William Seguier, album of letters

Scope and Content

Album containing letters and receipts to William Seguier from the following individuals, nearly all of whom are artists: David Wilkie; Edwin Landseer; J M W Turner; George Jones; Clarkson Stanfield; John Jackson; John Prescott Knight; Sir Charles Lock Eastlake; George Hayter; William Wilkins; Frederick Richard Lee; Gilbert Stuart Newton; George Lance; Benjamin West; Edward Matthew Ward; Benjamin Robert Haydon; William Whewell; Samuel Lysons; William Daniels; James Northcote; William Beechey; George Cruikshank; George Colman; Henry William Pickersgill and Francis Grant. The volume also contains a warrant for the removal of pictures from Windsor Castle dated 17 Januray 1824. The album contains some annotations in pencil believed to have been made after its receipt into the Gallery, this includes details of its acquisition. The front of the album is stamped with the initials H.W.S.B, believed to stand for Henry William Seguier Brown, the grandson of William Seguier. The spine of the album has been labelled 'N.P.G Album of 19th century Artists Autographs'.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Seguier (1772-1843) was born in London on 9 November 1772, the son of David Seguier, dealer in pictures and prints, and his wife Elizabeth Thwaites. The Seguiers were descended from Huguenot refugees. William Seguier was trained as an artist, reputedly by George Morland, and possibly as an engraver by William Blake.

Seguier gave up painting after he married Anne Magdalene Clowden in 1797, the couple had several daughters. His wife was from a wealthy Huguenot family and her money enabled Seguier to set up independently of his father, officially as a picture restorer but in fact primarily as a dealer and agent. His early clients included the collectors Henry Hope and Samuel Rogers, whilst in 1806 he acted for Lord Grosvenor and from then on acquired steadily an aristocratic and influential clientele, which included Sir Robert Peel and the duke of Wellington.

In 1805, Seguier became superintendent of the newly founded British Institution; in 1820, he became surveyor of the king's pictures and keeper of the National Gallery in 1824. Seguier continued as surveyor for William IV and Queen Victoria, hanging and publishing a summary catalogue of George IV's pictures in Buckingham Palace's picture gallery after his death. At the National Gallery his duties were those of a subordinate of the trustees. Despite his earlier role as a picture restorer his preservation of pictures never extended to anything more than surface cleaning. He did re-varnish however, missing mastic vanish with oil to combat blooming – this led to a slow but steady darkening of works treated this way.

Seguier died on 5 November 1843 in Brighton.

This biographical description is largely based on Alastair D. Laing, 'Seguier, William (1772–1843)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [ https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/25045 , accessed 11 Jan 2018]

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.