'Portrait of William Roscoe', painted 1815-1817 by Sir Martin Archer Shee
Artist: Sir Martin Archer Shee (1769-1850)
Oil on canvas
Accession number: WAG 3130
William Roscoe (1753-1831) - historian, poet, art collector, lawyer, politician and philanthropist - rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most outstanding figures in Liverpool’s history. He played an important role in developing the cultural life of the city during its commercial growth in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A large part of his pioneering collection of early Italian and Netherlandish paintings is now in the Walker Art Gallery.
This portrait was commissioned by the future 1st Earl of Leicester, whose important library at Holkham Hall, Norfolk, Roscoe undertook to catalogue; it originally hung outside the entrance to the library. Roscoe is shown as a scholar surrounded by books and manuscripts. On the table stands a bust of Charles James Fox, his political hero, in front of which are volumes of Roscoe’s acclaimed book, 'The Life and Pontificate of Leo X'.