1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wallace, Sir Richard

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4882741911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 28 — Wallace, Sir Richard

WALLACE, SIR RICHARD, Bart. (1818–1890), English art collector and philanthropist, was born in London on the 26th of July 1818. According to Sir Walter Armstrong (see Dict. of National Biography, art. “Wallace”), he was a natural son of Maria, marchioness of Hertford (wife of the third marquess), under whose auspices the boy was educated, mainly at Paris; but it was generally supposed in his lifetime that he was a son of the fourth marquess (his elder by only eighteen years), and therefore her grandson. At Paris he was well known in society, and became an assiduous collector of all sorts of valuable objets d'art, but in 1857 these were sold and Wallace devoted himself to assisting the fourth marquess, who left London to reside entirely in Paris, to acquire a magnificent collection of the finest examples of painting, armour, furniture and bric-à-brac. In 1870 the marquess of Hertford died unmarried, bequeathing to Wallace an enormous property, including Hertford House and its contents, the house in Paris, and large Irish estates. Pending the reopening of Hertford House, which had been shut up since the marquess had gone to live in Paris, Wallace sent some of the finest of his pictures and other treasures to the Bethnal Green Museum for exhibition; they were then transferred to Hertford House, which had been largely transformed in order to receive them. In 1871 he was created a baronet for his services during the siege of Paris, when he equipped several ambulances, founded the Hertford British hospital, and spent money lavishly in relief. This munificence endeared Sir Richard Wallace to the French people. From 1873 to 1885 he had a seat in parliament for Lisburn, but he lived mostly in Paris, where, in the Rue Laffitte and in his villa in the Bois de Boulogne, he dwelt among art treasures not inferior to those at Hertford House. In 1878 he was made one of the British commissioners at the Paris Exhibition, and he was also a trustee of the National Gallery and a governor of the National Gallery of Ireland. He died in Paris on the 20th of July 1890. He had married in 1871 the daughter of a French officer, by whom he had a son, who, however, died in 1887; and Lady Wallace, who died in 1897, bequeathed his great art collection to the British nation. It is now housed in Hertford House, Manchester Square, which was acquired and adapted by the government for the purpose.