Horace Walpole (1717–1797) was famous in his own day for his collections of paintings, prints and drawings, furniture, ceramics, arms and armor, curiosities, relics, and rare books and manuscripts, which he displayed at Strawberry Hill, his pioneering Gothic Revival house beside the river Thames at Twickenham. Although his collections were dispersed by his heirs in the celebrated sale of 1842 by George Robins (1777-1847), Walpole’s many writings, especially A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole, Youngest Son of Sir Robert Walpole Earl of Orford, at Strawberry-Hill, near Twickenham, provide detailed documentation of his identification and attribution for each object, where it was displayed in the house, and often its provenance. Additional documentation of collection objects can be found in A Catalogue of the Classic Contents of Strawberry Hill Collected by Horace Walpole (London: Smith and Robins, 1842), and Aedes Strawberrianae (London, J.H. Burn, 1842), which lists the names of purchasers and the prices paid. Two manuscript lists inserted in Walpole’s own copy of the extra-illustrated A Description of the Villa record those objects that Walpole considered his “Principal Curiosities” and “Works of Genius by Persons of rank and Gentleman, not Artists”; these are indicated in object records as well.
Creator: Artist and Maker names are standardized according to the authority of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online) and Oxford Grove Art Online. These names are also linked to a table of variant spellings.
Titles: Those given first are current. Horace Walpole’s titles, if significantly different, are given second. Titles in quotations are based on inscriptions on the work of art.
Dimensions are given as height, width, and depth, in centimeters. Those given for paintings are for the canvas or panel exclusive of the frame unless otherwise indicated.
Location: The location of each item at Strawberry Hill is based on text from Horace Walpole, A Description of the Villa or secondarily of the Catalogue of the Sale.
Transcriptions of Horace Walpole’s text from A Description of the Villa . . . are given in full with the page references in parentheses. Citations are from the last editions, with additions (see Bibliography). Spelling and grammatical errors are maintained.
Sale Text is from the 6th penultimate edition of George Robins, A Catalogue of the Classic Contents of Strawberry Hill Collected by Horace Walpole (see Bibliography). The first digit refers to the day of the sale , the second to the lot number.
Provenance: Prices paid by Walpole, unless otherwise indicated, are from his own annotated copy of the 1774 edition of A Description of the Villa… (The Lewis Walpole Library, 49 2522A). Names of buyers and prices paid at the 1842 Strawberry Hill Sale are from the Ædes Strawberrianae. Names of purchasers and the prices to the detailed sale catalogue of the collection . . .withdrawn from Strawberry-Hill for sale in London (London: J.H. Burn, 1842).
Bibliography: These are selected references. Abbreviations are listed below. For more complete general references see the Bibliography page accessed by the link at the top of each object record.
Walpole Notes: An object noted as a ‘Principal Curiosity’ or as a ‘Work of Genius’ is based on manuscript lists in Horace Walpole’s copy of A Description of the Villa (The Lewis Walpole Library, 49.2535). This field also includes other comments by Walpole.
Images: Please roll over image to see caption information.
Notes: Additional information, including current research and opinion, is noted here as available.
Accounts - Paget Toynbee, Strawberry Hill Accounts, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1927
Anecdotes - Horace Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting in England, Strawberry Hill Press, 4 vols, 1762-71
Bentley illus - Loftus Jestin, The Answer to the Lyre: Richard Bentley’s Illustrations for Thomas Gray’s Poems, Philadelphia, 1990
Bentley thesis - Loftus Jestin, ‘Richard Bentley the Younger, 1708–1782: A Critical Biography’ (Ph.D. Thesis, Yale University, 1985)
Bib. HW - A.T. Hazen, A Bibliography of Horace Walpole, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948
Bib. SH - A. T. Hazen, A Bibliography of the Strawberry Hill Press, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1942
HW Corres - W.S. Lewis et al. ed., The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 48 vols. 1937-83
D1774 - Horace Walpole, A Description of the Villa of Mr Horace Walpole, Youngest Son of Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford, at Strawberry-Hill, near Twickenham. With an inventory of the furniture, pictures, curiosities &c, Strawberry Hill Press, 1774. References are to the expanded edition, concluding with ‘more additions’ (1786)
D1784 - Horace Walpole, A Description of the Villa of Mr Horace Walpole, Youngest Son of Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford, at Strawberry-Hill, near Twickenham. With an inventory of the furniture, pictures, curiosities &c, Strawberry Hill Press, 1784. References are to the expanded edition, concluding with ‘more additions’ (about 1791)
Genesis - W. S. Lewis, ‘The Genesis of Strawberry Hill,’ Metropolitan Museum Studies 5, part 1 (1934)
Library - A.T. Hazen, A Catalogue of Horace Walpole’s Library, 3 vols, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969
London Sale - George Robins, The Collection of Rare Prints and Illustrated Works, Removed for Sale in London…Collected by Horace Walpole, 13 June 1842 and nine following days
OHG - Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham, Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, 1980
Portraits - C.K. Adams and W.S. Lewis, ‘The Portraits of Horace Walpole,’ The Walpole Society, XLII (1970), pp. 1-34
1842 Sale - George Robins, A Catalogue of the Classic Contents of Strawberry Hill Collected by Horace Walpole, 25 April 1842 and 23 following days. The references are from the 6th (penultimate) edition; the first digit refers to the day of the sale, the second to the lot number.
1862 Special Exhibition - J. C. Robinson, ed., Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Works of Art of the Mediaeval, Renaissance, and more Recent Periods, June 1862 (London, 1863), exh. cat., South Kensington Museum (June 1862).
Works - Horace Walpole, The Works of Horatio Walpole, Earl of Orford, 5 vols, London, 1798 (Mary Berry, ed.)