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James Smith

Art collector of Blundellsands, Liverpool (1831 - 1923)

Smith was one of Auguste Rodin's (1840 - 1917) greatest enthusiasts in Britain. He owned more works by the sculptor than any other British collector or public institution by 1907. He had arrived in Liverpool in 1851, poor and young, but found success as a wine merchant, pioneering the import of Mediterranean wines. Smith's business took him to Paris and his second wife, Betty (dates unrecorded), could write in French.

Between 1899 and 1907 the couple bought six Rodin sculptures, which his widow gave to the Walker Art Gallery in 1923 and 1927, along with an art collection of over 100 works. This included 18 prints by the American artist James Whistler (1834 - 1903), 28 paintings by George Frederick Watts (1817 - 1904) and a large collection of northern landscapes by Liverpool-born artist Daniel Alexander Williamson (1823 - 1903). The collection was described at the time as 'one of the most notable bequests of works of art ever made to the city.' Such a large gift spurred the city council to build an extension to the Walker Art Gallery, that opened in 1933.
  • Gender
    Male
  • Relationship
    Previous owner
  • Nationality
    British
  • Born
    1831
  • Place of birth
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: Scotland: Renfrewshire: Paisley
  • Died
    1923
  • Place of death
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: Merseyside: Liverpool
  • Cause of death
    Unknown or unrecorded
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