Anderdon catalogues

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Anderdon catalogues





Extent & medium

27 volumes

Historical Background

This set of catalogues is the second to have been compiled by Anderdon. The first set now lies in the British Museum. Anderdon tells us that the catalogues forming the core of this collection came from the library of Edward Bell, engraver. But more generally he provides scanty evidence on the origin of the prints, drawings and manuscripts within these volumes. Anderdon haunted the salerooms and print shops, purchasing items that piqued his interest. His budget, according to his own testimony, was limited (ref. AND/13/217). There is evidence for purchases of material from major sales, particularly that of the collection of Dawson Turner.

Content Description

'Grangerised' volumes of manuscript and printed catalogues of the annual Royal Academy exhibitions. The volumes contain hundreds of prints, drawings and manuscripts, gleaned from various sources by Anderdon over a of twenty five years or more. In the introductory to volume five (AND/5/1) Anderdon states that manuscript items for the miscellany were still being acquired up to 1st June 1867.

Anderdon contributed copious notes along with the prints and manuscripts. Some of these notes contain information from sources that are scarce or no longer available and this has been noted where appropriate in the catalogue. Major sources used by Anderdon include Horace Walpole's 'Anecdotes of painters' along with Edward Edwards's supplement, William Sandby's 'History of the Royal Academy', newly published in 1862, and a revised edition of Matthew Pilkington's dictionary of artists. As the catalogues march into the 19th century and nearer to Anderdon's own experience the nature of these notes changes. Anderdon inserts more personal opinions as to works and recollections of the artists themselves.

It is apparent that some of the press cuttings and notes found in the volumes originate with Edward Bell, revealing that he also dabbled in antiquarian pursuits, embroidering the raw catalogues with context. Many of the press cuttings include contemporary, or near contemporary, annotations. These too are, in all probability, originate with Bell.

Among the manuscripts included by Anderdon are sequences of letters by artists to John Taylor, Editor of the Sun, and Rudolph Ackermann, publisher.

Anderdon's reasons for compiling the volumes are relatively unclear. At the start of volume five he mentions the students of the Royal Academy schools and it is probable that he thought the volumes may prove of worth as study aids in the library at the Royal Academy.


Compiled by James Hughes Anderdon, collector of paintings, engravings and autograph letters.

Acquisition Details

Presented to the Royal Academy by the compiler in 1875 (ref. RAA/PC/1/14, p.163).


It is clear that Anderdon conducted extensive research into the set of volumes he acquired from the 1849 sale of Edward Bell's collection. He does note that the catalogues were bound before he acquired them, however, he makes it clear that the original bindings were broken down at some point after 1849. It is likely that material was incorporated into the British Museum set of Anderdon's catalogues. The many copies of manuscripts in this series are his transcriptions of material donated to the British Museum.

Within each volume the catalogue text is distributed evenly and grangerised with prints, drawings and many many pages of notes.


Anderdon's notes are often little more than direct quotes taken from published authorities. Often he cites these authors, the most commonly mentioned are:

J.J. Audubon, The Life and Adventures of John James Audubon, the naturalist, London (1868)

M. Bryan, A Biographical and Critical Dictionary of Painters and Engravers..., London (1865)

F. Burney, Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay, London (1842)

J. Burnet, Landscape Painting in Oil Colours..., London (1849)

A. Cunningham, The Life of Sir David Wilkie, (1843)

ed. P. Cunningham, The Letters of Horace Walpole, London (1857)

E. Eastlake, Life of John Gibson, R.A., (1870)

E. Edwards, Anecdotes of painters who have resided or been born on England, London, (1808)

G.W. Fulcher, Life of Thomas Gainsborough..., London, Sudbury (1856)

A. Gilchrist, Life of W. Blake, "Pictor Ignotus.", London (1863)

S.C. Hall, A Book of Memories of Great Men and Women of the Age, London (1871)

W. Hazlitt, The Plain Speaker: opinions on books, men and things, London (1826)

J. Holland, Memorials of Sir Francis Chantrey, Hallamshire and elsewhere, London (1851)

W. Jerdan, The Autobiography of William Jerdan, (1852)

G. Jones, Sir Francis Chantrey; recollections of his life, practice and opinions, London (1849)

C. Knight, Cyclopedia of Biography, London (1858)

J.K., Library of the Fine Arts; or repertory of painting, sculpture, architecture, and engraving London (1831-32)

C.R. Leslie, Memoirs of the life of John Constable, R.A., composed chiefly of his letters, London (1843)

C.R. Leslie, Autobiographical recollections..., London (1860)

D. Lysons, The Environs of London..., London (1811)

W. Miller, Biographical Sketches of British Characters recently deceased...., London (1826)

F.T. Palgrave, Essays on Art, London & Cambridge (1866)

M. Pilkington, A General Dictionary of Painters...A New Edition with supplement, London (1857)

R. & S. Redgrave, A Century of Painters of the English School, London (1866)

W. Sandby, The History of the Royal Academy of Arts, from its foundation in 1768 to the present time, London (1862)

M.A. Shee, The Life of Sir Martin Archer Shee..., London, (1860)

S. Smiles, Self-Help; with illustrations of character and conduct, London (1859)

J.T. Smith, Nollekens and his times, London (1829)

C.C. Southey, The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, edited by his son C.C. Southey, London (1849)

W. Thornbury, British Artists, from Hogarth to Turner: a series of biographical sketches, London (1861)

S. Uwins, A Memoir of Thomas Uwins...with letters to his brothers, etc., London (1858)

H. Walpole, Anecdotes on Painting in England..., London (1762)

C.M. Westmacott, A Descriptive and critical catalogue to the Royal Academy, London (1823)