Presented by Thierry Morel, PhD, organizing curator of the exhibition “Houghton Revisited”; former director, London Friends of the Hermitage; and member of the Advisory Board, Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA), Inc.
Houghton Hall was originally designed to house the magnificent art collection of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister. In 1779, the collection was sold to Catherine the Great of Russia after Walpole’s grandson squandered the family fortune. In the summer of 2013, the paintings traveled from the Hermitage to Houghton Hall for the first time since 1779—and thanks to recently discovered original hanging plans found neatly folded in a drawer in Walpole’s desk, most of the paintings were on view in the same positions they occupied in the 1740s. The grandest were back in the great gilded frames first designed for them by William Kent. Come along on an inside journey of the great works that got away.