Margaret Greville was the heir to the McEwen's brewery fortune. She was- to judge by her portraits- a jolly soul. She collected royal personages ( the future George VI and Queen Elizabeth spent their honeymoon under her roof) but also pictures- and it's the pictures that interest me most. None of them is quite world-class but some of them are awfully good- and it's refreshing to be viewing them in a domestic context- where they're treated not as objects of veneration but as pieces of furniture and it's possible to go right up to them and all but touch them with your nose. Her best thing is a de Hooch of two young children- possibly the artist's own kids. They've been playing golf and the little girl- bubbling over with mischief- has come running back into the house to tell her mother something while her slightly older brother watches from outside- in a sulk because his sister just won't take the game seriously. Did any artist before de Hooch's generation paint children with such snap-shot realism? I can't think of an example. Before the mid 17th century kids are either mythologcal accessories- putti, cherubs, godlings and the like- or stiff little replica adults. de Hooch shows them exactly as they are- a parent's eye view. It's a modest little picture, easily overlooked- but it represents a revolution in sensibility.
Otherwise there are portraits by Lely, Lawrence and Raeburn, charming late medieval and early renaissance pieces by minor masters and some first rate Dutch cabinet pictures. Polesden Lacey belongs to the National Trust and is just outside Leatherhead in Surrey.