William Atkinson’s interpretation of the Gothic aesthetic is most evident in the Library. The doors and their surrounds, as well as the glazed bookcases, were all carved using oak from the estate. The Gothic style continues in the fireplace and matching partner’s desk. The Regency Giltmetal-Mounted Ebony Pedestal Desk is attributed to George Bullock (circa 1777 - 1818). We can imagine the 3rd Earl seated at his desk, with landscaping books strewn across its leather-lined top, as he made plans for the wider estate. And any visitor who arrived may have been asked to take a seat on the George II Giltwood Open Armchair (circa 1740). The back, with its 18th century panel of petite-point needlework surrounded by 19th century gros-point, has been crafted in the manner of Thomas Chippendale.
Upon the desk sits one of the palace’s English clocks. This George III Tortoiseshell and Giltmetal Three-Face Chiming Table Clock, was made by Charles Edward Viner and signed Viner, Sackville St. London. Crafted in the mid-19th century, it chimes each quarter with eight bells and announces each passing hour with a gong.
Above the fireplace hangs a portrait of William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (1705-1793) painted by David Martin. This full-length composition, which was painted in 1776 for the library at Kenwood House, shows the 1st Earl wearing his robes of the Lord Chief Justice of England. In the top left-hand corner of the canvas you will see a marble bust of Homer. This casting of the ancient Greek author was carved by Italian sculptor Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) and was given to the 1st Earl by his good friend, the English poet Alexander Pope. The original bust is displayed on a mottled grey and sienna marble plinth below. On the other side of the fireplace is a marble bust of the Hon. William Murray, later 1st Earl of Mansfield, by Jon Michael Rysbrack (1694 - 1770). The bust is dated 1743. And on the floor, by the fire, is an endearing bronze sculpture of Maud, one of the Pekinese dogs owned by the 8th Earl of Mansfield. The piece is inscribed Elizabeth Anne 1977.
The bookcases, which dominate the room, honour the architectural features of the palace, with carved castellations running atop the length of each glazed unit. Inside, the shelves have long since ceased to hold books, and now display the family’s extensive collection of British and European china; including pieces from Sèvres, Meissen, Ludwigsburg, Chelsea, Derby and Worcester. However, among the many exceptional pieces, there is one set that is particularly interesting. The Apple-Green Gilt and White Tea Service by Sèrves is immediately striking. This unusual colour was created by adding arsenic to the green pigment to elevate the colour and give it its vibrancy. It is believed that Louis XVI and the 2nd Earl designed this service together, after which, the king gifted it to him.
Modestly displayed in one of the slim bookcases are three pieces of pink porcelain that are particularly rare. They are part of the Rose Pompadour collection manufactured by Sèvres briefly in the mid-18th century. The service takes its name from the pink ground colour invented by Sèvres in 1757 in honour of Madame de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV, and loyal supporter and promoter of the French factory. The pigment, which was created using a base of Purple of Cassius, became one of five colours created by Sèvres that became synonymous with the resplendency of the royal factory. However, these pieces were not long in production. Seven years after the pink colour was perfected, Madame de Pompadour died, and so utterly bereft was the king over her loss, that the porcelain mould was thrown away and the colour consigned the history books.
On the West wall bookcase are three Chelsea Botanical Plates (circa 1755/6). Although these plates may not be as elaborate as others in the collection, they are still worthy of note. Chelsea was one of the first manufacturers of fine porcelain in England when it was established in 1743-45. These three pieces are from the Red anchor period (1752-1756) and are decorated with bold botanicals. The Chelsea factory was close to the Chelsea Physic Garden and may have been influential in its design. These early innovate pieces set the standard for porcelain in Britain, leaving a design legacy that remains influential today.
On the North wall bookcase is the Stormont Service. This desert-service by Sèvres dates from 1773 and has various painter’s marks, including those of Lécot Boulanger and Taillandier. The service is decorated with gilt, iron-red and green flowers and foliage. This extensive set was purchased by Lord Stormont when he was Ambassador to Paris in 1773.
Finally, the last set of note is the Meissen Tea and Coffee Service, which can be found in the East wall bookcase. Decorated in green monochrome with Watteauesque figures in landscape vignettes within gilt borders, the set dates from 1750 and is marked with the blue crossed swords, introduced by Meissen in 1722.
As you leave the Library, take a glance into the two turret rooms which are situated either side of the windows. These small enclaves are known as the French and English Rooms, as one contains French literature, whilst the other contains English literature. They were designed as reading rooms and each one has a fireplace and offers spectacular views over the parklands and the Tay River.