1 Minute 1 Work: Dunham Massey, Bird’s-eye View from the South

David Taylor

At the end of the 17th century, there was a trend for rich patrons to have their houses and estates painted. This ‘Bird’s-eye View from the South’, of Dunham Massey in Cheshire, is a very fine example of this type of painting by Dutch artist Adriaen van Diest. The painting serves as a ‘portrait’ of the elegant house – showcasing the patron’s wealth, the estate’s rich resources and commercial potential.

In this HENI Talk, David Taylor, curator of pictures and sculpture for the National Trust, gives a one-minute introduction to this remarkable ‘bird’s-eye view’.

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At the end of the 17th century, there was a trend for rich patrons to have their houses and estates painted. And this is a very good example by an artist called Adriaen van Diest, and it shows Dunham Massey in Cheshire. It’s what we call ‘bird’s-eye view’. Now, Van Diest wouldn’t have actually gone up in a balloon, so this is from his imagination. But it’s really fascinating for us because we see the house, and we see the gardens, we see the deer park, and we see all sorts of things happening with farming in the background. And it’s a very good example of this type of painting.

In a way, this is a portrait of Dunham Massey. It serves the house as a portrait would have a person. And it actually shows where the family’s wealth came from. In many ways, the main point of this picture is as a status symbol, to show off the wealth and the power of its patron.

With thanks to

National Trust

Petworth House



Audio Network



Getty Images

National Trust Images



Dunham Massey: Bird’s-eye View from the South

Adriaen Van Diest, c.1697

Oil on canvas, 99x124cm

National Trust, Dunham Massey, Cheshire – The Stamford Collection (NT 932334)

© National Trust Images


Dunham Massey – Aerial View

SkyworksFootage / Getty Images


Dunham Massey

Skyworks Places / Getty Images

Dunham Massey: Bird’s-eye View from the South, 1697’, National Trust Collections Online

Dunham Massey’, National Trust house, garden and ancient deer park

Dutch Masters’, National Trust Exhibition site for Prized Possessions: Dutch Masterpieces from National Trust Houses

Adriaen van Diest’, Art UK

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