With the end of the Meadow Arts ‘House of Beasts’ exhibition, the mansion is welcoming the return of a much-loved painting to the Inner Library – The Reverend and Rt Hon. Richard Hill of Hawkstone, fondly known as ‘Richard’ by staff and volunteers at Attingham.
During the ‘House of Beasts’ exhibition Richard was stored in the picture store. He was moved back to the Inner Library last week and before he was hung back on the wall I was given the task of giving him a dust! Paintings are usually conserved by specialists but since Richard is in excellent condition only a light dusting was necessary to remove any loose surface dirt and could be done by a member of the housekeeping team. It was a slightly nerve-wracking experience as I’d never dusted a painting before but I soon got the hang of it and I enjoyed talking to the visitors about what I was doing. I used a soft pony hair brush to carefully dust the gilded frame and a special paintings brush on the canvas.
But who was Richard? We know that he was a statesman and diplomatist during the reigns of William III, Anne and George I. The son of Rowland Hill of Hawkstone, he inherited and acquired considerable property, a great part of which he devised to his nephews Samuel Barbour and Thomas Harwood, both of whom took the name of Hill. Thomas Harwood was the father of the 1st Lord Berwick.
He was unusually honest and efficient for the time; only his father seems to have had doubts about the fortune he amassed. I like this quote by his father: ‘My son Dick makes money very fast: God send that he gets it honestly’.
This is the youngest of many portraits of Richard Hill. It is probable that it was painted when he was Deputy Paymaster of the Forces in Flanders (1691-1700).
You can view this painting on the National Trust Collections website by clicking here