The Saloon is a masterpiece by Louise Laguerre, a French artist hired to replace Sir James Thornhill after he fell out with the first Duchess over the price of painting the ceiling of the Great Hall. Every inch of the walls is hand painted.
The magnificent ceiling shows the first Duke in victorious progress, but restrained by the hand of Peace. For all of this, Laguerre charged £500, in excess of £100,000 today. In more modern times, the beautifully intricate artwork prompted the 20th century diarist, James Lee Milne, to observe that it could 'vie with the most splendid Palace rooms in Europe'.
Over the doors, the first Duke's armorial bearing includes the black double-headed eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, of which he was made a Prince in 1705 after the Battle of Blenheim.
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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