14. Two Books of Swan-Marks, on Vellum

Two Books of Swan-Marks, on Vellum

 page from 49 2601 v 1                          lwl swan marks vol 2 page 1

by Susan Odell Walker, Head of Public Services, The Lewis Walpole Library

Horace Walpole kept his most highly prized books in the “Glass Closet” in his library at Strawberry Hill. Among the books kept in that special case were “two books of swan-marks, on vellum: extremely rare” (Walpole, Description, 51). These books probably date to the sixteenth century, making them among the oldest in the Lewis Walpole Library’s collection. Neither volume bears any annotations by Walpole, and where Walpole himself obtained the books is unknown. They do not appear in the manuscript catalog of the Library, but Walpole makes of point of mentioning them in both of his editions of the Description of the Villa.

The volumes were sold at the 1842 sale of the contents of Strawberry Hill on day 6, lot 8, to Boone for £8.8.0 for Lord Derby of Knowsley Hall where they remained until they appeared at a Christie’s auction on the 19th October 1953, as lots 98-99. Maggs, the dealer who had prepared the Knowsley auction catalogs, bought the volumes for Lewis at the sale. They were among a couple of large groups of books Lewis acquired at the Knowsley Hall sales, and he resisted subsequent and repeated offers from another collector to buy these two volumes from him. A.R.A Hobson wrote in 1957 about the second volume’s binding, but the contents of both remain unexplored in any detail.binding LWL swan marks vol 2

As W.S. Lewis (1969, lviii) wrote about Walpole’s library, “In the Glass Closet and E were the books that he liked best, his manuscripts and drawings and English antiquities. They had the quality that he valued above all others in his reading: They inspired visions.” Among the treasured items kept in the Glass Closet were antiquarian and genealogical manuscripts, the kinds of materials that appealed to Walpole for their historical associations. The Swan Marks books represent links to the long English tradition of prominent individuals keeping and marking mute swans, a privilege granted by the crown. The Walpole family, like many in Norfolk and the Fens, kept swans in times past, and in the second volume on page 45, row 1, position 3, is a swan mark labeled “Wallpoole.” 
LWL Swan marks v 2 Wallpoole

While Walpole doesn’t mention keeping swans himself, any visions inspired by the swan mark books would have been supported by the prospect from his window at Strawberry Hill where “Swans. . . are continually in view” (Walpole, Correspondence, 25:532).

The marking of the bills of mute swans to signify ownership of those birds found in England’s waterways dates back centuries, and the marks were registered with the crown. Swan marks books, registers, or rolls record the unique markings and owners’ names for identification. The marks themselves would have been cut or branded (MacGregor, 49) into the upper bills of the swans owned by eligible persons. The tradition of “swan upping” and annual census continues today, led by the Queen’s Swan Warden, the Swan Warden of the Worshipful Company of Vintners and that of the Worshipful Company of Dyers, although the birds are now marked with a leg band instead of cuts in the beaks.

A summary of the laws pertaining to marking and owning of swans, corresponding to those appearing in A New Law-dictionary: Containing the Interpretation and Definition of Words and Terms Used in the Law, can be found at the beginning of the second volume of swan marks in the LWL collection:

“No person may have a Swan Mark except he have land to the yearly value of five marks, and unless it be by grant of the King or his officers lawfully authorised or by prescription. Stat 22 Ed 4 c6

LWL Swan marks vol 2 laws

“Swan (cygnus) is a Noble Bird of Game: and a person may prescribe to have game of Swans within his manor as well as a Warren or Park. 7 Rep. 17 18

“A Swan is a Bird Royal, and all white Swans not mark’d, which have gained their natural Liberty, and are Swimming in an Open and common River, may be seized to the use of the King by his Prerogative. But a Subject may have a Property in white Swans not mark’d; as any man may have such Swans in his private Waters into an open and Common River he may retake them: though it is otherwise if they have gained their natural Liberty and Swim in open Rivers–without such Pursuit. Game Law par. 2 p. 152

“Stealing Swans marked and pinion’d or unmarked if kept in a Mote, Pond, or private River and reduced to Tameness, is Felony. HPC 68

“He that steals the Eggs of Swans out of their nests, shall be imprison’d a year & Day, and fined at the King’s pleasure. 11 Hen 7 C17

“Swanherd The King’s Swanherd, magister de ductus cygnorum. Pat. 16 R. 2

“No Fowl can be a Stray, but a Swan. 4 Inst. 280.” (Swan Marks, v. 2)

These passages appear in later cursive script on laid paper bound in before and after the main body of the book (49 2601 vol. 2) which otherwise consists of 67 pages of swan mark designs in black ink within stylized drawings representing swan bills, vertically oriented. Names of owners, written in secretary hand, appear above the marks. 54 pages contain designs, appearing in three rows of five designs per page. The remainder of the pages show the bill drawings without marks, presumably awaiting later additions. A comparison of the marks and names on pages 26 and 27 of this volume correspond precisely to those in the swan mark book in the collection of the British Library (Harley 3405).

BL Harley 3405 ff. 18v-19

BL Harley 3405

LWL 49 2601 v 2 26-27

LWL 49 2601 vol. 2

The first, and smaller Walpole volume (49 2601 vol. 1) includes 30 pages of swan marks in black ink on orange-colored stylized drawings of bills, oriented horizontally, five to a page. There are four pages of manuscript waste bound at the front and back of the volume.

mss binding waste

The first page of swan marks in volume 1 begins with one labeled Rex and one Regina. Subsequent designs are labeled with the names of other notable owners, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, the Abbot of Waltham, and more, as well as secular individuals.

LWL swan marks vol 1 page 1 page spread LWL swan marks vol 1

A few of the relatively many extant examples of swan mark books are ones that can be found in collections of the British Library, The National Archives (UK), the Royal Society Archives, the Norfolk Record Office, the Bodleian Library, Chetham’s Library, and at the Society of Antiquaries of London. The Society of Antiquaries also holds N.F. Ticehurst’s archive on the history of swan marks.

Interest in books of swan marks and the tradition of swan upping predates Walpole and has continued throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to today. Articles, observations, and inquiries about swan marks and swan upping in journals like  Archaeologia and Notes & Queries, as well as in local history publications, are now joined by web pages, blog posts, and images on Pinterest boards.

Bibliography

Bromehead, J.M. “Memoir on the Regulations Anciently Prescribed in Regard to Swans,” in Memoirs Illustrative of the History and Antiquities of the County and City of Lincoln: Communicated to the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Held at Lincoln, July, 1848, with a General Report of the Proceedings of the Meeting, and a Catalogue of the Museum Formed on that Occasion, Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 296-305. Lincolnshire: Office of the Institute, 1850.

Hobson, A.R.A. “Note 291. Bindings with the Device of a Pelican in its Piety.” Book Collector. Winter 1967. 16: 509-10.

Jacob, Giles, and John Holt. A New Law-Dictionary: Containing the Interpretation and Definition of Words and Terms Used in the Law …. London: Printed by H. Lintot (Assignee of Edward Sayer, Esq.), for R. Ware, A. Ward, J. and P. Knapton, 1744.

Lewis, Wilmarth Sheldon. “Horace Walpole’s Library.” In A Catalogue of Horace Walpole’s Library, by Allen T. Hazen. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969.

MacGregor Arthur. “Swan Rolls and beak markings. Husbandry, Exploitation and Regulation of Cygnus olor in England, c. 1100-1900”. Anthropozoologica, 22: 39-68.

Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.“Memoir on the Regulations Anciently Prescribed in regard to Swans.” In Memoirs Illustrative of the History and Antiquities of the County and City of Lincoln: Communicated to the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Held at Lincoln, July, 1848, with a General Report of the Proceedings of the Meeting, and a Catalogue of the Museum Formed on that Occasion, 296-310. Lincolnshire: Office of the Institute, 1850.

Walpole, Horace. A Description of the Villa of 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: Printed by Thomas Kirgate, 1774-[1786].

———. “Letter to Horace Mann, Thursday, 30 September 1784.” The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, edited by Wilmarth S. Lewis. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937-1983. 25.

13. Journal of the Printing Office

Choice 7: The Journal of the Printing Office

                   

By Wilmarth S. Lewis

“The Journal of the first private press in England is a small quarto bound in green vellum with gilt tooling, a very special notebook for a very special use. Walpole wrote his name and ‘1757’ on the inside cover. Below the date he added, ‘Archbishop Parker kept in his house a Painter, Engraver, and Printer,’ and pasted a cutting from the Craftsman of 20 February 1731, that describes the printing press set up in St James’s House for the entertainment of the Duke of Cumberland, aged ten. These were exalted precedents for his own press at Strawberry Hill, which was to become more celebrated than either of them. He also pasted before the first leaf of the journal an impression of Maittaire’s Annales Typographici, 1719, with the portraits of Gutenberg, Faust, Coster, Aldus, and Froben engraved by Houbraken. At the end are pasted business letters and bills relating to the press. Mrs. Damer took the Journal in 1797. It was sold in the first Waller Sale in 1921, edited by Paget Toynbee, and published by the Clarendon Press in 1923. I bought it in 1933 from Maggs. Among the twenty-six choices it ranks high.

                      

“Walpole set up his press to be independent of the London bookseller-publishers: he would print what he pleased in as many copies as he pleased and dispose of them as he saw fit, giving away most of them, but selling Gray’s Odes, Bentley’s edition of Lucan, and the Rev. Mr Hoyland’s Poems for the benefit of their authors. He also printed Joseph Spence’s Parallel of Magliabecci and Mr Hill, a tailor of Buckingham, to raise a little sum of money for the latter poor man. Six hundred copies were sold in a fortnight, and it was reprinted in London. ‘I am turned printer,’ he wrote Mann, ‘and have converted a little cottage here into a printing-office–My abbey is a perfect college or academy–I keep a painter in the house and a printer–not to mention Mr Bentley who is an academy himself. I send you two copies (one for Dr Cocchi) of a very honourable opening of my press–two amazing odes of Mr Gray–They are Greek, they are Pindaric, they are sublime–consequently I fear a little obscure–the second particularly by the confinement of the measure and the nature of prophetic vision is mysterious; I could not persuade him to add more notes; he says “whatever wants to be explained don’t deserve to be.”‘

“The opening of the Press was described to Chute: ‘On Monday next the Officina Arbuteana opens in form. The Stationers’ Company, that is Mr Dodsley, Mr Tonson, etc. are summoned to meet here on Sunday night. And with what do you think we open?    Cedite, Romani Impressores–with nothing under Graii Carmina. I found him in town last week: he had brought his two Odes to be printed. I snatched them out of Dodsley’s hands, and they are to be the first-fruits of my press.’ Two thousand copies of the Odes, ‘The Bard,’ and ‘Progress of Poesy,’ were printed by the Press and were published by Dodsley, who, as I have said, paid Gray £42 for the copyright.

“The Press had several printers before Thomas Kirgate arrived in 1765. He stayed to the end, becoming Walpole’s secretary as well, taking his dictation when he couldn’t write, and annotating his books in a hand so similar to Walpole’s that it has misled many since. We shall come to him frequently.

“The Press’s authors range from Lucan to Hannah More, whose ‘Bishop Bonner’s Ghost‘ closed its list of books in 1789. Among its other publications are letters of Edward VI, a translation by Bentley of Paul Hentzner’s Journey to England in 1598, the first appearance of Lord Herbert of Cherbury‘s autobiography, Count Gramont’s  Mémoires (discussed in Choice 18), and Charles Lord Whitworth’s Account of Russia . . . in . . . 1710. Fourteen of the Press’s thirty-four books are by Walpole himself; seven others have his Prefaces. Chief among his own books are A Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors2 vols, Fugitive Pieces in Verse and Prose, Anecdotes of Painting in England and A Catalogue of Engravers5 vols, in two editions. The Mysterious Mother, a tragedy, and A Description of Strawberry Hill in two editions. Walpole’s copies of the last three are in Choices of their own.

Lewis continues the chapter with details about Walpole’s own texts published at the Press, and introduces the Miscellaneous Antiquities, an occasional monographic series that ran to two numbers during Walpole’s lifetime.*

“The runner-up to the Journal in this Choice is Walpole’s collection of ‘Detached Pieces’ that he pasted into a quarto notebook with marbled paper covers. Its spine has a label, one of the Press’s rarest productions, ‘Loose Pieces Printed at Strawberry-Hill.’ on a fly-leaf Walpole wrote, ‘This book is unique as there is no other compleat Set of all the Pieces preserved. H.W.,’ but it lacks the title-page to Bentley’s Designs for Strawberry Hill. Walpole showed his affection for this collection by printing a special title-page for it. ‘A/Collection/of all the/Loose Pieces/printed at Strawberry Hill.’ This is followed by the south front of Strawberry after Paul Sandby and a print of Kirgate annotated by Walpole. I owe this supreme collection of ‘Detached Pieces’ to the good offices of John Carter and John Hayward who in 1952 encouraged its then owner, the Dowager Marchioness of Crewe, who had inherited it from her father Lord Rosebery, to let the collection go to Farmington. Their petition came at a time when repairs were needed in the owner’s bathroom and were effected by letting the Detached Pieces cross the Atlantic, and instance of domestic benefit conferred by a collector.”

Lewis’s then discusses not only other pieces printed by the Press, but also Allen T. Hazen’s Bibliography of the Strawberry Hill Press. Lewis concludes with a look at the subject of Thomas Kirgate, his complaints, and the reprints and extra-illustrated copies he produced for sale both before and after Walpole’s death.

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called Choice 7: The Journal of the Printing Office download or expand the link here:

*Lewis resumed the series in 1928, and the Lewis Walpole Library took it up again starting in 2004. Of particular interest for this post, the eighteenth volume is The Strawberry Hill Press & Its Printing House: An Account and an Iconography by Stephen Clarke. (New Haven, Conn.: The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, 2011).

12. Horace Walpole and His Collection of Miniatures by Jean-Étienne Liotard

Horace Walpole and His Collection of Miniatures by Jean-Étienne Liotard

by Christine Rheo Brandner
PhD student, History of Art, Yale University

LWL Liotard self portrait miniature recto       LWL Liotard self portrait miniature verso

Jean-Étienne Liotard, Self-Portrait, c. 1765-67. Gouache on vellum, in a black wooden frame, 4.1 x 3.8 cm. Lewis Walpole Library, lwlpr33241a+b.
Roethlisberger and Loche, no. 445, ill. 656.

Among its many treasures, the Lewis Walpole Library houses a minute self-portrait of the Swiss artist Jean–Étienne Liotard (1702–1789) in gouache on vellum. The miniature originally belonged to Horace Walpole and was acquired by W.S. Lewis in 1954. The simple wooden frame was sealed on the reverse side with paper backing carrying an inscription in Walpole’s hand: “Liotard / by / Himself. / A / legacy / to/ Mr Horace Walpole / from Mrs M. Delany / 1788.” A later hand then added the following lines around the edges: “Purchased for me by Mr. Forster at Strawberry Hill. 10th May 1842. R. R. Preston.” The object underwent conservation in 2012; the paper backing was carefully removed and the glass and frame cleaned. The painting now appears wonderfully fresh and pristine.

Jean-Étienne Liotard, who is little known today, was famous throughout Europe during his lifetime for his exotic appearance. Born in Geneva and originally trained in Paris as a miniature painter, Liotard’s fortunes took a decisive turn in 1738 when he accepted an invitation by a group of English gentlemen, among them the Hon. William Ponsonby (Viscount Duncannon and later 2nd Earl of Bessborough) and John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, to accompany them on their grand tour to Constantinople. The young tourists eventually returned home, but Liotard decided to stay on and attached himself to the household of the British ambassador to the Sublime Porte Everard Fawkener. He soon became the favorite portrait painter for expatriate communities in the Ottoman capital. Liotard’s work included black and red chalk drawings on paper recording intimate scenes of Europeans in oriental dress, who adopted the customs of their host country by sitting cross legged on cushions and drinking coffee, as well as more imposing paintings, such as a life size oil portrait of Richard Pococke, pioneer archaeologist of the Middle East.

European travelers to the Levant commonly adopted local costumes, including caftans and turbans, but upon returning to Europe, they shaved their beards and shed their oriental dress. (Gullström et al., 187.) Not so Liotard, who had taken a liking to the loose Turkish garments and continued to wear them throughout the rest of his life. In 1743, when the artist arrived in Vienna, he caused an immediate sensation with his oriental robes, large fur hat, and the long beard he had grown according to local custom while in Moldova at the court of prince Constantin Mavrocordato. He attracted the attention of Empress Maria-Theresa and soon received prestigious commissions at the imperial court.

In 1748, Liotard traveled on to Paris where he exhibited his beard and costume at the opera in order to stimulate interest in his person, and thus to enhance his business as a portraitist. In fact, some of Liotard’s critics claimed that his success depended entirely on his sartorial performance rather than on his talents as a painter. Madame Pompadour, royal mistress and powerful patron of the arts, commissioned Liotard to paint her but was less than pleased with the artist’s unflattering depiction. According to J.A. Dulaure, author of a treatise on the history of facial hair, the marquise curtly rejected Liotard’s portrait with the words: “Votre barbe fait tout votre mérite.” (Roethlisberger and Loche, Sources, 102.) While the anecdote most likely belongs to the realm of fantasy, Liotard’s self–staging as peintre turc continued to create excitement wherever he went.

In 1753, Horace Walpole described Liotard’s arrival in England in a letter to Horace Mann, pointing out the artist’s exotic looks: “From having lived in Constantinople he wears a Turkish habit and a beard down to his girdle: this and his extravagant prices, which he has raised even beyond what he asked at Paris, will probably get him as much money as he covets for he is avaricious beyond imagination.” (Walpole, Correspondence, 20:362.) It was no coincidence that Walpole should take notice of the artist’s debut in London in 1753, for the association between the two men had begun the previous year, when Walpole commissioned two portraits from the artist while he was still working in Paris. Charles Churchill, Walpole’s brother-in-law, acted as an intermediary in the complex negotiations between Liotard and two of Walpole’s favorite French dramatists, Crébillon the Younger and Pierre de Marivaux. Both agreed to sit for Liotard, but in the end Crébillon refused to give up his portrait to Walpole unless he received a copy of the original. (Walpole, Correspondence, 20:324f.) Faced with the doubling of the already exorbitant fee of sixteen guineas demanded by Liotard for his work, Walpole grudgingly admitted defeat. The miniature of Marivaux, however, was personally delivered to Walpole by Liotard and safely deposited in the cabinet of rosewood that contained his collection of enamels and miniatures. (Walpole, Description, 56.) The miniature is lost today, but Walpole recounted the story of its delivery to Horace Mann, giving particular attention to his first impression of the portrait: “Marivaux’s picture […] gives one a very different idea from what one conceives of the author of Marianne, though it is reckoned extremely like: the countenance is a mixture of buffoon and villain.” (Walpole, Correspondence, 20:362.) This short description opens a small window into Walpole’s use of such miniatures; he apparently submitted them to close inspection in order to draw conclusions about the character of the models based on their physiognomic features.

His cabinet also contained a miniature of “Liotard the painter, in Turkish dress, in enamel, by himself; given to Mr. Walpole by his sister Lady Mary Churchill.” (Walpole Description, 60.) In a watercolor of the cabinet by John Carter, the miniature can be seen on the inside of the right door.

The Cabinet of Miniatures and Enamels [John Carter] (in Folio 33 30 copy 11)

John Carter, Disposition of the Miniatures in the Rosewood Cabinet in the Tribune, n.d. Watercolor, 32.6 x 27.5 cm, mounted. Lewis Walpole Library, LWL folio 33 30, copy 11, on fol. 161r.

It is unclear when the gift was made, but it is conceivable that Lady Mary purchased the miniature shortly after Liotard’s arrival in London. The enamel is inscribed on the back, identifying the artist and the date of creation: ‘‘Liotard / by Himself / 1753.’’ The portrait displays the exquisite finish Liotard was famous for, showing the artist in an oriental caftan of bright red silk, a white undergarment with embroidered flowers, wearing his usual red cap and sporting his trademark beard.

https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/421436/a-self-portrait

Jean-Étienne Liotard, Self-Portrait in Profile, 1753. Enamel, 6.1 x 4.6 cm. The Royal Collection, London, RCIN 421436. Roethlisberger and Loche, no. 262, ill. 391.

Miniature portraits were composite artifacts that were manufactured from a variety of materials such as diamonds and other precious stones; many were encased in a locket to enhance tactility and control visibility. Walpole’s rosewood cabinet was itself a hybrid object, not only because it emulated the precious setting of the miniatures it sheltered, but also because it housed his portraits of famous men, valued for the moral example they embodied, together with objects of sentimental value for the owner. Walpole’s description of the cabinet lists miniature portraits of his siblings and parents among the pieces on display, including “two lockets in the shape of hearts, with hair of Sir Robert Walpole and Catherine Shorter, set with diamonds.” (Walpole, Description, 57.)

Enamel miniatures were intimate objects that could be held in one’s hands, and they were often worn on the body of their owners as jewelry. (Pointon, Miniature Portraits.) In order to facilitate the affective engagement with the depicted individual, the sitters were often represented en face so as to directly address the beholder. While the practice of the private exchange of miniatures and their visual display on the body continued throughout the eighteenth century, these small portraits were beginning to be cherished by collectors for their aesthetic rather than sentimental value. Unlike miniature objects of intense private significance, Liotard’s Self–Portrait of 1753 does not invite a passionate engagement or emotional reaction from the beholder. The stark profile standing out against a gleaming white background presents the artist as an object for the viewer’s detached reflection on the character and the merits of the sitter. Liotard’s features are foregrounded by a detailed depiction chosen to instill heightened interest in his exoticism. However, the exquisite finish of the enamel self–portrait also speaks to the technical ability of the artist and displays his skills and talent.

Today Liotard is best known for his larger portraits in pastel, but in the eighteenth century he was a celebrated miniaturist who employed a variety of techniques available at the time. Apart from enamel, Liotard also mastered the technique of gouache on vellum. His small self–portrait in the Lewis Walpole Library is painted in this traditional method that originally emerged from the workshops of book illuminators in the early sixteenth century; the English miniaturists Nicholas Hilliard (1547–1619), and Peter Oliver (ca. 1594–1647) were pioneers of this genre. In contrast to the polished appearance of enamel work, vellum gives a velvety finish more akin to Liotard’s preferred medium of pastel. In the Lewis Walpole Library self-portrait, a minute sheet of vellum measuring only 4.1 by 3.8 centimeters sits in a deep wooden frame and is protected by glass. The square shape of the object, despite its small dimensions, is thus reminiscent of the common format of a large size portrait. The artist shows himself with his distinct red bonnet, a loose blue caftan, and a yellow undershirt in keeping with his usual Turkish attire. The white ruffled collar, however, is part of the traditional dress of his hometown of Geneva. The most striking feature of the painting is denoted by its absence — Liotard portrays himself without a beard, a detail duly noted by Walpole in his Description: “In the glass case near the window: A small head in water–colours of Liotard, without his beard, by himself; a legacy from Mrs. Delany.” (Walpole Description, 94.) According to this entry, the miniature was in Walpole’s possession as early as 1784 when the Description was published. The statement on the back of the frame, however, mentions the year 1788, the date of Mary Delany’s death. It is therefore likely that Walpole only added the inscription to memorialize his dear friend after her passing.

The style of the miniature and the artist’s appearance closely correspond to a series of self–portraits painted around 1768 while Liotard was stationed at Geneva. (Roethlisberger and Loche, Sources, no. 440-444, ill. 647-651.) The most notable difference to the full size Geneva portraits, which represent the artist directly looking at the beholder, is the miniature’s profile view of the head. Just like the enamel in Walpole’s possession, the vellum portrait invites close observation of the artist’s distinctive features. In contrast to the enamel miniature with its convex surface extending towards the viewer, however, Liotard’s watercolor portrait produces a sense of distance even if studied in close proximity. Paradoxically, it is precisely this fundamental and insurmountable distance that produces an immediate effect of presence. The miniature offers a surprising experience for beholders who, in fact, loose all sense of scale, drawn in by the exquisitely rendered details of the face. Despite its minute size, it gives a lively impression of the artist’s character, the slight smile playing around his lips hinting at a stoic disposition obtained by a life of adventurous experiences. Liotard’s eye, focused on a distant object, speaks of a professional ethos that aims at representing nature as closely as possible.

It is quite conceivable, considering Liotard’s business acumen, that he painted a number of such small-scale self–portraits to have them available for his clients, many of whom would have cherished a likeness of the famous peintre turc. Mrs. Delany, the original owner of the miniature, described a visit to Liotard’s studio in 1772, in a letter dated April 11: “Here is Miss Foley come to carry me off to Lestart’s [sic], where she is to sit for her picture. Just returned, not quite satisfied. The picture is like, but not favourably so; another sitting I hope will improve it. Lestart is a great artist in his way, but not a portrait painter, in my poor opinion.” (Paston, Memoir, 208.) In her will from Februrary 22, 1778, Mrs. Delany bequeathed another of Liotard’s self–portraits to her friend and benefactor the Duchess of Portland, this one a pastel of apparently bigger dimensions because it was kept in a “large square shagreen case.” (Ibid., 483.) Surprisingly, despite her low opinion of Liotard as a portraitist, Mary Delany nevertheless possessed at least two of his self–portraits.

Walpole’s own assessment of Liotard’s merits as a portraitist shows a similar ambivalence towards the artist’s works. On the one hand Walpole clearly cherished and collected Liotard’s portraits for their detailed depiction of the sitters, but on the other hand he deemed them stiff and ‘‘too like to please those who sat to him.” (Walpole Anecdotes, vol. 4, 195.) The miniature self–portrait at the Lewis Walpole Library seems to confirm Walpole’s opinion: it shows the artist represented with unflinching realism, without an attempt to idealize or improve the features of his face according to preconceived notions of artistic greatness and male pride. It is the humble representation of an artist whose life and work continue to fascinate us today because he defied the norms of social conduct and artistic style of his time with an independence of mind that marks him as a figure of the Enlightenment, as well as of modernity.

Bibliography:

Coombs, Katherine, “Horace Walpole and the Collecting of Miniatures”, in Snodin, Michael, and Cynthia Roman (eds.), Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, 182-199. Exhibition organized by the Lewis Walpole Library, the Yale Center for British Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum. On view at the Yale Center for British Art from 15 Oct. 2009 – 3 Jan. 2010, and at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 6 March – 4 July 2010. (New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 2010).

Gullström Beatrice, et al. (eds.), Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-1789), Exhibition organized by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the National Galleries of Scotland. On view at the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh 4 July – 13 Sept. 2015, and at the Royal Academy, London 24 Oct. 2015 – 31 Jan. 2016. (London: The Royal Academy, 2015).

Lewis, W. S. (ed.). The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, 48 vols.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937–83.

Paston, George, Mrs. Delany (Mary Granville, A Memoir 1700-1788. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. (London: Grant Richards, 1900).

Pointon Marcia, “‘Surrounded with Brilliants’: Miniature Portraits in Eighteenth-Century England”, in The Art Bulletin, vol. 83, no. 1 (March 2001), 48–71.

Roethlisberger, Marcel and Rene Loche, Liotard: Catalogue sources et cor- respondance, avec la collaboration de Bodo Hofstetter et de Hans Boeckh pour les miniatures. 2. vols. (Doornspijk: Davaco Publishers, 2008).

Walpole, Horace, A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole, Youngest Son of
Sir Robert Walpole Earl of Orford, at Strawberry-Hill Near Twickenham, Middlesex. With an Inventory of the Furniture, Pictures, Curiosities, &c. (Strawberry-Hill: Printed by Thomas Kirgate, 1774).

Walpole Horace, Anecdotes of Painting in England, vol. 4. (London: J. Dodsley, 1782).

11. Designs by Mr. R. Bentley, for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray

Choice 6: Bentley’s Designs for Gray’s Poems

             

By Wilmarth S. Lewis

“‘Short Notes’ records, ‘This year [1753] published a fine edition of poems by Mr T. Gray with prints from designs by Mr R. Bentley.’ He might have added that the fine edition had an ‘Explanation of the Prints’ by himself. A sample is:

“Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat,

Frontispiece.

 “The cat standing on the brim of the tub, and endeavouring to catch a gold fish. Two cariatides of a river god stopping his hears to her cries, and Destiny cutting the nine threads of life, are on each side. Above, is a cat’s head between two expiring lamps, and over that, two mouse-traps, between an mandarin-cat sitting before a Chinese pagoda, and angling for gold fish into a china jar; and another cat drawing up a net. At the bottom are mice enjoying themselves on the prospect of the cat’s death; a lyre and pallet.

“Walpole published the book through Robert Dodsley in London to help his two friends. In the absence of his correspondence with Dodsley about the book we don’t know the terms of its publication apart from Dodsley’s payment of £42 to Gray for the copyright of his poems. Designs of Mr R Bentley for Six Poems by Mr T. Gray finally appeared in 1753, a royal quarto of thirty-six pages so cut that it looks like a small folio. The price was high, half a guinea, the equivalent today of what–fifty dollars? Dr. Johnson in his chapter on Gray in Lives of the Poets annoyed the poet and his friends by saying that the poems were printed on one side of each leaf ‘That they might in some form or other make out a book,’ but Bentley’s Designs went through three editions in 1753 and four more from 1765 to 1789. In our own day it has been hailed as a landmark of English book illustration by Osbert Sitwell and Kenneth Clark who called it ‘the most graceful monument to the Gothic Rococo.’

“Both Bentley’s original drawings and Walpole’s copy of the printed book are at Farmington. I am saving the book of drawings. Walpole noted in it. ‘These are the original drawings by Mr Bentley from which Grignion and Müller engraved the plates. Hor. Walpole.’ He pasted the drawings where the prints were to be. His usual binding was plain calf, but he had this book bound in red morocco with elaborate gilt tooling, a beautiful book. William Beckford paid eight guineas for it in the Strawberry Hill sale through his bookseller, Bohn, as we know from their correspondence about the sale at Farmington. Bohn reported that the drawings are so like engravings he had to look pretty carefully to satisfy himself that they are not engravings, an uncertainty shared by all then and since. After the Beckford Sale in 1882 they went to the ardent Walpolian Laurence Currie and came to me from Maggs in 1933.

“The publication of the Designs did not proceed smoothly. Gray objected to numbering the stanzas and the numbers were removed; he insisted that ‘Mr’ be put before his and Bentley’s names for fear that their omission would make him appear as ‘a classic.’ Walpole saw no ‘affectation in leaving out the Mr before your names; it is a barbarous addition. . . . Without ranging myself among classics, I assure you, were I to print anything with my name, it should be plain Horace Walpole; Mr is one of the Gothicisms I abominate,’ but Gray insisted on having it. Although he disliked Walpole’s ‘Explanation of the Prints,’ he conceded, ‘If you think it necessary to print these explanations for the use of people that have no eyes, I could be glad they were a little altered.’ Gray, always the candid friend with Walpole, wrote that he, Gray, would ‘revise the press, for you know you can’t.’ He became seriously alarmed when Dodsley, to make the book look more for its money, had Eccardt’s portrait of Gray at Strawberry Hill engraved for the frontispiece. On hearing this the poet wrote Walpole, ‘Sure you are out of your wits! this I know, if you suffer my head to be printed, you infallibly will put me out of mine. I conjure you immediately to put a stop to any such design. Who is at the expense of engraving it I know not, but if it be Dodsley, I will make up the loss to him. The thing as it was, I know, will make me ridiculous enough, but to appear in proper person at the head of my works, consisting of half a dozen ballads in thirty pages, would be worse than the pillory. I do assure you, if I had received such a frontispiece without any warning, I believe it would have given me a palsy.’ The print appears in only a few copies, including Walpole’s own. He lettered ‘Thomas Gray’ neatly on it and below the print, ‘Eccardt pinx, Müller Inv. In the collection of Mr H. Walpole.’

“With the removal of Gray’s portrait the frontispiece became Bentley’s illustration for the ‘Elegy’ that shows the poet musing by the babbling brook. There has been some speculation on the poet’s identity, whether he was Gray, Richard West, or just anybody. Comparison of Bentley’s original drawing with Müller’s print of it shows that the musing figure was originally Gray, adenoids and all, and that Müller’s figure, in compliance with Gray’s wishes, is nobody in particular. Walpole’s annotations in his printed copy of the book point out Gray’s indebtedness in the poems to Richard III, As You Like It, La Bruyère, and the Spectator. Walpole also noted that the Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes belonged to himself and that the authority for Chancellor Hatton’s dancing in ‘A Long Story’ is found in Anthony Bacon’s papers, vol. I, p. 56. Walpole bound in an excellent sketch by Gray of Stoke House in A Long Story opposite Bentley’s drawing of it and when we put these two drawings beside Grignion’s engraving of Bentley’s drawing we have Stoke House from start to finish.”

Lewis continues the chapter by discussing the friendship between Gray and Walpole, including their experiences during their Grand Tour travels and afterwards, and their quarrels and reconciliations. He notes, “Bentley’s Designs for Gray’s Poemswas inspired by Walpole’s eagerness to help his friends who he believed were geniuses.”

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called Choice 6: Bentley’s Designs for Gray’s Poems download or expand the link here:

10. Doutes Historiques sur la Vie et le Regne de Richard III

King Louis XVI’s Translation of Horace Walpole’s Historic Doubts

 

by Loftus Jestin, Professor Emeritus of English, Central Connecticut State University

Among the curious artifacts at the Lewis Walpole Library, one of the truly rare and startling manuscripts is Louis XVI’s translation of Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of King Richard III.

The original publication in 1768 of Horace Walpole’s attempt to exonerate the reputation of Richard III caused quite a stir. The book generated much controversy with rebuttals and vilifications by such luminaries as Hume and Gibbon, many of which Walpole answered tartly over the next twenty years or so. William Cole and Thomas Gray affirmed Walpole’s argument, as, in fact, did Voltaire. The execution of the French king on January 21st, 1793, so upset Walpole that he wrote an angry, vituperative letter eight days later of nearly a thousand words to Lady Ossory, in which he could find no terms sufficiently strong to describe the murderers: “It remained for the enlightened eighteenth century to baffle language and invent horrors that can be found in no vocabulary” [Corres., p. 177, vol. 34, 1965]. The death of this “best-natured and most inoffensive of men” [p. 176], not to forget his reputation, which was so thoroughly traduced by the revolutionary mob, seemed to him a parallel to, if not a vindication of, his assertion in Historic Doubts that Richard III was maligned and his name thoroughly blackened by Lancastrian and Tudor propagandists.

It would have heartened Walpole had he known of the French king’s translation of the book before he died in 1797. Apparently, having been purloined by the mob from the king’s cell at the Tuileries, the manuscript escaped destruction and ended up in the hands of the publisher Roussel d’Epinol, who printed it at his shop in Paris in 1800. The manuscript was then purchased by Louise Comtesse de Ponthon, who married Henry Seymour; it descended down the generations of the Seymour family until its sale in 1949 at Sotheby’s to Dr. James Hasson of Berkshire for £300, who then sold it through Maggs Bros. Ltd. in 1950 to Wilmarth S. Lewis for £350. The manuscript remains in the Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, Connecticut.

It appears from the manuscript that the king wrote out his translation in an already bound notebook of 82 octavo-sized pages, rather than on loose sheets. Written in a tiny and very neat cursive hand over each side of each leaf, the script forms a continuous, uninterrupted flow, albeit in a slightly cramped hand. There are many cross outs and corrections, especially in the early part of the text, but with far fewer emendations in the latter half, suggestive of a greater confidence, or perhaps, more alarmingly, of the need for speed, given the king’s awareness of his approaching doom.

Many years ago, Mr. Lewis told me the following anecdote, which I have not been able to confirm. Not long after his purchase of the manuscript, authorities at the Bibliothèque nationale informed him that his manuscript was only a copy of the original, which was housed there in Paris. “Not at all,” Mr. Lewis rebutted. “You have the copy. The original manuscript in the king’s hand is here in Farmington. Come and see it for yourself!” No doubt annoyed by this pesky American millionaire, the French national library sent two experts to examine the manuscript. “Quite supercilious they were, too!” Lewis testified, until they held his copy in hand, whereupon one of the men had to sit down, quite faint.  There was no question who had the original, and who the copy.

Twenty years ago or so, I used to take my graduate students on a field trip to the Lewis Walpole library to look at some the rare books there, books they had read in modern editions for my seminar on eighteenth-century literature. Pope’s own copy of Homer’s Odyssey with his pencil drawing of his grotto at his house in Twickenham on the inside of the back cover, volumes of the original publications of many seventeenth and eighteenth-century plays, Bentley’s hand-drawn illustrations for Gray’s poems, the second folio of Shakespeare’s plays, and other such treasures. When I opened for them the slip case holding Louis XVI’s manuscript translation of Historic Doubts, many of the students gasped and looked at each other bug-eyed with a wild surprise, having never seen such an astonishing rarity before.

9. Walpole’s Three “Common Place Books,” Two “Books of Materials,” “Miscellany,” and Pocket Book

Choice 4: Walpole’s Three “Common Place Books,” Two “Books of Materials,” “Miscellany,” and Pocket Book

  

“These seven manuscripts are being saved on the generous principle that permits the rescue of an entire set and not just its first volume. If the Almighty objects, ‘This is going too far!’, I’ll choose the earliest one, for which Walpole wrote a title-page, ‘Verses, Stories, Characters, Letters, etc. etc. with some particular memoirs of a certain Parcel of People. 1740.’

“The three vellum-bound folio Common Place Books were left by Walpole to the Waldegrave family and stayed at Strawberry Hill. They were kept out of the 1842 sale, but were sold the following year to Richard Bentley the publisher (not to be confused with Gray’s and Walpole’s Bentley), along with the manuscripts I talk about in Choices 1 and 15. Grandfather Bentley sold back the Common Place Books in 1865 to the widow of the seventh Earl, Frances Lady Waldegrave, who restored the splendors of Strawberry by two later brilliant marriages and her own social gusto. In 1942 when I was in London on O.S.S. business the present Lord Waldegrave sold the three Common Place Books to me. During the flight home they were in jeopardy when the wheels of my plane were locked for what seemed quite a long time over Shannon. I see the crew now in their shirts, sweating with fright despite the cols, while we circled round and round the airport and they jabbed madly with long red spanners at the entrails of the plane that had been exposed beside my seat. Fortunately  they got the wheels down and so the ‘Verses, Stories, Characters, Letters, etc., etc.’ were saved, after all.

“The manuscript title-page of the second Common Place Book is ‘Poems and other Pieces by Horace Walpole youngest Son of Sir Robert Walpole Earl of Orford.’ The first poem, of 81 lines, is addressed ‘To the honorable Miss Lovelace/On the Death of Lord Lovelace/Her only Brother, 1736.’ Walpole later added a note, ‘The Author’s age was 18 at Cambridge.’

“Walpole transcribed all the verses on the right-hand pages of the second Common Place Book with glosses on the opposite pages that acknowledged their indebtedness to Dryden, Addison, Pope, Virgil, and Juvenal. The unprinted verses run to hundreds of lines. They are not in my Horace Walpole’s Fugitive Verses, 1931, owing to a lapse of Paget Toynbee’s customary generosity. I called on him at his house in Bucks whenever I was in England, taking with me my latest outstanding finds to show him. He looked at them with mixed feelings–pleasure for me, but regret that they would affect the value of his work. In 1927 we talked about my plans for an edition of Walpole’s Fugitive Verses. ‘Oh,” he said, ‘wouldn’t you like to look in there!‘ and pointed to a cabinet that had, he said, his copies of the unpublished verses from the second Common Place Book. It was not until 1942 when I acquired the books that I saw how much had been kept from me. Perhaps the most notable prose piece in it was Walpole’s ‘Speech in the House of Commons for an address to the King Jan’y 17th 1751,’ one of the few speeches he made during his twenty-six years in Parliament and the only one I know of in manuscript. The motion was carried 203 to 74. Prime Minister Pelham, Pitt, and Uncle Horace Walpole voting for it.

 

“Walpole labelled his third Common Place Book ‘Political Papers.’ They were printed in the weeklies Old England, The World, The Remembrances, The Protester. The ‘papers’ are written on the right-hand pages; opposite them are voluminous notes such as, ‘Mr Pitt’s fort [sic] was language. He dealt much in creation of words, such as Vicinage, Colonize, Whiggery, Desultoriness,’ a claim not confirmed by the Oxford English Dictionary, which gives earlier uses of all of them. The forthcoming Yale Edition of Walpole’s memoirs will be enriched by this Common Place Book.

                              

“In 1759 and 1771 Walpole began what he called ‘Books of Materials‘ in two green vellum quartos and in 1986 a ‘Miscellany’ in a small red morocco notebook with silver clasps. For nearly forty years he wrote up his visits to country houses, thoughts on Shakespeare, notes for a fifth volume of the Anecdotes of Painting in England, and much besides. The first note in 1759 is on the death of Prince George of Denmark taken from the Secret History of England; the final note in the Miscellany was written in the last year of Walpole’s life. It records that Murphy’s Portugal, 1795, raises the possibility that ‘the fine Gothic church of Batalha was guilt after a design by Stephen Stephenson, and Englishman’; Walpole kept his interest in ‘Gothic’ to the end. The Miscellany’s epigraph is from Cibber’s Apology and fits all the notebooks: ‘Such remaining scraps–as may not perhaps be worth the reader’s notice: but if they are such as tempt me to write them, why may not I hope that in this wide world there may be many an idle soul no wiser than myself who may be equally tempted to read them?’ Hands across the ages.

“My seventh notebook is small enough to be carried in a pocket. Walpole kept it from 1780 to 1783. Its notes range from A Discourse of Husbandrie used in Brabant and Flanders, 1650, to George Washington’s Royalist ancestors. Walpole thought so highly of one of his own bon mots in it, ‘Man is an Aurivorious Animal,’ that he included it among his ‘Detached Pieces’ in his posthumous Works.The history of this pocket notebook is lost until it re-emerged in the Red Cross Sale at Sotheby’s in 1917. Then it passed into the R.B. Adam library in Buffalo and when that library was sold in 1926 Dr Rosenbach bought it for me. The Walpole Press at Mount Vernon, New York, brought out a facsimile of it in 1927 with notes by me that foreshadow the Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, which I began six years later.”

Elsewhere in this chapter, Lewis details various pieces contained in the manuscript volumes, recounts Walpole’s amiable friendships with young ladies and dismisses “a charge … that he was a homosexual,” and relates provenance information and acquisition anecdotes. The chapter concludes with the observation, “Missing Walpoliana may be anywhere.”

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called Choice 4: Walpole’s Three “Common Place Books,” Two “Books of Materials,” “Miscellany,” and Pocket Book download or expand the link here: 

8. J.H. Müntz’s designs for Dickie Bateman’s Grove House, Old Windsor

J.H. Müntz’s designs for Dickie Bateman’s Grove House, Old Windsormuntz drawings of r bateman's room

by Matthew Reeve, Associate Professor and Queen’s National Scholar, Department of Art History & Art Conservation, Queen’s University

In one of Horace Walpole’s clever commentaries on the new Gothic style, he described the transformation of Dickie Bateman’s villa at Old Windsor in two characteristically witty turns of phrase: “[I] converted Dicky Bateman from a Chinese to a Goth…I preached so effectively that every pagoda took the veil”; and that Bateman’s house had “changed its religion […] I converted it from Chinese to Gothic”. Walpole positions himself as a teacher and Bateman as a disciple whom he convinced to change his tastes from Chinoiserie (“the fashion of the instant”) to the Gothic, the style “of the elect”.[1]

“The elect” was not a socio-economic category, but a tongue-in-cheek reference to Walpole’s own circle of friends and associates and their shared Gothic idiom. Walpole’s allegory of stylistic change as national and religious conversion was based in part on the fact that he provided the conduit for two of his closest designers in the Strawberry Committee—Richard Bentley (1708-82) and Johann Heinrich Müntz (1727-98)—to design Gothic additions to the Priory. Rebuilt and expanded in the fashionable mode of Strawberry Hill and by its designers, from Walpole’s perspective at least, Bateman’s works at Old Windsor served to reinforce his role as arbiter of the Gothic taste and Strawberry Hill as its paradigm. Plans to renovate the house began in 1758, coinciding with Walpole’s visit in that year.[2]

The three drawings at the Lewis Walpole Library are for Bateman’s new dining room and are dated to 1761. They are now part of LWL Folio 75 M92 761, the Library’s stunning oversized portfolio of Müntz’s works. They are important testaments to Bateman’s architectural patronage and they provide vital visual testimony of the eighteenth-century history of the house of which precious little now survives.[3] Another part of the house is probably also preserved at the Lewis Walpole Library—Richard Bentley’s drawing of a cloister very likely relates to the original cloister at Old Windsor that connected the house to Müntz’s dining room (49 3585c). Although aspects of the ornament of the dining room is common to Müntz’s other drawings—particularly the screen of St Alban’s Abbey that he favoured—the octagonal form is unprecedented in Walpole’s oeuvre.

Walpole’s account of Bateman’s Old Windsor demands nuancing. Framing himself as the reigning doyen of the Gothic taste, he carefully sidelines Dicky Bateman, a senior man of taste, who in fact built some of the most significant statements of the Gothic and Chinese taste in the 1730s through 1750s at Shobdon Church and Court in Herefordshire, the early building works at Old Windsor, and in a series of garden and “interior design” commissions for aristocratic patrons. His role as an arbiter of the modern styles and of Chinoiserie in particular was celebrated in Robert Levrac-Tournières’s 1741 portrait (now Birmingham Art Gallery) and Walpole’s description of him as “the founder of the Sharadwagi [Chinese] style”.[4] A member of the homoerotic circle around Lord Hervey, Stephen Fox, and others, Bateman was a leading man of taste in London when Walpole returned from the Grand Tour and one of the models Walpole emulated in the early 1740s and 1750s. Emulation of Bateman undoubtedly informed Walpole’s thwarted attempt to acquire the White House at Old Windsor directly beside Bateman in 1746 (then owned by their mutual friend Sir Charles Hanbury Williams), prior to purchasing Strawberry Hill.[5] Old Windsor was, as Walpole hoped Strawberry Hill would be, a cause célèbre of London society from the 1730s through 1760s. But it was also a building that visitors understood to elide Bateman’s queer persona with the its fussy, hybrid style. Described as “fribble” or “fribblish”, the house was considered an architectural projection of the outrageously effeminate character Mr Fribble from David Garrick’s 1747 Miss in Her Teens, who was, in turn, apparently based on Bateman himself or on Walpole.[6]

[1] Yale Correspondence vol. 37, 359; Yale Correspondence vol. 10, 43.

[2] Yale Correspondence vol. 14, 102.

[3] The fullest account of the house is now Matthew M. Reeve, “Dickie Bateman and the Gothicization of Old Windsor: Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole”, Architectural History 56 (2013), 99-133.

[4] Yale Correspondence vol. 35, 359.

[5] Yale Correspondence vol. 9, 39 to Montagu 2 Aug 1746; T. Eustace Harwood, Windsor Old and New, 319–20.

[6] On the reception of Old Windsor, see Reeve, “Dickie Bateman”, 118-24.

Bibliography

Harwood, T. Eustace. Windsor Old and New, (London: 1929).

Lewis, W. S. (ed.). The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, 48 vols
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937–83).

Reeve, Matthew. “Dickie Bateman and the Gothicization of Old Windsor: Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole”, Architectural History 56 (2013), 99-133.

7. The Ladies Waldegrave (Lady Elizabeth Laura, Lady Charlotte Maria & Lady Anne Horatia, daughters to James late Earl of Waldegrave Knight of the Garter)

Choice 3: Walpole’s Mezzotint of The Ladies Waldegrave

[Lady Elizabeth Laura, Lady Charlotte Maria & Lady Anne Horatia, daughters to James late Earl of Waldegrave Knight of the Garter]

By Wilmarth S. Lewis

To begin his Choice 3 in Rescuing Horace Walpole, Lewis details Horace Walpole’s relationship with his brother Edward before turning his attention to Edward’s mistress and children.

“Edward had four children by his mistress, Dorothy Clement, who Horace said was ‘a milliner’s apprentice at Durham.’ The children were Laura, Maria, Edward, and Charlotte. They appear together in a most attractive conversation piece by Slaughter that is now in the Minneapolis Art Museum. When they were ill Uncle Horace took them to Strawberry Hill and looked after them, an instance of his ‘great disposition’ to Edward’s children. Laura married a Keppel who became Bishop of Exeter. Maria’s first husband was the second Earl Waldegrave; her second husband, whom she married secretly without her Uncle Horace’s approval, was George III’s younger brother, the Duke of Gloucester. Charlotte married the fifth Earl of Dysart. Walpole reported the death of the younger Edward to Horace Mann: ‘My brother has lost his son, and it is no misfortune, though he was but three and thirty, and had very good parts; but he was sunk into such a habit of drinking and gaming, that the first ruined his constitution, and the latter would have ruined his father.’

“Maria, the beauty of the family, was her Uncle Horace’s favorite. He boasted to Horace Mann of how he brought about her marriage to Lord Waldegrave who was twenty-one years her senior. ‘A month ago,’ Horace wrote, ‘I was told that he liked her. . . . I jumbled them together, and he has already proposed. For character and credit he is the first match in England–for beauty, I think she is. She has not a fault in her face or person, and the detail is charming. A warm complexion tending to brown, fine eyes, brown  hair, fine teeth, and infinite wit, and vivacity. . . . My brother has luckily been tractable, and left the whole management to me.’ A pastel of her, very beautiful in her coronation robes, has appeared since I wrote this chapter. It hangs in the center of the new library at Farmington next to her father. Horace’s affectionate concern for Maria extended to her three Waldegrave daughters, Elizabeth Laura who married her cousin the fourth Earl Waldegrave, Charlotte Maria, Duchess of Grafton, and Anna Horatia, who married her cousin Lord Hugh Seymour Conway after the death of her first betrothed, the Duke of Ancaster. These three are ‘The Ladies Waldegrave’ of Reynolds’s conversation piece that shows them sewing at their work table. The original picture is now in the National Gallery of Scotland; Reynolds’s bill for it, 300 guineas, is at Farmington and so is Walpole’s copy of Valentine Green’s mezzotint of it, a proof before letters. It is what I have chosen to save from all the objects relating to Edward and his family at Farmington. Walpole pasted it into his copy of the 1784 Description of Strawberry Hill saved in Choice 9. That copy was acquired in 1919 for £1650 by Sabin and Co. of Bond Street. They removed the mezzotint of The Ladies Waldegrave and held it for 2000 guineas because they said it is ‘the finest English mezzotint in existence.’ The book itself came to Farmington in 1927 at a greatly reduced figure. During the next eleven years I would stop in at Sabin’s to pay my wistful respects to the print. Its price wilted during the Depression and I was not surprised when on the day war was declared my cabled offer of $500 was promptly accepted. The beautiful print sailed safely through the newly laid German mine fields to Farmington where it hangs beside drawings of Strawberry Hill that were formerly with it in the book. Drawings of Charlotte, Horatia, and Elizabeth Laura are also at Farmington along with a lock of the latter’s hair, braided, in a gold case.”

Lewis moves on to address the other members of the family and their portraits and correspondence now at the Library.

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called Choice 3: Walpole’s Mezzotint of The Ladies Waldegrave download or expand the link here: 

N.B. The identity of the woman in the pastel portrait Lewis describes above has since been reassigned. It is now thought to be a portrait of Maria Walpole (1725?-1801) illegitimate daughter of Sir Robert Walpole, prime minister and his mistress Maria Skerrett; the daughter later became the wife of Colonel Charles Churchill.

5. Portrait of Sir Robert Walpole and Catherine Shorter

Choice 2: Sir Robert and Lady Walpole by Eccardt and Wootton in a Grinling Gibbons Frame

Double portrait of Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, and Lady Walpole

by Wilmarth S. Lewis

“This frame hung in the Blue Bedchamber, as we learn from Walpole’s Description of Strawberry Hill: ‘In a frame of black and gold carved by Gibbons, Sir Robert Walpole and Catherine Shorter; small whole lengths; by Eccardt, after Zinke: the hounds and view of Houghton by Wootton. Sir Robert is sitting; by him, on a table, is the purse of the chancellor of the exchequer, leaning against busts of George 1st and 2d to denote his being first minister to those kings: by Lady Walpole are flowers, shells, a pallet and pencils, to mark her lover of the arts.’ William Cole, Horace Walpole’s contemporary at Eton and Cambridge and his chief antiquarian correspondent, noted in his ‘Account of Some Pictures at Strawberry Hill’ now in the British Library, ‘under the table stands a flower pot, and by Lady Walpole a grotto of shells. I remember when I was a school-boy at Eton, calling on Mr. Walpole at Chelsea, where Sir Robert, his father, then lived, I found him learning to draw, with Mr Lens the painter with him; and he then showed me a most beautiful grotto of shell work in the garden, on the banks of the Thames, designed by his mother: probably this alludes to that grotto. The frame of this picture cost £30, being most exquisitely carved, painted black, and gilt, having all sorts of flowers, fruits, birds, and at top figures of boys.’

“In his Anecdotes of Painting in England Walpole calls Gibbons (1648-1721) ‘An original genius’ who was ‘a citizen of nature….There is no instance of a man before Gibbons who gave to wood the loose and airy lightness of flowers, and chained together the various productions of the elements with a free disorder natural to each species.’ How did the frame get to Strawberry Hill? I have been saying for years that it was originally around a mirror at Houghton, Sir Robert’s house in Norfolk, and that Walpole admired it so much his father gave it to him, a plausible explanation, but I can’t prove it. In Aedes Walpolianae, 1747, Walpole’s catalogue raisonné of his father’s great collection of pictures at Houghton, he speaks of Gibbons’s carvings there, but doesn’t mention the frame. Walpole’s copy at Farmington of A Description of Strawberry Hill ‘with such prices as I can recollect’ says nothing about the £30 or where the frame came from, but we know that it was bought at the Strawberry Hill sale in 1842 by Lord Lansdowne and that it was No. 77 in Lansdowne House, Berkeley Square, until 1930 when it was sold at Christie’s and given me by my wife.”

Lewis continues in the chapter to talk about Walpole’s family, including his half-sister Mary, whose portrait also now hangs at the Lewis Walpole Library. He concludes with a mention of an illegitimate daughter of Horace’s father’s, Catherine Daye whom Horace brought to live at Strawberry Hill. “I like to think of her and her kindly younger brother visiting the Blue Bedchamber to pay their respects to their father’s portrait in the Grinling Gibbons frame.”

Lewis, Wilmarth S. Rescuing Horace Walpole. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.

To see the full chapter from Rescuing Horace Walpole called Choice 2: Sir Robert and Lady Walpole by Eccardt and Wootton in a Grinling Gibbons Frame download or expand the link here:

N.B. A high-quality fascimile of the painting and frame now hangs in the Blue Bedchamber at Strawberry Hill. Please click or tap here for details about the project to create the facsimile and install it at the house.

The original painting in its frame can be found hanging at the west end of the Reading Room at the Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington.

 

4. Fore-Edge Paintings in The Castle of Otranto

Strawberry Hill and The Castle of Otranto: Fore-Edge Paintings at the Lewis Walpole Library

Dale Townshend, Professor of Gothic Literature, Manchester Metropolitan University

One of the greatest privileges of researching at the Lewis Walpole Library must surely be the opportunity to work alongside staff who have such a deep knowledge of, and palpable passion for, the collections that they oversee. Indeed, how thrilled I was when, systematically working my way through the catalogue’s unmatched holdings in eighteenth-century editions of The Castle of Otranto (1765), the obliging and ever-helpful Library Services Assistant Kristen McDonald introduced me to a number of crucial items that would otherwise have escaped my attention: three luxury, apparently unique eighteenth-century editions of Walpole’s fiction that include fore-edge paintings—detailed, decorative scenes painted on the edge of the book opposite to the spine and gilded over so as to render them invisible when the book is closed. Rather like the ghosts that populate the volumes of Gothic fiction that arose in Otranto’s wake, fore-edge paintings are invisible to the uninitiated and unbelieving eye. Instead, they reveal themselves only when they are known to be there, and even then, only when they are looked at awry, the pages of the book bent or folded over by the reader so as to show up their secret, spectral inscriptions. In all likelihood added to bound editions of Otranto subsequent to purchase, these fore-edge paintings were expensive, luxury embellishments to copies of the text that were probably intended as collectors’ items or gifts. Together, all three images have been indispensible to my current research on the relationship between Gothic architecture and Gothic fiction, poetry, and drama in the period 1760 to 1840, particularly for the insight that they yield into the ways in which the late eighteenth century perceived the relationship between Walpole’s fiction and his home at Strawberry Hill: as Walpole in the guise of the translator William Marshal teasingly suggested in the Preface to the first edition of The Castle of Otranto, ‘the scene is undoubtedly laid in some real castle’ (viii), a detail that, following his disclosure of authorship a few months later, pointed readers directly to his own ‘little Gothic castle’ at Twickenham.

The earliest of these in the library’s holdings occurs in a copy of the third edition of The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story that was published by John Murray in London in 1769 (LWL Call Number 24 17 769). The image provides a visual interpretation of the dark, labyrinthine recesses beneath the eponymous Castle, the space through which Manfred pursues the imperiled heroine Isabella. With its vaulted ceilings and rounded, heavy columns, the architecture of the scene represents what the eighteenth century designated as ‘Saxon Gothic’, the early Gothic style that Thomas Warton in the second, revised edition of his influential Observations on the Fairy Queen of Spenser (1762) described as consisting of ‘round arches, round-headed windows, and round massy pillars, with a sort of regular capital and base’ (vol. 2, 186). As W. S. Lewis would observe in his seminal article ‘The Genesis of Strawberry Hill’ (1934), however, the subterraneous passages of Walpole’s text remain a ‘fiction’, textual details, that is, that are entirely without precedent or anchorage in the ‘real’ architecture of Strawberry Hill (90).

fore-edge painting with arches

By contrast, the fore-edge painting included in a copy of the fourth edition of The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story that was printed for J. Dodsley in London in 1782 (LWL Call Number: 24 17 782 Copy 3) is somewhat more determined in its attempts at tying the architecture of the fiction back to Walpole’s own home.

Fore-edge painting 3

Though it is not architecturally precise, the image approximates a view of Strawberry Hill as seen from the River Thames. While drawing a clear visual link between Otranto and the famed house of its author, this fore-edge painting also anticipates the claim that Walpole himself would advance in the Preface to the second edition of A Description of the Villa of Mr Horace Walpole (1784), namely that Strawberry Hill was, at once, ‘a very proper habitation of’ and ‘the scene that inspired’ the author of The Castle of Otranto (iv).

The third fore-edge painting in the Library’s holdings is to be found in a copy of the sixth edition of The Castle of Otranto that was published by Bodoni in Parma, Italy, for J. Edwards in 1791 (Call Number 24 17 791P Copy 15). On the one hand, the building depicted here appears not to be Strawberry Hill at all, but rather a whimsical, Revivalist Gothic fusion of ecclesiastical and castellated architectural details that recall a similar mixture of architectural styles and purposes in The Castle of Otranto. On the other, it may represent a version of Strawberry Hill as seen from the South, a building that, itself, was as much ecclesiastical as fortified, but opened up and flattened out, here, into a two-dimensional strip.

fore-edge painting looking like Strawberry Hill

When taken together, these images intensify the ruse with which Walpole in The Castle of Otranto was clearly engaged: not only the mystery concerning the text’s oneiric and purportedly ancient ‘Gothic’ origins, but also, as he put it in that famous letter from Strawberry Hill to William Cole in March 1765, the extent to which the architecture of the fiction included ‘some traits’ that would ‘put you in mind of this place’ (Correspondence, vol. 1, 88).

Bibliography

Lewis, W. S. ‘The Genesis of Strawberry Hill’, Metropolitan Museum Studies vol. 5,
no. 1 (August 1934): 57–92.

Lewis, W. S. (ed.). The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, 48 vols
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937–83).

Walpole, Horace. A Description of the Villa of Mr Horace Walpole, Youngest Son of
Sir Robert Walpole Earl of Orford, at Strawberry-Hill Near Twickenham, Middlesex. With an Inventory of the Furniture, Pictures, Curiosities, &c (Strawberry-Hill: Printed by Thomas Kirgate, 1784).

Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story (London: Thomas Lowndes, 1765).

Warton, Thomas. Observations on the Fairy Queen of Spenser, 2nd edition, 2 vols
(London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley; and J. Fletcher, Oxford).