Programs & Exhibitions


Current Exhibition Future Exhibitions

Past Exhibitions

Associated Programming

The Lewis Walpole Library draws from its own collection of prints, drawings, and paintings along with manuscripts, books, and other printed texts, to mount several rotating exhibitions in Farmington each year.

The exhibitions are free and open to the public during gallery hours: Wednesdays, 2 - 4:30 p.m. These exhibitions may also be viewed during tours of the Library by appointment. Please call 860-677-2140 for more information.

The Library has also exhibited materials in New Haven over the years. Most recently, dozens of items from the collection were included in the exhibition "Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill," organized by the Lewis Walpole Library, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibition was on view October 15, 2009 - January 3, 2010, at the Yale Center for British Art before moving to London to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Current Exhibition

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Future Exhibitions


Fall - Winter 2016-2017


James Gillray (1756-1815)
High change in Bond Street.
Published March 27th 1796 by H. Humphrey
Etching with hand coloring







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Character Mongers, or, Trading in People on Paper in the Long 18th Century

October 10, 2016 through January 27, 2017

Co-curated by
Rachel Brownstein, Professor Emerita, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, CUNY


Dr. Leigh-Michil George, Instructor, Pasadena City College 

In the course of the long eighteenth century—the Age of Caricature, and of The Rise of the Novel—the British reading public perfected the pastime of savoring characters.  In a flourishing print culture, buying and selling likenesses of people and types became a business—and arguably an art.  Real and imaginary characters—actual and fictional people—were put on paper by writers and graphic artists, and performed onstage and off.  The exigencies of narrative, performance, and indeed of community conspired to inform views of other people—friend and foe, fat and thin—as tellingly, characters.  “For what do we live,” Jane Austen’s Mr. Bennet would ask rhetorically in 1813, “but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn?”

This exhibit will feature images by William Hogarth, James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, Thomas Patch, Edward Francis Burney, Francis Grose, and G.M. Woodward, excerpts from novels by Jane Austen, Frances Burney, Henry Fielding, and Laurence Sterne, and examples of graphic collections published by Matthew and Mary Darly and Thomas Tegg that marketed caricature as entertainment.


Public Talk

Eating People

Rachel Brownstein
Professor Emerita, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, CUNY

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
7:00 pm

The Lewis Walpole Library
154 Main Street,
Farmington, CT 06032

Offered in collaboration with the Farmington Libraries. Advance registration required.


Graduate Student Seminar

Character and Caricature

Rachel Brownstein
Professor Emerita, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, CUNY
and co-curator of Character Mongers, or, Trading in People on Paper in the Long 18th century

Friday, November 18, 2016
10:00 am to 3:00 pm

The Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington

Caricature relies on a double take: you recognize both the person represented and the artist’s critical, comic view, register both the familiar and the strange.  Basic to what E.H. Gombrich called “the cartoonist’s arsenal” is the contrast between extremes, differences in scale (fat and thin, short and tall) that define a character in relation to another (the thing it is not).  Pairings proliferate, sometimes by accident, always by design.   
History has a hand in the process.  The fathers of Charles James Fox and William Pitt were also political rivals, and Fox in fact was plump and Pitt skinny.  But as Simon Schama imagines it, the artist James Gillray, commissioned in 1789 to produce a formal portrait of Pitt, could not but see him with a caricaturist’s eye, as “angular where Fox was sensual, repressed where Fox was spontaneously witty, … the upper lip stiff as a board, where both of Fox’s were fat, shiny cushions.”  Schama speculates, “How could he resist? He didn’t.  The ‘formal portrait’ looked like a caricature, or at the very least a ‘character.’” Is the one a version of the other? 

Coming with different questions from different disciplines, we will consider caricatures by Gillray and others, bringing fresh perspectives to the questions they raise about the relation of caricature to character and to being ‘a character,’ as well as to the trick of contrast, to historical context, and to point of view.             

The program is open by application. Preference will be given to graduate students. For further details contact Cynthia Roman Yale Shuttle to and from New Haven. Accommodation at the Library’s Timothy Root House may be available at no charge upon inquiry.


ed koren cartoon

Copyright Edward Koren

Talk with Edward Koren

Edward Koren
Artist, The New Yorker Magazine

December 13, 2016
5:30 pm

Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall
120 High St, New Haven, CT 06511

Edward Koren, Cartoonist, The New Yorker Magazine, will reflect on his career as a New Yorker artist, and on the many and diverse influences that have contributed to the development of his thinking and drawing.

“In my cartoon drawings, I like getting things right… What captures my attention is all the human theater around me. I can never quite believe my luck in stumbling upon riveting minidramas taking place within earshot (and eyeshot), a comedy of manners that seem inexhaustible. And to be always undercover makes my practice of deep noticing more delicious. I can take in all the details as long as I appear inattentive – false moustache and dark glasses in place. All kinds of wonderful moments of comedy happen right under my nose…”
On Cartooning, by Edward Koren
Edward Koren’s iconic images record the comedy of manners in society and politics that have captured his attention for decades. In this talk, he will reflect on his career as a New Yorker artist, and on the many and diverse influences that have contributed to the development of his thinking and drawing.  


The art of observational satire: a conversation with Rachel Brownstein and Edward Koren Moderated by Cynthia Roman

Friday, December 14, 2016
2:00-3:00 pm

Classroom 13
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
121 Wall St, New Haven, CT 06511

Space is limited. Please register in advance.


Spring - Summer 2017

Little Music print by Gillray

James Gillray (1756-1815)
A little music, or, The delights of harmony, circa 1810
Etching with stipple and hand coloring


The Land without Music: Satirizing Song in Eighteenth-Century England

March 1 through September 1, 2017

Curated by
Amy Dunagin
Postdoctoral Associate, European Studies Council, Yale University, and Managing Editor, Eighteenth-Century Studies

Music pervaded public and private spaces in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England; yet, in 1904, German critic Oscar Adolf Hermann Schmitz, heightening long-standing aspersions, dismissed England as a “land without music.” This unflattering epithet pointed to England’s meager contributions to the western musical canon during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—no English Gluck, Mozart, or Verdi; no English operatic or symphonic tradition that could rival those that flourished on the continent.  The English, critics like Schmitz suggested, were importers rather than producers—tasteless consumers and dilettantes rather than discerning, proficient practitioners.  This view did not originate with continental nationalists; in the eighteenth century the English often presented themselves as uniquely unmusical in print and in visual satire.  At once self-effacing and boastful, this representation asserted a national character too sensible, too chaste, too sober to permit the excesses of musical genius.  Bringing together satirical prints and documents pertaining to English music makers and listeners, this exhibition explores English attitudes toward music as lascivious, feminine, foreign, frivolous, and distinctly un-English. 

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Past Exhibitions

Click here to view a listing of past Library exhibitions, some with links to further information including pdfs of brochures.