Ingamells, John 1934–

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Ingamells, John 1934–

(John Anderson Stuart Ingamells)

PERSONAL: Born November 12, 1934, in Northampton, England; son of George H. and Gladys L. Ingamells; married Hazel Wilson, 1964; children: two daughters. Education: Attended Fitzwilliam House (now Fitzwilliam College), Cambridge.

ADDRESSES: Home—London, England.

CAREER: York Art Gallery, York, England, art assistant, 1959–63; National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, assistant keeper of art department, 1963–67; York Art Gallery, curator, 1967–77; Wallace Collection, London, England, assistant to the director, 1977–78, director, 1978–92, committee member for National Art Collections Fund, 1992–97. Military service: British Army, 1956–58; served in Cyprus.


(Editor) Richard Seymour-Conway, The Hertford Mawson Letters: The Fourth Marquess of Hertford to His Agent Samuel Mawson, Trustees of the Wallace Collection (London, England), 1981.

The Wallace Collection, four volumes, Trustees of the Wallace Collection (London, England), 1985–92.

A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1997.

(Editor) Alastair Smart, Allan Ramsay: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1999.

(Editor, with John Edgcumbe) Joshua Reynolds, The Letters of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2000.

Mid-Georgian Portraits, National Portrait Gallery (London, England), 2004.

Museum catalogs and other shorter works include "The Davies Collection of French Art," National Museum of Wales (Cardiff, Wales), 1967; "Catalogue of the Pictures in the Mansion House, York: I—The State Room," City of York Art Gallery (York, England), 1971; "Catalogue of Portraits at Bishopthorpe Palace," Borthwick Institute of Historical Research (York, England), 1972; (coauthor) "'The Beautifullest Church:' York Minster, 1472–1972," 1972; (compiler) Bernard Barr, "A Candidate for Praise: William Mason, 1725–97," City of York Art Gallery, 1973; "Mrs. Robinson and Her Portraits" (monograph), Trustees of the Wallace Collection (London, England), 1978; "Richard Parkes Bonington," Trustees of the Wallace Collection (London, England), 1979; and "The English Episcopal Portrait, 1559–1835: A Catalogue," Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1984. Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Apollo, Connoisseur, Walpole Society, and Burlington.

SIDELIGHTS: John Ingamells uses the research skills of a historian combined with his expert knowledge of art. He is recognized for several works dealing with specific art collections or themes. For instance, he wrote two works that focus on paintings made of British archbishops. Somewhat different than these works, however, is A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800, a book in which Ingamells lists thousands of eighteenth-century documents written about Italy by English and Irish citizens who had either visited or lived in that country.

For nearly twenty years Ingamells worked with the Wallace Collection of art named for Sir Richard Wallace, a collection that includes what some critics consider samples of the best artwork ever done in the Western world. During that time he published catalogs of all the paintings in the collection.

One of Ingamells's first works was "The Davies Collection of French Art," a catalogue of works once owned by Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, two sisters who collected important artworks during the early half of the twentieth century. After their deaths, the collection was donated to the National Museum of Wales in the city of Cardiff, where Inagmells was working at the time. Though the two women inherited great wealth from their parents, who had made their money in the coal and railroad businesses, Ingamells insists that the sisters "inherited no tradition of art appreciation" from them. Together the two developed an interest in the arts and began to collect various works, some of which were extraordinary purchases. "Their first purchases were orthodox enough," Ingamells writes in the book. "By 1910 they had bought landscapes by Corot, Whistler, Cox, Constable and Turner, and they had also their Meissonier and genre pieces by Millet." As they continued to collect, their cache included works by Manet, Renoir, and Cezannes. By the time they were through, the Davies sisters had a huge collection of art, of which Ingamells admits to have included only a "small" portion in his small catalog. The seventy-five-page work includes many illustrations of the artwork, some in color but most in black and white. There are also twenty pages of text written by Ingamells giving background to the sister's lives and their purchases. Believing the work to be "a respectful memorial volume," a contributor to the Times Literary Supplement commented that "within his imposed directives Mr. Ingamells has done a good job."

The "Catalogue of Portraits at Bishopthorpe Palace" is a seventy-six-page book that lists all thirty-six paintings on display at the luxurious home of the archbishops of York. Most of the paintings are portraits of various archbishops, the earliest of which is of Thomas Wolsey who served between 1514 and 1530. While conceiving this work, Ingamells received the consent of the church Commissioners, as well as that of the serving archbishop of York. Other archbishops included in the collection are of Cosmo Gordon Lang and Cyril Forster Garbett. Each of the portraits is illustrated, along with some text explaining their significance.

Several years later, Ingamells expanded on this theme and published "The English Episcopal Portrait 1559–1835: A Catalogue." To construct this book, Ingamells traveled around the British countryside searching for portraits of the nearly 300 bishops and archbishops who served in England from the time of the Reformation until the Ecclesiastical Commission was instituted. His journeys took him through palaces, universities, and other establishments where he was able to examine both public and private collections. In the book's preface, Ingamells writes of the political and social historical significance of the English episcopacy. He also outlines how the style of episcopal portraiture altered over the years, and even includes a section that describes episcopal dress and gives illustrated examples. Because there are so many subjects included in the catalogue, Ingamells chose to list them alphabetically. Some of the sitters were painted by the greatest painters of the day, such as Gainsborough, Van Dyck, and Reynolds. In his studies, Ingamells discovered many paintings that were attributed to the wrong artists, or were thought to be of other bishops, and some even linked to the wrong dates. He corrects these errors. Burlington contributor Malcolm Rogers felt the project was praiseworthy. "The author's task was … not always aesthetically very rewarding, and it is a tribute to his energy and persistence that the catalogue is so full of useful information," Rogers wrote.

The Wallace Collection was published in four volumes, each dealing with a different aspect of the collection. For instance, the first includes works done by British, German, Italian, and Spanish artists, while the fourth contains works done by artists of Flemish and Dutch ancestry. These catalogues are a continuation of a long tradition that was begun in 1900 by Claude Phillips, who issued the first Wallace Collection catalogue, and sixteen editions followed in the years after. Ingamells acknowledges his debt to these volumes. However, Ingamells went back and exhaustively researched every one of the collection's pieces, drawing his own conclusions about each. Also, Ingamells's catalogue is the first to discuss the physical condition of each of the works, many of which have been restored under the author's directorship. Gainsborough and Titian are just some of the more outstanding artists to be included in The Wallace Collection.

A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800 runs to 1,200 pages and includes over 6,000 entries. Ingamells took over the work of Sir Brinsley Ford, who began in 1962 to collect material of travelers who had gone to Italy during the eighteenth century. Originally, Ford had intended to write a book about English artists in Rome, but his archive of material had grown so big by 1988 that he was persuaded to hand the project over to Ingamells. Ingamells added to the archive, and in 1992, after leaving his directorship of the Wallace Collection, he began to put the book together. Because of Ford's emphasis in the earlier collecting, many of the individuals included in Ingamells book are either artists or architects. However, through his research, Ingamells discovered a great many English and Irish aristocrats who also made the journey to Italy, and he includes their perspectives as well.

During that era a trip to Italy was considered the "Grand Tour." Ingamells points out that there were many reasons for going on the "Grand Tour." Artists and architects went to study the ancient structures and landscapes of Italy. Whatever the reason for the journey, many of these travelers left a record of their visits, and Ingamells documents them. Some of those listed are famous, while others are of little significance. Ingamells includes maps of the Italian states and a chronology of the historical events of the period to give the reader a better perspective of the environment of that time. A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800 was reviewed by many critics. Times Literary Supplement contributor Grevel Lindop called it "a staggering achievement." "Few reference books are more distractingly readable, or more likely to be useful to scholars of the period," Grevel wrote. Isabel Carlisle commented in the Spectator that "the combination of panache, romanticism and zaniness … seldom fails to excite, and this dictionary is informative, well-written, and in places even funny." London Review of Books critic Hugh Honour called the book "unique in its comprehensiveness."



Burlington, April, 1971, review of "Catalogue of the Pictures in the Mansion House, York: I—The State Room," p. 236; April, 1984, Malcolm Rogers, review of "The English Episcopal Portrait 1559–1835: A Catalogue," p. 239; July, 1986, Everett Fahy, review of The Wallace Collection, Volume 1, p. 516; October, 1993, Peter Sutton, review of The Wallace Collection, Volume 4, pp. 700-701.

London Review of Books, November 13, 1997, Hugh Honour, review of A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800, pp. 9-11.

Spectator, August 23, 1997, Isabel Carlisle, review of A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800, p. 3.

Times Literary Supplement, December 21, 1967, review of "The Davies Collection of French Art," p. 1232; March, 1973, review of "Catalogue of Portraits at Bishopthorpe Palace," p. 305; July 31, 1998, Grevel Lindop, review of A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800, p. 9.