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December, 2013

   ‘Countdown to Christmas’
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Title:Cusworth homecoming for Wrightson portrait
Author:Doncaster Museum 
ID & Publication:20131211020 ~ The-Villager.co.uk 
Area:Cusworth 
Subject:History 
 DMBC (4kb)

An oil painting which once hung over the grand staircase at Cusworth Hall is back home after spending nearly 50 years in Australia. The portrait of 12 year old Thomas Barnardiston Wrightson is one of the most significant donations to Doncaster Council’s museum service in recent years.

Thomas was the great-grandson of the builder of Cusworth Hall, William Wrightson. The portrait, by J. Jackson of the Royal Academy, dates from 1818. It is believed the painting was commissioned to commemorate Thomas’ entrance to Winchester school, where his four older brothers were educated.

The portrait was one of thousands of artefacts sold when the contents of Cusworth Hall were auctioned to the public in 1952. The council, which owns and operates the hall, had no idea of the whereabouts of this painting until 2012, when we were contacted by Gillian Baddeley from Australia. Gillian emigrated to Perth in 1967, and was the current owner of the painting. Her mother and step-father had purchased it in the sale of 1952, and when her mother came to join her in Australia in 1968, she brought the painting with her.

Gillian Baddeley said: ‘Although I live in Australia, I’m a member of the Ripon Historical Society. Last year Cusworth Hall’s manager gave a talk to the society and it reminded me about the painting. This prompted me to email staff at the Hall to see if they knew anything about the child in the picture.’

After exchanging emails with staff at Cusworth, Gillian kindly offered to donate the painting to the museums service. The portrait is now on permanent display in its original location over the grand staircase. It is displayed next to our portrait of Thomas’s father William, painted by the same artist in 1818. It is the only painting in Doncaster’s collection of one of the children of the Wrightson family.

Gillian said: ‘Donating the painting of Thomas to Cusworth has given us great pleasure. Although it was a very nice portrait which we have enjoyed for many years, it is nice that Thomas is back where he belongs. Wouldn't it be great if some of the other portraits also came ‘out of the woodwork’ - I am sure his other brothers would like to go home too!’

Councillor Bob Johnson, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, said: ‘We were delighted at Gillian’s generous offer to donate the portrait back to Cusworth. The painting has undergone some minor restoration work by a specialist art conservator and been fitted into a new bespoke frame.’

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Author: 'Doncaster Museum'   Area: 'Cusworth'
Title: 'Cusworth homecoming for Wrightson portrait'   Category 'History'
 
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