The Derby Collection is housed at Knowsley Hall near Liverpool, which has been a residence of the Stanley family since 1385 and of the Earls of Derby since 1485. The core of the large paintings collection are family portraits going back to the mid-sixteenth century and continuing up to the present day. Other significant holding are the Old Masters collected by the tenth Earl in the 1720’s and the extensive library of natural history watercolors (dating from 1650 to 1850) amassed by the thirteenth Earl in the first half of the nineteenth century. Among the Netherlandish portraitists represented are works by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, Cornelius Johnson, Anthony van Dyck (studio), Peter Lely and Godfried Kneller. Furthermore there are important sets of seascapes by Willem van de Velde the Younger and landscapes by Peter Tillemans depicting the park at Knowsley during the 1720s. Among the Dutch and Flemish paintings are large works from the Rubens studio, Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert and Anthonie de Lorme. Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt was sold to the National Gallery, London, in 1964. The Hall is open for guided tours one week a year (book via the website) and to scholars all year round by appointment with the Curator of the Derby Collection.
Stephen Lloyd, Curator of the Derby Collection, Knowsley Hall (June 2021)