Home House was completed in 1778 to the designs (initially) of James Wyatt and (later) Robert Adam.
The building changed hands many times over the years. Later occupants included the Marquis de la Luzerne during his time as French ambassador to the Court of St. James’s (1788 to 1791), the 4th Duke of Atholl (1798 to 1808). Charles, 2nd Earl Grey was the tenant from 1812-19. Alterations carried out during this period included the addition of an extra storey, ca.1813. The house was empty for half of 1819. The 4th Duke of Newcastle occupied the building from 1820 to 1851 and he was followed by Sir Francis Henry Goldsmid (1862 to 1919), and Lord and Lady Islington (1919 to 1926). The Islington alterations included the installation of bathrooms on the second and third floors; the hanging of eighteenth century Chinese wallpaper in the blue bedroom; and the forming of a garden door and steps in the North wall of the mews.
In 1926 the house was leased by the art-collector Samuel Courtauld who leased it to house his growing collection. On his wife’s death in 1931, he gave the house and the collection to the fledgling Courtauld Institute of Art (which he had played a major part in founding), to house it until it could find better accommodation. That accommodation was not forthcoming, and the Institute remained in the building until 1989, when it moved to its present home of Somerset House.
Having been empty for seven years it became a private members’ club.
I was commissioned to carry out the paint analysis of a number of surfaces, both internal and external.
It appears that the exterior of 20 Portman Square was painted at intervals of about four years from 1773 to 1985. This has been one of the most frequently painted external surfaces that I have encountered, matched only by a house in Queen Anne’s Gate, Westminster (see recent blog).
I have also carried out a colour survey of the building and has matched all the paint colours, which my company Papers and Paints now provide for maintenance purposes.
Another project on a Courtauld residence was at Eltham Palace.
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