To be an art collector is a privilege and, of course, in the past it has mostly been royalty, the aristocracy and the Church who have commissioned as well as collected art. That is why I think it is fascinating to see personal collections of people from more recent times who come from different environments other than the usual suspects so as to speak.
I think the art collected by Benjamin Britten and his partner, Peter Pears, is interesting as it contains commissioned portraits of both men as you would expect, with one a world renowned composer and the other a famous tenor, but it also includes a broader and more diverse range of pictures and sculptures. Their whole collection numbers around 1,200 works with many on display at The Red House within the domestic setting of their home.
Although the collection is not all about them specifically or their work, it nevertheless gives an insight into their interests and their daily lives. We are left with a glimpse of them as we see their chosen art ornamenting the rooms where they dined, read, relaxed and entertained. As with any large collection not all the work is on display at any one time, but nevertheless the rooms reflect more than a hint of the essence of the Britten-Pears home.
Hanging on the walls of The Red House there are works featuring their friends such as colleague and close friend Imogen Holst. (She is, in fact now buried behind the two graves of Britten and Pears in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul, Aldeburgh.)
Also, there are works reflecting their personal taste, with apparently Peter Pears’ preference for strongly coloured 20th-century work.
However, apparently Britten’s taste was more restrained and, there are many drawings and sketches amongst the collection.
Of course, and not in the least surprising as with many art lovers, there are works featuring Venice.
Finally, if one is lucky enough to have the means, you can collect pictures by artists from the canon and the Britten-Pears collection has works by William Blake, Walter Sickert, David Hockney and, of course, being men of Suffolk, a painting by John Constable.
12 thoughts on “Art at The Red House”
Absolutely fascinating, Britten has always been one of my favourite composers and in 1970 in the Auckland Town Hall from a seat in the front row I was privileged to hear them give a recital which I shall never forget. We leapt up and led the standing ovation which followed the concert.
How lucky you were to hear and see him perform in real life. I envy you. As a child I once saw him driving through the Suffolk countryside near Snape, but my parent’s didn’t attend the Aldeburgh festivals as usually too avant-garde for them. Naturally, ‘Sea Interludes’ is in my top 10 all-time favourites, a complete musical summation of the Suffolk coast.
Thank you. It’s an interesting house to visit.
Certainly looks like it
I enjoyed this angle on the personal lives that the art reveals.
Yes. I think what people chose to hang on their walls is always interesting even for more ordinary folk. There’s usually some interesting tale or two associated with their treasured art.
I go into someone’s house and that is what I look at, the art. Or lack thereof, sometimes. This provides a lot of information about a person.
Oh yes, it certainly does.
Ho wonderful to see this works in the setting chosen for them. It must add a real extra dimension.
Yes, I think that is what I came away with as many of the rooms are pretty much in the condition in which they were lived in. Although, I think they exchange/circulate some of the paintings. Visiting certainly feels more like a walking into a comfortable home rather than a stately mansion fixed in aspic or a museum.
Certainly an eclectic collection of art, furniture and furnishings. I love how in the top photo the corner lampshade is tipped lopsided to cast the light upwards to the paintings. I wonder how they deal with fading of the artworks, as they are everywhere, and surely some must be vulnerable to the sunlight? My bright painting of a Miao woman being escorted to her wedding has faded drastically. Sadly.