Significant donors, collectors and dealers associated with the Museum and the history of its collections since its establishment in 1852, with sources of information available for their study including details of the resources in the V&A Archive.
Stefano Bardini was born on 13 May 1836 in Pieve Santo Stefano in the Province of Arezzo, Italy. He trained as a painter at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence, and worked as a restorer and copyist before entering the art trade in the 1870s as a collector and dealer of Italian Medieval and Renaissance sculptures, paintings and applied art.
Siegfried 'Samuel' Bing
Siegfried Bing was an art dealer who was very influential in introducing Japanese art and artworks to the West and in developing the Art Nouveau style in the late 19th century through his gallery in Paris, the Maison de l’Art Nouveau. The South Kensington Museum bought Japanese and Chinese objects from Bing from 1875 onwards.
Dr Franz Johann Joseph Bock
Dr Franz Johann Joseph Bock was a German ecclesiologist and collector who sold an important collection of textiles to the South Kensington Museum in 1862. His attempt to sell it a second substantial collection in 1882 was unsuccessful. In the 1860s and 1870s, Bock advised the Museum on its purchases of textiles.
Alessandro Castellani was an Italian jeweller and collector with an international reputation. The Museum’s attempt to rent his collection of classical antiquaries, jewellery, glass and statuary in 1871 failed but it later succeeded in purchasing objects at Castellani’s posthumous sale in the Palazzo Rosso, Rome, in 1884.
Sir George Donaldson
Sir George Donaldson was an art dealer and collector who sold or donated many items to the South Kensington Museum. In 1900 he presented it with 30 items of Art Nouveau furniture, including works by artists such as Emile Gallé and Louis Marjorelle, which he had purchased at the International Exhibition in Paris, where he had served as a juror.
Charles Drury Edward Fortnum
Charles Drury Edward Fortnum became involved with the South Kensington Museum when he loaned objects to its ‘Special exhibition of works of art’ in 1862. He was also commissioned to write catalogues of the Museum’s collections of majolica and European bronzes. Between 1875 and 1881 Fortnum was consulted as one of the Museum’s art referees.
The Rosalinde & Arthur Gilbert Collection
The Rosalinde & Arthur Gilbert Collection of gold, silver, mosaics, gold boxes and enamel portrait miniatures was given to the nation by Sir Arthur Gilbert (1913–2001) in 1996. The collection was on display at Somerset House, London, from 2001 until 2008 when it was transferred to the V&A Museum, South Kensington, London.
The Constantine Ionides Collection
Constantine Alexander Ionides bequeathed his art collection to the V&A in 1901. It now comprises 1158 pictures, drawing, and prints. The collection provides a unique insight into progressive taste in Victorian Britain, and is on display in Room 81 at the V&A South Kensington.
Charles Fairfax Murray
Charles Fairfax Murray was an artist, art connoisseur, collector and dealer who made important contributions to the South Kensington Museum’s collections: in particular its items of early majolica. He also painted the panels in the Museum’s Green Dining Room, working to Edward Burne-Jones’ designs.
Reading List - Important Donors, Collectors and Dealers Associated with the Victoria and Albert Museum
Since its establishment in 1852, the Victoria and Albert Museum (or South Kensington Museum as it was named between 1857 and 1899) has been the fortunate beneficiary of many substantial gifts and bequests.