H.R. Bolton Papers

Scope and Content

The collection comprises pages of notes relating to the condition of paintings at the National Gallery and also the Grosvenor Gallery.

Administrative / Biographical History

H. Retra Bolton was a picture cleaner and restorer. He was employed to clean the collections of noblemen and gentlemen including Lord Morley, Lord Fortescue, Lord St. Germaine, Lord Mount Edgcumbe, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Salisbury and Lord Cowper. He is also believed to have undertaken some work for the National Gallery between c.1840-1856. He learned his trade through experimentation and study. He gave evidence regarding the cleaning and restoration of pictures before the Select Committee on the National Gallery in 1853.

Source: Report of the Select Committee on the National Gallery, 1853 (NG15/10).


The order in which the notes were found has been retained.

Access Information


Other Finding Aids

The most up-to-date list is on CALM ALM. A paper list is also available at the National Gallery Archive.

Alternative Form Available

Typed transcripts of all the items in this collection, except NGA/11/1/9, may be found in the Bolton Information File, Archivists' Office.

Custodial History

The papers were given to the National Gallery in 1977 by the City of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery, who purchased them from a local citizen in 1954 [Letter from RM Thomas, Keeper of Art, City of Plymouth Museum & Art Gallery, 11 Aug 1977 in Bolton Information File, Archivists' Office].



Related Material

Plymouth and West Devon Record Office hold bills from H R Bolton for fine art restoration at Saltram, Devon [Morley of Saltram Collection, Ref 69/M/6/17 and 69/M/6/20]. Lists of pictures cleaned at Broadlands and a letter from Bolton to Emily Mary, Viscountess Palmerston, are in the Broadlands archives at the University of Southampton [Ref BR101/48-52].


Report of the Select Committee on the National Gallery, together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, Appendix and Index [London: 1853] for full details of Bolton's evidence to the Committee. The National Gallery Archive holds a copy of the report [Ref NG15/10].