Queen Elizabeth II is a lender. Her Majesty is contributing torcheres in the shape of Highlanders, which usually grace the walls at Balmoral Castle, her vacation home in Scotland. The queen's son, Prince Charles, is also contributing. He's sending John Wootton's painting of "Frederick, Prince of Wales's Shooting Party," which hangs at the prince's country home, Highgrove Park.
Admittedly their names have the most clout. But there are quite a few other titled, well-born and knowledgeable Britons who are lending more than 700 of the treasures from their stately homes in England, Scotland and Wales to the exhibition "The Treasure Houses of Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting," which opens at Washington's National Gallery on Nov. 3. Included in the exhibition, made possible by a grant from the Ford Motor Co., are paintings, furniture, tapestries, porcelains, silver, armor and other objets d'art, all tracing the history of privileged collection by the landed entry from 1485 to the present. The exhibition, the product of some wonderful cooperation between the National Gallery and the British Council, runs through March 16.
The seven major donors are being called the Magnificent Seven. And rightly so. All but the Earl of Harewood will be in Washington in time for the opening festivities, which start off with Mr. and Mrs. John Coleman's dinner Oct. 30 at their Ritz Carlton Hotel and the black-tie opening-night dinner at the National Gallery hosted by the gallery, its director J. Carter Brown and its board. Those expected are the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough of Blenheim Palace; Lord and Lady Romsey of Broadlands where Prince Charles and Princess Diana spent part of their honeymoon; the Marquis and Marchioness of Tavistock, (the marquis is caretaker for his father, the 13th Duke of Bedford, who owns Woburn Abbey, which is sending 25 items, among them paintings by Canaletto and Sir Joshua Reynolds, silver by Paul de Lamerie and Paul Storr and a tiara made for Queen Caroline Murat); Lord Montague of Beaulieu; the Hon. Simon and Mrs. Howard of Castle Howard where some of "Brideshead Revisited" was filmed, and Mr. and Mrs. Michael Herbert (he's the chief executive of Warwick Castle).