Arlington has another new portrait on display in the dining room. Thanks to a recent loan agreement, a portrait of ‘Henry Chichester of Marwood’ (1578-1661) painted by an unkown artist, has made a perfect addition to the collection. He now sits proudly (with full wig and armour) in a re-jigged dining room in a who’s who of the Chichester family. The choice was made to move the other portraits around to create a more athletically pleasing display. There can be many a problem when picture hanging, so to minimise this, a cunning plan was hatched. The mission was to hang the new acquisition, and to move three other paintings to fit a visual flow of the room. So with a crack team of House & Carriage Museum Manager, House Steward, Assistant House Steward, Senior Conservation Assistant and PTYF Trainee, we were given our respective roles and put to task. With ladders positioned (correctly ‘footed’ of course) the re-hang began. Having already moved the shoulder height pictures to their new spots (always do the easy bit first) we prepped the area with ropes, moved the silverware, got the biggest ladder we could find and had a procedural run-through before we set to it.
Another recently acquired painting, that of Catherine Chichester (1765-91) was to take pride of place above the side board so she went first. Lowering her down involved one person atop a ladder and one person to take the weight. Before going up, she was put out of harm’s way. Henry now needed to go in the space so with a quick re-position of the picture hanging chains he was hoisted up.
There is an optimum handling position when one is holding and moving paintings but this can change depending on circumstances. With the mover facing the painted canvas, a right hand is placed to the upper right side of the frame and the left hand is placed on the lower left. This is the best way a painting can be supported, but care also has to be taken that the frame isn’t compromised as it can easily be damaged if heavily decorated. If you’re not careful you can hold the painting too close to your face and this can result in a ‘canvas kiss’ if you’re not careful. If two people are carrying the painting the holding pattern is similar but held at the edges of the frame.
So, there are many considerations when deciding who should go where, be it a historical family connection, or size of picture, or size and appearance of the frame. It also makes a dramatic impact on the rest of the collection in the room according to your line of sight and a natural order of objects in the collection. As a simple addition to the room would look out of place, the Romney portrait of Catherine Chichester now fits perfectly between the portrait of Robert Chichester of Hall, and a portrait of a young Sir Bruce Chichester who had the 1823 house built here at Arlington Court.
All these shenanigans were under the watchful eye of the portrait of Mary Macdonald Chichester (1738-1815) who’s portrait still sits proudly over the fireplace opposite the portrait of her two daughters Elizabeth and Mary. This used to hang to the left of the window and was once above the fireplace in the boudoir.
Confused? Why not visit and see for yourself!