The National Trust conserve three Fathers of the Church

March 1 2022

Image of The National Trust conserve three Fathers of the Church

Picture: The National Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Trust have shared news of the conservation and restoration of three oil paintings of Saints, known as the Fathers of the Church. The works, which depict Pope Gregory I, Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine Bishop of Hippo, are in the collection of Chastleton House in Oxfordshire. It is believed the panel paintings date to around the time the house was built in the opening decades of the seventeenth-century.

The article linked above explains that the fourth 'father' is missing:

However, a fourth painting of Saint Ambrose, a fourth century theologian and Bishop of Milan, is missing. A magazine article in 1919 noted the four paintings as a set so while it is thought to have hung in the house until the early 20th Century, nobody knows where it is now.

“It is a mystery,” said Ruth Peters, Senior Collections and House Officer at Chastleton. “We have an idea of what it would look like as the paintings are based on - but are not an exact copy of - a set of four Flemish engravings. The last members of the family to live at Chastleton before it came into the care of the National Trust have no memory of the fourth painting. It might have been sold or given away and so could be hanging on somebody’s wall, unrecognised.”


As a brief aside, I thought I would share this sneaky picture I took many years ago when I last visited Chastleton. It's a beautiful house filled with some interesting things. However, I could never quite understand why they decided to hang this rather fine Thomas Hudson (one of the collection's best pictures) well behind a rope off of a corridor.

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