This distant view of Osterley House, set amid rural parkland, conjures up an evocative mood of stillness, as the sun sets at the end of the day.
Osterley House, formerly the family seat of the Earl of Jersey, occupies an area of parkland six miles wide. Bordered by 500 acres of dense woodland, the park contains two large lakes, one of which is included in William Hannan’s landscape. An earlier house had been built on the site by Sir Thomas Gresham, the Elizabethan merchant and founder of the Royal Exchange. In about 1700 the estate was bought by Sir Francis Child, whose successor commissioned renowned architect Robert Adam to transform the Tudor mansion into a refined neo-classical villa. Adam’s design of red brick and stone includes a double-colonnaded portico of Portland stone and spectacular classicist interior decoration.
After Lady Sarah Sophia Fane, a descendant of Child, married George Child-Villiers, fifth Earl of Jersey, Osterley passed into the Jersey family. Following the Second World War the house was taken over by the Government. In 1949 the ninth Earl of Jersey presented the property to the National Trust, who continue to maintain Osterley today.
William Hannan was born in Kelso, Roxburghshire, Scotland. At about the age of 16 he was apprenticed to a cabinet maker in London. However, between 1751 and 1754 he produced four views of West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire for Sir Francis Dashwood, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and a famous dilettante. Hannan was also involved in the interior decoration at West Wycombe. Between 1769 and 1772 He exhibited drawings and paintings, mostly Lake District views, at the Society of Artists in London, becoming a fellow in 1770. He also produced paintings after engravings of works by other artists, such as an oil painting after George Lambert’s ‘View of Hamoze and Plymouth Dock’ (Plymouth Art Gallery). Hannan died in High Wycombe at the age of 54.
Sold through Sotheby's, London, on 28 November 1973 (Lot 133), as 'Osterly House and Park at evening, in the foreground a herd of deer by a lake', for £5,000; from which sale purchased by dealer Roy Miles; from whom purchased by the Department of the Environment in February 1977
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