Samuel Lysons, inventory of paintings, drawings and furniture etc

Scope and Content

Inventory over four pages of paintings, drawings and furniture etc with valuations, believed to be in the hand of Samuel Lysons. Some of the items listed have accompanying notes which are initialled SL. The following paintings and drawings by Sir Thomas Lawrence are included in the inventory:

-Drawing of Mrs Siddons
-Drawing of Earl of Oxford
-Drawing of Sir Joseph Banks
-Drawing of Reverend S. Lysons
-Drawing of Reverend D. Lysons
-Drawing of Miss Siddons by Miss Smith after Lawrence
-Portrait of Sir Joseph Banks by Lawrence, half length

Administrative / Biographical History

Samuel Lysons (bap. 1763 – d. 1819) was the second son of Samuel Lysons (1730-1804), rector of Rodmarton and Cherrington, Gloucestershire, and his wife Mary (1734-1791). His brother was the historical topographer Daniel Lysons (1762-1834). Lysons attended Bath grammar school and in June 1780 began to work for a Bath Solicitor named Jeffries. In October 1874, Lysons moved to London and began studying law under a Mr Walton. He practiced as a special pleader for several years and was not called to the bar until June 1798. In July 1796, he was introduced to George III by Sir Joseph Banks, becoming a favourite of the Royal family.

Lysons was ambitious and friends with many leading personalities including Horace Walpole, whilst Samuel Johnson met him and was impressed. In December 1803, he was appointed keeper of records in the Tower of London and ceased practicing law. He did a considerable amount towards arranging the archives and managed to increase the staff from one to six. He held the post until his death.

Lysons became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in November 1786 and in November 1812 he was nominated one of the vice-presidents of the society, from 1798 to 1809 he held the honorary office of director. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society in February 1787, becoming vice-president and treasurer of the society in 1810.

He was an artist of some skill, occasionally exhibiting at the Royal Academy between 1785 and 1796. Lysons was also a field archaeologist and reports on sites, which he worked including Woodchester Roman pavement, reveal he was ahead of his time. His reports were lavishly illustrated. In 1818 he was chosen to fill the position of antiquary professor at the Royal Academy. He died of heart failure on 29 June 1819 at Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

This biographical description is largely based on Gordon Goodwin, 'Lysons, Samuel (bap. 1763, d. 1819)', rev. Brian Frith, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [ , accessed 24 Oct 2017]

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.

Conditions Governing Use

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