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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Horace Walpole and His Legacies: Tercentenary Lectures

Walpole, Catholicism, and the Visual Arts

7th November 2017, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside 141, Clare Haynes (University of East Anglia)

Discover how Horace Walpole brought Catholic culture back into fashion in Britain, at this lecture in our series Horace Walpole and his Legacies. Join the conversation via #WalpoleLegacies.

Walpole spent a great deal of his life engaging with Catholic culture in one way or another: collecting, and writing admiringly about, Catholic art; using Gothic ornament so extensively at Strawberry Hill and in his friendship with Roman Catholics, such as the Duchess of Norfolk. And yet, Walpole was very clearly not a crypto-Catholic. He sounded his antipathy to the church and its teachings frequently, and often stridently.

His position may therefore seem paradoxical, perhaps even perverse, but it was not. Focusing on his writings about art, this paper explores Walpole’s attitudes towards the past, and particularly the Reformation. It proposes that one of the central concerns of Walpole’s scholarship was to encourage the re-naturalization of art in post-Reformation Britain.

Image credit: Sassoferrato (1609-1689), Madonna & Child, Hermitage.

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