Powis Castle

Powis Castle, near Welshpool in Wales, is hosting a House of Portraits exhibition, inviting groups to uncover the secrets hidden within its portrait collection.

The halls and chambers of Powis Castle are full of portraits, from majestic full-length pieces, to intimate miniatures that can be held in the palm of a hand.

House of Portraits delves beneath the surface of these intricate works by prominent artists such as Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough and John Singer Sargent. The exhibition is running until 27th January 2019.

Clues in the paintings

Some of the castle’s works feature kings, emperors and maharajas, with the majority of portraits depicting men, women and children of the Herbert family who have lived at Powis for over four centuries.

House of Portraits will examine not only the people behind the faces, but explore how they wanted to be seen by the world, through the clues embedded in costumes, settings, expressions, poses and gestures.

Throughout the castle, the exhibition will show how the people in the portraits were involved in crafting the image they wished to convey, from wealth, social status and eligibility for marriage to religious allegiance or military prowess.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is an intricate Jacobean miniature portrait painted by Isaac Oliver (1565-1617) which will be on display at Powis for the first time since it was purchased for the nation.

The miniature features Lord Edward Herbert of Cherbury, who commissioned numerous portraits of himself from the most fashionable artists of the day, many of which hang in Powis Castle.

Groups can explore the exhibition with an audio tour by the exhibition’s curator, Dr John Chu, the National Trust’s assistant curator of pictures and sculpture.

Those organisers running a visit to Powis Castle can take advantage of a number of guided tours, including The Castle and the Clive Museum tour, and a led exploration of the gardens.

For further information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle-and-garden.

(Photo credit: VisitBritain / Britain on View).