The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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John Charles Robinson, 1824-1913

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1824.12.16
Place of Birth: Nottingham
Date of Death: 1913.04.10
Place of Death: Swanage, Dorset


Sir John Charles Robinson was a landscape painter, museum curator, collector and connoisseur.


Robinson initially studied architecture but then turned to painting, working in the studio of Michel-Martin Drolling in Paris. In 1847 he taught at the School of Design at Hanley and in 1852 worked as a teachers' training master in London.

In the same year he was made Keeper of the new Museum of Ornamental Art at Marlborough House (transferred to South Kensington in 1857), where he was responsible for acquisitions between 1852 and 1867. He built up the museum's collection of ceramics, metalwork, manuscripts, drawings and Italian Renaissance sculpture. Among his acquisitions was Donatello's relief of the Ascension with Christ Giving the Keys to St Peter (1420s; London, Victoria and Albert Museum). He was also interested in the work of El Greco, buying Christ Driving the Money-changers from the Temple (c. 1600; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC).

Robinson also advised collectors on purchases and catalogued the collections of Matthew Uzielli and Robert Napier (1791-1876) and the drawings of John Malcolm (1805-1893) of Pontalloch. From 1882-1901 he was Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures. He was one of the founder members of the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1866 and was on the committee at the time of JW's expulsion in 1867 (#10054, #11956).


Robinson, John Charles, Italian Sculpture of the Middle Ages and Period of the Revival of Art, London, 1862; Robinson, John Charles, The Drawings of Michel Angelo and Raffaelle in the University Galleries Oxford, Oxford, 1870; Obituary, Times, London, 11 April 1913; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Davies, Helen, 'John Charles Robinson', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 9 April 2003).