(Tennant) Agnew, C.Morland (compiler)

Catalogue of the pictures forming the collection of Sir Charles Tennant, Bart., of 40, Grosvenor Square, and The Glen, Innerleithen.

(No imprint on title leaf, but “printed by Bradbury, Agnew, & Co.Ld., at the Whitefriars Press”), 1896

Reference: 15357
Price: £280 [convert currency]

Full Description

4to. (58)ff, (56) photogravure reproductions of paintings. The signature collation of the text leaves is : (A2) B5 C4 D4 E4 F2-4 G4 H4 I4 K4 L5 M4 N4 O4 P2 Q1 (see above). Twentieth century cloth (a library binding, probably dating from the 1960s or 1970s), with gilt-stamped shelf mark on spine but no other library markings. Early twentieth century pictorial bookplate, designed by the Liverpool artist Sam J.M.Brown for an unidentified private owner, on front pastedown endpaper (presumably transferred from the book’s previous binding).

First edition, first issue, of this rare and physically substantial catalogue, printed for private distribution, recording the collection of paintings put together during the last twenty years of the nineteenth century for the millionaire chemical manufacturer and Liberal politician Sir Charles Tennant, Bart. (1823-1906). The strength of the collection lay in its assemblage of paintings by such major British artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth century as Gainsborough, Reynolds, Romney, Hoppner, Constable and Turner, most of which had been sold to Tennant, or bought for Tennant, by the Agnew firm of picture dealers, and the present catalogue was compiled for Tennant by one of the partners in that firm. We purchased the present copy in July 2019 for a price, including postage, of just under £45, and we did not at the time have great hopes of it being of any significant value, or of it being in any sense complete, for although a copy with an identical title leaf has recently been on offer from a respected trade colleague for a sum a little in excess of £1000, that copy contains as many as ten additional plates. We did however verify back in July 2019 from our source for our own copy that our copy had been officially de-accessioned some fifteen years previously from the reserve stock of Lancashire Libraries, so it comes without any taint to its provenance. Happily, the late Ellis Waterhouse’s copy of this title, now held in the Getty Research Institute Library, has been digitised and can be studied, page by page and plate by plate, on the internet, and it now transpires that both Ellis Waterhouse’s copy, and, by deduction, the copy held by our trade colleague, belong to a later, enlarged issue of the book with additional plates and text leaves, which reached its finished state no earlier than 1899. A pencil note by Waterhouse on the title leaf of his copy shows that he had himself realised that this issue of the catalogue was of a later date than 1896, although it is not clear from Waterhouse’s note whether he had seen a copy of the actual 1896 issue. Since neither the pages nor the plates of the catalogue carry numbers, and the catalogue was issued without introductory text or an index, the exact collation of the catalogue in its “first issue” state is not at all easy to establish. The signature collation of the text leaves, which we record as part of the physical description of the catalogue given below, does however suggest to us that our copy lacks at the most one text leaf (F1), and we believe that it does not even lack that, for our copy seems on a rational consideration of its content to possess the full complement of text and plates intended for this original printing. That said, a complicating factor is that a number of the pictures described on the text leaves seem not in fact to have been illustrated either in the present issue or in the later issue, and the present cataloguer has to leave it to some more knowledgeable individual to pronounce with certainty on how the two issues differ.