The Topham and History of Art Societies: The Hon. James Stourton

Thursday, 22nd November 2012

James Stourton kindly came to Eton to give a talk on ‘The British as Collectors’. His account ranged from the Earl of Arundel and King Charles I in the 17th century to Charles Saatchi and the contemporary British art collectors of the 21st century, in a witty and well-illustrated lecture that showed how tastes in art change, and how the ‘Golden Age of British Collecting’ was dependent upon the political and economic supremacy that the British enjoyed between c.1790 and c. 1900. As the British have lost their share of global economic production so they have ceded their leadership of collecting to the Americans, the Russians and the Chinese, while still remaining very important as scholars and curators. The lecture was followed by an extremely lively question-and-answer session, which produced some perceptive insights from both sides of the lectern.