Chapter

Horace Walpole's <i>Anecdotes of Painting in England (1762–1780)</i>

Karen Junod

in ‘Writing the Lives of Painters’

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199597000
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725357 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199597000.003.0003

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Horace Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England (1762–1780)

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Chapter 2 and the following one focus on two biographical compendia: Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England (1762–80) and Beckford's satirical Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters (1780). Horace Walpole's Anecdotes is usually considered the first comprehensive biographical history of the arts in England. This chapter analyses the literary structure of this text and asks the following questions: how did Walpole define and conceive of his historical project? How did he assess British art? How did he identify and publicly fashion himself as an author? The chapter examines Walpole's appropriations of George Vertue's ‘Notebooks‘. It concludes with a discussion of specific artistic topoi and shows how these formulaic anecdotes contributed to shaping certain images of artists that would developed more fully in the biographies of nineteenth-century British painters.

Keywords: Walpole; Anecdotes of Painting; Vertue; Notebooks; biographical history; British art; topoi

Chapter.  12053 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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