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Kingston Lacy Rehangs Rubens Portraits in Historic Arrangement

The portrait of Maria Serra Pallavicino, painted by Peter Paul Rubens in 1606 has returned to Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne, Dorset, after being loaned to Dulwich Picture Gallery for their recent exhibition Rubens and Women.

The return of the painting coincides with a rehang in the Saloon, the first in 40 years, and includes works of art by Titian, Peter Lely and Jan Brueghel the Younger. The rehang was prompted by recent conservation work in the Saloon, which required all the paintings to be removed from the walls. This provided the opportunity to lower two Rubens portraits so that visitors can confront the paintings more directly. The rehang of the surrounding pictures and those on the opposite wall is intended to reveal connections between the paintings and tell the story of the Bankes family’s collecting across the centuries.

Kingston Lacy’s newly installed Saloon with the two Rubens paintings on either side of the fireplace.
Photo: Jay Williams / National Trust

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Portrait of Maria Serra Pallavicino, 1606
Kingston Lacy, National Trust, Wimborne Minster

Elena Greer, Property Curator for Kingston Lacy said: ‘When Kingston Lacy was gifted to the National Trust in 1982 the paintings in the Saloon were rearranged. Among the changes made was the rehanging of the two portraits by Rubens much higher on the wall. This new hang, the first since that date, lowers the portraits – reflecting the pre-1982 arrangement, as well as historic hangs in this room – offering visitors a closer encounter with these two imposing images and the opportunity to examine Rubens’ technique in more detail.’

One of the first, and most beautiful, portraits painted by Rubens, the portrait of Maria Serra Pallavicino, and his portrait of a Maria Grimaldi were acquired by William John Bankes in Genoa in 1840. The sitter is Maria Serra, the wife of Niccolo Pallavicino, banker and host to Rubens’s employer, Duke Vincenzo I Gonzaga of Mantua, whose hospitality in 1606 included a sumptuous banquet and ball, at which she probably wore the lavish dress in which she is portrayed.