Geoffrey de Bellaigue, Sèvres porcelain researcher and former director of the Royal Collection: papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1807 BELL
  • Dates of Creation
      c.1752 - c.2010
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English French
  • Physical Description
      c. 7 metres

Scope and Content

Papers compiled and collected by Geoffrey de Bellaigue including: detailed notes on comparisons of Sèvres shapes; information on collections of Sèvres in the UK; notes from trade fairs and sales of Sèvres; notes on individual artists working at Sèvres; notes on books of engravings (relating to the collections at Waddesdon); source photographs for images for pieces of Sèvres; notes made relating to book co-authored with S. Eriksen; research notes on the collection at Woburn Abbey; cards recording incised marks and artists' marks.

Administrative / Biographical History

Geoffrey de Bellaigue (1931 - 2013) was born in Paris, in 1936 his family emigrated to England and they later took British citizenship. He was educated at Wellington school, Trinity College, Cambridge and at the École du Louvre in Paris.

In 1960 he joined the National Trust, working at Waddesdon Manor the 'French Chateau' of Ferdinand de Rothschild. In 1963 he was appointed to the Royal Household as Deputy Surveyor of the Queen's Works of Art, succeeding Francis Watson as Surveyor in 1972. He became Director of the Royal Collection in 1988, where he established a computerised inventory of the whole collection.

Both during his long career and in his retirement he was a leading authority on the decorative arts, especially French 18th century furniture and porcelain. His many publications included 'The James A de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor: Furniture, Clocks and Gilt Bronzes' (1974) and the 3 volume catalogue 'French Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen' (2009).

When he retired in 1996 he was appointed Surveyor Emeritus of the Queen’s Works of Art. He was also a long standing member of the executive committee of the National Arts Collection Fund (1977-2005) and was a Trustee of the Wallace Collection from 1998-2006.

De Bellaigue was knighted in 1986 and awarded the GVCO (Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order) in 1996. He also received honours from the French government, being appointed Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1987 and an Officier de la Légion d’honneur in 1999.

In 1971 he married Sheila Russell, who worked at the Royal Archives and who later became registrar of the Royal Archives.

Access Information

Access restricted until catalogued, contact for further information.

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.


No accruals expected.

Related Material

Additional papers of Geoffrey de Bellaigue are held at the Royal Archives, Windsor.