Enfilade

Exhibition | Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 2, 2018

Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of the Ladies Waldegrave, 1780-81, oil on canvas, 143 × 168 cm (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, purchased with the aid of The Cowan Smith Bequest and the Art Fund 1952). 

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This fall at Strawberry Hill:

Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill
Strawberry Hill House & Garden, Twickenham, 20 October 2018 — 24 February 2019

Curated by Silvia Davoli and Michael Snodin

This exhibition brings back to Strawberry Hill some of the most important masterpieces in Horace Walpole’s famous and unique collection for a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. Horace Walpole’s collection was one of the most important of the 18th century. It was dispersed in a great sale in 1842. For the first time in over 170 years, Strawberry Hill can be seen as Walpole conceived it, with the collection in the interiors as he designed it, shown in their original positions.

Strawberry Hill was filled with a celebrated collection of paintings, furniture, sculptures, and curiosities: great portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Peter Lely, Allan Ramsay, Rubens, Van Dyck, Hans Holbein, and Clouet; miniature portraits by Isaac and Peter Oliver, Hilliard and Petitot, a carved Roman eagle from the 1st century AD; fine furniture including a Boulle cabinet, fabulous Sèvres pieces as well as some oddities such as a lime-wood cravat, carved by Grinling Gibbons, a lock of Mary Tudor’s hair and a ‘magic mirror’ (an obsidian disc) which Dr Dee, Queen Elizabeth I’s necromancer, had used for conjuring up the spirits.

In 1842, the collection was dispersed worldwide in a 28-day ‘sale of the century’. From the 1920s to the ‘70s, Walpole scholar and consummate collector Wilmarth S. Lewis, who edited and published with Yale University Press the 48-volume Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence (New Haven, 1937–83), assembled the largest private collection of Walpoliana, including many pieces from Strawberry Hill, which he and his wife bequeathed to Yale University in 1980 as the Lewis Walpole Library, with whose help the Strawberry Hill Trust is delighted to be mounting this exhibition.

Walpole left detailed descriptions of the displays in each of the main rooms of his villa, so that nearly all the works can be shown in their original positions. In The Great Parlour, a display of portraits of Walpole’s family includes the famous Reynolds’s painting of Walpole’s nieces, The Ladies Waldegrave, (now in the National Gallery of Scotland). The Tribune will house the famous rosewood cabinet designed by Walpole, owned by the V&A, together with a display of exquisite portrait miniatures. Walpole’s gilded, crimson Gallery will be once again house the impressive Roman sculpture of an eagle and be hung with life-size portraits, including The Family of Catherine de Medici by Clouet.

Silvia Davoli, Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill: Masterpieces from Horace Walpole’s Collection (London: Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers, 2018), ISBN: 9781785511806, £15.

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