The music room, Thornton Manor, 1903

Merchant Palaces - Liverpool and Wirral mansions photographed by Bedford Lemere

16 February to 13 May 2007

Grand ornately decorated room

Reproduced by permission of English Heritage.NMR (BL17551)

Many Liverpool businessmen formed outstanding art collections. The soap manufacturer William Hesketh Lever, who later became the first Lord Leverhulme, built special rooms in his house at Thornton Manor dedicated to displaying his pictures. When he later developed his model factory village, Port Sunlight, he built the Lady Lever Art Gallery, named in memory of his wife, as the centrepiece. His incredible collection was put on public display here, because Lever believed that:

"Art for the service of humanity and for the People is a great and inspiring ideal."

Thornton Manor, three miles from Port Sunlight, was a modest early Victorian villa when Lever first rented it in 1888. Over the next 25 years he remodelled and extended it, transforming it into a grand country house. The music room of 1902, designed by JJ Talbot in Renaissance style, was influenced by TH Ismay's earlier picture room at Dawpool, both being top-lit to serve as galleries

In this photograph of the music room you can see several artworks that are now on display at the Lady Lever Art Gallery, including the paintings 'The Black Brunswicker' by Millais and Leighton's 'Fatidica'. The sculpture 'Leda and the Swan' by Ferrary is in front of the latter.

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