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John Meeson Parsons

Oil painting, Musicians: An Old Man and an Old Woman, Lucas van Leyden, Netherlands, bequeathed by John M. Parsons, 1870

Oil painting, Musicians: An Old Man and an Old Woman, Lucas van Leyden, Netherlands, bequeathed by John M. Parsons, 1870

The South Kensington Museum selected oil paintings and watercolours from John Meeson Parsons’ collection on his death in 1870.

John Meeson Parsons was born on 27 October 1798 in Newport, Shropshire. After a brief period of study at Oxford, he moved to London where he joined the stock exchange. Parsons developed a passion for railways and from 1843 to 1948 served as a director of the London and Brighton Railway Company. He was its chairman from 1834 to 1844. He was also a director of the Shropshire Union railway from 1845 to 1848. Parsons died in London on 26 March 1870. In his will he bequeathed his oil paintings not to exceed 100 in number to the National Gallery and his watercolour, sepia and charcoal drawings to the Department of Science and Art at South Kensington.

His will stipulated that should the National Gallery not accept the whole gift, the Department would be entitled to the same right of selection: as the National Gallery chose only 3 oil paintings, the Department selected 92 paintings and 47 watercolours from Parson’s collection.


Information in the V&A Archive

MA/1/P450: Nominal file – J. M. Parsons (deceased)

MA/30/58 & 59: Central Inventory registers, museum object numbers 493-1870 to 631-1870

Eleventh report of the Department of Science and Art. London: George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for HMSO, 1871.  Includes a list of the oil paintings and watercolour drawings

Selected printed works

List of the bequests and donations to the South Kensington Museum, now called The Victoria and Albert Museum: completed, to 31st December 1900. London: Printed by HMSO, 1901. NAL pressmark: VA.1901.0001

Boase, G. C. ‘Parsons, John Meeson (1798–1870)’, rev. Anne Pimlott Baker. In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. NAL pressmark: 920.041 DIC

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