TABLE OF CONTENTS

Collection Summary

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content

Index Terms

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Processing Information

Preferred Citation

Contact Information

National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives

James Bulwer fonds:

Finding Aid



Collection Summary

Title:James Bulwer fonds.
Dates:– ca.1818-1879.
Quantity: – 85 items of graphic material, 1 sketchbook (2 drawings, 1 watercolour) and other material.

Biographical Sketch

The Reverend James Bulwer (1794-1879), an amateur British artist, art patron, collector, antiquarian, and naturalist, was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge (B.A. 1818, M.A. 1823). He was the curate of Blickling and Erpingham in 1841 and rector of Hunworth with Stody in 1848. An avid collector, Bulwer formed several collections of drawings and watercolours recording the topography, architecture, and antiquities of a number of regions in the United Kingdom. These include collections related to Bristol, Somerset and the largest, the "Norfolk Collection," which was begun after Bulwer returned to Norfolk in 1839. The collection was a "Grangerized" or "extra-illustrated" version of Francis Blomefield's An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk (2nd edition, 11 vols., 1805-1810), and was begun with the acquisition of 300 drawings of Norfolk historic architecture by John Sell Cotman (1782-1842), which Bulwer had already purchased from Cotman in 1818, when he was studying with the artist. Bulwer added to the collection by purchasing work from local artists, by creating work himself, and commissioning new work from artists. To this foundation he continued to add his own work as well as his notes, prints, letterpress excerpts, over 300 historic legal documents. The work of 23 artists in addition to Bulwer's own can be found in the collection, the greatest number of these were works by J.S. Cotman, his son Miles Edmund Cotman (1810-1858), Charles Jansson Winter (1820-1891), and Frederick Sandys (1829-1904).

After James Bulwer's death, the Norfolk Collection was inherited, as was all of his property, by his son James R. Bulwer. J.R. Bulwer attempted to sell the collections he inherited to a number of British museums and to private collectors, but nothing was sold before his death in March 1899. The estate was then divided between the Rev. James Bulwer's surviving sons, Archibald and Walter (1824-1911), with Archibald inheriting the Bristol and Somerset Collections and Walter inheriting the Aylsham Manor and the Norfolk Collections. Walter moved to British Columbia in 1899 and was living with his son Henry Alan (1854-1952), who had immigrated to British Columbia eleven years earlier. Henry Alan inherited the collection around 1911 after his father's death. After 1918 most of the Norfolk Collection was shipped back to England to be sold. Walker's Galleries, with the help of C.F. Bell (Keeper of Fine Art at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), mounted two exhibitions of works from the collection in 1926 and 1927 and from these exhibitions much of the more important works were sold. The remainder of the collection that had been shipped to England was sold in 1936 to Russell J. Colman (1861-1946). Colman's part of the collection was bequeathed to the Norwich Castle Museum at the time of his death in 1946. In the mid-1950s, 350 watercolours were sold to Jacob Zeitlin, a Los Angeles book dealer, by Emily Gwendolyn Bulwer and subsequently sold to Sears Roebuck. These works were then sold throughout the United States and Canada under the title The Vincent Price Collection. In the 1970s a number of watercolours from the collection (from an unknown source) were sold through Christie's and through a relative of August Walker of Walker's Galleries.

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Scope and Content

The collection consists of Rev. James Bulwer's notebook recording the watercolour methods and materials of watercolour artists. The fonds also includes 53 drawings, 31 watercolours, 1 painting (oil on paper), 1 sketchbook created or collected by Rev. James Bulwer of the landscape, architecture, and antiquities of various areas of England and Ireland. The collection includes 27 drawings, 18 watercolours, 1 painting, 1 sketchbook, and 1 notebook by James Bulwer; 10 drawings and 2 watercolours by John Sell Cotman; 2 drawings by Frederick Sandys; 8 drawings and 4 watercolours by Walter Bulwer; 4 watercolours by William Müller (1812-1845); 1 drawing and wash by David Cox; and 5 drawings and 3 watercolours by an unknown artist or artists.

Source of title: Title based on contents of series.

Physical description: Other material includes 1 notebook, 1 block of watercolour paper, and 1 sketching frame for watercolour paper.

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated to the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives by William S.A. Dale and Jane G. Dale in 2009.

Terms governing use and reproduction: Written requests for reproduction or publishing of material from the James Bulwer fonds must be made to the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.

Other items from Rev. James Bulwer's collection and from the Bulwer family were donated to the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the University of British Columbia Library, Special collections Division by Henry Alan Bulwer and his wife, Emily Gwendolyn Bulwer.

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Index Terms

Names:
Bulwer, James, 1794-1879
Bulwer, Walter, 1824-1911
Cotman, John Sell, 1782-1842
Müller, William James, 1812-1845
Sandys, Frederick, 1829-1904
Document Types:
Drawings.
Notebooks.
Paintings.
Sketchbooks.
Watercolours.

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

Processing Information

Collection processed and finding aid prepared by Cyndie Campbell in 2012.

Preferred Citation

[Title of item], James Bulwer fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.

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Contact Information

Cyndie Campbell
Head, Archives, Documentation and Visual Resources 
Library and Archives 
National Gallery of Canada 
380 Sussex Drive 
P.O. Box 427, Station A 
Ottawa, Ontario 
K1N 9N4 

T 613-990-0597 
F 613-990-9818 

 
ccampbel@gallery.ca 


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