The dispersal of the Hamilton Palace collection

Maxwell, Christopher Luke (2014) The dispersal of the Hamilton Palace collection. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.
Printed Thesis Information:


By the penultimate decade of the nineteenth century, the Dukes of Hamilton, premier peers of Scotland, had amassed a superb collection of fine and decorative art. This outstanding collection was dispersed in two series of sales in 1882 and 1919, and the family’s principal seat, Hamilton Palace, ten miles south of Glasgow, was demolished in the 1920s and ′30s. Many of the most significant items are now in the great museums, galleries and libraries of the world or in important private collections.
This study will begin by identifying the causes of the 12th Duke of Hamilton’s financial difficulties and the chain of events leading to the dispersal of the collection, with a comparative analysis on the backgrounds of the earlier enforced sales of Fonthill Abbey (1822), Wanstead House (1822), Strawberry Hill (1842), and Stowe (1848). It will continue with a thorough investigation of selected principal beneficiaries, what they acquired and why. These will include Christopher Beckett Denison; various members of the Rothschild family; William Dodge James; the 5th Earl of Rosebery; Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart; and the 5th Earl of Carysfort. A survey of the records of certain national museums and galleries will establish the involvement of the museum sector in the dispersal of the collection, with a review of these institutions’ acquisitions. Finally, this study will consider the extent to which North American collectors benefited from the sales through the international art trade between 1880 and 1930, culminating in an account of the purchase of the Hamilton Palace interiors by the New York dealers, French & Co., and their subsequent acquisition by the newspaper magnate and collector William Randolph Hearst.
This research will add a new perspective to the understanding of the break-up of this renowned collection, and of the loss to Scotland’s material culture and heritage. It will contribute to current scholarship on nineteenth-century house sales and increase current knowledge of the socio-economic causes and effects of such events. The question of who benefited from the Hamilton Palace sales will be a new and original area of research within History of Collecting studies, contributing to a fuller appreciation of British collecting between 1880 and 1930 and of the international art trade and market from 1880 to the present day.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: collecting, history of collecting, Glasgow, Hamilton, aristocratic, duke, auction, Gilded Age, Hamilton Palace, Christie's
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
E History America > E151 United States (General)
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Supervisor's Name: Hancock, Mrs Elizabeth
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Mr Christopher Maxwell
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5197
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2014 11:19
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2022 16:13

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