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Robinson
Robinson
Sir John Charles Robinson, 1824-1913
Collector
Sir John Charles Robinson, CB., FSA., of Newton Manor, Swanage was born in Nottingham in December 1824. He trained in Paris as an artist under Michel-Martin Drolling. He exhibited at the Royal Academy intermittently (1847-1872) but was better known as an organiser, teacher and collector. He was Headmaster of the Art School at Hanley for five years and his influence soon made itself felt in Minton's and other porcelain factories. In the wake of the Great Exhibition of 1851 he began to support the movement inaugurated by Prince Albert for establishing a general system of art education in England.

On the foundation of South Kensington Museum in 1852, he became Superintendent of the art collections there, a post he held for 17 years. During that period he travelled widely in Italy and Spain and acquired a vast number of works in marble, bronze, maiolica and terracotta, which quickly gave South Kensington a unique position among the museums of Europe. He resigned in 1869 but three years before, in conjunction with the Marquis d'Azeglio and a few other friends, he founded the Fine Arts Club, which afterwards developed into the Burlington Fine Arts Club. Sir Francis Cook of Richmond was a member, whose well known collection of Old Masters was brought together with Robinson's advice.

Robinson himself was the owner of an important collection of Spanish, Italian and Dutch pictures, Italian marbles, medals and bronzes and of drawings by Old Masters. In 1882 he was appointed Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, a post which he held for nearly 20 years until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. An etcher of ability, Robinson was also instrumental, together with Seymour Haden, in founding the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers, of which he became an honorary member. Knighted in 1887, his publications were very numerous and included several catalogues of the South Kensington Museum and the descriptive catalogue of the Raphael and Michaelangelo drawings at Oxford. For many years he lived in Harley Street, then retired to Swanage, where he died. His portrait by John James Napier is in the National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 2543).

Robinson owned paintings by or ascribed to Wilson:
P114A Studio of Wilson, Solitude I, National Gallery of Ireland;
possibly P144 The White Monk - I, Toledo Museum of Art, USA

Collector's mark: Lugt 1433

See further:
H.E. Davies, Sir John Charles Robinson (1824-1913): His Role as a Connoisseur and Creator of public and private Collections, DPhil Thesis, University of Oxford, 1992;
E.A. Pergam 'John Charles Robinson in 1868: a Victorian Curators Collection on the Block', Journal of Art Historiography, no. 18, June 2018, pp. 1-31.
South Kensington Museum
Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
Burlington Fine Arts Club
Royal Collection
Royal Society of Painter-Etchers
01/08/2018