2019 - A Passion for Opera: The Duchess and the Georgian Stage
An exhibition exploring a great passion of Lady Elizabeth Montagu, 3rd Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry (1743-1827) – the opera.
Elizabeth Montagu, great grand-daughter of John Churchill, the great Duke of Marlborough, was a true woman of the Enlightenment; a driver of creativity, curious, engaged, contemporary, feminist, philanthropic. Her passion for music reflected a world in vibrant transition – from revolution to democracy: classicism to romanticism: horse power to steam engine.
Her childhood had been dominated by Handel, a friend of her grandfather’s, but as a young woman she was quick to replace her harpsichord with the newly-invented piano, and, aged 70, she witnessed the tardy London première of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro as well as a whole string of Rossini’s latest successes.
Based around the life of music-loving Elizabeth Montagu and her family the exhibition explored just what it was like to go to the opera in the Georgian period, meet the stars of the great opera stages of Europe and step into a singing lesson given by the Duchess’s own Italian bel canto singing master Domenico Corri.
2018 - Music and Memory
The 2018 exhibition at Boughton was dedicated to memory in all its forms and with all its flaws. Since early classical times memory has been recognised as a vital component of humanity and we take ancient Greece as a starting point for our narrative, which encompasses music, Shakespeare, art, early adventures in the Caribbean, family and friends, and the Second World War, which is still available to us via living memory.
Boughton and its parkland is full of recorded memories from the 17th Century onwards and provides the backdrop for our exploration of this most fascinating of subjects. The loss of memory is one of today’s crucial issues and we are embracing charities such as Alzheimer’s Society, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, Dementia UK and others who seek to find a solution to this increasing national problem.
2017 - Garden Exhibition: Vistas of Vast Extension
“Ralph first Duke of Montagu has so much embellished by the grand gardens, by an extensive canal, by the large ponds, by the extraordinary water jets, by a waterfall that outshines any in Italy and in France.” – Michel le Vassor – from his Histoire du Regne de Louis XIII , 1705
Using contemporary poetry, detailed eye witness accounts, drawings and plans, the exhibition traces the story of a vast and remarkable garden from its first stirrings in Elizabethan times, through its audacious rivalry of Versailles, its eventual slumber and modern-day re-birth with “Orpheus”, Kim Wilkie’s celebrated landform.
Drawing on the extensive Buccleuch collection the “Stewards’ Hall” exhibition celebrates horticulture in all its forms. You’ll discover some of the earliest English books on gardening, Sir Hans Sloane’s 1687 plant-collecting “Voyage to Jamaica”, French flower paintings, spectacular English and French botanical porcelain, a series of little-known images of the idealised rococo garden and an early gardener’s contract on vellum.
2016 Exhibition - Handel
In August 2016 we celebrated the composer George Frideric Handel’s extraordinary legacy with items from the Buccleuch musical archives.
The exhibition looks at key moments in Handel’s life, from his formative years in the palaces of cardinals and princes in Rome, to his rise as England musical genius presiding over London, the European capital of music theatre in the eighteenth century.
The exhibition launched with an event hosted by the Duke of Buccleuch on Sunday, 17th July. The Paris dance company, Les Corps Eloquents, gave a unique Handel performance in Boughton’s Great Hall, including re-created scenes from some of Handel’s most spectacular operas. London theatre-goers expected ballet in their opera and Handel did not disappoint. He created over 70 works for the French dancers he had at his disposal, thanks to patrons like the Duke of Montagu.
2015 - The Huguenot Exhibition
As part of a ‘Huguenot Summer’, Boughton House hosted a special exhibition during August 2015, celebrating the extraordinary French legacy of the Huguenot artwork preserved there.
Many of the treasures were commissioned at the end of the 17th century and beginning of the 18th century by Ralph Montagu, the 1st Duke of Montagu – patron of the multitude of talented French immigrants.
Boughton provides a rare opportunity to see how English culture was boosted by their skills with paintings, furniture, printing, silver, maps, sculpture, guns, porcelain, and more, all created by Huguenot artists and craftsmen.
Hear the Exhibition’s curator, Paul Boucher, talk about the Huguenots on BBC Northampton (1 hour 45 minutes into the programme)
This exhibition was proudly supported by: Institut Français