Museums at Night 2013: Harewood House ushers in Harewood at Twilight

By Culture24 Reporter | 15 May 2013

Museums at Night 2013 preview: Harewood at Twilight, Harewood House, Leeds, May 16 2013

A photo of a staircase inside a historic house
Harewood House's staircase is back on public view for the first time in decades as part of a Museums at Night 2013© Harewood House Trust
During the late 18th century, the physiognomist Johann Caspar Lavater won acclaim for his dark art of silhouette portraiture.

Using a replica of the chairs this graphic illusionist partly made his name with all those centuries ago, Harewood House – a beautiful 18th century house with a grand Main Staircase which is set to be revealed for the first time in more than 40 years – is inviting visitors to master his craft.

The first paying guests wandered through the house during the 1950s, but the staircase hasn’t been seen since.

Designed by John Carr of York, it features decadent ornamental plasterwork and Chippendale furnishing, leading to a Terrace where organisers will be welcoming modern-day explorers for a drink as part of this year’s festival.

“There’s a really exciting atmosphere about it,” says Tara Hamilton-Stubber, of the House and Collections Team.

“We’re all buzzing and looking forward to the evening.

“It’s something a bit special. We can show them elements of the collection which don’t usually find a relevance in our usual display.

“Harewood is full of gilt and mirrors and wonderful things which come to life in the light.

“The State Rooms here are evening entertainment rooms and designed to be seen like this.

“Museums at Night is a wonderful way for us to engage with our visitors in a different way.”

There’s substance as well as supreme style for this event: Anna Robinson, the Head of House and Collections, will be introducing In Cloud Country, a major new exhibition at the House uniting works by the likes of John Constable, JMW Turner, Henri Matisse and Rachel Whiteread under the curatorial expertise of the Whitechapel Gallery’s Iwona Blazwick and Diane Howse, the Countess of Harewood.

There are also talks about various aspects of this magnificent venue, including insights into its pre-electricity look and kitchen demonstrations inspired by Louis Lecompte, a revered French chef who was head of all things dining at Harewood during the late 19th century.

Lecompte was known to cater for up to 30 family members a day. Take a trip to Yorkshire to find out why this House remains a family favourite long after his final meal was dished up.

More pictures:

A photo of a man looking at a small sculpture inside a historic house
Visitors will be able to see the Yellow Drawing Room© Harewood House Trust
A photo of a lantern inside a darkened historic house drawing room
Torcheres illuminate the gallery© Harewood House Trust
A photo of a chandelier in a historic house
A chandelier in the Music Room© Harewood House Trust
A photo of a woman looking at an ancient bookshelf
The house was built for a Baron in the mid-18th century© Harewood House Trust
A photo of a large historic house in the country at dusk
The North Front of the house at twilight© Harewood House Trust

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