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A Descriptive Catalogue (With Remarks And Anecdotes Never Before Published In English) Of Some Pictures, Of The Different Schools, Purchased For His Majesty The Late King Of Poland; Which will be exhibited early in 1802, At the Great Room, No. 3, In Berners-Street, The third Door on the right, from Oxford-Street. By Noel Desenfans, Esq. Late Consul General Of Poland, In Great-Britain. Vol. I. Containing the Italian, Venetian, Spanish, and French Schools. (Vol. II. Containing the German, Flemish, Dutch, and English Schools.) Second Edition, Revised And Corrected.

Noel Joseph Desenfans

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: May be had, at Five Shillings the Two Volumes, of Cadell and Davies, Strand; Hookham, Old Bond-street; Hookham, New Bond-street; Lackington, Allen, and Co. Finsbury-square; Jones, Pater-noster-row; Black and Barry, Leadenhall-street. Exton, Typ. Great Portland-Street., 1802.

Physical Description

2 vols. in one [v.I: [viii], 163, [1]p. - v.II: [ii], 225, [1]p.]; 212 mm. (Octavo.)


Vol. I: [T.p.] - [Note, '... Conditions of Sale'] - Index to the Pictures - [Text]; [colophon]. - Vol. II: [T.p.] - [Text]; [note].


G. Waterfield, Collection for a King (1985); P. Murray, The Dulwich Picture Gallery: a catalogue (1980); J. Taylor, Memoir of Noel Desenfans (London, 1810).

Summary Note

The concluding note in Volume II mentions that, since the first edition 'published, about three weeks since' some artists had 'written to reproach us with an intention of injuring them in their profession', Desenfans will now 'say a few words in our own justification'.

Desenfans had come to Britain in 1769, where he married and set up as a picture-dealer. In 1790 on behalf of the King of Poland he began assembling a collection of paintings by Rembrandt, Veronese, Vernet, Raphael, Rubens and others, but in 1795, with the partition of Poland, this collection was left on his hands. He offered the collection to the Emperor of Russia, and in 1799 published a Plan for establishing some national galleries in Britain, of which his collection might perhaps form a basis - but in vain. The sale exhibition of 1802 was no more successful - and in the catalogue Desenfans chose to praise French connoisseurship and condemn British dealers. After Desenfans' death his wish that these works should be publicly exhibited led to much of it passing to Dulwich College, London; where John Soane designed a gallery to exhibit it and a mausoleum to house the remains of its collector.


Purchased for RA Library in 1870 (see 'Librarian's Report for the Year 1870', RA Annual Report, Appendix No. 6, p. 29).

Copy Note

There are occasional marginal marks in pencil, but no annotations. Two folded sheets are loosely inserted at the rear of the book, carrying the following inscriptions in ink: 'Lines occasioned by some anonymous French verses ...'; 'Advertisement Feby 8th 1802 True Briton ...'; 'Lines to Noel Desenfans Esqr. occasioned by his late publication on Painting ... From the True Briton of 1 Feby 1802'; 'True Briton 8 Feby Impromptu ...'; 'True Briton 17. Feby ...'.

Binding Note

19th-century quarter calf, marbled-papered boards; red morocco spine-label lettered 'Desenfans Catalogue'.

Name as Subject


Paintings, European - Great Britain - History
Collections - Great Britain - 18th century - 19th century
Exhibitions - Great Britain - London - 19th century
Catalogues - Sales catalogues - Great Britain - 19th century


Thomas Hookham, bookseller
James Lackington, bookseller
Richard Exton, printer
Cadell and Davies (London), bookseller
Lackington and Allen, bookseller