Apsley House Collection Highlights
The 1st Duke of Wellington bought Apsley House in 1817 and embarked on a programme of rebuilding and refurbishment to transform the house into a splendid Regency residence.
Most of his paintings collection came from the Spanish Royal Collection, rescued from a fleeing Joseph Bonaparte after the Battle of Vitoria in northern Spain. The paintings were later officially given to Wellington by King Ferdinand of Spain. Two hundred were recovered and today 83 still hang at Apsley House. They range in date from Juan de Flandes’s Last Supper of 1504 to Anton Raphael Mengs’s Holy Family, completed in 1765.
After the Battle of Waterloo, Wellington also bought some important old masters. He purchased Dutch paintings when a Parisian financier sold off his collection at the Le Peyrière sale in 1818. From this period onwards he also collected modern portraits, mostly of his comrades-in-arms and by Thomas Lawrence. His most important commission was Sir David Wilkie’s Chelsea Pensioners.
The Duke’s collection also contains important pieces of Meissen and Sèvres porcelain and a large assortment of silver.