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Letters from Ellis Waterhouse to Basil Gray



Letters from Ellis Waterhouse to Basil Gray



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Twenty-five letters written by Waterhouse to Gray. Most were written when Waterhouse was at Princeton and at the British School in Rome. They contain descriptions of the places and collections he visited, and also relate to his studies, employment and mutual friends and acquaintances.

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Administrative history

Sir Ellis Kirkham Waterhouse was born in 1905. He studied at New College, Oxford where he met and became friends with Basil Gray. Waterhouse was a Commonwealth Fund Fellow at Princeton, 1927-1929, where he made a special study of El Greco. He became an Assistant at the National Gallery in 1929 but resigned in 1933 to become Librarian at the British School at Rome. During his time at the NG, Waterhouse and Gray shared a flat together in London. Waterhouse returned to England in 1936 and became a Research Fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford, 1938-1947. During World War II he served in the Intelligence Corps in both Cairo and Greece and by 1945 was based in Germany and the Netherlands, supervising the return of stolen artworks. In 1946 he was briefly the editor of Burlington Magazine. He became Director of the National Gallery of Scotland in 1949 and in the same year married Helen Thomas. In 1952 he resigned this post to become Director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham, where he remained until his retirement in 1970. He lectured widely and was Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford, 1953-55. After his retirement he held the post of Director of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1970-73. He died in 1985.

Basil Gray was born in 1904 and also studied at New College, Oxford. After leaving Oxford in 1928 he was invited to work on archaelogical excavations of the Hippodrome in Istanbul. Later that year he began working at the British Museum where he remained until his retirement in 1969. He had an eminent career and was appointed Keeper of Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum in 1946. He married Nicolette Binyon in 1933, and died in 1989.

Custodial history

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