Kenwood House (also known as the Iveagh Bequest) is a former stately home, in Hampstead, London, on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath. It is managed by English Heritage, and normally open to the public. The house was closed for major renovations from 2012 until late 2013.
The house is best known for the artwork it houses.
The original house dates from the early 17th century when it was known as Caen Wood House. The orangery was added in about 1700. In 1754 it was bought by William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield. He commissioned Robert Adam to remodel it from 1764–1779. Adam added the library (one of his most famous interiors) to balance the orangery, and added the Ionic portico at the entrance. In 1793-6 George Saunders added two wings on the north side, and the offices and kitchen buildings and brewery (now the restaurant) to the side.
The 2nd Earl and Countess of Mansfield added a dairy to supply Kenwood House with milk and cheese. After two years of negotiations, the 6th Earl of Mansfield leased the house to the exiled Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia and his wife Countess Sophie of Merenberg in 1910.
Lord Iveagh, a rich Anglo-Irish businessman and philanthropist (of the Guinness family), bought the house from the Mansfield family in 1925 and left it to the nation upon his death in 1927; it was opened to the public in 1928. The furnishings had already been sold by then, but some furniture has since been bought back. The paintings are from Iveagh's collection. Part of the grounds were bought by the Kenwood Preservation Council in 1922, after there had been threats that it would be sold for building. In the late 1990s the house received approximately 150,000 visitors a year and an estimated 1 million people visited the grounds each year.
The estate has a designed landscape with gardens near the house, probably originally designed by Humphry Repton, contrasting with some surrounding woodland, and the naturalistic Hampstead Heath to the south. There is also a new garden by Arabella Lennox-Boyd.
Music concerts, originally classical but in more recent years predominantly pop concerts, were held by the lake on Saturday evenings every summer from 1951 until 2006, attracting thousands of people to picnic and enjoy the music, scenery and spectacular fireworks. In February 2007, English Heritage decided to abandon these concerts owing to restrictions placed on them after protests from some local residents. On 19 March 2008, it was announced that the concerts would return to a new location on the Pasture Ground within the Kenwood Estate, with the number of concerts limited to eight per season.
In popular culture
The 1999 British feature film Notting Hill was partly filmed here.
Paintings and other collections
Paintings of note include
- The Guitar Player by Johannes Vermeer
- Self Portrait with Two Circles, a late Rembrandt self-portrait
- Portrait of Pieter van den Broecke, by Frans Hals
- Thomas Gainsborough, 'Portrait of Countess Howe' (wife of Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe)
- Edwin Henry Landseer, 'Hunting in the Olden Times'
Other painters include
- Joshua Reynolds, 'The Hon'ble Mrs Tollemache as Miranda'
- Angelica Kauffman
- John Crome
- Claude de Jongh
- George Morland
- Anthony van Dyck
- William Larkin
- J. M. W. Turner
- Arthur Boyd Houghton
- François Boucher
- Thomas Lawrence, 'Miss Murray'
- Henry Raeburn
- George Romney
- Jan Baptist Weenix
- Joseph Wright
Most of the works were acquired by Iveagh in the 1880s–1890s and focus on Old Master portraits, landscapes and 17th century Dutch and Flemish works and British artists. Others were not part of the Iveagh Bequest but were added to the collection after his death because of a connection with Kenwood House.
In 2012 an exhibition of works from the art collection 'Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London' began a tour of museums in the United States while Kenwood House was undergoing renovations; many of the works had never been outside Britain. The exhibit opened 6 June 2013 in Little Rock, Arkansas at the Arkansas Arts Center.
- "History of Kenwood". English Heritage. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
Following an extensive repair and conservation project begun in 2012, part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Kenwood reopened in late 2013. Work included repairing the Westmorland slate roof and redecorating the exterior and interior of the house, based on new paint research on the original Adam scheme, and a redisplay of the Iveagh Bequest paintings in the south front rooms.
- FK staff (9 April 2014). "History of Kenwood House and the Friends of Kenwood".
- "More than £40,000 needed to restore 18th century Kenwood Dairy". Ham&High. 8 October 2012.
- Bryant, Julius (1990). The Iveagh Bequest: Kenwood. Oxford, UK: London Historic House Museums Trust. p. 68. ISBN 9781850742784.
- Kenwood: Information for Tutors and Students of Tourism Studies, English Heritage booklet 2002 revision, page 5.
- "IMG and English Heritage announce stunning line up for Kenwood House Picnic Concerts". Retrieved 29 April 2008.
- Internet Movie Database. "Belle Filming Locations". Retrieved 2014-07-01.
- Bryant, Julius (2003). Kenwood, Paintings in the Iveagh Bequest. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. pp. 70–77. ISBN 978-0-300-10206-2.
- "Masterpieces from London's Kenwood House tours the US, brings works by Rembrandt, Gainsborough". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 1 June 2012.
- Glentzer, Molly (8 June 2012). "British treasures leave home for the MFAH". Houston Chronicle.
- The Buildings of England London 4: North. Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner. ISBN 0-300-09653-4.
- Kenwood: The Iveagh Bequest. Julius Bryant. (English Heritage publication).
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