Colnaghi Foundation Journal 01 - Page 111

Martin Colnaghi and the National Gallery
For a particular viewpoint on this complex issue,
see Selby Whittingham, “Breach of Trust over
Gifts of Collections,” International Journal of Cultural
Property IV/2 (1995): pp. 255-310. doi:10.1017/
See Charles Saumarez Smith and Giorgia Mancini,
Ludwig Mond’s Bequest: A Gift to the Nation (London:
National Gallery Company, 2006).
See Timothy Wilcox, The Art Treasures of Constantine
Ionides: Hove’s Greatest Collector, exh. cat. (Brighton: Hove
Museum and Gallery, 1992) and the V&A website,
accessed 7 July 2017,
Claus Michael Kauffmann, Catalogue of the Constantine
Alexander Ionides Collection: Catalogue of Foreign Paintings
(London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1973).
For files with correspondence and annual statements
relating to the Colnaghi Fund, see NGA: NG21/8/23; for the Fund’s cheque book with stubs filled out for
various purchases, see NG21/8/1. Pictures known
to have been bought, either wholly or in part, using
the Colnaghi Fund are as follows: (1) French or North
Italian, The Visitation (NG5448; purchased 1944); (2)
Richard Wilson, Holt Bridge, the River Dee (NG6196;
purchased, 1953); (3) Richard Wilson, Valley of the Dee
(NG6197, purchased, 1953); (4) Delacroix, Ovid among
the Scythians (NG6262, purchased 1956); (5) Esaias van
der Velde, A Winter Landscape (NG6269; purchased
1957); (6-14) Domenichino, Eight Scenes from the Legend of
Apollo (NG6284-6291, purchased 1958); (15) Antonio
de Bellis, The Finding of Moses (NG6297, purchased
1959); (16) Le Sueur, Saint Paul Preaching at Ephesus
(NG6299, purchased 1959); (17) Batoni, Time Destroying
Beauty (NG6316, purchased 1961); (18) Giordano, The
Martyrdom of Saint Januarius (NG6327, purchased 1962);
(19) Preti, The Marriage at Cana (NG6372, purchased
1966); (20) Bernini, Saints Andrew and Thomas (NG6381,
purchased 1967); (21) Cezanne, The Artist’s Father
(NG6385, purchased 1968); (22) Solimena, Dido Reviving
Aeneas (NG6397, purchased 1971); (23) Corot, Peasants
under the Trees at Dawn (NG6439, purchased 1977); and
(24) Batoni, Portrait of a Gentleman (NG6459, purchased
1980). In the Trust Fund Index for 1965 there is the
note that “payments from Colnaghi for Largillierre
authorised”, but it is unclear to which picture this
transaction refers.
The National Gallery’s Trustees agreed to the setting
up of an investment pool in 1972, as recorded at
a Board meeting of 2 November 1972 (ref. NGA:
NG1/15 p. 297). Perhaps initially they pooled funds
only for investment purposes in order to maximize
the returns but kept funds intellectually separate. This
would explain the 1980 purchase of Batoni’s Portrait of
a Gentleman (NG6459), using money from the Martin
Colnaghi bequest (see note 98 above). It would appear
that over time things drifted towards a more general
accumulation of funds, from which monies were drawn
for picture purchases. I am grateful to Nicholas Penny
for discussing this subject with me.
NG6196 and NG6197.
Martin Colnaghi and the National Gallery
There are, of course, significant bequests which have
included paintings but no money, notably the Salting
Bequest of 1910 and the Layard Bequest of 1916.
Those paintings bequeathed by Phillips that became
part of the permanent collection were: Lamentation over
the Body of Christ by Dossi (NG4032), A Female Saint after
Dosso Dossi (NG4031), Saint Bonaventure by Pordenone
(NG4038), Saint Louis of Toulouse by Pordenone
(NG4039), Madonna and Child with Saints by Andrea
and Raffaello del Brescianino (NG4028), Interior of a
Gothic Church Looking East by Steenwyck the Younger
(NG4040), The Toilet of Bathsheba in the style of Luca
Giordano (NG4035) and Diana and Callisto by Paul Bril
(NG4029).The Fabritius Self-Portrait (NG4042) cost
£6,615 in 1924; the Ter Brugghen Jacob Reproaching
Laban (NG4164) cost £141.15 in 1926; and Titian’s The
Vendramin Family (NG4452), bought with a special grant
and contributions from Samuel Courtauld, Sir Joseph
Duveen and The Art Fund, in addition to the Phillips
Fund, in 1929, cost £122,000. For documentation
including correspondence and accounts concerning
the administration of the Sir Claude Phillips Bequest
of 1924, see NGA: NG21/11/1-6. I am most grateful
to Nicholas Penny for supplying me with information
about the Claude Phillips Bequest.
NG661: presented by Messrs P. & D. Colnaghi, Scott
& Co, 1860. This tracing was apparently made in
1822 by Jakob Schlesinger from Raphael’s altarpiece
in Dresden (pencil on paper mounted on canvas, 257.8
x 203.2 cm). See NGA: NG6/2/467: letter to Messrs
P. & D. Colnaghi from the Trustees of the National
Gallery, dated 3 April 1860, thanking them for this gift.
NG6382: presented by Messrs P. & D. Colnaghi, 1967.
In October and November 1856 Gambart offered on
two occasions to lend his gallery to show the Turner
Bequest pictures, but the offer was declined; see NGA:
NG5/130/2; NG5/200/2 and NG6/2/320. There is
also correspondence between the National Gallery and
Gambart in 1857 and 1865 over the engraving made
after Rosa Bonheur’s Horse Fair; see NGA: NG3/615.
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mrs Hartley as a Nymph with a Young
Bacchus. Transferred to Tate (N01924). See NGA:
George Dunlop Leslie, Kept in School, 1876. Transferred
to Tate (N01940). See NGA: NG7/283/9.
Thomas Hands, A Cottage and Hilly Landscape, 1797.
Transferred to Tate (N02474). See NGA: NG7/357/2.
Henry Raeburn, The 1st Viscount Melville, ca. 1805.
Transferred to Tate (N03880).
Daniel Mytens the Elder, Portrait of James Hamilton, Earl
of Arran, Later 3rd Marquis and 1st Duke of Hamilton, aged 17
(NG3474; now Tate N03474). See NGA: NG14/35/1,
Acquisition File, 12 November-10 December 1919.
I am grateful to Richard Wragg for drawing this
acquisition to my attention.
NG1412. See NGA: NG7/173/9: Letter from William
Agnew to the Trustees of the National Gallery, 11 June
1894, offering to cede to the Gallery the picture, then
ascribed to Botticelli, purchased by his firm at the sale
of Lady Eastlake’s pictures.
The five paintings in the National Gallery donated
fully or in part by Duveen are: (1) Probably
Perronneau, A Girl with a Kitten (NG3588), presented
by Sir Joseph Duveen, 1921; (2) Correggio, Christ
Taking Leave of his Mother (NG4255), presented, 1927;
(3) Pesellino, Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop, Saints
Zeno and Jerome (NG4428), presented by The Art Fund
in association with and by the generosity of Sir Joseph
Duveen, Bt., 1929; (4) Titian and workshop, The
Vendramin Family (NG4452), bought with a special grant
and contributions from Samuel Courtauld, Sir Joseph
Duveen, The Art Fund and the Phillips Fund, 1929
(see note 110 above); and (5) Hogarth, The Graham
Children (NG4756), presented by Lord Duveen through
the NACF, 1934.
121. For the opening of the Duveen Gallery on 9 January
1930, see photograph, NGA: NG30/1930/6.
122. The picture in question is Frans Hals’s A Family Group
in a Landscape (NG2285), which was bought from Lord
Talbot of Malahide, Malahide Castle, near Dublin,
in 1908. The Times reported: “The Chancellor of the
Exchequer, Mr. Lloyd-George, has seen the picture,
and is going to furnish half the purchase money.
The purchase of the picture will absorb the annual
grant of the National Gallery for three years, unless
subscriptions from lovers of art are forthcoming, as
it is confidently hoped will be the case, to release the
Trustees from that unfortunate restriction.” (See “The
National Gallery. Purchase of a Frans Hals,” The Times,
26 August 1908, p. 8). Brockwell, “Colnaghi Bequest,”
p. 127, noted, in this context, how important Martin
Colnaghi’s generosity was: “Now that the annual grant
of the National Gallery seems likely to be mortgaged
for the purpose of completing the purchase of the
Malahide Hals, it is a matter for congratulation that the
nation should receive such a munificent bequest from a
connoisseur of such world-wide reputation.”
123. Apart from Lockett Agnew. Although the National
Portrait Gallery still has no image of Martin Colnaghi,
it does have two images of Dominic Colnaghi: an
albumen carte-de-visite by Leonida Caldesi of the
1860s (NPG Ax17152) and a mid-nineteenth-century
stipple engraving by Károly (or Charles) Brocky (NPG
1. Death of Martin Colnaghi - obituaries:
(a) “Mr. Martin Colnaghi,” The Times, 29 June 1908, p. 9
(perhaps written by Humphry Ward):
One of the most familiar figures in the art world of London
has disappeared in Mr. Martin Colnaghi, who, we regret to
say, died on Saturday, at his house in Pall-mall. Till recently
he was as vigorous as a young man, but he had reached the
great age of 88, having been born in 1819, “the same year
as the Queen,” as he used to say with a certain pride.
He was the son of an elder Martin Colnaghi, and a
grandson of that Paul Colnaghi who came from Italy about
100 years ago and founded the house which still enjoys a
flourishing existence in Pall-mall-east. Though his mother
was English, and though he himself from his youth up was
an intensely patriotic Englishman, Martin Colnaghi had
much of the Italian in his nature, and the warm blood of
the South ran vigorously in his veins to the very end. The
name given to him in baptism was Italian; it was Martino
Enrico Luigi Gaetano Colnaghi, though from the days
of his boyhood he was always known as Martin Henry
Colnaghi. He was educated for the Army, but, as he was
growing up, misfortunes fell upon his father, who had left
the firm, and for many years the young man had to undergo
great hardships and many vicissitudes. These he was fond
of detailing to his friends of later years, for though he
never committed his reminiscences to writing, there was
nobody who had a more abundant store, and no one who
could pour out a more unending flow of stories about the
literary, musical, artistic, and Bohemian life of London in
the forties and fifties. On those we need not dwell, except
to say that he was in high favour with Queen Victoria and
the Prince Consort, that he was intimate with Lablache,
Mario, and most of the operatic celebrities of the time,
and that, in a quite different department of life, he was one
of the founders and for two or three years the most active
organizers of the system of railway advertising which was
afterwards taken over by a small City stationer, Mr. William
Henry Smith, who developed out of it the gigantic business
of W.H. Smith and Son.
These things, however, were interludes, and about 1860
Martin Colnaghi began once more to interest himself in
the art for which he had an hereditary instinct and which
he had studied as a boy. He never read much, and, indeed,
he had a feeling something like contempt for the professed
judges who get their knowledge from books and archives;
but in middle life he travelled a good deal among the
galleries of Europe, and he had what is better than books or
travel, a natural eye for a picture. For 30 or 40 years he was
one of the most assiduous frequenters of Christie’s and of
sale-rooms all over the country; and in the early days, before
the era of high prices set in, he made many extraordinary
coups – of which other people commonly had the benefit,
for he was what is called a kindly seller. His chief interest
was in the Dutch school, and to him is due much of the
credit for having brought the great Frans Hals back to the
notice of the world. He used to say that quite a hundred
pictures by Hals had passed through his hands, from the
days when £5, or £50, or on rare occasions £100 was their
auction value; and these have now, of course, become the
treasures of great public and private collections. Another
master whom he helped to make known was Van Goyen,
the real founder of the Dutch landscape school; while
among the later Italians he was from the beginning devoted
to Francesco Guardi, after whom he named the little gallery
that he used to occupy in the Haymarket.
Martin Colnaghi formed several important collections,
of which that of the late Mr. Albert Levy was perhaps the
chief. To do so gave him the most unbounded pleasure,
quite independent of the profit realized; for to pick up a
fine picture “in the dirt,” to clean it, and to hand it on to
a friend, was a real joy to him, and flattered the vanity of
the expert of which, if the truth must be told, he had a
large share. But he was too independent and too impulsive
to create a business on the large and exclusive scale which
cooler-headed men have formed in these days of great
purses and great prices. None the less we believe that the
National Gallery will benefit largely by his will, receiving
immediately two or three important pictures and ultimately
the whole of his fortune.
(b) “Death of Mr. Martin Colnaghi: Story of a Raphael,”
Daily Telegraph, 29 June 1908, (perhaps written by Claude
Phillips as the copy preserved in the William Roberts
Archive at the Paul Mellon Centre, London, has been
initialled ‘C.P.’):
A picturesque personality will be seen at Christie’s no
more. Mr. Martin Colnaghi, of the Marlborough Gallery,
Pall-mall, died on Saturday, at the age of 83. For some
time he had been ailing, but up to the end of 1906 the
volatile and vivacious connoisseur of the old school was a
constant habitué of King-street, known to all, and always
ready with a quip and a quirk. His Italian restlessness
was an amusing foil to the phlegm and repose of the big
British dealer in a sale-room. During the bidding he would
invariably re-examine at the easel any picture in which he
was interested, and talk in loud asides. Stricter methods of
scientific criticism had long disturbed his ascendency, and
caused him to appear old-fashioned, but in his hey-day he
filled the bill as a critic with the true flair, and was worthily
accounted as a very reliable judge of values of Italian
and Dutch pictures, being a good second in this respect to
the famous Nieuwenhuys. His last important purchase at
Christie’s was on Dec. 9, 1905, when he beat Mr. Lockett
Angew at 2,100gs for a bird’s-eye view of a landscape by
P. de Koninck. Despairingly at 2,000gs he had muttered,
“One more bid!” and when Mr. Agnew did not challenge
this his delight was manifest, especially as he had made a De
Koninck record.
He literally had his “St. Martin’s Summer,” however, in
1903. Just before the Vaile sale a Raeburn portrait of “Sir
John Sinclair” was offered at Robinson and Fisher’s, and
although the reserve was not exceeded, Mr. Colnaghi was
the last bidder at 14,000gs, and had the réclame of his
plucky effort. The present writer saw him at Marlborough
Gallery just after the sale. He was in a merry mood. Proud
of his health and elasticity, he pirouetted on the smooth
floor, singing the refrain of Mendelssohn’s “I’m a Roamer”
– “What profits arm or leg or span, save one can use them
like a man?” Soon he grew reminiscent. Not long before
the art world had enjoyed the sensation of learning that
Mr. Pierpont Morgan had given £100,000 for a Raphael.
“That once was mine,” exclaimed Mr. Colnaghi, and he
told the story. In 1505 Raphael painted the “Virgin and
Child, Enthroned with Saints,” for the convent of the nuns
of St. Antonio of Padua, at Perugia. In 1678 the nuns sold
the picture to Count Bigazzini at Rome for 2,000 scudi and
a copy. Afterward it became the property of the Colonna
family, and about 1790 was purchased by the King of
Naples. When Victor Emmanuel united Italy, the ex-King
transferred the Raphael to the Duc di Ripalda, and soon it
appeared at the Louvre, where it was offered on approval
to the French Government. Rejected by the latter, it was
similarly offered to our National Gallery, £40,000 being
named as the price. Although Lord Beaconsfield was willing
to provide the funds, the trustees declined to buy the work,
and it was placed on view at South Kensington Museum.
Eventually Mr. Colnaghi gave £20,000 for the composition.
He sold it to a Paris dealer from whom and others it passed
into its present ownership. It was to be seen at Burlington
House in 1902, and by the irony of events, was on loan for a
short time in Trafalgar-square.
Mr. Colnaghi would have been an ideal curator of the
Louvre. He hated to see dirty pictures, and he used to say
that he could put £500 on the value of a grimy canvas
after half an hour’s work with a sponge. On the day of
the Vaile sale in 1903 it will be recalled that a neglected
Gainsborough portrait of a young lady, which had been
lying perdu in a house at Worthing, came up to auction.
When it was placed on the easel Mr. Colnaghi eagerly
examined the battered relic, and shook his head. “Where’s
your sponge, Martin?” asked a friend. He turned quickly
to Mr. Hannen, the auctioneer, and said, “Two hundred
guineas.” Up to the end of a wonderful contest, when Mr.
Charles Wertheimer won at 9,000gs, Mr. Colnaghi struggled
hard to obtain a picture for the pleasure of being able to
clean it himself. On the same afternoon he gave 3350gs for
Reynolds’ pair of portraits of the eighth and ninth Earls of
Westmorland, from the Dean of Wells’ collection.
In 1875, while as yet Messrs. Agnew had not removed
from Waterloo-place to Bond-street, Mr. Colnaghi was a
commanding influence in the public art market. In the
Bredel sale that year he was very prominent, giving £4,300
for the famous chef d’oeuvre of F. Mieris, “The Enamoured
Cavalier,” and 1,800gs for the “Boy Angling,” by Wynants.
At the Lucy sale in the same year he purchased “Abraham,
Hagar, and Ishmael,” by the brothers Both, for 4,500gs,
a picture, however, which dropped to 1,900gs in the
Bingham Mildmay dispersal, 1893. Then he bought P. de
Hooch’s “Interior of a Room” for 2,800gs. For a seapiece
by Ruysdael in the Munro sale, 1878, he bid 1,400gs, and


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