholmondeley to pop up a slice of upper echelon British sass in Houston.