National Gallery Correspondence and Papers
Archive reference number
In 1846, having drawn attention to the shortcomings of the National Gallery catalogues then in circulation, Wornum was authorised by Sir Robert Peel to compile an official catalogue. He travelled to Holland and Belgium that year to prepare the catalogue. This appeared in 1847, and served "as a model for similar publications throughout Europe". In December 1854 he was chosen as successor to General Thwaites as Keeper of the National Gallery and Secretary to the Trustees, upon the recommendation of Sir Charles Eastlake (who was appointed director of the Gallery the following March). The appointment of Wornum was taken as an augury of reform in the administration of the National Gallery. Wornum's "whole time and knowledge were now secured for the public", and the salary of the post was raised to £750 a year. In March 1856 a Treasury Minute reconstituted the administration of the Gallery and stated that the Keeper was to reside within the Gallery to ensure the "safe custody of the valuable collection" and that he was to compile a complete catalogue of works that might be suitable for inclusion in the national collection. The Keeper was also to be responsible for all official correspondence, the minutes of the board of trustees, the admission of copyists, preparation of accounts and compilation and revision of catalogues. In addition he undertook the hanging tof paintings and supervised their cleaning. In 1860-61 Wornum was instrumental in getting the Turner collection, which was transferred first to Marlborough House, and then to South Kensington, restored to its place in the National Gallery, in accordance with the terms of the Turner Bequest. During 1861 he edited 'The Turner Gallery' forming a series of sixty engravings. Wornum served the National Gallery for twenty-two years and supported three Directors (Sir Charles Eastlake, Sir William Boxall and Sir Frederic Burton). These years were a period when the Gallery made many important acquisitions. While the Directors were touring Europe, Wornum remained at the gallery ensuring that the pictures were displayed and catalogued while maintaining a practical administration characterised by efficiency and careful record keeping.
Includes correspondence, reports, press cuttings and working papers relating to all of Wornum's work at the National Gallery.
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