Red Drawing Room

The collection of portraits and furniture housed within the Red Drawing Room is one of the most historic in the Palace.

The two large family portraits are deliberately hung opposite each other, creating a dramatic effect. Society painters would give their aristocratic subjects a greater presence by exaggerating the head-to-body ratio of around 1:7 to 1:12 or more. This technique is evident with Consuelo's delicate head and neck just slightly out of proportion to the length of her body.

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Red Drawing Room
Red Drawing Room

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The Red Drawing Room also contains fine bronzes, plaques and a set of elegant Victorian 'chaperone' sofas against the back wall, where chaperones would sit on the end seat making sure there were no unseemly 'goings-on' between their charges.

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.

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