Strawberry Hill Study Day | Portraits, Authenticity, and Copies

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on October 24, 2017

From the conference programme and flyer:

Portraits, Authenticity, and Copies in the 17th and 18th Centuries
Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, 2 November 2017

‘Truth is the sole merit of most antiquities; and when we cannot discover the truth, what value is there in dogmatic error about things that have no intrinsic value?—and such were all our pictures before Holbein, and infinitely the greater part of our pictures since!’

–Horace Walpole to Sir John Fenn, in response to a query about a historic portrait, 17 September 1774

Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill was famously full of portraits, many of them collected as part of the broader antiquarian effort to form a narrative of British and European history. In this, as in other fields of painting, there was much less emphasis on the ‘original’ than there is today. But, as a historian, Walpole was greatly exercised by questions of authenticity, although his own collection of portraits included many later copies, both specially commissioned and unrecognized, as well as misdescriptions and deliberate fakes.

This study day will focus on issues and practices around meaning and authenticity in portraits in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is linked to the recent installation in the Holbein Chamber of digital facsimiles, made by Factum Arte, of George Vertue’s accurate copies, made in 1743, of 33 of Holbein’s famous drawings of the court of Henry VIII. Their acquisition in 1758 prompted Walpole to create the Holbein Chamber, inspired by Queen Caroline’s closet at Kensington Palace, where the original drawings were shown.

Refreshments including a light lunch will be provided; price £60.
Booking information is available here»
Queries: please email claire.leighton@strawberryhillhouse.org


9.30  Coffee

9.50  Welcome

10.00  Morning Session
• Michael Snodin (Strawberry Hill), Copies and Copying at Strawberry Hill
• Charlotte Bolland (National Portrait Gallery), Copying Portraits in the 16th and 17th Centuries
• Victoria Button (V&A), Holbein and Vertue: Materials, Techniques, and the Art of Copying
• Silvia Davoli (Strawberry Hill), Walpole, George Vertue, and Holbein

12.15   Lunch and tours of the house including a curator’s tour of the Holbeins

2.10  Afternoon Session
• Kate Retford (Birkbeck College), Copies and Connections: Portrait Practice in Eighteenth-Century Britain
• Stephen Lloyd (Derby Collection, Knowsley Hall), Copy or Authentic Likeness? Horace Walpole’s Collecting of Portrait Miniatures and Drawings at Strawberry Hill
• David Alexander (Fitzwilliam Museum), The Work of the Harding Family

3.45  Tea










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