At Hertfordshire County Council, we are very fortunate to have on view a rich collection of paintings which brings to life local characters that were prominent in our political history, as well as some more widely known historical figures.
Amongst the latter, the Collection features a portrait of Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, Lord High Chancellor (1561–1626) also famous as a philosopher, essayist and defender of the scientific revolution. This painting is one of several copies of old masters by Edmund Dyer, whose paintings also include Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer (1563–1612). Cecil was persuaded by King James I to exchange Theobald’s Park for the Royal Place at Hatfield.
Other figures of note represented in the Collection are The Right Honourable Cecil John Rhodes (1853–1902), famous as the founder of the De Beers diamond company and his connections with the state of Rhodesia, which was named after him. This is one of six paintings by Oswald Birley.
Royalty is represented in the Collection by Dixon Payne’s head and shoulders portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from 1977. Queen Elizabeth, Consort of George VI, painted by John Leigh-Pemberton in 1955, shows the Queen Mother seated wearing a white, full length, gold-embroidered dress.
One of the oldest paintings is of Thomas Dimsdale, MD (1712–1800), MP for Hertfordshire (1780 & 1784), who allegedly inoculated Catherine the Great against smallpox. This painting is from the English School of artists and dates from the late eighteenth century.
We are grateful to the many friends who have made gifts of these paintings to the County Council over the years. Thanks are also due to Hertfordshire Friends and the many others who have enabled us to make these acquisitions.
Brenda Frayne, Art Administrator
Text source: PCF / Hertfordshire County Council
This description was originally written for a catalogue.
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