Tate Gallery Archive, ca. 1895

Value (2006) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction

This is a sampling of the letters from the Tate Gallery. The original donor of the Tate Gallery was Sir Henry Tate. And he married my aunt, Amy Tate. And through the years, we have received in our family all of the original letters of sale from his donation to the Tate Gallery, along with some information about the building of the Tate Gallery and some other documents.

Now, this is just a fraction of what you brought in. You actually brought me in two huge binders of paper, which you've very carefully cataloged and organized. What did it look like when you inherited it?

When I got it, it was actually all in-- probably like most things-- in a nice cardboard box.

Was there any order to it at all?

No, there wasn't really any order. And that's what was the challenge-- to take it all apart very carefully, and to determine what it was, what year the bill of sale might be and where it might go, what order.

Well, you did a great job. This is a photograph of Sir Henry Tate.

That's correct.

And this is your aunt-- the much younger second wife of Sir Henry Tate, who, after his death, took over the patronage of the gallery. And this is-- it's a lithograph of the Tate Gallery, with annotations by the architect. The architect has written notes on it that say, "In order to show the progress of the construction, I've colored the lithograph." So you can see that in December of 1895, only about two-thirds of the gallery was built. And then this third document over here is an original handwritten inventory of the original 61 paintings that Sir Henry Tate gave to the gallery. And it's a phenomenal record of 19th-century English painting. Paintings from John Everett Millais. There's a Landseer. There's a Luke Fildes-- the very famous painting of “The Doctor.” In addition to that kind of documentation, you also have all of the bills of sale for the paintings themselves and correspondence with the artist, which I think is really fascinating. And if we come down here, you can see the original receipt for the purchase of the painting “Ophelia,” which is a very famous painting. Here is Ophelia. "Painting by Sir J.E. Millais." And Sir Henry actually originally paid £2,000 for this painting. Here's another receipt. This is for the painting “The Boyhood of Raleigh,” another famous painting which he actually bought at auction. So we have the price plus the premium. And then this is a letter from John Everett Millais, which relates back to the purchase of, I believe, “The Boyhood of Raleigh,” I believe this letter deals with. So you have really a phenomenally complete look at the building of a collection, and then the gift of that collection to a country. I would put it at auction, conservatively, at about $10,000--

Oh, wow.

--to $15,000. And then I would see what happens.


Because I can think of many, many people who might like to have this archive for their library.

Oh, that's great.

Appraisal Details

Bonhams, LA
Los Angeles, CA
Appraised value (2006)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Honolulu, HI (August 26, 2006)

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