There can’t be many exhibitions that combined the opportunity to see John Dee’s scrying glass (actually an Aztec obsidian mirror) with the porcelain bowl that gave rise to Gray’s Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes. The V&A currently have an exhibition on the Horace Walpole’s collection of art and antiquities from Strawberry Hill, such as medieval armour, Italian maiolica, Sevres china, a wooden cravat carved by Grinling Gibbons, Boulle furniture, Elizabethan miniatures, a French enamel horn, a clock given by Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn and, oddly enough, Cardinal Wolsey’s hat.. It’s definitely not the Victorian idea of gothic; Walpole seems to have had a particular passion for Reynolds. Presumably he was less fond of Rowlandson’s caricature of Strawberry Hill as a catholic monastery. Hogarth seemed the best painter on offer.
In the evening, I go to Oxford for a concert; Vivaldi and Piazzolla’s versions of the Four Seasons (occasionally interspersing passages from them both, rather reminding me of the snippets from God Save the Queen erupting in Red Priest’s version of the Four Seasons). Although based on the Theatre of Marcellus, the Sheldonian reminds me more of the Globe, in its semi-circular design (with some of the audience behind the players) and the trompe l’oeil effects on the pillars.