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Dealers and collectors

Compiled and edited by Dr Yupin Chung, Department of History of Art, University of Glasgow

Page 1 - Thomas Agnew to Edgar Gorer | Page 2 - CS Holberton to John Sparks


CS Holberton

Sales catalogue cover reads: Catalogue. The collection of Chinese Snuff Bottles formed by CS Holberton Esq, of 15 Talbot Square, Hyde Park, W. Which will be sold by auction by Messrs. Christie, Manson and Woods, at their great rooms 8 King Street, St James's Square, London, on Wednesday June 26, 1918 at one o'clock precisely.

This is probably Campbell Scott Holberton (1867-1939), a London Stockbroker and member of the Arts Club. He lived at 15 Talbot Square, Hyde Park, London and lent his collection of snuff bottles to the 1913 Manchester Exhibition of Chinese Applied Art. William Hesketh Lever bought 155 pieces from the 1918 sale, through Frank Partridge.


  • The Times, 'Obituaries', 2nd November, 1939, p.1.
  • City of Manchester Art Gallery, 'Catalogue of an Exhibition of Chinese Applied Art, Bronzes, Pottery, Porcelains, Jades, Embroideries, Carpets, Enamels, Lacquer, etc', Manchester, 1913.
  • Christie, Manson & Woods, 26 June 1918, Catalogue of the collection of Chinese snuff bottles formed by C. S. Holberton, Esq.

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SE Kennedy

Label reads: SEK 408

Sydney Ernest Kennedy (1855-1933), collected European works of art as well as Chinese porcelain. He was a senior partner in the family firm of Sydney Kennedy & Co., one of the largest dealers in the foreign railway market and, at his death, was a senior trustee of the London Stock Exchange, having been elected a trustee in 1900. He lived at 146 Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park (noted in the Christie's 1929 Cumberbatch catalogue as a bidder) and at his death at Upper Brooke Street.

Kennedy sold most of his collection when he disposed of his town house in 1916. The Chinese porcelains were sold over two days, 21-22 June, 1916 and the Catalogue was described as being 'innovative', it including illustrations, some in colour, for the first time. Although consisting largely of late Ming and Kangxi period wares, the collection was considered significant at the time, some having been acquired form earlier notable collectors, such as Trapnell, Stuart, Grandidier, Huth and Revelstoke. Kennedy's label is recognised by a dolphin & SEK monogram on paper.

William Hesketh Lever bought a series of fahua pieces from the 1916 sale, through Frank Partridge.


  • The Times, Obituary, 'Mr S E Kennedy Senior Trustee of the Stock Exchange', 11 July 1933, p.16.
  • Sale, Christie's, 21-22 June 1916, 'The well-known collection of Chinese Porcelain formed by Sidney Ernest Kennedy, Esq'.
  • Gerald Reitlinger, 'The Economics of Taste, Vol II, The rise and fall of objets d'art prices since 1750', London 1963, p.313, 328.
  • Oliver Impey, 'Lever as a collector of Chinese porcelain', in 'Art and Business in Edwardian England: The Making of the Lady Lever Art Gallery', Journal of the History of Collections, Vol.4, No.2, 1992, p.234.

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Sir Trevor Lawrence

Sales catalogue cover reads: The collection of porcelain objects of art and decorative furniture of the late Sir Trevor Lawrence, Bart., KCVO. On Monday May 29 1916, and three following days.


Sir (James John) Trevor Lawrence, the son of Sir William Lawrence (1783-1867), Serjeant-Surgeon to Queen Victoria and Louisa Lawrence (1803-55), a renowned orchid grower, Sir Trevor (1831-1913) was himself trained as a surgeon, before becoming an MP and eventually President of the Royal Horticultural Society. He was a well-known collector of objets d'art, particularly oriental, and especially Japanese art, western porcelain and old lace.


  • Marcus B. Huish, Catalogue of the Collection of Japanese Works of Art formed between 1869 and 1894 by Sir Trevor Lawrence, Privately Printed, London, 1895.
  • Sale, Christie's, 29 May - 1 June 1916, 'The collection of porcelain objects of art and decorative furniture of the late Sir Trevor Lawrence, BART'.

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James Orrock

James Orrock's label

James Orrock (1829-1913), born in Edinburgh, originally trained as a dentist, like his father, but gave this up to devote his life to painting and art dealing and collecting. He moved to London in 1866 and quickly became established as a member of the New Watercolour Society, building it a new building in Piccadilly and gaining it a royal charter - it became the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours. His activities as a successful dealer were only matched by his zeal in promoting British art and particularly a British School of painting, filling his house at 48 Bedford Square in London with a number of collections, including Chinese porcelain. He was hugely influential in shaping William Lever's taste in both British painting and Chinese porcelain and in the way in which Lever displayed his collections. Lever bought porcelains, furniture and paintings from Orrock on three separate occasions.


  • B. Webber, James Orrock, R.I.: painter, connoisseur, collector, 2 vols. (1903)
  • Edward Morris, 'James Orrock, dentist, artist, patron, collector, dealer, curator, connoisseur, forger, propagandist'.
  • Visual Culture in Britain, 6:2 (2005), pp.84-98.

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Frank Partridge

Label reads: Frank Partridge, 26 King Street, St James' Square, S.W.

Art dealer. Frank Partridge (1875-1953), was a dealer in Chinese art with offices at 26 King Street, London, SW1 and 741 Fifth Avenue, New York. After bombing in 1944, the company relocated to 144-146 New Bond Street. The son of Robert and Eliza Partridge who owned a bootmaking business in Hertfordshire, Frank founded Partridges in 1900. He was a respected and trusted dealer to many eminent collectors, not least William Hesketh Lever and was fortunate to survive the sinking of the Lusitania on 7th May 1915, unlike his friend and companion, Edgar Gorer. Partridge lent to the 1935-36 International Exhibition of Chinese Art at the Royal Academy.


  • Archive location: Partridge Fine Arts Ltd.
  • Illustrated Catalogue of an exhibition of old Chinese Porcelain, Summer 1933.
  • G. B. Spencer, 'Memoirs of the late Frank Partridge', 1961.
  • Website: Lusitania Resource
  • The Times, Obituary, 11 August 1953, p.8 and 13 August 1953, p.8.
  • UK 1881 Census On-line.

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John Sparks

Label reads: John Sparks Ltd. 128, Mount Street, W

Art dealers. The firm was established in the 1888 by John Sparks (1854-1914), who was a captain in the merchant navy and who spent most of his life in the Far East. The business was expanded by his son, Peter (1896-1970), who joined the firm in 1910, when it was situated at 37 Duke Street, Manchester Square, London. Queen Mary awarded Sparks her Royal Warrant in 1926 and in 1927 the firm moved to premises at 128 Mount Street, which remained its address until it was wound up in 1990. Sometime in the late-1920s, Sparks established premises in Shanghai, at 103 Chiao Tung Road, which allowed it to source objects directly from China. Along with Bluetts, Sparks were among the longest established and most respected London dealers in Chinese art.


  • Times, 6 November 1934, p.19.
  • Archive location: SOAS Library, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Advert from Burlington Magazine. Vol 69, no. 404, Nov. 1936. Reads: John Sparks, Chinese works of art. Valuations for probate and insurance, etc. Ltd. 128, Mount Street, W1.
The object shown is a figure of Guanyin, LL 6000 and is now in the Lady Lever collection.


Page 1 - Thomas Agnew to Edgar Gorer | Page 2 - CS Holberton to John Sparks