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ABOUT THE WALPOLE SOCIETY

Our Aims, History, Governance and Policies

Lysons
Ford Maddox Brown YCBA_edited
Wootton YCBA_edited_edited
Alabaster_edited
Romney ycba_edited
Constable YCBA_edited
Lely YCBA_edited
Fire of London YCBA_edited_edited

AIMS

The Walpole Society’s purpose is to promote the study of the history of British Art. It does this 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 300 pages, and the articles can be of any length. This enables the Society to publish primary documentation of a kind that other scholarly journals are unable to handle. The Society therefore has an unmatched record in the publication of the materials of the history of 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 publishing programme is planned well in advance, and contains many important articles. 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.

"Even among ourselves we too often hear our national school of painting
spoken of as if it were a sudden and unaccountable birth of the eighteenth century,
remarkable only for the achievements of five or six men of genius."

ALEXANDER FINBERG, 1911

The Walpole Society was formed in 1911 chiefly through the efforts of Alexander Finberg (1866-1939), who had been employed to arrange the paintings in the bequest of J.M.W. Turner. In the course of his work, Finberg saw that many artists of the 18th century lay unrecognised, and established the Society to address this lack of knowledge and to shine a light on earlier periods which were then entirely neglected. 

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Membership List, 1939-47

The Society was named after Horace Walpole (1717-97), who published the first history of art in Britain, basing his work on the manuscript notebooks of George Vertue (1684-1756), which he had acquired. One of the first goals of the Walpole Society was to publish the notebooks in their original form, which included much material that Walpole omitted. This took up six volumes as well as an index volume, and was finally completed in 1950. This publication is the single most important source of information concerning art collections, artists, architects and craftsmen working in Britain before the mid-eighteenth century. They form part of more than 80 volumes that the Society has so far published containing articles, catalogues and editions of original documents.

PAST PRESIDENTS

The 2nd Earl of Lytton (1911-22)

The 7th Earl Bathurst (to 1942)

The 6th Earl of Ilchester (to 1959)

The 7th Earl Spencer (to 1975)

Sir Ellis Waterhouse (to 1984)

Sir Brinsley Ford (to 1998)

Sir Oliver Millar (to 2007)

Sir Nicholas Goodison (to 2021)

1975 AGM Minutes recording the death of the Society’s President, 7th Earl Spencer (1892-1975) who was succeeded by Sir Ellis Waterhouse (1905-85)

HISTORY

Mortimer YCBA b.jpg

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GOVERNANCE

The Walpole Society is a registered charity (number 270280) that is governed by a Constitution adopted at the Society's Annual General Meeting on 17 September 1997. The Constitution was published in Society's annual Volume 60 (1998). Click below to download a copy of our Constitution.

CONSTITUTION

The Society has an Executive Committee whose members are the charity's Trustees. They are elected for a term of four years. The Officers serve for five years, when they are available for immediate re-election. The role of President is honorary and the holder is elected for life.

OFFICERS &
COMMITTEE

Charles Sebag-Montefiore CBE FSA

Dr Christina Faraday
Lawrence Hendra (Treasurer)

Dr Clare Hornsby FSA (Chair)
Catharine MacLeod
Giles Mandelbrote
Professor Alexander Marr FSA
Professor Frances Spalding CBE
Dr Richard Stephens FSA (Editor & Hon Secretary)
Dr Jonny Yarker

PRESIDENT

TRUSTEES

The Consultative Committee does not meet as a body, but its members give the Society the benefit of their advice in the area of their respective expert knowledge.

CONSULTATIVE
COMMITTEE

DAVID ALEXANDER
PROFESSOR DAVID BINDMAN
DR STEPHEN DEUCHAR
DR TERI EDELSTEIN 
PROFESSOR ERIC FERNIE
PATRICK McCAUGHEY
PROFESSOR RONALD PAULSON
PROFESSOR MARCIA POINTON

DUNCAN ROBINSON
DR CHARLES SAUMAREZ SMITH
DR DUNCAN THOMSON
PHILIP WARD-JACKSON
DAVID WAY
STEPHEN WILDMAN
DR PAUL WILLIAMSON 

"I have recently looked through the titles of the articles printed over the last fifty or so years and stand amazed at the range of scholarship displayed."

MEMBER'S COMMENT

ANNUAL
GENERAL
MEETING

The Society's AGM will be held at 6pm on 7 November 2023 at Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5LU. At the AGM members elect Committee members and Officers, receive the 2022-23 Annual Report, approve the Audited Accounts and appoint auditors. For the AGM Agenda and the 2022-23 Annual Report and Accounts, click below. For earlier years' accounts and reports, please see the Charity Commission website.

2022-23
ACCOUNTS
& REPORT

2023
AGM
AGENDA

A.O.B.
AGENDA
ITEM

POLICIES

We care about our members' rights and privacy. We use their personal information carefully and in accordance with the GDPR. Please see our policies below, which explain what data we use, why and how, and explain how members can complain, or tell us if we've got something wrong. Do please contact us if you have any questions, or concerns about your information (our contact details are at the foot of this page).

PRIVACY
POLICY

GDPR
REGISTER

IMAGES

TOP (CAROUSEL)

Daniel Lysons (1762-1834)

Stained Glass Window at Hanworth, c.1796-1811 [detail]

Pen and black ink, watercolour and gouache, 38.4 x 27.6 cm

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1977.14.20479)

Public Domain

George Romney (1734-1802)

Anne Wilson and her daughter, Sybill, 1776-7 [detail]

Oil on canvas, 124.5 x 100.3 cm

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund (B1983.1)

Public Domain

Ford Maddox Brown (1821-93)

The Irish Girl, 1860

Oil on canvas, 28.6 x 27.6 cm

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund (B1989.11)

Public Domain

John Constable (1776-1837)

Cloud Study, 21 September 1822

Oil on paper laid on panel, 28.6 x 48.3 cm

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1981.25.116)

Public Domain

Unknown Nottinghamshire Artist (later 15th cent)

The Assumption ant Coronation of the Virgin [detail]

Alabaster, 44.5 x 26.7 x 4.4 cm

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund (B2001.3)

Public Domain

Sir Peter Lely (1618-80)

Diana Kirke, later Countess of Oxford, c. 1665

Oil on canvas, 132.1 x 104.1 cm

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1981.25.756)

Public Domain

John Wootton (1682–1764)

Rievaulx Abbey, c. 1745 [detail]

Oil on canvas, 55.9 x 55.9 cm

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1981.25.700)

Public Domain

Unknown Artist (17th cent.)

The Fire of London, with Ludgate and Old St. Paul's, c. 1670

Oil on canvas, 134.6 x 110.8 cm

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1976.7.27)

Public Domain

MIDDLE

John Hamilton Mortimer (1740-79)

A Cariacature Group, c. 1766 [detail]

Oil on canvas, 83.8 x 106.7 cm

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1981.25.467)

Public Domain

"I have recently looked through the titles of the articles printed over the last fifty or so years and stand amazed at the range of scholarship displayed."

MEMBER'S COMMENT

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