image for Talk item typePortraits, Authenticity, and Copies at Strawberry Hill House

Strawberry Hill

Strawberry Hill

Talk, Thu 2 Nov 2017


Laura Teale



268 Waldegrave Road,
Strawberry Hill,


‘Truth is the sole merit of most antiquities; and when we cannot discover the truth, what value is there in dogmatic error about things that have no intrinsic value?—and such were all our pictures before Holbein, and infinitely the greater part of our pictures since!’ (Horace Walpole to Sir John Fenn, in response to a query about a historic portrait, 17 September 1774)
Strawberry Hill was famously full of portraits, many of them collected as part of the broader antiquarian effort to form a narrative of British and European history. In this, as in other fields of painting, there was much less emphasis on the ‘original‘ than there is today. But, as a historian, Horace Walpole was greatly exercised by questions of authenticity, although his own collection of portraits included many later copies, both specially commissioned and unrecognized, as well as misdescriptions and deliberate fakes.
This study day will focus on issues and practices around meaning and authenticity in portraits in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is linked to the recent installation in the Holbein Chamber of digital facsimiles, made by Factum Arte, of George Vertue’s accurate copies, made in 1743, of 33 of Holbein’s famous drawings of the court of Henry VIII. Their acquisition in 1758 prompted Walpole to create the Holbein Chamber, inspired by Queen Caroline’s closet at Kensington Palace, where the original drawings were shown. The Holbein Chamber was in itself a partial facsimile, its ceiling being copied from that of the 16th century Queen’s Closet at Windsor Castle.
Refreshements including a light lunch will be provided.

Facilities for groupsPublic toilets

Event details

Dates Times
Thu 2 Nov 2017 09:30 to 16:30


See website for details



See location of Strawberry Hill House on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: TQ 158722  Lat: 51.43696 Long: -0.33539

By Road: At the London Road roundabout on the A316 take the exit signposted Twickenham A310.
At the mini roundabout turn left, you are still on London Road. Pass Twickenham Station on your left. At traffic lights you will have to bear right into King Street. Get over into left lane and turn left at the traffic lights into Cross Deep. You will pass Radnor Gardens leading down to the Thames on your left.
At mini roundabout turn right into Waldegrave Road. You will see Strawberry Hill House on your left. Just past the house is the turning into St. Mary's College where you can park
Bus: 33 travels from Hammersmith and through Richmond and the R68 travels from Kew Gardens Station, through Richmond Train and Bus Stations.
Train: Richmond Station
Tube: Richmond District Line
For further information visit


  • Facilities for groupsFacilities for groups
  • Public toiletsPublic toilets