Blenheim Palace
Portraits

Portraits

Blenheim Palace is home to one of the most impressive collections of Paintings in Europe. Take a closer look at some of the pieces in our collection and learn about their creators, sitters and how they came to be part of the Palace's decor.

Explore our collection...

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The Great Hall

The Great Hall

The ceiling in the Great Hall

The ceiling in the Great Hall

Sculpture of the 9th Duke

Sculpture of the 9th Duke

1st Duke and his Family

1st Duke and his Family

10th Duchess

10th Duchess

9th Duchess

9th Duchess

The Great Hall
The ceiling in the Great Hall
Sculpture of the 9th Duke
1st Duke and his Family
10th Duchess
9th Duchess

Great Hall

Ceiling in The Great Hall

The painting on the ceiling of the Great Hall is ‘allegorical', which means that each person in the painting is either wearing or holding something that has separate significance.

John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, is kneeling at the feet of Queen Anne who is shown dressed as Britannia, a female warrior who carried a trident and wore a helmet. She symbolises Great Britain or the British Empire.

John Churchill is pointing towards a map. This is a plan of the Battle of Blenheim.

Sculpture of the 9th Duke of Marlborough

This is a sculpture by Epstein of the 9th Duke of Marlborough, who is a cousin of Sir Winston Churchill. Epstein said he had trouble sculpting the Duke's hands.

The 9th Duke married a wealthy American heiress, Consuelo Vanderbilt, and used her money to restore the Palace and its contents.

1st Duke of Marlborough with his family (West Corridor)

Here is a portrait of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, with his family. You can see his wife, Sarah, seated in the middle. The girl beside her, wearing a green dress, is Lady Henrietta, who became the 2nd Duchess of Marlborough.

The boy on the far right of the picture is their eldest son, the Marquess of Blandford. He died when he was young. John and Sarah had already lost their first son, who died as a baby. This meant that the Dukedom passed to Henrietta.

10th Duchess of Marlborough (West Corridor)

This elegant lady is the 10th Duchess of Marlborough, grandmother of the present Duke.

9th Duchess of Marlborough (West Corridor)

This beautiful lady was Consuelo, the 9th Duchess of Marlborough, great-grandmother to the present Duke.

She was a Vanderbilt - of the wealthiest families in America.

Her husband was not in love with her, nor she with him. It was a marriage of convenience. But she brought great wealth to the family.

Queen Anne

This painting of Queen Anne hangs above the gallery in the Great Hall. She is wearing a beautiful velvet cloak, lined with ermine.

When John Churchill won the Battle of Blenheim, Queen Anne was so pleased that she gave him the money to build Blenheim Palace, and the land to build it on. She had also been a great friend of John Churchill’s wife, Sarah, since childhood.

To find out more about any of the Dukes and Duchesses, head to the dedicated Family Tree page using the button below.

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The Green Drawing Room

The Green Drawing Room

4th Duke

4th Duke

4th Duchess

4th Duchess

The Green Drawing Room
4th Duke
4th Duchess

Green Drawing Room

4th Duke of Marlborough

This portrait is of the 4th Duke of Marlborough, wearing his robes of the Order of the Garter.

The 4th Duke made many changes when he was living at Blenheim Palace, particularly to the landscape. He engaged the famous landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to help him, and together they created the Park much as you see it today.

4th Duchess of Marlborough

This painting depicts Caroline, the 4th Duchess of Marlborough, dancing her baby on her knee. It was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

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The Red Drawing Room

The Red Drawing Room

4th Duke and his family

4th Duke and his family

9th Duke and his family

9th Duke and his family

Children of Henrietta, 2nd Duchess

Children of Henrietta, 2nd Duchess

The Red Drawing Room
4th Duke and his family
9th Duke and his family
Children of Henrietta, 2nd Duchess

Red Drawing Room

4th Duke of Marlborough

This is a portrait of the 4th Duke of Marlborough with his family, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

The girl in the pink dress has a mischievous face. Her name was Lady Charlotte and she is depicted holding a mask to scare her sister, Lady Anne.

9th Duke of Marlborough and his family

This huge painting is by John Singer Sargent, and shows the 9th Duke and Duchess with their two sons and dogs. The boy in the middle of the painting became the 10th Duke, the current Duke's grandfather. You can tell that he was the heir and his brother 'the spare' just by looking at how the boys are positioned in the painting.
The family are painted in the Great Hall, but you will notice that the 9th Duke appears to be standing a step down from the Duchess. This was a clever trick used by Singer Sargent to mask the fact that the Duke was much shorter than the Duchess.

The Children of the 2nd Duchess

This painting is of William, Marquess of Blandford and Lady Harriet Godolphin, two of the children of the 2nd Duchess of Marlborough, Henrietta. 

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The Green Writing Room

The Green Writing Room

The 1st Sir Winston Churchill

The 1st Sir Winston Churchill

1st Duke of Marlborough

1st Duke of Marlborough

The Green Writing Room
The 1st Sir Winston Churchill
1st Duke of Marlborough

Green Writing Room

The 1st Sir Winston Churchill

The first Sir Winston Churchill was the father of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough. He was a Royalist, and at the end of the Civil War in England, he lost his fortune.

However, when King Charles II was restored to the throne, although he never got his money back, Sir Winston was made welcome again at Court. He created the family motto, ‘Fiel Pero Desdichado’, which means ‘Faithful but Unfortunate’.

You can see this motto as you look around the Palace. It may help if you look for our two friendly wyverns, Grinling and Gibbons, because where they are, the motto is seldom far away.

1st Duke of Marlborough

This is a portrait of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough. It is part of a large tapestry known as ’The Blenheim Tapestry’.

The Duke appears in all the tapestries in the Palace except one. He is easily spotted because he wears a red coat with gold buttons and has gold spurs. He can also be identified by the Baton of Office he always carries in his hand. 

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The Saloon

The Saloon

Louis Laguerre and Dean Jones

Louis Laguerre and Dean Jones

The ceiling of the Saloon

The ceiling of the Saloon

The Saloon
Louis Laguerre and Dean Jones
The ceiling of the Saloon

Saloon

Louis Laguerre and Dean Jones

The man on the left of the picture wearing the pale-coloured jacket is Louis Laguerre, the artist who painted all the frescoes in the Saloon.

Next to him is Dean Jones, who was chaplain to the 1st Duke. The Duchess didn’t like him very much, which is made obvious by the expression Laguerre has painted him with.

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The Second State Room

The Second State Room

2nd Duchess of Marlborough

2nd Duchess of Marlborough

Louis XIV

Louis XIV

The Second State Room
2nd Duchess of Marlborough
Louis XIV

Second State Room

2nd Duchess of Marlborough

Henrietta was the daughter of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Both of her brothers died when they were young, which was common during the 18th century.

Because there were no male children to inherit the title, Queen Anne agreed that Henrietta could become 2nd Duchess of Marlborough in her own right.

Louis XIV

The King of France, Louis XIV (the ‘Sun King’), was the arch-enemy of the 1st Duke of Marlborough. He was beaten by Duke at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.

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The Third State Room

The Third State Room

1st Duke of Marlborough

1st Duke of Marlborough

The Third State Room
1st Duke of Marlborough

Third State Room

1st Duke of Marlborough

The man sitting down is the 1st Duke of Marlborough when he was older. He is talking to Colonel Armstrong, a friend who fought with him throughout the War of Spanish Succession.

John Churchill’s wife, Sarah, said she really liked this portrait of her husband because it was ‘a good likeness’.

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The Long Library

The Long Library

Statue of Queen Anne

Statue of Queen Anne

The Long Library
Statue of Queen Anne

Long Library

Statue of Queen Anne

This statue of Queen Anne was commissioned by her friend, Sarah, the 1st Duchess of Marlborough, after the Queen had died.

It is a very flattering portrait. In real life she was very short and very, very fat. Queen Anne had been pregnant 17 times but none of her children lived to adulthood. All these pregnancies had made her ill, and ruined her figure.

But the sculptor has been kind. Here we see the Queen looking tall and slim with a beautiful shapely waist.

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Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PP

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