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History of Collecting Seminar – Millionaire shopping: the collections of Alfred Morrison (1821–1897)
As the editor and principal contributor of the forthcoming publication ‘Millionaire shopping’ I shall present an overview of the extraordinary collections of Alfred Morrison, one of the most important but most neglected of late 19th century collectors. I shall discuss the impact of his upbringing as the second son of the merchant James Morrison, one of the richest commoners in England, and a collector of some distinction, and his own inheritance of part of William Beckford’s Fonthill estate.

His approach to collecting was both catholic and competitive. His taste ranged across Old Masters and contemporary art; autographs, manuscripts and engraved portraits of famous men and women; coins and medals; Chinese ceramics, many from the Summer Palace; Spanish damascene work and enamelled objets d’art commissioned from French craftsmen. But he was never content with a few examples within each area. Thus he amassed several thousand pieces of porcelain, thousands of engraved portraits, most of Charles Lepec’s enamel work and most of John Brett’s paintings. He commissioned the architect-designer Owen Jones, in collaboration with the firm of Jackson and Graham, to provide internal fittings, furniture and furnishings for both his London town house in Carlton House Terrace and Fonthill House in Wiltshire.

Dr Caroline Dakers will examine why Morrison has remained relatively obscure, including the impact of his young widow selling the major part of his collections shortly after he died.

Feb 27, 2023 05:30 PM in London

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