xx, 76 pp. 8vo, orig. green cloth, upper cover lettered in gilt. [Manchester: Chas. Sever, Lithographer], 1900.
The rare catalogue describing a vast and storied collection. The collection had its beginnings with the peculiar story of Francis Egerton (not the above), the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater (1736-1803), also known as the “Canal Duke.” “The Duke of Bridgewater was one of the great and eccentric success stories of English history. Like that other ducal oddity, the 5th Duke of Portland, he was rejected in love and remained a bachelor. Bridgewater had one big idea: to construct a canal from Manchester to Liverpool to transport coals from his mines. He sank £220,000 into this project and when it faltered reduced his household expenditure to £400 a year. But when the canal was completed his income rocketed to £80,000 a year, so he could afford almost anything. Bridgewater’s interest in art arose late in life and it is difficult to consider his motives as anything but a clever speculative venture.”–Stourton and Sebag-Montefiore, The British as Art Collectors, p. 154-56. He kept some of the finest works by Titian, Raphael, and Poussin from the Duc d’Orléans’s collection, which he purchased in a masterstroke through a syndicate of relatives.
In an extremely long and complicated will composed the year of his death, the Duke of Bridgewater named his nephew, George Granville Leveson-Gower (1758-1833), then 2nd Marquess of Stafford, future 1st Duke of Sutherland, to inherit Bridgewater’s London home, Cleveland House, its collections and all the Bridgewater estates. These all subsequently passed to Gower’s younger son, Lord Francis Egerton (1800-57), who was named 1st Earl of Ellesmere in 1846. “A portion of Egerton’s considerable wealth was put to generous use in his support of the arts and scholarship and in building a gallery at his town residence in Cleveland Row — with easy public access — for the magnificent collection of paintings which he had inherited…He was a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and a member of the Roxburghe Club.”–ODNB. Ellesmere, in 1841, demolished Cleveland House and commissioned Charles Barry to build on its site the grandest Italianate palazzo in London, Bridgewater House, where the collection survived intact until the Second World War, when it was moved to Scotland for safe-keeping. Most of these works now reside in the National Gallery of Scotland and the National Gallery in London.
The present catalogue first lists 386 paintings [another 112 were at other residences], eight more numbered 498-505, statuary, and finally frescoes from Cicero’s villa at Tusculum. The catalogue features three paintings by Raphael, five by Titian, and eight by Poussin, as well as other Old Masters. There are notes on provenance and the contents for the majority of the works.
Fine copy. There is a correction slip pasted on for number 238 Janson’s “The Interior of a Kitchen…”. Ownership inscription of “Victoria Sackville-West 24 July 1903” on free front-endpaper. She was the mother of Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), poet and writer.
❧ For further information on the “Bridgewater Syndicate,” refer to the earlier description of the Orléans collection. ODNB.
Item ID: 6054