Walpole and Strawberry Hill

Posted in exhibitions, resources, reviews by Editor on April 8, 2010

The March issue of Apollo Magazine includes a review by Hugh Belsey of the Walpole exhibition now at the V&A in London:

John Carter, "View from the Hall at Strawberry Hill," 1788, pen and ink, and watercolour on laid paper, from Horace Walpole’s extra-illustrated copy of "A Description of the Villa…at Strawberry-Hill" (Strawberry Hill, 1784). Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University. Folio 49 3582, fol. 24.

In 1818 William Hazlitt cruelly remarked that Horace Walpole’s ‘mind as well as his house, was piled up with Dresden china, and illuminated through painted glass’. Twenty-four years later the contents of his house, Strawberry Hill on the banks of the Thames at Twickenham, including the china, were sold. It took the auctioneer, George Robins, 24 days to complete the sale and gave the public the last opportunity to sample Walpole’s mind and taste – or not quite the last opportunity, as many of the rich, strange and beautiful lots have been reassembled in an exquisite exhibition . . .  It is a display that sparkles, enchants and entrances. . . .

The full review can be found here»

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In conjunction with the exhibition, there is an outstanding digital component that includes virtual tours and immensely useful search functions for the database (including provenance). As noted on the site:

John Carter, "Tribune from Strawberry Hill", 1789

Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill Collection was initially developed by the Lewis Walpole Library to support research for the exhibition Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill and for the renovation of the house itself, undertaken by the Strawberry Hill Trust. Dispersed since the famous sale in 1842, Walpole’s collection was one of the most significant in eighteenth-century Britain, numbering several thousand items. This database encompasses the entire range of art and artifacts from Walpole’s collections, including all items whose location is currently known and those as yet untraced but known through a variety of historical records. This information is now made available for public access.  The database is an ongoing project: the Library will continue to add and enhance records as further discoveries are made. Queries and comments are invited.

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Finally, it’s worth noting that Strawberry Hill will itself be open to visitors, starting in September, after extensive renovations (projected to cost £8.9 million). For details, see the website of the Strawberry Hill Trust.

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