Harold Isherwood Kay, research papers

Scope and Content

Harold Isherwood Kay's papers were formerly numbered as MS 46 and MS 196.

Material formerly numbered MS 46 (relating to Thomas Gainsborough, John Sell Cotman and Philip Wilson Steer) - The papers on Gainsborough have been arranged into the following folders, it is thought this was done by NPG staff after their acquisition:
-Family attributions to Gainsborough
-Subject pictures
-Copies by Gainsborough
-Sitters B-F
-Sitters G-L
-Sitters M-S
-Sitters T-Z
-Gainsborough exhibitions
-Copies after Gaisborough
-Sale cats. Gainsborough

The papers on Cotman and Steer have been arranged into the following folders, it is thought this was done by NPG staff after their acquisition:
-Sale cats. Cotman
-Sale cats. Steer

The material formerly numbered MS 196 is a undated handwritten list detailing the contents of Isherwood Kay's note books, it's unknown who made the list. The National Gallery archive holds the notebooks.

Administrative / Biographical History

Harold Isherwood Kay (1893-1938) was the son of Alfred Kay and Margaret Isherwood. He fought in the First World War and was a prisoner of war in Germany in 1918. In 1919 Kay provided temporary assistance to James Milner, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, before being appointed Photographic Assistant at the National Gallery. He was promoted to Assistant in 1921 and in 1934 became Keeper and Secretary. Kay travelled around Britain and Europe recording the works of art held by museums, galleries, art dealers and in private collections.

Kay contributed to various art magazines including The Burlington and The Connoisseur. From the late 1920s until his death in 1938 Kay was working on a history of Spanish Painting, a draft was completed but the book was never published. He was a member of the Union and Burlington Fine Arts Clubs.

Kay died on August 10 1938 following an appendicitis operation. He left a widow Barbara Isherwood Kay nee Cox who he had married in 1927. She was later a member of National Portrait Gallery staff from 1945 to 1964, working in the Archive and Library.

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.