Portrait Acquisition – Holles St John

Category: News

The Trustees of the Friends of Lydiard Park have purchased a hitherto unknown portrait of one of the St John family and donated it to Lydiard House. The portrait’s biggest attraction is its historical significance in relation to Lydiard Park. The subject, Holles St. John, was the younger brother of John 2nd Vsct. St. John of Lydiard Park and step brother to the famous politician and political philosopher Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke. A portrait of him as a young child hangs in the Drawing Room of Lydiard House alongside another childhood portrait of his sister Henrietta.

The Hon. Holles St. John (1710-1738). School of Kneller

The Hon. Holles St. John (1710-1738). School of Kneller

Just before Christmas, Sarah Finch-Crisp, Chair of the Trustees and a former Keeper of Lydiard House, spotted a hitherto unknown portrait of the Hon. Holles St. John (1710 -1738) presented for sale in a London gallery. The picture was attributed to JohnVanderbank, a leading English portrait painter of the early 18th century, although Thomas Gibson, another artist of the era has been considered a more likely candidate. Enlisting the help of 18th Century portrait specialist Anthony Mould and with the support of the vendor, Miles Barton of the Miles Barton Gallery, the trustees of the Friends have acquired the painting for Lydiard House.

Chair of the Friends, Sarah Finch-Crisp, said: “We are so excited to have discovered an unknown portrait of Holles and brought it home to Lydiard House. Holles St John was a fascinating character. He was a younger son who pursued an interest in the stage and owned shares in Covent Garden Theatre which opened to a great fanfare in 1732. He quite possibly acted himself. Discovering the painting will prompt fresh research into Holles’s life and times and Lydiard’s theatrical links.”

Leader of Swindon Council, Cllr David Renard, said: “We are delighted to accept such a significant portrait into the fine collection we hold at Lydiard and look forward to hanging it in the house when Covid19 restrictions allow.”