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(b Beauvais, April 5, 1730; d Rome, Sept 24, 1814).

French art historian and collector. He came from a rich family of farmers, who enjoyed favour with Louis XV. As a young man he established friendships with a number of writers, intellectuals, collectors and artists, many of whom he met in Paris at the salon of Marie-Thérèse Geoffrin. They included the Encyclopédistes Denis Diderot and Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–88), the collectors Pierre-Jean Mariette, Ange-Laurent de La Live de Jully and Blondel d’Azincourt, as well as François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Charles-Nicolas Cochin (ii) and Jean-Georges Wille. The Comte de Caylus appears to have been partly responsible for Séroux’s vocation as a scholar and historian of antique and medieval art.

In 1777 Séroux undertook a trip to England, where he looked at Gothic art in the company of Horace Walpole. Later in that year he travelled in the Netherlands and northern Germany. After a brief return to Paris, in ...


David Watkin

(b Goring on Thames, Oxon, Sept 10, 1753; d London, Jan 20, 1837).

English architect and collector. Soane has long been recognized as the most original architect in Britain, and possibly in Europe, around 1800. Intent on returning to first principles, he developed a personal language of strange and often bizarre poetry that found no real imitators and, although steeped in the Classical tradition, he reduced the orders to a system of incised lines that are a parallel to the fundamentalist doctrines of the Abbé Marc-Antoine Laugier. At the same time he bathed his interiors in light from hidden sources in a manner that, while ultimately Baroque, may owe something to Piranesi.

Born in modest circumstances as the son of a bricklayer, Soane was trained for four years from 1768 by the inventive architect George Dance (ii) before working in the office of Henry Holland from 1772 to 1777. Later in his career Soane developed his architectural ideas in close but informal association with Dance, his ‘revered master’, with whom he shared a preoccupation with toplighting and a concern to create what Dance called ‘unshackled’ architecture. In ...


Mary Ann A. Powers

(b Barnet, Herts, 1732; d Ridge, March 19, 1799).

English diplomat, antiquary and collector. After graduating from Cambridge in 1753, he travelled to southern France and Italy, where he pursued interests in archaeology and science. In 1766 he was admitted a fellow of both the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries. His archaeological tours of southern Wales in 1768 and northern Italy in 1771 led to several publications, including ‘An Account of Some Remains of Roman and Other Antiquities in and Near the Town of Brecknock’ (Archaeologia, i); ‘Account of Some Antient Roman Inscriptions Lately Discovered in the Provinces of Istria and Dalmatia’ (Archaeologia, iii); and ‘Origin of Natural Paper found near Cortona in Tuscany’ (Philos. Trans., lix). In November 1773 he accepted the appointment of British Resident at Venice.

In Venice, Strange met the Venetian art dealer Giovanni Maria Sasso, with whom he maintained a friendship and business partnership for 20 years. Their extensive correspondence, now in the Epistolario Moschini, Biblioteca Correr, Venice, documents their involvement in the Venetian art market of the 18th century. Through his own art dealings and with the assistance of Sasso, Strange amassed a collection of 436 paintings, which was privately auctioned on his death by ‘Mr Wilson of the European Museum’. The collection, which reflected an appreciation for the richness of Venetian painting, contained works by Old Masters as well as moderns. ...


David Rodgers

(b Pomona, Orkneys, July 14, 1721; d London, July 5, 1792).

Scottish engraver, writer and collector, active in England. He was apprenticed to Richard Cooper the elder (d 1764), a portrait engraver in Edinburgh, but in 1745 joined the army of Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender), after whose defeat in 1746 he lay low until 1748. In that year he studied in Rouen under Jean-Baptiste Descamps, and in 1749 he worked in Paris with Jacques-Philippe Lebas. By the time of his arrival in London the following year, he was an accomplished line engraver. His Jacobite sympathies initially precluded royal favour; however, his considerable talent was appreciated, and it was his belligerent character, rather than his politics, that hampered his subsequent career. In 1758, despite Royal encouragement, he turned down Allan Ramsay’s request that he should engrave his portrait of Frederick, Prince of Wales, which provoked a lasting hostility between the two Scots. In 1760 Strange left for Rome. During his five years in Italy he made engravings after Old Masters that brought him great acclaim and membership of the Académie Royale in Paris, and of the academies of Rome, Florence, Bologna and Parma....


Gerard Vaughan

(b Towneley Hall, near Burnley, Lancs, Oct 1, 1737; d London, Jan 3, 1805).

English collector and antiquary. In the last three decades of the 18th century he formed the most important collection of Classical antiquities in England, representing an important link between the antiquarian milieux of London, Rome, Naples and Paris; with his friend Richard Payne Knight he became an arbiter of taste on all matters concerning the art of Antiquity. He differed from most other English collectors of Antique marbles in that he devoted his life to learning and sought the company of experts. He supplemented his collection of Graeco-Roman marbles by significant collections of antique bronzes, coins, gems, pastes and drawings.

Townley inherited huge estates at an early age. His family was Roman Catholic and he was educated in France, at Douai and then in Paris (1753–6). Between 1757 and 1767 he lived the life of a country squire; in 1767–8 he made his first Italian tour. In Rome he began to collect, and developed a serious interest in the Antique, being introduced to Johann Joachim Winckelmann. He bought some pictures, but concentrated on Antique marble sculpture. He formed a special relationship with ...


Garry Apgar

(b Geneva, Oct 23, 1704; d Geneva, Feb 7, 1798).

Swiss financier, civic leader, writer, collector and patron. Early in life he became enamoured of literature and the arts. As a young man he was drawn to Paris, where he met Diderot and Voltaire. Tronchin’s tragedy Marie Stuart was performed in Paris in 1734. He returned to Geneva in 1736; after a brief career in finance he came to hold various civic offices in Geneva. He renewed his friendship with Voltaire, who in 1754 settled in Switzerland, and in 1765 bought from him the estate of Les Délices, near Geneva. He had begun to acquire Old Master paintings around 1740, favouring Dutch and Flemish works, but in 1770 sold 95 of these to Catherine II, Empress of Russia. They included Gabriel Metsu’s Prodigal Son (c. 1650) and Jan Steen’s Jeu de tric-trac (1667; both St Petersburg, Hermitage). In 1772 he inventoried and negotiated the purchase of the ...


(b Paris, Aug 28, 1718; d Paris, Jan 12, 1786).

French government official, writer, collector and amateur painter and engraver. He was the son of Nicolas-Robert Watelet, Receveur-général des Finances in Orléans, and in 1740 inherited his father’s lucrative post, as well as the family fortune. In his youth he travelled in Germany and to Vienna, Naples and Rome; in the latter city he lodged with the Painter to the King, Jean-Baptiste Pierre. By the late 1750s Watelet’s country house near Paris, Le Moulin-Joli, had become a meeting-place for intellectual society, being frequented, among others, by the Comte de Caylus, the Marquis d’Argenson, the poet Jean-François Marmontel (1723–99), the Abbé Jacques Delille (1738–1813) and the Marquise de Pompadour. With their encouragement Watelet published in 1760 L’Art de peindre, a long didactic poem on the principles and techniques of painting, which won him election in 1760 to the Académie Française.

In 1763 Watelet, accompanied by his mistress, Mme Marguerite Le Comte, and by his former teacher, the Abbé Copette, made a journey to Italy, where they were official guests of the King of Sardinia, the French Embassy and the Académie de France in Rome. The trip was commemorated by the publication in ...


David Rodgers

(b Prior’s Marston, Warwicks, ?1704; d Preston on Stour, Glos, July 2, 1772).

English lawyer, politician, antiquary, collector and patron . He began collecting when young; on 4 January 1736, a fire in his rooms in the Inner Temple, London, where he practised as a barrister, destroyed his collection of ‘curiosities’, valued at £3000. West pursued a successful career in law and politics, but his personal interests were antiquarian. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries from 1728 and President of the Royal Society, to which he was elected in 1726, from 1768 until his death. He collected prints and drawings, largely of famous men, and assisted James Granger (1723–76) with the prints for his Biographical History of England (1769). He also purchased coins, medals, curiosities and plate and, above all, books and manuscripts. He specialized in incunabula and the works of early English printers, including William Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde (d c. 1534). West’s library, much of which came from that of the antiquary Bishop ...


R. Windsor Liscombe

(b Norwich, Aug 31, 1778; d Cambridge, Aug 31, 1839).

English architect, writer and collector . A ‘profound knowledge of the principles both of Grecian and Gothic architecture’ generated the career of Wilkins, who was also remembered as ‘a most amiable and honourable man’. He promoted the archaeological Greek Revival in Britain and a Tudor Gothic style. More intellectual than imaginative, his architecture was distinguished by a deft and disciplined manipulation of select historical motifs, a refined sense of scale and intelligent planning, outmoded by the time of his death. Besides his architecture and extensive antiquarian writings, Wilkins assembled an eclectic art collection and owned, or had a financial interest in, several theatres in East Anglia.

The theatres and Wilkins’s architectural bent were inherited from his father, a Norwich architect also called William Wilkins (1751–1815), who assisted Humphry Repton from 1785 to 1796 and established a successful domestic practice, mainly in the Gothick style. His eldest son was educated at Norwich School, then at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, from which he graduated Sixth Wrangler in ...