Unveiling of latest commission for the House of Commons Works of Art Collection

Painting of Chequers by Marcus May

Copyright House of Commons 2005


A painting of Chequers, the official residence of the Prime Minister, was unveiled yesterday by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Michael J. Martin MP. The reception was attended by Sir John Major and Dame Norma Major, Lady Wilson and the Countess of Avon.

Chequers is an Elizabethan manor house in Buckinghamshire that was given to the nation by Arthur Lee MP in 1921, who wished to provide 'a place of rest and recreation' for future Prime Ministers. Chequers has long had an association with politics - with historical links to Oliver Cromwell and the Exchequer.

The painting is a large format bird's-eye view of Chequers, its gardens and surrounding landscape. It is painted by Marcus May, and is the modern day equivalent to the highly-detailed topographical views of notable country houses which were popular in the late-17th and early 18th centuries and epitomised by the works of the Dutch artists Johannes Kip and Leonard Knyff.

Hugo Swire MP Chairman of the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art said, "There are very few images other than photographs in existence of Chequers and none in the Parliamentary collection. This exceptional painting by Marcus May fills that gap and cleverly  brings to life a place that has played such an important role in the history  of our nation."

Marcus May, the artist, said "Chequers is very much the archetypical country house, surrounded by grazing cattle and sheep, magnificent trees, imperfect lawns and broken fences.  Given its modern role it has a surprising and delightful informality about it and I hope I've managed to convey this in my painting".