Houghton Hall: The Prime Minister, the Empress and the Heritage

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9780856674389: Houghton Hall: The Prime Minister, the Empress and the Heritage
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During his lifetime, Sir Robert Walpole (1675 - 1745), first Prime Minister of England, amassed a magnificent collection of paintings and sculptures at Houghton Hall, the house he built in Norfolk. This book recreates the Houghton of Walpole's day, with many of its original paintings, drawings, and objets d'art, arranged room-by-room as Walpole and his friends and advisors, notably the great designer William Kent, would have shown them. The innovative grandeur of the building and the splendour of its contents combined to make Houghton one of the premier houses of England, and thus it has remained. But a large part of Walpole's collection of paintings was sold for just GBP40,000 by his grandson George, Earl of Orford, to Catherine the Great, enlightened and acquisitive Empress of Russia's Golden Age. The majority remain in Russia, and only family portraits, furniture and sculpture are still to be seen at Houghton. Essays by experts including John Harris and John Cornforth discuss the building and furnishing of Houghton, the Prime Minister as collector, the sale to Catherine the Great, and its legacy. This lavish book is the first to do justice to the rich and complex heritage of Houghton, one of England's greatest treasures.

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From the Back Cover:

The story of the patronage and collecting of Sir Robert Walpole, first Prime Minister of England, has never been fully told. During his lifetime, Walpole amassed a magnificent collection of paintings and sculpture at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, the country seat he built to house his collection. The innovative grandeur of the building and the splendour of its contents combined to make Houghton one of the premier houses of England. But a large part of Walpole's collection of paintings was sold for just (pound)40,000 by his grandson, George, Earl of Orford, to Catherine the Great, enlightened and acquisitive Empress of Russia's Golden Age. The majority remain in Russia while family portraits, furniture and sculpture are still to be seen at Houghton. Nine essays by experts on 18th-century culture discuss the building and furnishing of Houghton, the Prime Minister as collector, and the sale to Catherine the Great which raised for the first time issues of the nation's heritage. The catalogue to the exhibition which forms the second half of the book is arranged as a tour of the house and recreates the Houghton of Walpole's day, with many of its original paintings, drawings and objets d'art arranged room-by-room as Walpole and his friends and advisers, notably the great designer William Kent, would have displayed them.

About the Author:

Andrew Moore is Curator of Norwich Castle Museum and Keeper of Art for Norfolk Museums Service. He has organised a number of exhibitions focusing on the historic private and public collections of Norfolk, and has published extensively on the art and artists of East Anglia, notably The Norwich School of Artists (1985).

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