The Robert Crozier Collection

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 CRO
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3 classes, 82 items; all items are single sheets of paper unless otherwise stated.
  • Location
      Collection available at John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

The collection includes letters addressed to Crozier, many from fellow artists and members of the art world such as Frederic James Shields, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, George Frederic Watts and William Hull. Several letters relate to the fund set up to support the widow and children of the Manchester artist William Bradley (1801-1857). Subscribers included Sir Francis Grant, William Ewart Gladstone and Sir Charles Lock Eastlake. John Ruskin apparently declined to contribute. It appears that Crozier was a collector of autographs as many letters from eminent persons are otherwise unconnected with him. There are examples of autographs by Matthew Arnold, Richard Cobden, William Cowper, John Dalton, Edward Jenner, Sir Edwin Landseer, Johann Lavater, Granville Sharp, James Sheridan Knowles and Alphonse Legros. Finally, there is miscellaneous material such as small etchings and engravings, newspaper cuttings, and a handful of letters and envelopes addressed to Robert Crozier's son George, himself an artist.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Crozier was born in Blackburn in 1815, the son of George Crozier, a saddler and one of the leaders of a group of working-class amateur botanists. When Crozier was ten his family moved briefly to Bolton, before settling in Warrington in April 1826. From the age of twelve until he was twenty, Crozier was apprenticed to a coach painter called William Maskey. However, during this time Crozier also studied under John Kitchingham, a local teacher of drawing, grammar, miniature painting and botany, until Kitchingham was killed in a railway accident.

In 1836 Crozier moved to Manchester, where he remained for the rest of his life. He became a pupil of Henry Travis, before going on to study at the Manchester School of Design under John Zephania Bell in 1838. In the same year, Crozier was to marry Ellen Morgan of Liverpool; they had two daughters and a son. On leaving the School of Design, in 1845 Crozier went to study under William Bradley, and it was after this that he gained his reputation as a portrait painter. In 1851, at Bradley's suggestion, he opened a studio in St Anne's Street. Crozier first exhibited at the Royal Manchester Institution in 1841, and at the Royal Academy in 1854, but it was the success of the 'Exhibition of Works of Local Artists' at Peel Park, Salford, in 1857, that encouraged Crozier and other local artists to set up the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts in 1859. Shortly after its foundation Crozier was appointed Literary Secretary of the Academy, a position which he held until he was elected Treasurer in 1868, and from 1878 until a month before his death he was President of the Academy. His wife Ellen died in 1880. Crozier died at his home in Sydney Street, off Oxford Road in Manchester, on 7th February 1891. For further information on Robert Crozier see Thomas Letherbrow, Robert Crozier: a memoir (Manchester: J.E. Cornish, 1891).


No evidence of any original order has survived. The collection has therefore been divided into three separate series:

  • CRO1 Letters to Crozier
  • CRO2 Miscellaneous autograph letters.
  • CRO3 Miscellaneous items.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Other Finding Aids


Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PP.

Custodial History

The Robert Crozier collection was sold at auction in November 1995 by order of an anonymous Cheshire collector. The previous custodial history of the collection is not known. The collection was divided into seventeen lots, all but three of which (relating to Walter Crane, John Ruskin and Ford Madox Brown), were purchased by the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.

Related Material

Two letters from John Ruskin to Robert Crozier and a letter from H. W. Ackland to Ruskin are held privately. See Cynthia Gamble, 'John Ruskin, Henry Wentworth Acland, Robert Crozier: Three Hitherto Unknown Autograph Letters', Notes & Queries, 67.1 (March 2020), 109-12.