This is not only a very beautiful work of art but also a very important historical document of the estate. This painting is part of a great tradition of views of country houses in Britain, which first become celebrated in the work of artists such as Jan Sibrechts, Leonard Knyff and Jan Griffer.
Although the artists name evades us currently, it is by someone trained and highly competent. The sense of perspective and delicate representation of the sky to point out just a few of its artistic merits.
The painting depicts Knole House situated in Kent. The house is a complete early Jacobean remodelling of a medieval archiepiscopal palace. From an even older manor house, it was built and extended by the Archbishops of Canterbury after 1456. It then became a royal possession during the Tudor dynasty when Henry VIII hunted here and found the place a useful residence for his daughter – later to become Mary I – during his divorce from her mother, Catherine of Aragon.
From 1603, Thomas Sackville made it the aristocratic treasure house for the Sackville family, who were prominent and influential in court circles. Knole’s showrooms were designed to impress visitors and to display the Sackville family’s wealth and status.
Its national importance is primarily for its 17th-century structure, in 1673, John Evelyn called it ‘‘a great old fashioned house’.