The Cosmic Egg by Andrew Logan on display at National Trust’s Buckland Abbey

From the 19 February to 23 September 2018 visitors to Buckland Abbey in Devon will find something unexpected in the Great Barn this year. Sitting in the middle of the floor will be an enormous, glittering egg, created by sculptor and artist, Andrew Logan.

The monumental sculpture, which will be on display in the historic barn until September, is four meters high and was commissioned by the Greater London Council for Peace Year in 1983. Usually on display at the Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture in Wales the Cosmic Egg this is a rare chance for locals to Buckland Abbey to see this beautiful piece. The egg reflects themes of spring rebirth and of course Easter. As a focus for reflection it also seems right to host the Cosmic Egg in a place chosen over 700 years ago by Cistercian monks as perfect for prayer and contemplation.

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Old Master ‘selfie’ is a Rembrandt

Harry Dempster age 8 and Buckland Abbey's Rembrant painting

Harry Dempster age 8 and Buckland Abbey’s Rembrant painting

A self-portrait, previously doubted as being a genuine Rembrandt, on display at Buckland Abbey nr Tavistock in Devon, has now been scientifically verified as being from the Dutch Old Master’s own hand.

After undergoing eight months of painstaking investigative work at the world famous Hamilton Kerr Institute (HKI) in Cambridgeshire – and re-examination by the world’s leading Rembrandt expert – this now famous self-portrait, the original ‘selfie’, is the first Rembrandt in the National Trust’s collection of 13,500 paintings.

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Investigations start on Rembrandt’s self portrait

rembrandtremoval3One of the most talked about paintings this year, a self-portrait of Rembrandt which has been hanging in the dining room at Buckland Abbey nr Tavistock in Devon, has been carefully removed and transported to the Paintings Conservation Studio at the University of Cambridge.

Here, a detailed conservation of the painting will take place, alongside a host of scientific tests that will tell us much more about the painting itself – whether it was painted on an oak or beech panel, the type of pigments used and the changes made by the artist in developing the final image as well as any distinctive brushstrokes so characteristic of Rembrandt’s style. All of these are parts of the jigsaw which will hopefully confirm beyond doubt that it is a genuine Rembrandt.

The work to verify the painting will include a painstaking clean as well as a full technical analysis to include x-rays, examination of paint pigments, infrared reflectography to examine any underdrawing and dendrochronology (tree ring dating) to establish the date of the panel if it proves to be oak.

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have funded £100k towards conservation, investigation works and re-presentation of the painting . Kate Pearson, Trusts Manager at People’s Postcode Lottery said: ’We are delighted that our players are helping the National Trust with this exciting project. As well as funding the investigations, conservation and interpretation, the painting will also be restored at the same time to ensure it can remain at its best for many more years to come.’

-Over 60,000 people have so far this year flocked to see the Rembrandt painting, just one of 13,500 paintings in the National Trust collection. Given to the charity in 2010, the painting now has an estimated nominal value of £20 million, though as the National Trust cares for items for public benefit for ever, it could never be sold.

For forty years the provenance of the painting now hanging on the walls of Buckland Abbey, the former home of Sir Francis Drake, was shrouded in mystery. Rembrandt specialist Horst Gerson and the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) had concluded that the portrait of Rembrandt was produced by one of Rembrandt’s pupils.

But now, after years of studying the Dutch Master’s style, and following a new investigation of the painting by the world’s leading Rembrandt expert – Ernst van de Wetering – the painting has been reattributed as being a self-portrait by Rembrandt himself.

Jez McDermott, National Trust General Manager for Buckland Abbey said: ‘It’s been quite a year and our visitors have loved seeing our very own ‘Rembrandt’. It seems a strange thing to say, but ever since we discovered we had a Rembrandt at Buckland we’ve been looking forward to it going away! There’s a huge amount of excitement about the transformation that will hopefully reveal a more rich and vibrant painting as well as a lot more information about its history and how exactly it was painted.

‘Rather than leave a blank space on the wall while the painting is away, we’ve been busy creating our very own ‘Rembrandt’ painting. We have created a collage of portraits that looks just like the original painting from a distance but is actually made up of dozens of tiny portraits of our visitors and volunteers’, added Jez.

The painting was acquired by the National Trust in September 2010 as a gift from the estate of the late Edna, Lady Samuel of Wych Cross.  Her husband, the late Harold, Lord Samuel of Wych Cross (1912-1987) was a property developer and philanthropist who collected a great number of paintings during his time, many of which are now on display at the Mansion House in London.  It was previously owned by the Princes of Liechtenstein.

Following investigations and conservation work, the painting will once again be on display at Buckland Abbey, early in 2014.

 

Gates open on Buckland’s Secret Garden

Nestling in the middle of the Buckland Abbey estate onDartmoor lies a hidden treasure: a stunning set of gardens surrounding a cluster of historic buildings. In 2011, the Cider House complex was bought back by the National Trust, and now visitors to will be able to see the gardens for the first time.

‘We are delighted to be able to open this beautiful part of Buckland,’ says Jon Cummins, House and Visitor Services Manager. ‘With so much to admire all year round, the garden supplements the visitor experience here perfectly, and I’m sure people will want to come back time and time again.’

The Cider House, originally part of the medieval Abbey complex, was converted to a 19th century cider pressing barn and then into a home after the Second World War. Backing onto the wooded valley which leads down to the banks of the river Tavy, the gardens themselves have been cultivated over the past three decades by residents Michael and Sarah Stone. They comprise of a walled kitchen garden, a ‘wild’ garden which is populated at this time of year by a variety of stunning spring flowers, and a selection of herbaceous borders around the house itself.

Jez McDermott, Property Manager, is thrilled to be reuniting the area with the rest of the estate. ‘We’ve got so much to offer across the property,’ he says. ‘Our gardens and estate are already diverse in terms of landscape, plants and wildlife, and the Cider House will enrich our visitors’ time with us even more.’

‘Part of what we’re trying to do within the Trust is to get people outdoors and closer to nature,’ adds John Longworth-Krafft, Assistant Director of Operations, ‘and what better place to do that than somewhere like Buckland? The Cider House gardens are a truly spectacular asset to the estate, no matter what time of year you see them. I would highly recommend a visit!’

At present, the buildings themselves are tenanted but one of them, Cider Cottage, will soon open as a self catering holiday cottage.

The Abbey, Garden, Restaurant, Shop and Craft Workshop are open daily from 9 March until 4 November, 10:30 – 5:30. For more information about Buckland Abbey, Garden and Estate, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/buckland or telephone 01822 853607.