Papers of Henry Wallis and his son, Harold Wallis

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 MSS. Eng. c. 7039-41, c. 7049-51, Eng. e. 3394-6, e. 3401
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      10 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

The collection contains letters to Henry Wallis from artists, art collectors and museum curators, relating to the art world in England and the collection of fine ceramics, and a large series of letters from Henry Wallis to his son, Harold, written mostly from abroad, containing descriptions of his travels and archaeological finds.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Wallis (1830-1916) was an artist, ceramics expert and collector. He achieved acclaim as a painter with the exhibition of his portrait 'The Death of Chatterton' at the Royal Academy in 1856, and followed up his success with 'The Stonebreaker', which was exhibited in 1858. Although he continued to paint and exhibit, he became increasingly interested in archaeology and ceramics. He travelled extensively and became an authority on Persian, Egyptian, Greek and Byzantine ceramics. He wrote and illustrated twenty volumes on ceramics during the period 1885-1899. He never married but he did have a son, Harold ('Felix'), with his lover Mary Meredith. For further details see Dictionary of National Biography.

Conditions Governing Access

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

Bought Bonhams, 13 Mar. 2002, lot 975.


Collection level description created by Emily Tarrant, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the collection is available online at

Related Material

See also Sketch-books of Henry Wallis (MSS. Eng. d. 3552-8, e. 3414-27).