Strawberry Hill House reopens from May 17 (Government advice allowing), and a highlight for visitors is sure to be the return of a rare portrait of Catherine de’ Medici it has acquired – 247 years after she first hung there.
A group portrait of Catherine de’ Medici with her children – first bought by Horace Walpole and hung in his London home in 1774 – is returning home, thanks to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, administered by the Arts Council.
The monumental 1561 work (measuring 198 x 137.2cm) is by the Workshop of François Clouet, a highly successful portrait painter at the French court – which has only been publicly displayed three times in the past 126 years – will go on permanent display for everyone to enjoy in The Gallery.
The significance of this imposing portrait of the family of perhaps the most powerful woman in 16th-century Europe, Catherine de’ Medici (1519-89), – Queen consort to King Henry II of France (who reigned 1547-1559) – cannot be overstated. The painting is historically unique as the only surviving contemporary portrait of renowned patron of the arts Catherine, and four of her ten children. It is also artistically rare, as very probably the first full-length composition of its type, pioneering a genre that would become a standard in royal portraits.
Strawberry Hill House Garden, Shop & Cafe is now open weekly, Sunday to Thursday. Why not pop into the Gift Shop and browse the range of artisan products sourced from local artists & makers – new this season, you can also find a selection of garden products and plants on sale from the Strawberry Hill Garden. Or drop in for a coffee and cake, at the award-winning cafe, whilst taking in the views of the enchanting Grade II listed garden.
You can find out more about the Garden on a Historic Garden Tour – be transported back in time to walk across lawns where Pavlova danced, an elephant marched, and parties lasted long into the night – while at every turn experiencing a new vista of Walpole’s magnificent Gothic castle. Tours run throughout April and May, Tuesday to Thursday.
Visit Strawberry Hill House & Garden at 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, TW1 4ST.
Strawberry Hill House