Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill: Masterpieces from Horace Walpole’s Collection, Strawberry Hill, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham TW1 4ST, until 24th February, 2019


Anonymous artist, Staircase at Strawberry Hill, Ink wash with watercolour. Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

The 2010 exhibition ‘Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill’ at the V&A was a wonderful celebration of the house, the collection and the collector so now imagine just quite how special this new exhibition is. You can feel the house responding to having over one hundred and fifty of its treasures within its walls once more with some in their original position.

From the early 18th century Chinese tub in which Walpole’s cat Selima drowned accidentally to a clock that had belonged to Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn, it is a veritable pot-pourri of objects and pictures that fascinate and show the breadth of Walpole’s interests, many reflecting the historic style of the building.


Paul Sandby (1731 – 1809) ‘Strawberry Hill chiefly taken in the year 1769 by Mr. Sandby’, c. 1769. Drawing Watercolour on laid paper with wash-line Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

Son of Sir Robert Walpole (Britain’s first Prime Minister), Horace created this first Gothick building with the help of friends. It was his summer home until he died in 1797 and eventually in 1842 there was a twenty-four day sale of its contents. Now YOU can see some of these original contents, back home until February of next year, in both the private rooms and the State rooms. By 1797 there were some four thousand pieces plus coins, drawings and prints in the collection

I am deliberately not illustrating any of the objects on show because I think it is so, so important that, if you can, you should see them in situ and thus hopefully get a sense of both Horace and his remarkable creation. I implore you to do so! You will regret it if you don’t. The stuff of dreams.


John Carter, The Tribune at Strawberry Hill, c. 1789. Courtesy of The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.


Open 7 days a week

Monday – Friday: 12-6pm (Late opening until 10pm on Fridays)

Saturday – Sunday: 11am -6pm 

Final entry one hour before closing

Private guided tours available 10am-11am and 6pm, Monday to Friday

Public guided tours available 10am Saturday & Sunday




Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga Requests The Pleasure of Your Company

GOYA: THE PORTRAITS, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2, until 10thJanuary 2016

One of the pictures in this show is well-known to me through my interest in interior decoration.  It is the famous portrait of Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga, who in this exhibition is reunited with Goya’s portraits of his father and mother and sister.

Francisco de Goya Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga 1788 Oil on canvas 127 x 101.6 cm Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.41) © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Francisco de Goya
Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga
Oil on canvas
127 x 101.6 cm
Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.41)
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The portrait was bought from the famed art dealer Joseph Duveen by the American banker Jules S Bache in 1926 and it is believed that his daughter Kathryn was the driving force behind this purchase.  The latter was better known as Kitty Miller, wife of the renowned theatre producer Gilbert Miller, and she employed the noted designer Billy Baldwin to decorate their homes in New York, London and Mallorca.

It is her New York home that is the focus of this story for when Bache donated his collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1949 there was a specific condition and that was that the picture could hang in Kitty’s drawing room for half the year.  In his book Billy Baldwin Remembers Baldwin recalls that when the painting was first hung in the drawing room the Millers sent out cocktail party invitations to New York society to come and meet Don Manuel Osorio de Zuñiga. So each year it hung there to Kitty’s great delight until her death in 1979, although in Legendary Decorators of the 20th Century, the famous interior decorator Mark Hampton says that “As she grew older, it became annually more difficult for the Met to get the painting back”.

Well, one can totally understand why she had such affection for this painting and now it is our turn to go and meet him.  While there are no cocktails being served there is the delicious treat of seeing more than sixty of Goya’s remarkable portraits.  It is such a good show you will most likely want to visit more than once – just like visiting the Miller’s!