NPG - Papers of Sir Henry Mendelssohn Hake

Scope and Content

The following materials can be found in Sir Henry Mendelssohn Hake's papers:

- Work for the National Portrait Gallery including diaries mainly listing meetings and dinners 1931-1942, files of general business and personal correspondence 1919-1951, and research notes for lecture

- Portrait research, consisting of one file on a portrait at Great Chalfield Manor, Wiltshire, and 1 file on a proposed book on seventeenth century English art

- Work for external bodies, consisting of 3 files on advisory work on Northwick Park's Print collection

- Personal effects, specifically a file of correspondence related to Hake's award of the Defence Medal

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Henry Mendelssohn Hake C.B.E. (1892-1951) was born in London in 1892 and was the son of Henry Wilson Hake PhD. Hake was educated at Westminster and at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1914 he became an assistant in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum. From 1915 -1919 he served in the army and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. In 1920 he married Patricia Robertson, daughter of Rev. James Robertson. After the First World War he returned to the British Museum, where he remained until 1927, when he was appointed Director of the National Portrait Gallery, a post he held until his death in on 4th April 1951, aged 59.

At the National Portrait Gallery he was responsible for rearranging the pictures in historical order, and made many valuable acquisitions. During the Second World War when the Gallery's portraits had to be moved to Mentmore for safekeeping he and his wife lived for a time in the stables near the store. During the later part of the war he often slept in the Gallery cellars.

Hake published to two volumes of the 'Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits' in the British Museum, continuing and completing the work begun by Freeman O'Donoghue, and various articles for the 'Print Collectors' Quarterly', and for the publications of the Walpole Society. Hake also worked on the National Portrait Gallery catalogues, though did not live to see the four volume catalogue raisonne completed.

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

Other Finding Aids

The complete catalogue for this archive can be searched via the NPG Archive Catalogue .

Conditions Governing Use

Personal photography is permitted for research purposes only. Photocopying is not permitted.