Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill Collection
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This item is located in the Beauclerk Closet.

Illustration for The Mysterious Mother (Act V, Scene VI, Edmund and The Countess)

Strawberry Hill ID: sh-000006
Beauclerk, Lady Diana (English Painter and Illustrator, 1734-1808)

Wash on laid paper, mounted on another sheet
32.8 x 41.6 cm.
HW's MS verso: The Mysterious Mother. Act 5, Scene 6, by Lady Diana Beauclerc, 1776.
The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

Strawberry Hill History

Location: Beauclerk Closet

1774 Description: The closet is hung with Indian blue damask,and was built on purpose to receive seven incomparable drawings of lady Diana Beauclerc for Mr. Walpole’s tragedy of The Mysterious Mother. The beauty and grace of the figures and of the children are inimitable; the expression of the passions most masterly, particularly in the devotion of the countess with the porter, of Benedict in the scene with Martin, and the tenderness, despair, and resolution of the countess in the last scene; in which is a new stroke of double passion in Edmund, whose right hand is clenched and ready to strike with anger, the left hand relents. In the scene of the children, some are evidently vulgar, the others children of rank; and the first child, that pretends to look down and does leer upwards, is charming. Only two scenes are represented in all the seven, and yet all are varied; and the ground in the first, by a very uncommon effect, evidently descends and rises again. These sublime drawings, the first histories she ever attempted, were all conceived and executed in a fortnight. (140-141)

1784 Description: Text same as 1774 Description (78-79)

Sale Text: A series of seven curious and incomparable drawings, by Lady Diana Beauclerc, Scenes illustrating the Mysterious Mother, ebonized and gold frames, glazed.

Object History

Provenance: 1776, commissioned by Horace Walpole; 1842, Strawberry Hill Sale, day 17, lot 32, bt Hon.Col. D. Damer, MP, £13.13.0; 1885 August 1, Christie's, lot 74, seven illustrations and Horace Walpole's own copy of the book, bt Col. Aldridge £37.16; 1962 May, Pickering & Chatto, bt W.S. Lewis (six drawings), £500; The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

Exhibition History: "A Treasure House in Farmington." Yale Center for British Art. New Haven, Connecticut. 10/15/1999-1/9/2000.

Bibliography: Mrs. Steuart Erskine, Lady Diana Beauclerk, Her Life and Work (London: T. F. Unwin, 1903), 241-243.
HW Corres, 3:392n, 15:318, 24.524, 31:206, 216, 297, 32:289, 35.385, 41:322, 43:147
W. S. Lewis, Horace Walpole, Bollingen Series 35 The A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts 9 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1961), 123.
W.S. Lewis, Rescuing Horace Walpole (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1978), 107-115.