Peter Lely painted this magnificent portrait of the politician Thomas Crew around 1670, when the sitter was serving as Member of Parliament for Brackley in Northamptonshire.

The painting passed to CrewÂ’s daughter Jemima, 1st Duchess of Kent, who took it to the ancestral home of her husband, Henry de Grey, at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. The painting is documented as being in the collections at Wrest from 1718 until 1917, when the house and its contents were sold. During the 1830s Wrest Park was rebuilt in the style of an 18th-century French château by the 2nd Earl de Grey. LelyÂ’s painting is recorded as hanging in the dining room there in 1844. The frame reflects the rococo decoration of the house. Following the sale of the house and contents in 1917, the estate suffered many indignities. In 2006 it was acquired by English Heritage, which began a major restoration programme, and the house and garden are now open to the public. The return of this portrait after nearly 100 years marks a significant milestone in this ongoing project.


In the de Grey family collection until 1917; sold ChristieÂ’s, November 1917 where acquired by Robert Offley Ashburton Crewe-Milnes; by descent to Duchess of Roxburghe and subsequently to her nephew, Bamber Gascoigne.

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