The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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George Rae, 1817-1902

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1817
Place of Birth: Aberdeen
Date of Death: 1902
Place of Death:


George Rae of Birkenhead was the manager of the North and South Wales Bank and a collector of Pre-Raphaelite pictures. His first wife was Elspeth Kynoch of Keith. Following her death he married Julia Williams in 1854. His son married the daughter of the collector James Leathart in 1895.


Rae was articled as a lawyer, but left before completing his studies to become a branch accountant for the North of Scotland Bank. At the age of twenty-two he became Inspector of Branches for the North and South Wales Bank in Liverpool. He later became its General Manager and Chairman. By the time of his retirement he had made the North and South Wales Bank one of the largest banks in the UK. He was acclaimed for his publication of a guide to practical banking, The Country Banker: His Clients, Care and Work (1885).

Rae was an important patron of the Pre-Raphaelites, notably of D. G. Rossetti. He tended to buy directly from artists rather than through a dealer. In November 1866 Rossetti informed him that JW's 'Japanese lady', 'which you saw at the Paris exhibition', was going 'dirt cheap' at 150 guineas (#13221). The painting referred to was probably La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine (YMSM 50), which was shown in Paris in 1865 at the 83rd exhibition, Oeuvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, at the Palais de Champs Elysées (cat. no. 2220). There is a possibility, however, that it was Caprice in Purple and Gold: The Golden Screen (YMSM 60), which JW intended to exhibit at Martinet's gallery in Paris in the spring of 1865. It is uncertain though whether it actually did hang.


Jeremy, David J. (ed.), Dictionary of Business Biography: A Biographical Dictionary of Business Leaders Active in Britain in the Period 1860-1980, London, 1984-86; Bennett, Mary, Artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Circle. The First Generation, National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, 1988, p. 9; Dianne Sachko Macleod pp.462-3 'England: Collecting and Dealing', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 16 October 2002).