Finding aid for the Letters of British art patrons, collectors, and dealers, 1821-1921

Finding aid prepared by Onica Busuioceanu.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Letters of British art patrons, collectors, and dealers
Date (inclusive): 1821-1921
Number: 860525D
Creator/Collector: Getty Research Institute. Research Library
Physical Description: 66.0 items
The Getty Research Institute
Special Collections
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
(310) 440-7390
Abstract: An assembled collection of 66 letters, written by 47 persons between 1821 and 1921. Most letters date to the 19th century. The letters present a view of the 19th century world of art patrons, dealers, and collectors.
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Language: Collection material is in English

Biographical/Historical Note

Collection assembled by the repository.

Administrative Information


Open for use by qualified researchers.

Publication Rights

Preferred Citation

Letters of British art patrons, collectors, and dealers, Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 860525D.

Acquisition Information

Assembled from several acquisitions, ca. 1983-1990.

Processing History

Processed and cataloged by Onica Busuioceanu. The items in this collection were formerly part of the British artists letters collection (accession number 860525). They were separated when that collection was cataloged.

Scope and Content of Collection

Letters present a comprehensive view of the 19th century world of art patrons, dealers, and collectors in Great Britain. Well-informed patrons spread the word about important collections to be sold, and of "private views" before sales. One of the Irish antiquities dealers sends Lord Londesborough a drawing of a unique bronze plate depicting the Crucifixion, discovered near the ruins of a monastery. Persons who inherited pictures try to sell or donate them. Collectors and art patrons order reproductive prints from the well-known dealer Dominic Colnaghi. Some are actively involved with their dealers: the Baron Berwick asks his to try and sell either "the doubtful Sebastian or Titian," which "should not be in the same room" nor shown together. Booksellers have their place in the growing art market, offering not only rare books, but also colored sets of John Paine tracts. The book collector and connoisseur Felix Slade comments on the "fine specimens" in his loan exhibition of rare books and bindings.

Arrangement note

Letters arranged alphabetically.

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Topics

Art dealers--Great Britain--Correspondence
Art patrons--Great Britain--Correspondence
Collectors and collecting--Great Britain

Container List

Box 1, Folder 1

Austin, S. (art patron) undated

Scope and Content Note

Writes to unidentified art collector that a letter from Mme. Scheffer asked her to spread the news that the whole collection of the "unfortunate" Duchess of Orleans is to be sold. Ary Scheffer's pictures are to be sold on January 7, including "the beautiful Francesca da Rimini." She will ask him to send a catalogue. Their friend Edward von Steinle has made some "magnificent" drawings after "Madonna del pesce" in Madrid that he wants to engrave (Ventor, Isle of Wight, undated). 4 p.
Box 1, Folder 2

Bedford, John Russell, Duke of (1766-1839, art patron) 1825

Scope and Content Note

Informs the painter Henry Bone that his intervention could not remedy the placement of his enamel paintings in the gallery because the catalog was already printed, and the exhibition open to the public (Woburn Abbey, 1825 May 25). 4 p.
Box 1, Folder 3

Bengo, Arthur (art dealer) 1827

Scope and Content Note

Writes to the prints dealer Dominic Colnaghi that he has rented a shop at the East end of Russell Court, and reminds him that he promised to help with "duplicates or a little damaged stock" on credit "until I can turn myself round a little." He would like "French and English small subjects in colours… suited to scrap books: flowers, landscapes, theatrical portraits" (1827 Dec. 31). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 4

Berwick, Thomas Noel, Baron (1770-1832, collector) 1798, undated

Scope and Content Note

Invites a specialist in wine cellar management to come and inspect his wine cave for dampness (Attingham, Shropshire, 1798 Dec. 1?). 2 p.
Writes to his art dealer suggesting how to deal with the price offered for an Italian picture, which Berwick prefers to sell by private contract. "The portraits are Luther and Calvin and the cardinal of that time." The dealer should also let Lord Northwick see it. Berwick also asks him to try and sell either "the doubtful Sebastian or Titian," adding that they "should not be in the same room or at least shown together" (n.d.). 4 p.
The collection includes two cut envelopes with addresses and dates not matching the letters.
Also includes a print of the Berwick coat of arms, complete with crest, helm, coronet, motto and supporters, 10.5 x 16.5 cm.
Box 1, Folder 5

Bigsby, R. (dealer?) 1838

Scope and Content Note

Writes to R. M. & C. Baxter solicitors in London about the payment of his debt to Mr. Henslow. The latter has agreed to wait till he can come to London and sell a collection of paintings he has acquired for this purpose. Among the ca. 15 items there are "several original pictures by the first masters … of very considerable value, " and it is "in the hands" of Mr. Henslow's clerk's uncle. If he forfeits his engagement, Mr. Henslow will take the collection. (Derby, 1838 July 8). 4 p.
Box 1, Folder 6

Brett, John Watkins (1805-1863, collector, connoisseur, author) 1849

Scope and Content Note

Informs a gentleman that he could not learn further particulars of the Van Eyck, but he can show him "two heads in distemper" by Van Eyck, which belong to a friend to whom he has sold them (1849 Nov.14). 2 p.
Box 1, Folder 7

Briller, Spence, H. (collector) 1867

Scope and Content Note

Writes to a friend offering him the gift of a six-print set of Hogarth's series "Le marriage à la mode," that has been in his family since they were published. They are "best fitted for a bachelor's country house… than a married establishment" (Hyde Park, 1867 Aug. 10). 3 p.
Box 1, Folder 8

Child, Harold (gold and silversmith) 1901

Scope and Content Note

Writes to A. Cunningham at Barn Ridge Nutfield Surrey that he is "pleased to contribute" their enamels, except those made by order from private costumers. He then expresses his views about the art of jewelry, and the necessity to educate the public about the evolution of new techniques used by the masters in that trade (London, 1901 Feb. 19). 4 p. Letterhead of Child & Child Jewellers, London.
Box 1, Folder 9

Corbould Ellis, C. F. (fl. 1903-1921, collector) 1921

Scope and Content Note

Writes to an old acquaintance, John Burns, who "may care to think about buying" the sepia drawing portraits of William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, made in 1876 by C. Fairfax Murray for his father, the late F.S. Ellis, the bookseller of Bond Street. The portrait of Burne-Jones is "finished as to the portrait but not the surrounding, but is very good." He also has "two jolly little paintings of the late Frederick Shields, not biblical, but they are "completely crowded out" in that old house (Cromwell Lodge, Stevenage, Herts, 1921 June 6). 3 p.
Box 1, Folder 10

Curzon, George Nathaniel, Marquis of (1859-1925, statesman, collector) 1917-1918

Scope and Content Note

Writes to an unidentified person in his capacity as a Trustee of the Victoria Memorial Hall in Calcutta, founded by him when he was Viceroy of India. The addressee had bought the portrait of Lord Ellenborough, governor general of India, at the Peel sale. Curzon asks if he could "waive his ownership in favour of the Gallery," offering to pay off the price, even with a "reasonable addition," or give him permission "to have it copied for India by some competent artist before it leaves London" (Carlton House Terrace, S.W.1, 1917 Dec. 21). 6 p. with blind stamp of Lord President of the Council.
Sends this message to H. G. Boston: "I am sorry that the National Portrait Gallery have got ahead of me. But I am grateful for your public spirit" (same address, 1918 Jan 15). 1 p. with same blind stamp as above.
Box 1, Folder 11

Devonshire, William Spencer Cavendish, Duke of (1790-1858, art patron and collector) 1830, 1853, 1855

Scope and Content Note

Answers an unidentified correspondent that he cannot comply with his request, as the painting he had copied from Sir Thomas Lawrence "is now at Paris" (1830 Feb. 24). 1 p.
Writes to an unidentified correspondent that the marble given him by his friend and agent, Heacock, is a gift from himself. He discovered it at Sheen Church, and found out that it was sculpted by Oldfield (1853 Nov. 25). 2 p.
Informs an unidentified correspondent that he suggested to Schwanthaler the title of "Nymph caressed by a huntsman" for the sculpture he had ordered. On his death bed, while his pupils were finishing minor details, the sculptor had asked his brother to write to Devonshire that he should call his sculpture "Schwanengesang" [Swansong], paraphrasing his name (Brighton, 1855 Dec. 15). 3 p. Letter written under dictation after Devonshire's stroke of 1854, with strained signature in his hand.
Box 1, Folder 12

Dover, George Agar Ellis, Baron (1797-1833, art patron and collector, MP) 1832

Scope and Content Note

Sends to William Word this letter with his steward to bring home the self-portrait of John Jackson, since the engraving was finished two months ago, and he forgot his promise to bring it back (Dover House [Whitehall], 1832 Jul. 9). 2 p.
Box 1, Folder 13

Doyle, Richard (dealer?) undated

Scope and Content Note

Richard Doyle informs George Stanfield that Ashton Yates has invited him and his brothers to go and select what they want from his collection of ca. 400 drawings and sketches a week before they are exhibited at Hampstead. He asks Stanfield to tell him how many he wishes to have, and also to inform Mr. Field about the size of that collection (Hyde Park, undated). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 14

Dunne, J.W. (collector?) undated

Scope and Content Note

Asks the picture dealer Godwin of upper Baker Street, Regent's Park, to give the bearer of his note "the oil painting of the Duke of Marlborough" he has left with him when the dealer was in Ludgate Hill (Islington, undated). 2 p.
Box 1, Folder 15

Dyer, Charles George, 1836

Scope and Content Note

Sends an unidentified person a print related to a Mrs. Nichol's life. She resided with her uncle, Alderman John Boydel, "surrounded by all the artists of the day to whom that mercantile mecenas extended his patronage." She gathered an "extensive collection of prints, which after her death in 1820 was purchased by the present Duke of Buckingham" (1836 Jan. 7). 2 p
Box 1, Folder 16

Egremont, George O'Brien Wyndham, Earl of (1751-1837, art patron) 1835

Scope and Content Note

Informs a unidentified person that he has a 7'10" x 5'9" fine picture by Antonio Badile representing "Jael and Sisera." If it is sent to the Town Hall at Worthing, "it is at their service." Asks to be informed when they come to fetch it. (Petworth, 1835 Dec. 12). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 17

Exeter, William Alleyne, 3rd Marquess of (1825-1895, collector) 1879

Scope and Content Note

Informs Messrs. G. and H. Smart that he has received a picture which he believes belongs to the collection of the late Lord St. Helens. They should inquire who directed that shipment in order to have it carefully returned (1879 Apr. 9). 2 p.
Box 1, Folder 18

Ford, Richard (1796-1858, collector) 1855

Scope and Content Note

Informs Sir William Stirling about a "very, very private view of [Ralph] Bernal's collection, for selected collectors only." He should "secure a catalog at Christie's, which is "only tolerable … and cannot be compared to that done by Labarte for the Debruge Dumesnil" (1855 Feb. 5). 3 p.
Box 1, Folder 19

Forster, John (1812-1876, collector, author) 1860

Scope and Content Note

Writes to George Augustus Sala that he has read his notices about Hogarth. If he is interested "in the difference between the first and later states of his engravings," Forster invites him to see his collection of Hogarth's plates, some in the original state as well as modified and altered (Montagu Square, 1860 July 2). 3 p.
Box 1, Folder 20

Franks, Augustus Wollaston, Sir (1826-1897, antiquary, British Museum keeper of medieval antiquities, etc.) 1887

Scope and Content Note

Informs Lady Charlotte Schreiber about a sale at Sotheby's, specifying that the third day "commences with 20 lots of fans from Walker's collection" (1887 Jan. 8). 1 p. on British Museum letterhead.
Box 1, Folder 21

Galway, Lord (collector) 1829

Scope and Content Note

Sends W. Smith the money for the excellent portrait of James Paine and returns its proof, requesting an acknowledgment. Sends him an engraved portrait of the Divine Thomas Penticross, indicating the sources where he may find information about him (Serlby, 1829 Mar. 16). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 22

Godwin, George (1846-1907 (?), collector, antiquary) 1880, 1884, undated

Scope and Content Note

Writes to d'Anson that, if he lends him the drawing no. 1094 at the Royal Academy, he would gladly reproduce them by photolithography (Cromwell Pl., South Kensington, 1880 Aug. 1). 1 p.
Replies to G. Kitton that he has a number of interesting chairs, but no plans to publish them in a book. He has called the Graphic office thinking that the chair Kitton mentioned might be for sale there (Cromwell Pl., South Kensington, 1884 Mar. 6). 1 p.
George Godwin Jr. informs C. M. Jopling that the drawings he sent to the Society of Antiquaries are being engraved for the next issue of the "Archaeologia," and he will receive 20 copies for distribution (Brompton, undated). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 23

Griffiths, A. (?) (collector) 1900

Scope and Content Note

Writes to Frank Richardson (?) that after seeing his "charming" Nile portfolio he wants to order four sketches. As he prefers them "sketchy," he thinks that £ 6 would be the price for all four (Marlow, Bucks, 1900 Sept. 1). 1 p.
Agrees to pay £ 7.10 for the four drawings. Asks Richards to send them to Mr. Seymour's address to be framed according to his suggestions, thanking him in advance (Marlow, Bucks, 1900 Sept. 14). 1 p.
Sends a check for the drawings, with thanks for sending them to Mr. Seymour along with his framing suggestions (Marlow, Bucks, 1900 Sept. 9). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 24

Howard, Charles James Stanley, 10th Earl of Carlisle (1867-1912, art patron) 1903, 1911

Scope and Content Note

Thanks Cockerell for the photo of an "excellent drawing by Rooke." He is glad that his friend "keeps up the Birmingham orders," although the German Gothic "would not appeal to him as much as the French" (Naworth Castle, 1903 Sept. 7). 1 card. Pencilled note: To Sydney Cockerell.
Writes Mr. Siordet that he hopes he "will keep the Hughes pictures in mind and get Fry to go there." Hughes wants to sell them, and "it is a good work to help him in this matter" (1 Palace Green, Kensington, W., 1911 Apr 12). 2 p.
Box 1, Folder 25

Jackson, J. (art dealer) 1826

Scope and Content Note

Informs Geo Agon(?) Ellis that the drawing by Sir Joshua he did not buy was acquired by Mr. Philips, who had it cleaned, and is very happy with it. Jackson will be "on the look out" for another specimen (Newmarts, 1826 May 22)
Box 1, Folder 26

Lansdowne, Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3d Marquess of (1780-1863, collector) 1821

Scope and Content Note

Informs T. Phillips that the picture arrived safely and he is very satisfied with the purchase. Encloses a cheque (Berkeley Square, 1821 May 23). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 27

Mackenzie, C. (Crosby Hall curator(?)) 1854

Scope and Content Note

Thanks Mr. Mogford at Crystal Palace for agreeing to lend some pictures for the exhibition at Crosby Hall from 22 to 25 Sept. (1854 Sept. 2). 2p.
Box 1, Folder 28

Melville, Robert Saunders Dundas, Viscount (1771-1851, collector) 1849

Scope and Content Note

Writes J. Hogarth that he is not interested in buying a copy of the portrait of the late Lord Melville by Thomas Lawrence. He already has "a very excellent copy of the full length picture which is not in possession of Lord Aberdeen" (Melville Castle, Edingurgh, 1849 Sep. 5). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 29

Methuen, Paul Sanford Methuen, Baron (1845-1932, collector) undated

Scope and Content Note

Asks Frederick Benton if he can recommend someone to whom he could entrust the clearing of his grandfather's portrait by Gainsborough, known as "The blue man." He has failed in his search, because "there are very few men who like to touch a Gainsborough" (Corsham Court, undated). 2 p
Box 1, Folder 30

Newcastle, Henry Pelham Archibald, 7th Duke of (1864-1928, collector) 1891

Scope and Content Note

Writes to Geldart about some copies in oil after the "Stations of the Cross" by a German artist that he has seen at Burns and Oates. He likes them, even if the Antwerp Stations are "much finer," but presumably not as instructive and well suited for the Clumber church (1891 Feb. 18). 3 p.
Box 1, Folder 31

Northbrook, Thomas George Baring, Earl of (1826-1904, collector) 1892-1894

Scope and Content Note

Informs Miss Le Roy that he will send the picture of Edinburgh Castle by Roberts to the exhibition, and will come later to arrange the prize award with her (Stratton, 1892 Oct. 22). 2 p.
Tells Miss Le Roy that he cannot go to the opening of the Winchester Art Society exhibition because it is the anniversary of the consecration of the Stratton Church. He is sorry to miss Mr. Wilson's address, but he wants to suggest that he stop by on his way to London to look at the pictures, and invites Miss Leroy to join them (Stratton, 1893 Oct. 31). 4 p.
Asks Miss Le Roy to send Miss Sliphens a catalogue of the exhibition. He believes she is "one of their exhibition" (Stratton, 1894 Nov. 3). 1 p.
Sends Miss Le Roy a check for two drawings he bought at the exhibition. Asks her to put them together with those he has lent to it, and he will send for them after the closure (Stratton, 1894 Nov. 13). 3 p.
Box 1, Folder 32

P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. (art dealers) 1834, 1838?, 1842

Scope and Content Note

All letters sent to Dominic Colnaghi (1790-1878).
Rev. Edward Coleridge asks him to send at once "the 2 guinea proofs of the Landscape & Picturesque annuals" (Eton, 1834 Oct. 5). 1 p.
J. Egerton informs Colnaghi that the Raphael cannot "leave the house," but whoever wants to copy it may come and do it there (1838? Mar. 20). 1 p.
G. Cockburn would like a print of Lord Byron's portrait, and he prefers the one by Thomas Phillips, which was also engraved, and is of a smaller size than the one by Richard Westall. He asks what is the price and the size of the print (1842 Nov. 7). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 33

Ramsay, A[lexander] (art dealer) 1852

Scope and Content Note

Invites H. Fitzcocke (?) to come and "take another drawing. It rather presses" (Fleet Street, 1852 Oct. 20). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 34

Roffe, Edwin (collector) 1870-1871

Scope and Content Note

Informs his friend, J. Saddler, who intends to give a lecture on Benjamin Pouncy, that he has lately become the possessor of two engravings: "Apollo and the Seasons" by Woollett and Pouncy, and "Dawson Grove," Lord Dartrey's seat in Ireland, by Pouncy (1870 June 11). 3 p.
Informs Miss Louis Rayner that, if "his official and parliamentary engagements will admit," he will visit Mr. Graves' Gallery in Pall Mall to see the watercolor drawing of St. George's Chapel Windsor (1871 May 21). 2 p. Armorial blank stamp of Privy Council Office, no signature.
Box 1, Folder 35

Rossell (collector) 1826

Scope and Content Note

Asks the prints seller N. Smith in Leicester Square to send him the catalogues, including the supplement and the portrait of Rembrandt, and if there will be some balance left it will remain in his hands (1826 June 7). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 36

Rossiter, William (founder of South London Art Gallery) 1890-1891

Scope and Content Note

Letters received by William Rossiter (Portland House) from Augustus Harris, manager of the Royal Theater Drury Lane; on paper with armorial blind stamp and legend: Lesser and manager Augustus Harris.
Three letters from 1890 and 1891 are Harris' answers to Rossiter's requests of a prospect and of tickets to shows, trying to obtain good seats on discount (1890 Mar. 17 and 20; 1891 Jan. 3). 3 p.
Harris is sorry that a painting of Rossiter has been damaged, but he knows nothing of the matter, having resigned his interest in the Panorama many months ago (1890 Dec. 29). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 37

Rutland, John James Robert Manners, Duke of (1818-1906, statesman, art patron) 1882

Scope and Content Note

Gives permission to an unidentified person to use his name "as a patron of the Ecclesiastical art exhibition at the Derby Congress," but he has no articles of ecclesiastical interest which he could exhibit (1882 June 30). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 38

Sanderson, William (collector) 1884

Scope and Content Note

Writes to a woman artist to find out if her painting exhibited at the Academy has been printed or etched. He is an art lover, and would like to know the name of the publisher (Scarborough, 1884 Oct. 24). 1 p.
Box 1, Folder 39

Slade, Felix (1790-1868, collector) 1863

Scope and Content Note

Writes to Rev. James Beck who was in charge of organizing and cataloging a loan exhibition of books and bindings from Slade's collection. He makes a few remarks about some items not listed, like Jordanus Brunus, or placed among enamels, like Ovidii Epistolae, from the Libri sale, "a fine specimen of early stamped leather," and congratulates Beck for his successful labours (Walcote Place Lambeth S., 1863 Feb. 5). 2 p.
Box 1, Folder 40

Smedley, H. (collector) 1828

Scope and Content Note

Describes in detail to an unidentified person the depiction of the Bruce Castle of Tottenham in the etchings in his collection, representing the successive architectural changes made to its original structure over the centuries (1828 Dec. 22). 3 p.
Box 1, Folder 41

Spence, C. I. (curator of Society of Antiquaries museum) 1893

Scope and Content Note

Writes to an unidentified person, whose letter has reached him after closing time at the Black Gate [Society of Antiquaries museum], and "it is now impossible to pack and send the antiquities in time for your Exhibition" (1893 Sep. 12). 2 p. On letterhead Hodgkin, Barnett, Pease, Spence & Co. Bank, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Box 1, Folder 42

Stirling, Wilhelmina (d. 1965 or 1968, collector) undated

Scope and Content Note

Informs a prospective visitor that there is great affluence of public to see William De Morgan's [her brother-in-law] collection of pictures, now moved from Leighton House to her Battersea House (undated). 1 p., typed on paper with blind stamp "Old Battersea House, Vicarage Road."
Box 1, Folder 43

Thomas Agnew & Sons (London art dealers) 1885

Scope and Content Note

Asks William Michael Rossetti to send them a photograph of "Mary Magdalene at the door of Simon the Pharisee" as soon as possible (1885 June 29). 1 p. on letterhead Old Bond Street, London, W.
Box 1, Folder 44

Underwood, James Henry (Irish antiquities dealer) 1855

Scope and Content Note

Sends Lord Londesborough "a correct outline of a unique and remarkable relic of antiquity" recently discovered at Lismore on the Duke of Devonshire's estate near the ruins of a monastery. The sketch "is the size of the original," a bronze square plate representing the Crucifixion, with two angels above the cross and the two centurions with the spear and the sponge (Salt Hill Baths, Kingstown - now Dun Laoghaire - Ireland, 1855 Aug. 13). 2 p., including the pencil drawing on first page.
Box 1, Folder 45

Villiers, Clementine (collector, last half of 19th century) undated

Scope and Content Note

Writes to unidentified person that she is happy the drawings sold "so well." She would "willingly let the Fund have all except the "View in Hungary" (undated). 2 p. Upper third of first page badly deteriorated: missing date, address and first 3 lines.
Box 1, Folder 46

Weld Blundell, J. (heir to an important collection) 1862

Scope and Content Note

Informs Reverend J. Beak that he cannot send "some specimens" of his collection to the South Kensington Museum, because a clause in the late Mr. Blundell's will, who bequeathed him the works of art, precludes him from "moving any portions of the collection. He cannot defy "the rules laid down by the trustees … who are wholly independent" (Ince Blundell, 1862 Apr. 22). 4 p.
Box 1, Folder 47

White, Robert (bookseller) 1871

Scope and Content Note

Informs Robert Spence that he has several sets of John Paine tracts in various colors, indicating the quantity and price of each (1871 Jan. 18). 1 p.