Strawberry Hill Trust received a £115,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) to purchase the painting, which provides a rare snapshot into the lives of two significant figures in Britain’s cultural history.
Hogarth's portrait of a 10-year-old Horace Walpole
The portrait's subject, Horace Walpole (1717-1797), was a pre-eminent English art historian, writer and parliamentarian. He was the youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister. Robert commissioned Hogarth’s portrait – the earliest formal depiction available of Horace.
William Hogarth (1697-1764) was a painter, satirist and social critic, considered by many to be the most important British artist of his generation. This early artwork is one of his first portraits of an identifiable sitter.
As an adult, Horace Walpole became an enthusiastic collector of Hogarth, whom he described as “a great and original genius”
The portrait shows his developing style, including the use of pictorial devices. The sundial points to ten (X) – Walpole’s age at the time – whilst the small dog running in the foreground creates movement in the composition.
It has been in private ownership since it was painted in 1727.
A new home
As an adult, Horace Walpole became an enthusiastic collector of Hogarth, whom he described as “a great and original genius” in his seminal book Anecdotes of Painting in England.
The artwork will be displayed at Walpole’s Gothic revival masterpiece home, Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, southwest London, and be accessible to the public free of charge. It will be included in school, community and other public programmes.
Saving the portrait for the UK
Hogarth’s artworks are popular around the world, and his portrait of Walpole would likely have ended up overseas had it gone to auction. Thanks to the Government’s Acceptance-in-Lieu scheme, administered by Arts Council England, the portrait was offered to the Strawberry Hill Trust at a special price of £230,000.