Horace Walpole

Horace Walpole, by John Giles Eccardt, 1754 -NPG 988 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Horace Walpole

by John Giles Eccardt
15 1/2 in. x 12 1/2 in. (394 mm x 318 mm)
NPG 988

Inscriptionback to top

A paper on the stretcher inscribed by the sitter:1 Horace Walpole/youngest Son of Sr R. Walpole/by Eckardt/1754.

1 The hand identified by W. S. Lewis, see C. K. Adams & W. S. Lewis, 'The Portraits of Horace Walpole', Wal. Soc., XLII, 1970, p 12; a label in the same hand was on the verso of NPG 989, Thomas Gray (see J. Kerslake, National Portrait Gallery, Early Georgian Portraits, 1977, I, p 106).

This portraitback to top

One of six portraits commissioned by Walpole from Eccardt between 1746 and 1754 which hung together in his blue bed-chamber at Strawberry Hill. Their compositions derived from Watteau, Rubens and Van Dyck, and they were shown in black and gold frames, ‘carved after those to Lombard’s prints from Vandyck, but with emblems peculiar to each person’. [1] The other portraits were of Richard Bentley (NPG 5885) and Thomas Gray (NPG 989), both after Van Dyck; Sir Charles Hanbury Williams (untraced); General Henry Seymour Conway and his Wife, after Watteau (private collection), and Charles Churchill and his Wife, in the manner of Rubens (Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington). On 18 May 1754 Walpole told Bentley that all the portraits were installed, one in each wall panel; ‘mine’, he added, ‘is to match yours [i.e. NPG 5885]’. [2] NPG 988 had evidently not then been started, but it was completed by the end of the year (according to Walpole’s label quoted above).
The pose of NPG 988 is taken from Van Dyck's portrait of Simon Vouet as engraved by Robert van Voerst; [3] Walpole described NPG 988 as 'from Vandyke, leaning on the Aedes Walpolianae: behind him a view of Strawberry Hill'. [4] The House is seen from the east, showing two new rooms, the great parlour and the refectory with, above it, the library, which were completed in 1754. The Aedes, Walpole's catalogue of his father's pictures at Houghton, was his first book, published in 1747.
A version showing Strawberry Hill with the east battlement surmounted with a cross (added between 1754 and 1764) is in an English private collection; in 1762 Mrs Mary Shepherd bequeathed 'The picture of Horace Walpole' to a direct ancestor of the present owner. [5] A copy in another English private collection is possibly by Thomas Stewart (‘a portrait of Lord Orford, copied from Echard by Stuart, in 1787' was in Strawberry Hill in 1807); [6] another is at Marble Hill. [7] A miniature copy in watercolour by G. P. Harding was sold Sotheby’s, 16 December 1974, lot 61.

Footnotesback to top

1) These frames remained with the portraits in 1842, but by 1867 NPG 988 and NPG 989 had been reframed. The Conway portrait alone retains its original frame.
2) Wal. Corr., XXXV, p 174.
3) New Hollstein, Van Dyck, II, 2002, no.100; Vouet leans on a copy of the Trattato della Nobilita dell'Pittura.
4) Description of Strawberry Hill, 1784, p 29.
5) See C. K. Adams & W. S. Lewis, 'The Portraits of Horace Walpole', Wal. Soc., XLII, 1970, A10.1, pl.9; exhibited A Candidate for Praise, William Mason 1725-97, Precentor of York, 1973 (14).
6) C. K. Adams & W. S. Lewis, 'The Portraits of Horace Walpole', Wal. Soc., XLII, 1970, A10.2; probably the portrait sold Sotheby’s, 15 March 1978, lot 21.
7) C. K. Adams & W. S. Lewis, 'The Portraits of Horace Walpole', Wal. Soc., XLII, 1970, A10.3; illus. NACF 2000 Review, p 97 (Sotheby’s, 30 November 2000, lot 105); English Heritage, Collections Review, III, 2001, p 38.

Referenceback to top

Adams & Lewis 1970
C. K. Adams & W. S. Lewis, 'The Portraits of Horace Walpole', Wal. Soc., XLII, 1970, A10.

Physical descriptionback to top

Brown eyes, dark brown hair, wearing Van Dyck costume, a black cloak lined with silver blue silk over blue breeches and tunic with white bobbin lace collar and cuffs;1 his left hand holds a copy of the Aedes Walpol[ianae]; a red curtain to the left, a distant view of Strawberry Hill to the right.

1 A. Ribeiro, The Art of Dress, 1995, p 184.

Provenanceback to top

By descent from the sitter; Strawberry Hill sale, 22nd day, 19 May 1842, lot 28 (‘... an exceedingly clever original picture; it has been highly esteemed from its likeness to Horace Walpole, and from it the Portrait in the Catalogue has been taken’), bought by the Rev Horace George Cholmondeley (d. 1851); his son-in-law, Canon Francis Vansittart Thornton (d. 1895); purchased through Colnaghi 1895.

Exhibitionsback to top

Second special exhibition of National Portraits (William and Mary to MDCCC), South Kensington, 1867 (377) lent Rev F. V. Thornton; English Taste in the 18th century, RA, 1955-56 (313); Walpole and Strawberry Hill, Orleans House, Twickenham, 1980 (10).

Reproductionsback to top

Anon. 1798 (head only finished) and 1807; L. Du Pont 1809-10 (on a silver button);1 W. Greatbach 1840; G. H. Madeley 1842, 'from a Painting at Strawberry Hill, by Eckhardt, in 1774'.

1 Illus. L. S. Albert & K. Kent, The Complete Button Book, 1949, f.p.398.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.