Art and Collections
At Alnwick Castle, you will discover one of the finest private art collections in the country, accumulated by generations of the Percy family on their travels around the world.
Many members of the family were passionate about their love of art, and this is evident in the scale and quality of the collection. The 3rd and 4th Dukes of Northumberland in particular were active patrons of eminent artists and craftsmen of their day.
Three of the Percy family's other residences, Northumberland House in London, Stanwick Hall in Yorkshire and Albury House in Surrey have since been demolished or sold, so important pictures and furniture from these houses are now also found at Alnwick Castle.
As well as the beautiful furniture, sculpture and plasterwork, visitors have the chance to gaze upon paintings by a variety of acclaimed artists, from Canaletto to Turner.
There is also a portrait of the 10th Earl of Northumberland by the royal artist Van Dyck, most famous for his painting of King Charles I, now in the Louvre.
The castle's collection also boasts six Canaletto landscapes and three paintings by Titian (including Titian's portrait of Cardinal Georges d'Armagnac, left), as well as the home-grown talent of Turner and Dobson (1610-1646), recognised as the most important English painter before Hogarth.
The Cucci Cabinets
Two of Alnwick Castle’s most precious treasures returned to the castle in the summer of 2011: the Cucci cabinets. After two years of conservation work and display at Versailles and the V&A in London, these unique works of art have been returned to their full glory.
The cabinets were made in the late 17th century for the French "Sun King", Louis XIV, for his Palace at Versailles. They are the only surviving such royal cabinets in existence, and so their historic value truly cannot be measured.
They were created by the Italian furniture maker, Domenico Cucci, who, at the height of his career, was producing some of the most extravagant and expensive pieces of all time for the flamboyant French court. This opulent style soon fell out of fashion, however, and the other fragile Cucci cabinets were dismantled or broken.
Alnwick Castle's pair survived, as they were bought by the 3rd Duke of Northumberland in 1822. The ebony cabinets are meticulously decorated with colourful pietra-dura panels featuring birds, flowers, monkeys and dogs picked out in precious and semi-precious stones. They were last restored in 1823, and since then have been victim to years of dirt and dust. After expert restoration, their colour and delicate gilding has been returned to its original vibrancy.