£15 In the bicentenary year of George Augustus Selwyn’s birth, this talk will explore the extraordinary life of the polymath collector, politician and socialite known as George the Wit. A lifelong
In the bicentenary year of George Augustus Selwyn’s birth, this talk will explore the extraordinary life of the polymath collector, politician and socialite known as George the Wit. A lifelong friend of Horace Walpole, he was notorious as a member of the Hell Fire Club and teased for his regular attendance at public executions, but on account of his well-known wit delivered in deadpan he often had the last word. A long-term MP for Gloucester, he also controlled two pocket boroughs of Ludgershall and Whitchurch but never made a speech in the House of Commons, and he is considered to be the founding father of Charlotte, North Carolina, as he sold 100 acres there to two Americans who started building the city.
His art collection forms part of the nucleus of the Wallace Collection having passed into the Seymour family via his adopted daughter Maria Fagnani, Marchioness of Hertford, natural daughter of his friend “Old Q”, the Duke of Queensberry. His close friendship with Frederick Fifth Earl of Carlisle, who became his executor on his death, resulted in many of his personal papers and letters being preserved at Castle Howard. These include a wealth of financial records which illustrate his collecting habits. He was a patron of Reynolds (painted by him four times), collected pictures and objects with historical provenance, commissioned engravings and amassed an extensive library. A frequent visitor to the salon of Madame du Deffand in Paris, where he also purchased French and Sevre porcelain for both himself and his friends. His artistic and heraldic abilities combined to design with two friends the mock arms of Whites Club which now adorn their everyday china.
A descendant of George’s uncle Henry Selwyn, Richard Selwyn Sharpe has spent over 40 years researching his life. Particular fields of research include tracing items from George’s collection now in the Wallace Collection, and George’s papers in the Castle Howard archives. He is a practising Barrister , and a regular contributor to historical journals.
Doors open 6.15pm, talk starts 6.30pm (inc. wine). All welcome
Please read our Terms and Conditions before booking