Masterpieces of The Portland Collection, assembled over 400 years by the Dukes of Portland, were unveiled at the new Harley Gallery in Welbeck last weekend.
The new gallery, which opens on Sunday, March 20, showcases masterpieces including Michelangelo’s Madonna del Silenzio (c.1538), which will go on show for the first time in 50 years.
A rarely seen Van Dyck painting of Thomas Wentworth also hangs there, along with the pearl earring worn by Charles I at his execution in 1649.
William Parente, grandson of the 7th Duke of Portland, said: “Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire have not had an easy time economically since the pit closures, and everyone in the area, businesses, council, private individuals, has had to work very hard to make things happen.
“Trying to make the area a more attractive place to visit is obviously important, and as part of this we felt that the time had come to welcome the public to see the Portland Collection.
“It has been painstakingly assembled by my family over the last 400 years or so. These things are our history; each generation learns from them and adds to them as they can.
“But they are also part of our collective history as people: they chart the way people, places, tastes and society have changed over the centuries – everyone should be able to enjoy them.”
The inaugural display will feature miniature portraits selected by Sir Peter Blake (20 March to 18 September 2016). The Portland Collection has one of the largest and most significant privately owned collections of miniatures in the country.
The new 800 square metres building includes a glazed entrance pavilion and two spacious galleries. The Long Gallery has a barrel-vaulted ceiling divided in two to allow light to fill the space from above.
The Treasury Gallery, which shows furniture, paintings, objects of vertu and decorative arts, is side-lit and includes a special display space to show light-sensitive items.
The new gallery is free and open daily, from 11am - 4pm. For more information visit www.harleygallery.co.uk or call 01909 501700.