Discover Victorian Passions and Pursuits at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

A stunning new exhibition showcasing some of the finest examples of Victorian art, as well as the passions and pursuits of the Victorian Dukes & Duchesses at Blenheim Palace, goes on display from February 10th – April 16th 2018.

Victorian Passions and Pursuits depicts the development of art throughout the 19th century with over 40 works on display by artists including J.M.W. Turner, Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, James McNeill Whistler, Richard Dadd and Aubrey Beardsley.

Drawn from the internationally acclaimed Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection it demonstrates how wildly differing styles ranging from the older traditional artists to the Aesthetes, the Pre-Raphaelites to the Decadents and the Social Satirists to the Exquisites all grew and flourished alongside one another.

The new exhibition will also feature magnificent life-size paper sculptures of the 9th Duke of Marlborough’s wedding to American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt in 1895 and costumes, props and photographs from the 2007 filming of The Young Victoria, which starred Emily Blunt as the young Queen.

Other displays will reveal the fascinating story of George Spencer-Churchill, Winston Churchill’s uncle, and the so-called ‘Wicked Duke of Blenheim Palace’.

A scientist and a philanderer, the 8th Duke was given the nickname by his brother, Winston’s father, because he sold off so many of the family works of art to fund his Victorian experiments.

He visited Thomas Edison the American inventor and communicated with him about the development of the phonograph. The 8th Duke was also an innovator and had electricity and central heating installed in the Palace as well as a telephone system with 37 lines which connected him with every area of the Estate. Visitors will be able to see an early phonograph on display as well as telephones from the late 1800s – all original to Blenheim Palace.

The Gallery will also contain a display relating to the Blenheim Fire Brigade including a Victorian steam powered fire engine of the type found at the Palace, as well as Victorian helmets, uniforms and fire-fighting equipment and contemporary fire resistant clothing worn by the members of the fire service today.

Two classic Wolseley motor cars will feature alongside the fire brigades display, to reflect the 9th Duke’s love of motoring. Visitors can view up close a 1901 Wolseley on loan from the British Motor Museum and a later post-Victorian 1912 model on loan from a private collector.

A vintage early 20th century electric car, similar to the one owned and driven by the 9th Duchess at Blenheim Palace, will also be on display.

Alongside the artworks and sculptures, Blenheim Palace is returning one of its magnificent State Rooms to the way it would have looked during Queen Victoria’s reign. Utilising unique early images of the Palace taken by the renowned Oxford photographer Henry Taunt, the Saloon will be given a Victorian makeover.

What: Victorian Passions & Pursuits at Blenheim Palace When: 10 February – 16 April, 2018

Why Visit: Enjoy a new immersive exhibition taking visitors on a journey through the innovative scientific and artistic world of the Victorian era.

Admission: Palace, Park & Gardens Ticket: Adult £26.00 Concession £23.00 Child £14.50 Under 5s free


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