The Walpole Society hits 100
August 2 2011
Picture: Philip Mould Ltd
There was a pleasant do at the National Gallery last week to celebrate the Walpole Society's 100th birthday. The Society publishes, in weighty annual volumes, essential evidence on British art history (most famously the notebooks of George Vertue). If you're not a member, do consider joining. For just £45 a year you get their handsome volumes, and much else besides.
To underline how useful the Society's work is to someone like me, the most recent publication (of Charles Eastlake's travel journals) came in handy for our recent Van Dyck exhibition. Eastlake (1793-1865) was the first director of the National Gallery, and a great connoisseur. Plop onto my desk two days before the catalogue went to press fell Eastlake's notebooks - which revealed that he had seen our newly discovered portrait (above) in Paris on 25th August 1860 in the Rothschild's collection: "Van Dyck - A Girl - whole length - holding her white gown (dark under sleeves) in left hand - fan in rt - [[about]] 2 - 8 w - 3 - 5h." Good timing, eh?
There is a new small exhibition at the National showing how Eastlake used to go on shopping trips in Europe, and how difficult it was to be sure in those days that the 'Giotto' on offer really was a Giotto. Worth a visit.