Introduction

Lewis Noble painting at Chatsworth House Introduction to Chatsworth Reflected by The Duke of Devonshire – March 2009

I  was immediately intrigued when Lewis Noble asked if he could spend a year working at Chatsworth and I have logged on to his web site frequently to see how his work is progressing.We have had two wonderful large canvasses on display throughout the autumn in the Paxton Greenhouse that runs up the hill from the Orangery shop to the stables, and I am very excited at the prospect of seeing a large number of his works exhibited together.Although the web site is first class, seeing the real thing will I know be even more impressive.

Not surprisingly Lewis Noble has been seduced by the water at Chatsworth; not only the grand formal lakes and fountains, but also the smaller streams and the rain, of which we have had a great deal, which helps to fill them.He seems to have spent a lot of time beside the River Derwent into which all the brilliantly engineered waterworks eventually disappear.

It is not only water in all its forms that has caught Lewis Noble’s imagination but, for instance, the wilder, quieter, and more private areas of the park.These are bound to have produced some fascinating work and all of this will be revealed after what I am sure for him has seemed a very short year.

Chatsworth’s architecture and landscape have inevitably been painted and written about a good deal.When the first Duke rebuilt his great great grandmother’s Elizabethan house between 1687 and 1707 it became a stunning statement of grandeur and sophistication in what was then a wild landscape, miles away from the centres of arts and culture.In the intervening years the world has become a much smaller place, and yet the first sight of Chatsworth, particularly from the south, is still a thrilling shock.

I am delighted that a thoughtful and contemporary artist such as Lewis Noble should have wanted to devote a whole year of his working life to painting in and around the Estate.His work will add a new layer to the impressions of Chatsworth that have built up over 400 years, and which themselves shape the way the place is imagined.

It is wonderful that the display of this corpus of work at the Hart Gallery will take Chatsworth to London, and I hope that within Lewis Noble’s wide circle of admirers there may be a few people who are moved to visit the Estate.All of us at Chatsworth who have been involved with this project have been delighted with the way that it has progressed.He has reached his own conclusions and the work is there for all of us to see and to enjoy.

The Duke of Devonshire, KCVO, CBE, DL