The Walpole Society

The Walpole Society

At a glance

Causes

  • Arts
  • Education
  • Museums / heritage

Other details

Geographical remit: 
International

Objectives

The Walpole Society was founded in 1911. Its charitable purpose is to promote the study of British Art by publishing annual volumes, many of which contain transcriptions of original art historical documents as well as the results of research into British art. The field of research includes paintings, drawings, prints, miniatures, sculpture and illuminated manuscripts as well as patronage, collecting and travel. The period covered is the whole of the history of British art, from the middle ages to the present. The beneficiaries are art historians, scholars, museum curators and the general public throughout the world. They are able to read and use the volumes and get access to significant manuscript records which would not otherwise become published.

Our help matters because the Society is able to publish primary documentation of a kind that other scholarly journals are unable to handle. We are always keen to encourage scholars, young as well as established, to transcribe journals, letters and accounts, of which there are still very many that await publication and proper attention. The Walpole Society has an unmatched record in the publication of the materials of the history of British art.

Activities

The Walpole Society meets its objectives by publishing an annual volume of studies written by its members and scholars around the world. This volume is supported by grants and the subscriptions of the members of the Society, who in return are sent each annual volume. These volumes usually contain over 200 pages, and the articles can be of any length. Volumes can also be purchased by non-members. All our publications represent work of high academic quality but in most cases, the articles would not be commercially viable. The backlist of previously published articles can be seen on the charity's website: much of this material could never have been made available without the Society's efforts.

As scholarship in all fields, but especially British art, has moved in other more fashionable theoretical directions over the past twenty years, The Walpole Society’s volumes have remained a bastion of empirical scholarship. An early goal was to publish the manuscript notebooks of George Vertue (1684-1756). Seven volumes were devoted to a fully indexed and annotated publication in extenso of the Vertue notebooks. This publication remains the single most important source of information concerning art collections, artists, architects and craftsmen working in Britain before the mid-18th century. So far, 77 volumes have been published: they include - "The Lumley Inventories", edited by Lionel Cust (1917-18); - "The Memoirs of Thomas Jones" edited by A. P. Oppé (1946-48); - "The Manuscript Catalogue of the Collections of King Charles I by Abraham van der Doort", edited by Sir Oliver Millar (1958-60); - "A Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp" by Kenneth Garlick (1974-76); - "The Travel Diaries of Otto Műndler 1855-58 at the National Gallery", edited by Carol Togneri (1985); - "The Ledgers of Sir Francis Chantrey at the Royal Academy", edited by Alison Yarrington and others (1991-92); _-"Letters from Uvedale Price, 1747-1829, to Sir George Beaumont and Others, with a biography Mr Price", by Charles Watkins and Ben Cowell (2006); - "The Travel Notebooks of Sir Charles Eastlake", edited by Susanna Avery-Quash (2011); and - "British Travellers in Spain, 1766-1849" by Hugh Brigstocke (2015).

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