Maurice Walter Brockwell Papers

Scope and Content

The collection comprises letters, newspaper cuttings, manuscripts, research materials and family trees relating to Brockwell's research on Thomas Gainsborough's painting 'The Morning Walk' (1785) and Francis Hayman's portrait of the Hallett family (c.1750). Brockwell attempted to place the two paintings in their historical contexts by researching the different branches of the Hallett family, members of which are the subject of both paintings. The collection also includes drafts of a manuscript by Brockwell entitled 'The Morning Walk', in which he brings together much of his research on the Hallett family and the two paintings.

'The Morning Walk' was acquired by the National Gallery with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund in 1954 [NG6209].

Administrative / Biographical History

Maurice Walter Brockwell (1869-1958) was an art writer and art lecturer. He was born on 24 May 1869, the eldest son of Canon J C Brockwell. He was educated at St Paul's Cathedral Choir School and Hurstpierpoint, Sussex.

Brockwell's professional life included assisting Sir Charles Holroyd, Director of the National Gallery, in re-writing the official catalogues of the National Gallery. He was also Librarian and Secretary in Florence to Mr B Berenson, 1910-11; Assistant Secretary of the Exhibition of Old Masters at Grafton Galleries, 1911; Honorary Secretary for Great Britain and Ireland of the Van Eyck Memorial Fund, Ghent, 1913; Secretary of the Exhibition of Spanish Old Masters at Grafton Galleries, 1913; Curator of the Cook Collection, Richmond, 1920-1939; Secretary of the Flemish Exhibition, Burlington House, 1927; English correspondent to the Gazette des Beaux Arts; University Extension Lecturer (Cambridge).

In addition to his professional posts, Brockwell was the author and editor of numerous art history books and catalogues. His publications include: Leonardo da Vinci, 1908; The National Gallery: Lewis Bequest, 1909; The National Gallery: 100 plates in colour, 1909; The 'Adoration of the Magi' by Jan Mabuse, 1911; Famous Botticelli for America: What the Nation lost, 1912; The Van Eycks and their Art, 1912; Frans Hals: His Life and Work, 1914; Catalogue of the Cook collection, Richmond, 1915; Erasmus: Humanist and Painter, 1918; Catalogue of the Henry E Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino, California, 1925; Official catalogues of Flemish exhibitions, Burlington House, 1927 and 1953; George Jameson and some primitive Scottish painters, 1939; The Pseudo-Arnolfini Portrait, a case of mistaken identity, 1953; The Van Eyck Problem, 1954.

He also contributed to several journals and publications including The Morning Post, The Times, Athenaeum, Connoisseur, Gazette des Beaux Arts, Art in America, The Library and Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Kunstler.

Brockwell's personal interests included research work, foreign travel and 'the quest for efficiency'. He was a member of the Athenaeum club. He died aged 89 on 7 December 1958.


The original order of the papers has been maintained where possible, however upon cataloguing the collection was found to be in a poor state of organisation and thus material has been arranged into three series:

NGA10/1 Genealogical Research Materials

NGA10/2 Manuscripts of 'The Morning Walk' by Brockwell

NGA10/3 Correspondence

Access Information


Open to researchers by appointment with the archivist.

Other Finding Aids

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

Appraisal Information

Duplicate items have been destroyed.

Custodial History

The collection was originally deposited in the National Gallery Library and given the number K 1 8 15, but was subsequently transferred to the Archive at an unknown date. It was presented to the Gallery by Mrs Eland in 1958.



Related Material

Letters from Brockwell to James Mavor, 1918-1925. Held at the University of Toronto: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

Correspondence between Brockwell and the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1914-1948. Held at Victoria and Albert Museum, Archive of Art and Design. Document reference MA/1/B2775.