LGBT+ History Month Collections Highlights

LGBT+ History Month Collections Highlights

February 2024 marks the 19th LGBT+ History Month in the UK and in celebration, we’re looking at some of the LGBTQ+ narratives found in our collections which you can come and discover at Compton Verney.

Priam, King of Troy, begging Achilles for the Body of Hector, Francesco Solimena, 1690-92 (c) Compton Verney.

1. Priam, King of Troy, begging Achilles for the Body of Hector, Francesco Solimena, 1690-92

You’ve heard of Achilles’ heel, but have you heard of Achilles’ love for his companion Patroclus?

This Italian sketch or ‘modello’ in our Naples collection is a design by Francesco Solimena for a larger painting. The composition is inspired by Homer’s epic poem The Iliad, which tells the story of the Trojan wars.

It shows Priam, King of Troy, begging the Greek hero Achilles to return the body of his son Prince Hector, who he had slain to avenge the killing of his beloved Patroclus. According to some classical Greek commentators there was a romantic connection between Achilles and Patroclus.

2. Enid Marx’s Ties

These distinctive neckties were designed and worn by Enid Marx. They form part of our Marx-Lambert collection of English ‘Popular Art’, which was formed by Marx and the historian Margaret Lambert, with whom she lived with for many years.

As well as her trailblazing career designing textiles for London Transport and becoming the first female engraver to be made a Royal Designer for Industry, Marx moved within LGBTQ circles which included her mentors, the influential textile designers Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher.

The bold prints and the bright colours of these neckties are evocative of Marx’s iconic designs still synonymous with the London underground seats.

3. Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset Miniature by John Hoskins

Historians have long debated the sexuality of King James VI and I. During his reign, James had a succession of male favourites who wielded immense influence at court. One of the most notable of these is depicted in a portrait miniature in our collection.

Robert Carr was a minor gentleman who became James’ most prominent favourite in the early years of his reign. In 1607 Carr broke his leg at a tournament and caught the king’s eye. Thereafter, he received numerous visits from James, who taught him Latin and subsequently knighted him. Carr later received numerous honours, eventually being created Earl of Somerset and Lord Chamberlain. Carr fell from power in 1615 when he became implicated in a plot to murder his former friend and mentor Thomas Overbury.

Visit our six permanent collections Tuesday-Sunday.* What will you discover?

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*Please note partial closures during February-March on our opening times and prices page.