The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Alfred Morrison, 1821-1897

Nationality: British
Date of Birth: 1821
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1897.12.22
Place of Death:


Alfred Morrison, a collector of prints, paintings and applied arts, was the second son of the merchant and collector James Morrison of Morrison, Dillon and Co., Fore Street, London. In 1866 he married Mabel Chernside, the daughter of the Rev. R. S. C. Chernside.


Alfred Morrison, who became High Sherriff of Wiltshire, inherited Fonthill. He also had a house at 16 Carlton House Terrace. He owned a small but significant collection of paintings, including a fifteenth century anonymous Flemish triptych, after which the Master of the Morrison Triptych was named (Museum of Art, Toledo, OH), and notable Italian and northern European sixteenth century portraits. From 1860 to 1878 he formed an extensive collection of engravings. He also collected Persian carpets, Chinese porcelain, Greek gems and gold. Furthermore, he commissioned cameo cutting, inlaying of metals and enamelled glass from contemporary craftsmen.

He is best known for his extraordinary collection of autograph letters. The dealer A. W. Thibaudeau compiled and annotated his Catalogue of the Collection of Autograph Letters and Historical Documents Formed between 1865 and 1882. His wife was recognized by contemporaries as a pioneer in her taste for antique furniture and in the arrangement of period rooms at Fonthill.

Morrison was a member of the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1867, the year in which JW was expelled from the Club due to a quarrel with his brother-in-law, Francis Seymour Haden (#12968). In fact, Morrison appears to have been one of the Club's Committee members at this time (#12974). He was present at the meeting held on 13 December 1867 at which JW's fate was decided, but does not seem to have been among those who voted in JW's favour (#12959).


Waagen, G. F., Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1857; Lugt, Frits, Les marques de collections de dessins et d'estampes: marques estampillèes et écrites de collections particulières et publiques; marques de marchands, de monteurs et d'imprimeurs; etc..., Amsterdam, 1921, no. 151; Gatty, R., Portrait of a Merchant Prince: James Morrison, 1789-1857, Northallerton, 1977; Wainwright, Clive, 'Alfred Morrison: a forgotten collector'; Russell, Francis, 'James Morrison', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 31 January 2003).