Unveiling of a new painting of Chevening

Painting of Chevening by Marcus May

Copyright House of Commons 2005

Chevening is the latest subject to be represented in the Parliamentary Art Collection. The painting is a large bird's eye view of the property, and captures the charm and character of this elegant 17th Century manor house set amongst the scenic countryside of Kent.

Chevening is by convention the country home of the Foreign Secretary. The house and grounds were left to the nation in 1967 by the 7th Earl of Stanhope, to be occupied by the Prime Minister, a Cabinet Minister or a descendant of George VI. The Earl of Stanhope, who had family links to William Pitt and Lord Grenville, had been Leader of the House of Lords, First Lord of the Admiralty and Lord President of the Council.

Chevening is the work of Marcus May, a modern master whose paintings rival the highly-detailed topographical views of notable country houses, which were popular in the late-17th and early 18th centuries and which were epitomised by the works of the Dutch artists Johannes Kip and Leonard Knyff. The painting is a companion piece to the artist's recent canvas of Chequers, the official residence of the Prime Minister, which was commissioned previously by the House of Commons and unveiled earlier this year.

Of the painting, Hugo Swire MP Chairman of the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art said "We envisaged this as a companion piece to the aerial view of Chequers that we commissioned last year. We are delighted with the result which is a highly accomplished picture in its own right as well as being the only representation of Chevening in the collection. Whilst clearly neither Chequers nor Chevening are Parliamentary properties and are owned and managed by their own independent trusts, they both play an important role in the affairs of the nation and that is why the Committee thought there should be images of them in the House of Commons".

Marcus May, the artist, said "With its red brick, contrasting Portland stone pilasters, and flanking pavilions and gilded gates, Chevening seems to sparkle within its calm rural setting. The English country house at its most striking and picturesque - it was a gift for me to paint".

The painting will be on display in Portcullis House for two weeks and then moved to the Palace of Westminster.