Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill Collection
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Eagle on an altar base
Eagle found in the gardens of Boccapadugli

Strawberry Hill ID: sh-000152
1st century AD

77.5 cm [height]
Earl of Wemyss and March, Gosford House, East Lothian

Strawberry Hill History

Location: Gallery

1774 Description: Chimney-side, left hand:…The eagle, found in the gardens of Boccapadugli within the precinct of Caracalla's baths at Rome, in the year 1742. One of the finest pieces of Greek sculpture in the world, and reckoned superior to the eagle in the villa Mattei. There are extremely few fine statues of animals; the chief are these two eagles, the Tuscan boar, the Barberini goat, and the dog belonging to Mr. Jennings of Shiplake. The boldness, and yet great finishing of this statue, are incomparable; the eyes inimitable. Mr. Gray has drawn the flagging wing.* It stands on a handsome antique sepulchral altar, adorned with eagles too. *Ode on the Power of Poetry. (67)

1784 Description: Text same as 1774 Description (49)

Sale Text: THE RENOWNED MARBLE EAGLE, matchless as a specimen of sculpture, boldly imagined, and most powerfully carved in the purest staturary marble. The head, wings, and feathers, displayed with the most wonderful effect, and the boldness and extraordinary finish of the stature incomparable, the eyes inimitable, on a verde antique plinth, on which is inscribed: ROMAE PROPE THERMAS ANTONINIANAS. Mounted on a ROMAN ALTAR, decorated with masques of Satyrs, centre Medusa head, and festoons of flowers and fruit, beautifully sculptured with noble eagles, in high relief, and a curious old inscription on the centre tablet, altogether 6 feet high. The Eagle was found in the Gardens of Boccapadugli, within the precinct of Caracalla's Baths, at Rome, in the year 1742, and is considered the finest specimen of Greek Sculpture in the world, being reckoned superior to the Eagle in the Villa Mattei. There are extremely few fine statues of animals;--the chief are these two Eagles, the Tuscan Boar, the Barberini Goat, and the Dog belonging to Mr. Jennings, of Shiplake (since purchased by Mr. Duncombe). Vide Catalogue of Strawberry Hill. Mr. Gray has dawn the flagging wing-Vide Ode on the Power of Poetry.

Object History

Provenance: Eagle excavated in 1742 in the gardens of Boccapadugli within the precincts of Caracalla's bath in Rome; 1745 Horace Walpole bt eagle with base for 100 zecchini (£50.0.0 and £25.0.0 for pedestal); arrived in England in 1747; 1842, Strawberry Hill Sale, day 23, lot 86, bt. Earl of Leicester, £210.0.0; 1854 March 25, Christie's, Property of J. D. Gardner, Esq., Bottisham Hall, lot 77, bt. Hickman, £556.10; 1935, Private Collection.

Exhibition History: "The Treasure Houses of Britain." National Gallery of Art. Washington, DC. 11/3/1985-3/6/1986. Cat no. 244.

Bibliography: HW Corres 10: 78, 11:293, 303, 19.65-6, 79, 97, 100-1, 121-2, 135, 149, 155, 161, 176-7, 197, 200, 210, 216, 220, 229, 246, 253, 256, 263-4, 268, 274, 420, 427, 20:489, 430, 22:522, 23:393, 31:377n, 33:564, 35:119, 217, 43:258.
Gervase Jackson-Stops, The Treasure Houses of Britain (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1985), no. 244.