Kingston Lacy was bequeathed to the National Trust by Ralph Bankes (1902–1981) with its estates, including Corfe Castle. The core of its collection was assembled in Gray’s Inn by (Sir) Ralph Bankes who later built Kingston Hall (subsequently renamed Kingston Lacy) and commissioned the superb set of Lely portraits. It was altered and embellished by Henry Bankes II (1757–1834), MP and rebuilt by his son William John Bankes (1786–1855), MP, by instruction, exiled abroad for a homosexual offence, in 1841. He initially bought Spanish pictures, including Diego Velázquez’s 'Cardinal Camillo Massimi (1620–1677)', but urged by his friend Byron he acquired 'The Judgement of Solomon', now ascribed to Sebastiano del Piombo, among others, from the collection of Count Ferdinando Marescalchi (1754–1816). His later acquisitions included a detached fresco by Guido Reni, 'The Separation of Night from Day', from the Palazzo Zani in Bologna, the recently-cleaned Jacopo Tintoretto from two sisters in Venice; and, arguably, the greatest paintings in the collection: two full-length female portraits by Peter Paul Rubens.
National Trust, Kingston Lacy
Wimborne Minster, Dorset BH21 4EA England
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