Walpole's Hall of Fame
A Georgian extravaganza currently on show at Kenwood House, North London, brings together for the first time in 200 years a number of paintings amassed by Britain’s first prime minister Sir Robert Walpole. His collection, a tableau of English Grand Tour taste, was second only to that of George I, amounting to some 400 pictures and including works by Poussin, Van Dyke, Rembrandt and Gainsbrough.
The exhibition has been organised jointly by English Heritage in association with the Norwich Castle Museum., where it has already been shown. This is the first time that it has possible to reunite this collection in Britain, as the majority of it was sold abroad after Walpole’s death in 1745, making this a unique event.
Walpole began the collection in 1718 with his first purchase: two landscapes by Jan Griffier Senior. It grew through the gifts of friends, family and diplomats, and from Sir Robert’s regular attendance at art sales. Later he would be represented at major collection sales by buyers acting on his behalf or by his son Horace.