Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 109

Martin Colnaghi and the National Gallery
(now New York, Frick Collection, inv. no. 11.1.125).
On the taste for Dutch art in Britain especially during
the Victorian age, see Francis Haskell, Rediscoveries
in Art (London: Phaidon, 1976), pp.72-73; Jeremy
Howard, “Dutch Art and the Anglo-Saxon Collector:
Anglo-American attitudes to the Collecting of
Dutch Pictures,” The European Fine Art Fair Handbook
(Maastricht: s.l., 1994), pp. 24-29; Charles SebagMontefiore and James Stourton, The British as Art
Collectors: From the Tudors to the Present (London: Scala,
2012), pp. 77-79, 189, 242-243; and also Carlton House:
The Past Glories of George IV’s Palace, exh. cat. (London:
The Queen’s Gallery, 1991-1992), pp. 27, 44.
Frank Herrmann, “Peel and Solly,” Journal of the
History of Collections 3/1 (1991): p. 91, cited in SebagMontefiore and Stourton, British as Art Collectors, p. 243.
See Christopher White, The Dutch Pictures in the Collection
of Her Majesty the Queen (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1982). George IV’s taste followed that
of earlier royals given that Charles I had had a taste for
imaginary landscapes by Dutch painters while Charles
II had collected Dutch Italianate landscapes.
Sebag-Montefiore and Stourton, British as Art Collectors,
pp. 242-243, record various purchases by Peel from
Smith: Rembrandt’s Portrait of Susanna Lunden in 1824
(£2,725); Rubens’s The Lion Hunt in 1826 (100 gns) and
Rubens’s The Drunken Silenus Supported by Satyrs in 1827
(£1,100). On Peel and his interest in collecting Dutch
art, see also Herrmann, “Peel and Solly.”.
Ripps, Picture Dealers, p. 45.
Ripps, Picture Dealers, p. 40.
“Mr. Martin Colnaghi,” The Times, 29 June 1908, p.
9. Ripps suggests that no fewer than seven autograph
works by Hals passed through Martin Colnaghi’s
hands; see Ripps, Picture Dealers, p. 42.
Albert Levy’s Collection was dispersed at various
sales: 4 July 1874 (“pictures”); 6 April 1876 (“modern
pictures”); 16-17 June 1876 (“old pictures”); and 3
May 1884. George Redford’s sale room reports of the
latter three sales are given in his Art Sales, 1628-1887,
II (London: 1888) pp. 241, 244 and 376. I am most
grateful to Charles Sebag-Montefiore for supplying me
with information about Albert Levy.
After the collector’s death, his collection passed by
descent to his son, Colonel Stephenson Robert Clarke
(1862-1948) of Borde Hill, Haywards Heath, Sussex;
then to his grandson, Colonel Sir Ralph Stephenson
Clarke, KBE (1892-1970); and finally to his greatgrandsons, Robert Nunn Stephenson Clarke and
Simon Edward Stephenson Clarke. The information
about Clarke was generously supplied by Charles
Sebag-Montefiore. According to information on the
Christie’s website, “His [Stephenson Clarke’s] art
collection, carefully chosen with the assistance of
Martin Colnaghi, seems to have been formed almost
entirely in the 1880s.” It notes also that the collector
“showed a particular fondness for early Netherlandish
Madonnas: he owned one by Hans Memling (Dirk
De Vos, Hans Memling. The Complete Works (London:
Thames and Hudson, 1994), pp. 270-271, no. 75,
illustrated) and another by an artist in the circle of
Dieric Bouts, a Virgin and Child in a Hortus Conclusus sold
in these Rooms on 28 November 1975, lot 38, and
subsequently 29 June 1979, lot 93.”
Crews’s pictures were sold at Christie’s in a
Martin Colnaghi and the National Gallery
posthumous sale on 1-2 July 1915 (Lugt 75116) and
his works of art on 6 July 1915 (Lugt 75121). His
widow presumably died in late 1923 or early 1924, as
her pictures and other works of art were sold on 4-11
February 1924 (Lugt 86298). Again, I am indebted to
Charles Sebag-Montefiore for the information about
Charles Crews noted in this article.
See Ripps, Picture Dealers, pp. 36, 40, 42, and 47 on
Martin Colnaghi’s relationship with Sedelmeyer; Ripps
notes (p. 42) that for a time the dealers jointly owned
a portrait of a woman by Frans Hals, before Colnaghi
sold his share in it to Sedelmeyer. For more about
Sedelmeyer’s activities as a dealer, see, in addition to the
chapter on Sedelmeyer in Ripps’s doctoral dissertation
(Picture Dealers), Michael J. Ripps, “A Faustian Bargain?
Charles Sedelmeyer, Wilhelm Bode, and the Expansion
of Rembrandt‘s Painted Corpus, 1883–1914,” in
Cultural Clearings: The Object Transformed by the Art Market/
Schnittstelle Kunsthandel: Das Objekt im Auge des Marktes
(Nuremberg, congress proceedings, CIHA, 2012), pp.
745-747; and Christian Huemer, “Charles Sedelmeyer
(1837-1925): Kunst und Spekulation am Kunstmarkt
in Paris,” Belvedere 2 (Autumn 1999): pp. 4-19.
James Pethica, ed., Lady Gregory’s Diaries, 1892-1902
(Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1996), p. 22 (note);
Lady Gregory, Sir Hugh Lane: His Life and Legacy
(Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1973), p. 31.
See Robert O’Byrne, Hugh Lane 1875-1915 (Dublin:
The Lilliput Press, 2000), pp. 14-15.
Morna O’Neill, “Decorative Politics and Direct
Pictures: High Lane and the Global Art Market,
1900-15,” in The Rise of the Modern Art Market in London,
1850-1939, eds. Pamela Fletcher and Anne Helmreich
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), pp.
174-194, esp. p. 178.
Gregory, Hugh Lane, p. 31.
Gregory, Hugh Lane, p. 31.
Ripps, Picture Dealers, p. 36; Gregory, Hugh Lane, pp. 33-34.
See Barbara Pezzini, “London: an avant-garde show
within the old-master trade,” The Burlington Magazine
155 (July 2013): pp. 471-479; Dictionary of Pastellists
before 1800: Biographical Index of Collectors, accessed 21
May 2017,
An advertisement for the Marlborough Gallery, where
Meyer-Sée describes himself as “Formerly Manager
to the Late Martin Henry Colnaghi, Esq.” can be
found on Wikipedia, accessed 21 May 2017, https://é_Meyer-Sée.
For further details about this relationship, see “Baron
Randolph Natili,” New York Times, 11 May 1915. I am
indebted to Barbara Pezzini for this information.
See Ripps, Picture Dealers, p. 38.
The Times, 29 June 1908, p. 9.
The Times, 29 June 1908, p. 9. Ripps, Picture Dealers, p.
36, suggests that the author of the anonymous review
was Humphry Ward.
“Art Notes,” Art Journal (1896): p. 126.
Quotation from Martin Colnaghi’s obituary in the
Daily Telegraph, 29 June 1908, (no author is noted
but Barbara Pezzini suggests that it may be Claude
Phillips), contained in the folder “Picture Sales, 1908”,
preserved in the William Roberts Archive at the Paul
Mellon Centre, London. I am grateful to Barbara
Pezzini for drawing this obituary to my attention. For a
full transcription, see the online appendix.
Pethica, Lady Gregory’s Diaries, p. 22 (note by Pethica). I
am grateful to Laure-Aline Demazure for sharing this
quotation with me.
See “Ireland,” The Times, 12 June 1905, p. 9.
Martin Colnaghi assisted the Emperor of Austria in
acquiring Hans Makart’s Triumph of Ariadne (see note
29 above). The Emperor’s bestowal on the dealer the
Golden Cross of Merit with the Crown “in recognition
of his services of Art” was mentioned in The Times
(“Court Circular,” The Times, 28 January 1896, p. 6)
and the Art Journal (1896): p. 126, where the medal
was illustrated, alongside a photograph of Martin
Colnaghi. The dealer also enjoyed the friendship of
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, according to the
obituary in The Times, 29 June 1908, p. 9.
Obituary notices appeared in The Times, 29 June 1908,
p. 9, and in the Daily Telegraph on the same day (for
transcriptions, see the online appendix).
For an account of Martin Colnaghi’s funeral, see “Court
Circular,” The Times, 30 June 1908, p. 13, and 2 July
1908, p. 13 (for a transcription of the latter account, see
the online appendix). For images of his grave at Highgate
Cemetery (engraved with the inscription: “Sacred to
born 16th November 1821, died 27th June 1908. Peace,
perfect peace”) see Wikimedia, accessed 21 May 2017,
Martin Colnaghi was married three times: (1) to Sarah
Nash, a chemist’s daughter, in October 1852; (2) to
Elizabeth Maxwell Howard (d. 1888); and (3) on 17
October 1889, to Amy Mary, a daughter of the painter,
George Smith. It appears that Amy Mary was a painter
in her own right – a Battle Scene by “Mrs. Martin
Colnaghi”, described as “spirited” and “excellent in
colour” was exhibited in the 1894 Burlington House
exhibition (“Old Masters at Burlington House,” The
Times, 16 January 1894, p. 6).
The posthumous sales were conducted by Robinson,
Fisher & Co., and occurred, according to Dennis Farr,
between 22 October 1908 and 7 January 1909. See
“The Martin H. Colnaghi Sale,” The Times, 2 October
1908, p. 7; “The Martin Colnaghi Sale,” The Times, 2
November 1908, p. 5; “Sale of Colnaghi Pictures,” The
Times, 20 November 1908, p. 15; and “Art Sales,” The
Times, 23 November 1908, p. 8. For brief descriptions
of these sales, see the online appendix. See also “Sale
of Pictures,” The Times, 5 December 1908, p. 13,
which noted the sale of “pictures and drawings, the
property of Mrs. Martin H. Colnaghi and from other
sources”. See also The Times, 13 November 1908, p.
24, for an advertisement for a sale of porcelain, books,
and furniture, at Willis’s Rooms, King Street, “by the
direction of Mrs Martin Colnaghi”.
See “Vandyck’s Portrait of Andrea Spinola,” The
Times, 14 June 1887, p. 10: “This celebrated picture,
the masterpiece of Vandyck’s Genoese period, has
just been purchased from Mr. Martin Colnaghi by Mr.
Heywood Lonsdale, of whose choice gallery it will
be henceforth the principal ornament. Having been
for two centuries the glory of the Spinola Palace at
Genoa, it was bought in 1843 for an English amateur,
Sir Robert Peel just missing it. In the possession of that
amateur’s family it remained till lately. It was offered to
the National Gallery two months ago, but the Trustees
and Director were unable to purchase it on account
of the obduracy of the Treasury. Then the Berlin
Gallery began to make advances; but Mr. Lonsdale
stepped in and saved the picture for England. We are
informed that it will be on view for a few days longer at
the Marlborough Gallery, 53, Pall-mall.” The picture
was loaned to the National Gallery, London, in the
1960s. It was bought by J. Paul Getty in 1968, and now
belongs to the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA.
See letter from John Calcott Horsley to the Trustees of
the National Gallery, dated 18 May 1887, urging the
desirability of purchasing Van Dyck’s portrait (NGA:
NG7/92/2). Horsley noted having seen the work at the
Winter Exhibition of the Royal Academy with Frederic
Burton, the third Director of the National Gallery,
and that the latter had “expressed at the time his entire
concurrence” with Horsley’s views that it should be
purchased for the nation if it were ever to be sold.
Horsley considered it “as fine as any picture he [Van
Dyck] ever painted” and that ever since he had first
seen it at Genoa it had “always lived in [his] memory as
one of the great pictures of the World”. He concluded
that “It would be impossible to exaggerate the boon
that would be conferred upon Art and Artists if they
[the Trustees] retain the picture in this country.”
N01242. See NGA: NG7/99/1: Memorandum from
Martin Colnaghi, dated 9 February 1888, regarding
the purchase of this picture; and NGA: NG1/6: Board
Minutes: 21 February 1888, p. 47.
NG1459. See NGA: NG1/6: Board Minutes: 28 May
1895, p. 319 and 2 July 1895 p. 323.
NG1481. See NGA: NG7/197/3: letter from Martin
Colnaghi to the Trustees of the National Gallery, dated
20 November 1896, offering to present this picture.
Martin Colnaghi had purchased the Bega from “Mr.
Lawrence’s sale”, where he also acquired two works by
Abraham Mignon for 9½ and 40 guineas, respectively,
and a Jacob van Ruisdael landscape for 210 guineas
(see “Art Sales,” The Times, 7 May 1892, p. 9).
See NGA: NG7/197/3: letter from Martin Colnaghi
to the Trustees of the National Gallery, dated 20
November 1896, which includes a receipt for the two
pictures by Carracci, which were not purchased. At
one point Martin Colnaghi had considered giving these
two pictures to the nation (see note 80 below).
Pictures once owned by Martin Colnaghi and now
in the National Gallery, London are as follows (their
date and manner of entry in the collection are noted;
six came via the Salting Bequest of 1910 and are
the pictures noted in the list which follows without a
provenance): (1) Adriaen van der Velde, A Bay Horse,
a Cow, a Goat and Three Sheep near a Building (NG983):
Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876; (2) Attributed to Gentile
Bellini, A Man with a Pair of Dividers(?) (NG1213):
bought, 1886; (3) Karel Dujardin, Portrait of a Young
Man (NG1680): bought from Horace Buttery, 1899;
(4) Francesco Guardi, A Caprice with a Ruined Arch
(NG2518); (5) Francesco Guardi, A Caprice with Ruins
on the Seashore (NG2522); (6) Adrien van Ostade, The
Interior of an Inn with Nine Peasants and a Hurdy-Gurdy
Player (NG2540); (7) Jacob van Ruisdael, A Rocky Hill
with Three Cottages, a Stream at its Foot (NG2564); (8)
Adriaen van de Velde, A Landscape with a Farm by a
Stream (NG2572); (9) Jan van Goyen, A Windmill by
a River (NG2578); (10) Isaac van Ostade, The Interior
of a Barn with Two Peasants (NG6404): presented by
Rachel F. and Jean I. Alexander; entered the National
Gallery, 1972; (11) Jan van de Capelle, Vessels Moored
off a Jetty (NG6406): presented by Rachel F. and Jean I.
Alexander; entered the National Gallery, 1972.
See NGA: NG1/7: Board Minutes: 10 April 1905, p.
230, and letter from Heseltine to his fellow Trustees,
dated 2 April 1905 (NGA: NG7/293/1): “[H]e showed
me three pictures which he proposes to leave to the
National Gallery. There were – 1. A landscape by Van
der Neer of excellent quality, larger than the usual small
size of his pictures though not so large as the two large
landscapes that we already possess: the composition
is upright which is unusual: it is a charming picture
and will be a valuable acquisition to the collection.
2 – A small picture by Phillip Wouwermans (sic) in
an excellent state of preservation with a subject of
fortune tellers: it comes from celebrated collections
and is mentioned in “?[blank]” 3 – A holy family by
Lorenzo Lotto: this was in a bad light in Mr. Colnaghi’s
drawing-room but appears to be good. Mr. Colnaghi
also mentioned a fourth picture which I did not see and
I think he intends to include two very pleasing small
decorative panels by Annibale Carracci. In the course
of conversation Mr. Martin Colnaghi told me that he
proposed to leave to the Gallery a large sum of money
(£75,000). I have no authority to make any formal
communication but I think that the Trustees should
all know of the generous intentions of Mr. Colnaghi. I
explained how very useful such a legacy would be to us
and thanked him sincerely.”
For a copy of Martin Colnaghi’s will and codicil,
see NGA: NG21/8/1 (for a transcription of the
most relevant extracts, see the online appendix) and
document entitled “Bequest to the National Gallery
by Martin Henry Colnaghi”, dated 1910, held at the
National Archives Kew: TS 27/579. See also “Mr.
Martin Colnaghi’s Will. Pictures and Fortune for the
National Gallery,” The Times, 16 July 1908, p. 13; “Mr
Martin Colnaghi’s Will,” The Times, 5 August 1908,
p. 9; “Mr. Martin Colnaghi’s Gift to the Nation,” The
Times, 5 August 1908, p. 11 (for transcription, see the
online appendix); Maurice W. Brockwell, “The Martin
Colnaghi Bequest,” The Connoisseur, XXIII (October
1908): pp. 126-127; and “The Colnaghi Bequest,” The
Manchester Guardian, 3 September 1908, p. 1.
NG2284; transferred to Tate (N02284).
The ensuing correspondence concerned solely the
consent being given by Gallery Trustees for the
payment of professional charges to a Mr. Aubrey
Robinson, one of Colnaghi’s Trustees and executors,
for his services. See letter from Messrs Allen &
Son asking that Mr Robinson, executor of the
late Martin Colnaghi should be allowed to make
the usual professional charges on the sale of the
Colnaghi pictures, dated 19 November 1908 (NGA:
NG7/352/3); letter from Treasury authorizing consent
to payment of Mr Robinson’s charges by Martin H.
Colnaghi’s executor, dated 15 December 1908 (NGA:
NG7/354/4); and letters from Allen & Son regarding
payment of commission from Martin Colnaghi’s estate,
dated 16 December 1908, 28 January and 1 February
1909 (NGA: NG7/354/5-7). At the time of writing
(July 2017) only one of the paintings donated to the
Gallery by Martin Colnaghi – the Lotto – is on view in
the main floor galleries at Trafalgar Square.
Martin Colnaghi’s widow retained a life interest
and following her death the Gallery became the
residuary legatee. Mrs Colnaghi died in September
1940. However, there was doubt as to the destination
of the funds that had been subject to the trust of her
Marriage Settlement. In view of this, the Trustees
agreed that the income from those funds should
be paid to the two sisters of Mrs Colnaghi (who
were the residuary legatees of her will). For extant
correspondence concerning the arrangements
for paying the two sisters this income, see NGA:
NG21/8/1 and document entitled “Robinson v
Colnaghi: Martin Henry Colnaghi dec: claim by
widow to certain property”, dated 1910, kept at the
National Archives, Kew: TS 18/869.
See “The National Gallery,” The Times, 26 August
1908, p. 8: “The pictures bequeathed by the late Mr.
Martin Colnaghi will be hung in Room No. 10 in
about a week’s time.” See also Brockwell, “Colnaghi
Bequest,” pp. 126-127: “In accordance with Mr.
Colnaghi’s wishes the pictures are “grouped,” being
hung on a screen in the large Dutch Room.”
The Hals – A Family Group in a Landscape (NG2285) –
was bought in 1908 from Lord Talbot of Malahide,
Malahide Castle, near Dublin. For its display with the
Colnagni Bequest pictures, see F. Rutter, “The New
Hals,” The Sunday Times, 6 September 1908, p. 2, “in
Room X, were the Hals is hung, the four pictures
bequeathed by the late Mr. Martin Colnaghi are now
exhibited.” I am grateful to Laure-Aline Demazure for
drawing my attention to this reference.
See the letter from the Keeper of the National Gallery
to Messrs Lewis & Lewis, dated 10 March 1941 (NGA:
NG21/8/1). The Keeper expressed the Gallery’s
“great appreciation of the understanding way in which
Mr. Colnaghi’s Trustees have met our difficulties,”
going on to note that “My Trustees willingly give the
assurance that they will comply with Mr. Colnaghi’s
desires so far as may be found compatible with
modern practice, and that the pictures bequeathed or
purchased under his bequest will be identifiable as such
by persons visiting the Gallery.”
For this negotiation, see NGA: excerpt from Minutes
for the National Gallery Board for 8 December 1949,
p. 152 and for 9 March 1950, p. 39; NG28/1/2; and
NGA: NG21/8/1, Variations of Trusts of Colnaghi
Bequest (the most important parts of which are
transcribed in the online appendix).
For these negotiations, see the document cited in
the preceding note as well as NGA: NG1/12 Board
Minutes: 28 February, 10 June, 15 July 1941; 14
April, 16 June 1942; 6 July 1943; 8 December 1949;
and 9 March, 11 May, 13 July 1950. See also NGA:
S29: the file includes correspondence between the
Gallery, Lewis & Lewis (Trustees of the will of Martin
Colnaghi), the Charity Commission, the Exchequer
and Audit Department, Coutts Bank and the Treasury
Solicitor. There are copies of the stock transfers.
See NGA: NG1/12 Board Minutes: 13 October and 8
December 1955.


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