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Finding aid for the Ellis Kirkham Waterhouse notebooks and research files, 1801-1987, bulk ca. 1924-ca. 1979
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Separated Material
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ellis Kirkham Waterhouse notebooks and research files
    Date (inclusive): 1801-1987 (bulk ca. 1924-ca. 1979)
    Number: 870204
    Creator/Collector: Waterhouse, Ellis Kirkham, 1905-
    Physical Description: 15.0 linear feet (34 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The archive documents the scholarly career of Ellis Waterhouse, art historian and museum director. A major part of the archive consists of notebooks, maintained from 1924 until his death in 1985, in which he recorded paintings seen in private and public collections. The remainder of the papers are research materials on various subjects within art and architecture, manuscripts of lectures, notes on sales, and reviews by Waterhouse and others.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Ellis Kirkham Waterhouse was distinguished as both a scholar and a museum director. Waterhouse began studying art history when the subject was not yet taught at Oxford, his alma mater, and by the end of his career was a major figure among British art historians. Waterhouse's legacies to British art historical studies are his pioneering research in the areas of 18th century British painting and the Italian Baroque, his exacting methods of provenance studies and connoisseurship, and his passion for creating well organized and endowed scholarly libraries.
    Ellis Kirkham Waterhouse was born in Epsom, Surrey in 1905. He received his education at the Marlborough School, where he was a classmate of Anthony Blunt, and New College, Oxford, where he studied Classics, modern languages, and history. In 1924, Waterhouse began keeping notebooks in which he recorded art works seen in public and private collections. These notebooks became a major reference source for his later exhibits and publications, and important documents for provenance studies.
    After Oxford, Waterhouse was appointed Commonwealth Fund Fellow at Princeton University from 1927-1929, and he earned a Masters for his work on El Greco under the guidance of Professor Frank Jewett Mather, Jr. His first major publication was a ground-breaking article on El Greco's Italian period, published in Art Studies in 1930. This was intended as a prelude to a full-length study on El Greco, which was never completed.
    From 1929 to 1933, Waterhouse served as Assistant Keeper at the National Gallery in London, where he was a colleague of Martin Davis. While at the National Gallery, Waterhouse wrote a catalog of Italian paintings in the museum and began a much-needed reorganization of the library. In 1933, he accepted the post of librarian at the British school in Rome. His research in Rome resulted in the publication of Baroque Painting in Rome in 1937, a work which owed much to the methods of Bernard Berenson.
    Upon his return to Britain, Waterhouse organized an exhibit of seventeenth-century painting in Europe at the Royal Academy. Waterhouse's study of works in British public and private collections identified many paintings for this exhibit, most of which were loaned by British holders. In 1938, Waterhouse became a fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford. While there he published Reynolds in 1941.
    Waterhouse was in Greece when World War II broke out, and he served in the British army in Greece and Egypt. He was awarded an MBE in 1943. In 1945, he served as a Monuments Officer in the Monuments and Fine Arts Commission in Holland and Germany, where he was instrumental in tracking down stolen art and recognizing the forged Vermeers by Hans Van Meegerin.
    After the war, Waterhouse served briefly as editor of the Burlington Magazine in 1946, and in 1947 he went to the University of Manchester as a Reader in Art History. In 1949, Waterhouse married Helen Thomas, a distinguished archaeologist and daughter of an Oxford professor. The same year, Waterhouse became Director of the National Galleries of Scotland. During his three year tenure, Waterhouse wrote Painting in Britain, 1530 to 1790 in the Pelican History of Art series.
    A life-long foe of bureaucracy, the civil service, and, especially, museum trustees, Waterhouse finally found a post which suited his temperament. In 1952 he was appointed Barber Professor of Fine Arts and Director of the Barber Institute in the University of Birmingham. During his 18 years at the Barber Institute, his purchases transformed the museum into one of Britain's most distinguished small museums, he built up the school's book and slide libraries, and he published a monograph on Gainsborough (1953), Italian Baroque Painting (1964), and the catalogue of the paintings at Waddesdon Manor (1967).
    During his tenure at the Barber Institute, Waterhouse was Slade Professor at Oxford in 1953-1955 and Clark Visiting Professor at Williams College, Massachusetts, 1962-1963. Upon his retirement from the Barber Institute in 1970, Waterhouse became the first director of the Paul Mellon Center for British Art in London. Later he was Kress Professor in Residence at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, 1974-1975, advisor to the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1975-1977, visiting lecturer at Bristol University, and advisor to the J. Paul Getty Museum.
    Waterhouse was knighted in 1975. He died at his home in Oxford in September, 1985.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Ellis Kirkham Waterhouse notebooks and research files, 1801-1987, bulk ca. 1924-ca. 1979, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 870204.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 1986 and 1987 as part of the Waterhouse library.

    Processing History

    The notebooks are on deposit from the Getty's Provenance Index. The collection was transferred from the Library and moved from Accession no. 860278, 860386, and 870611. Initial processing was done upon acquisition. Hillary Brown completed the processing in 1996 and wrote this finding aid in May 1997. Clippings, mss., and printed matter about David Garrick sales, from auction catalogue (1823 Apr.23 LoSaG), added to archive, Box 14, f. 11, June 2006. Box 35 added to the archive 2006 Nov 14, with two annotated auction sales catalogues: John Allnutt pictures (1863), and William Beckford sales (1822).

    Alternate Form Available

    Waterhouse's notebooks are available on microfiche.

    Separated Material

    The papers are part of a vast collection of materials acquired from the Waterhouse estate by the Getty, and complement the Waterhouse library, now part of the Getty Research Institute Library.
    The photographs from the Waterhouse collection complement the archival papers and are available as an intact collection within the repository's Photo Study Collection, accession no. 86.P.6.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This archive documents Waterhouse's scholarly career. A major part of the archive consists of notebooks, maintained from 1924 until his death in 1985, in which he recorded paintings seen in private and public collections. The remainder of the papers are research materials on various subjects within art and architecture, including manuscripts of lectures and reviews by Waterhouse, and others. Included are photocopies of diaries (1852-1857), possibly the diaries of Sir Charles Eastlake (1793-1865) former Director of the National Gallery, London.
    The archive is part of a vast collection of materials acquired from the Waterhouse estate by the Getty, and complements the Waterhouse library, now part of the Getty Center Library. The notebooks are on deposit from the Provenance Index of the Getty Trust.
    Missing from the collection are papers relating to Waterhouse's career at the Barber Institute. The correspondence within the research files is primarily professional. There are a few personal items, such as photographs of Waterhouse's family.
    Media in the collection includes holograph and typescript manuscripts, photographs, printed material, drawings, press clippings, Photostats and microfiche.

    Arrangement note

    Organized in two series: Series I. Notebooks, 1924-1985; Series II. Research files, 1801-1987

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Eastlake, Charles Lock, 1793-1865
    Gainsborough, Thomas, 1727-1788
    Garrick, David, 1717-1779
    Greco, 1541?-1614
    Reynolds, Joshua, Sir, 1723-1792

    Subjects - Topics

    Architecture, Domestic--Great Britain
    Art historians
    Art, Baroque--Italy
    Art--Private collections
    Collectors and collecting
    Country homes
    Mannerism (Art)

    Subjects - Places

    France--Description and travel
    Germany--Description and travel
    Great Britain--Description and travel
    Italy--Description and travel
    Netherlands--Description and travel
    Spain--Description and travel

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographic prints
    Photographs, Original
    Stats (copies)


    Eastlake, Charles Lock, 1793-1865


    "El Greco's Italian Period," Art Studies,1930. Catalogue of an exhibition of the works of someneglected English masters, c.1750-c. 1830. London: BurlingtonFine Arts Club, 1932 [exhibition catalogue]. Baroque painting in Rome: the seventeenth century.London: Macmillan & Co., 1937 (revised 1976). Italian Baroque Painting. London: RoyalSociety of Arts, 1937 [Cantor lecture, published as a pamphlet]. Reynolds. London: Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner& Co., 1941. An exhibition of portraits and drawings by AllenRamsay, 1713-1784. Edinburgh, 1949 [exhibition catalogue]. Catalogue of an exhibition of paintings and silverfrom Woburn Abbey: lent by the duke of Bedford. London: TheArts Council, 1950 [exhibition catalogue]. Paintings from Woburn Abbey: lent by the duke ofBedford. London: The Arts Council, 1950 [exhibitioncatalogue]. Catalogue of an exhibition of Spanish painting fromEl Greco to Goya. Edinburgh: National Gallery of Scotland,1951 [exhibition catalogue]. Titian's Diana and Actaeon. London: OxfordUniversity Press, 1952 [Charlton lecture on art]. Thomas Gainsborough, 1727-1788. London: TheArts Council of Great Britain, 1953 [exhibition catalogue]. Painting in Britain, 1530-1730. London:Penguin Books, 1953. The British contribution to the neo-classical stylein painting. London, 1955. The Robinson Collection: paintings from thecollection of the late Sir J. B. Robinson, Bt., lent by Princess Labia.London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1958 [exhibition catalogue]. Gainsborough. London: E. Hulton, 1958. The collection of pictures in Helmingham Hall.Helmingham Hall, 1958. Some Paintings from the Bowes Museum. London:Arts Council, 1959. Johann Zoffany. London: The Arts Council ofGreat Britain, 1960 [exhibition catalogue]. Italian Baroque Painting. London: Phaidon,1962. Three Decades of British Art, 1740-1770.Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1965. Paintings. London: National Trust, 1967[catalogue of paintings at Waddesdon Manor]. Reynolds. New York: Phaidon, 1973. Giorgione. Glasgow: University of GlasgowPress, 1974. Martin Davis. London: The British Academy,1976. Roman baroque painting: a list of the principalpainters and their works in and around Rome. Oxford: Phaidon,1976. Anthony van Dyck: suffer the little children to comeunto me. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1978. British art and British studies: remarks at theinauguration of the Yale Center for British Art. New Haven,CT: Yale Center for British Art, 1979. Edi Baccheschi, with introduction by Waterhouse. ElGreco, the complete paintings. London, 1980. The dictionary of British 18th century painters inoils and crayons. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1981.