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  • Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill

    Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 06. 03. – 04. 07. 2010.

    William Marlow: Strawberry Hill, 1776-80

    This exhibition looks at Horace Walpole’s extraordinary collection and evokes the magnificent interiors of his house, Strawberry Hill, Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic Revival architecture. An influential historian, collector, social commentator and man of letters, Walpole (1717–97) was the youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister. His writings have crucially shaped our view of the time in which he lived. His fascination with history and art led him to build a collection encompassing Renaissance maiolica, Holbein drawings, arms and armour, and works by contemporary 18th-century artists such as Sir Joshua Reynolds and Anne Seymour Damer.

    Over a period of some 40 years (1747–90) Walpole turned the 17th-century house at Strawberry Hill in Twickenham, Surrey, into what he called ‘a little Gothic Castle’. It quickly became a famous tourist attraction. Walpole himself led the design of the house, interiors and gardens, together with friends such as Richard Bentley, and professional architects such as John Adam. The house provided an atmospheric setting for his unique collections.
    The exhibition is in 10 sections and brings together more than 250 works owned by Walpole, not seen together since his collection was auctioned by his heir in 1842. The opening section introduces Strawberry Hill, Walpole, and his group of friends who created it. It then explores the house and its collections in detail, and concludes with an examination of Walpole’s role as a pioneering art historian, collector of ceramic and glass, portrait miniatures, and finally, his impact on his successors.