Hertford and Wallace family, art collectors: papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Includes inventories listing the contents of properties owned by the family from 1828 to 1898; some correspondence of the 3rd Marquess of Hertford, the 4th Marquess of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, some of which relates to their collecting habits; receipts detailing some of the purchases of the 4th Marquess of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace; visitor's book to Hertford House belonging to Sir Richard Wallace; details of loans to exhibitions by the 4th Marquess and Sir Richard Wallace, including the Art Treasures exhibition, Manchester, 1857, the Musée Rétrospectif exhibition, Paris, 1865, and the Bethnal Green exhibition, 1872; the wills of the founders, Lady Wallace and the 2nd Marchioness of Hertford; notebooks of the 3rd Marquess; French newspapers containing articles on Sir Richard Wallace, and album of photographs of Hertford House showing how the Collection was displayed prior to the bequest.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Hertford and Wallace family archive contains the papers of the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace and his wife Lady Wallace.

Francis Seymour Conway (1719-1794) was created 1st Marquess of Hertford in 1793. A loyal Tory courtier he was Ambassador to Paris (1762-1765) and Lord Chamberlain (1766-1782). He married Lady Isabella Fitzroy in 1741, together they had 13 children. Eight oil paintings now in the Wallace Collection were acquired by him: six works by Canaletto (and his studio) and two portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds of Frances and Elizabeth Seymour Conway, daughters of the 1st Marquess.

Francis Ingram Seymour Conway (1743-1822) succeeded his father to become the 2nd Marquess of Hertford in 1794. He was Lord of the Treasury (1774-1782); Ambassador to Berlin and Vienna (1793-1794) and Lord Chamberlain (1812-1821). In 1776 he married the Hon. Isabella Anne Ingram (1759-1834), daughter of Charles Ingram, 9th Viscount of Irvine and Frances Shepherd, they had one son Francis. On his mother-in-law's death in 1807 he and his wife added Ingram to their surname due to the fortune they had inherited from her. The 2nd Marchioness was a close friend of the future George IV and the 2nd Marquess’ appointment as Lord Chamberlain is thought to have been influenced by that. In 1797 the 2nd Marquess acquired the leasehold of Manchester House (now called Hertford House). The following works of art can be found in The Wallace Collection which were acquired by or given to the 2nd Marquess: Sir Joshua Reynolds' 'Miss Nelly O'Brien', Romney's 'Mrs Mary Robinson Perdita', Gainsborough's 'Mrs Robinson', and a few pieces of French furniture and Sèvres porcelain.

Francis Charles Seymour Conway (1777-1842), styled Viscount Beauchamp between 1793 and 1794 and Earl of Yarmouth between 1794 and 1822, became the 3rd Marquess of Hertford in 1822. In 1797 he married against his parents wishes Maria Fagnani (also known as Mimi) the illegitimate daughter of the Marchesa Fagnani. She greatly increased the family's wealth through substantial bequests from the 4th Duke of Queensberry (Old Q) and George Selwyn. The 3rd Marquess had two children with his wife, a daughter Frances who died in 1822 and the future 4th Marquess Richard Seymour-Conway. In 1802 the 3rd Marquess and Maria Fagnani visited Paris, there they soon became estranged from one another and from that point led separate lives. She remained in Paris whilst the 4th Marquess returned to London establishing splendid residences in London at Dorchester House and at St Dunstan's Villa in Regent's Park (both of which have since been demolished). He also had a long career in politics serving almost consecutively as an MP from 1797 to 1822; in addition he served as Vice-Chamberlain in the Royal Household between 1812-1821. His later life was largely devoted to dissipation and foreign travel to such an extent that the sinister Lord Steyne in Thackeray's 'Vanity Fair' was based on him. The 3rd Marquess was a considerable art connoisseur he purchased Titian's 'Perseus and Andromeda' and seventeenth century Dutch paintings such as Rembrandt's 'Good Samaritan', he also bought French furniture, gilt bronzes and Sèvres porcelain which are still in the collection. He also acted as salesroom agent for the Prince of Wales with whom he shared an interest in the collecting of French 18th century art.

Richard Seymour Conway (1800-1870), the 4th Marquess of Hertford, was bought up in Paris by his Mother. He was briefly an MP and a cavalry officer; in 1829 he bought a large apartment at 2 rue Laffitte and determined to settle in Paris. In 1835 he acquired the chateau de Bagatelle, he occasionally ventured into Parisian society but he was largely a recluse. The last thirty years of his life were devoted to collecting works of art; he bought Dutch paintings (including Hals' 'The Laughing Cavalier'), old masters (including masterpieces by Poussin, Van Dyck, Velázquez and Rubens) and most of the nineteenth-century paintings now in the Wallace Collection. He acquired furniture by the greatest French cabinet-makers such as Gaudreaus and Riesener as well as miniatures, gold boxes, tapestries and sculpture. He usually bought at auction through agents and as one of the richest men in Europe was rarely disappointed. His taste dominates today's Wallace Collection more than any other founder. He died at Bagatelle in August 1870 as the Prussian army marched on Paris; he left his un-entailed property to Richard Wallace who is thought by many to have been his illegitimate son. The title and entailed property was inherited by a second cousin.

Richard Wallace (1818-1890) was born Richard Jackson, little is known of his life until he was taken in by the 3rd Marchioness when he was six years old. His presumed mother was Agnes Jackson and in 1842 he adopted the surname Wallace which is believed to have been her maiden name. The 4th Marquess never acknowledged Wallace as his son, in 1870 Wallace inherited the 4th Marquess' art collection, the properties rue Laffitte and chateau de Bagatelle in Paris and estates in Ireland. On his inheritance he bought the lease of Hertford House from the 5th Marquess of Hertford. Following Wallace's charitable actions during the siege of Paris and the Commune he was made a baronet in 1871, the same year he married Julie Castelnau, the mother of his son Edmond (c. 1841-1887). In 1872 he moved to London bringing with him many of his finest works of art from Paris, while he converted Hertford House to accommodate his collection much of the collection was displayed at the Bethnal Green Museum where it was visited by thousands of people. Wallace embraced the responsibilities his wealth bought him, particularly in Ireland, however the circumstances of his birth and the refusal of his wife and son to become anglicized meant he was never fully accepted in British society. After the death of his son in 1887 he returned alone to Bagatelle where he died three years later. In general Wallace's taste was similar to the 4th Marquess' however he was responsible for collecting the medieval and Renaissance works of art found in the Collection. In 1871 he purchased the collections of European arms and armour and medieval and Renaissance decorative arts formed by the comte de Nieuwerkerke, the same year he bought a selection of European arms and armour previously owned by Samuel Rush Meyrick.

Amelie-Julie-Charlotte Castelnau (1819-1897), Lady Wallace, married Richard Wallace in 1871 having been his mistress for several years. It is said the disapproval of the 4th Marquess prevented them from marrying earlier. She is thought to have been an assistant in a perfumer's shop when she met Richard Wallace. Unable to speak English she never really adapted to living in Britain however she remained at Hertford House following Richard Wallace's return to France in 1887. She led a secluded life at Hertford House and relied heavily on her secretary John Murray Scott. On Richard Wallace's death in 1890 he bequeathed her all of his property. When Lady Wallace died in 1897 she left the portion of her husband's collection which were stored on the ground and first floors of Hertford House to the nation, this was almost certainly following the wishes of Sir Richard Wallace. The vast remainder of her estate she left to John Murray Scott.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for consultation by appointment, contact library@wallacecollection.org for further information.

Other Finding Aids

A basic box list exists for part of the collection, this is available here.

Conditions Governing Use

Readers are permitted to use cameras on the purchase of a reprographics permit. The charges are £2 for a daily or £5 for a weekly permit.

Accruals

Accruals possible.