Skip to main content

Audio guide: Portrait of RIchard Fitzwilliam

Audio guide stop: 301

Crowdsourced transcription of the audio file

Portrait of Richard Fitzwilliam
Portrait of Richard Fitzwilliam
Download image CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Here's former director of the Fitzwilliam, Duncan Robinson:

'This is a picture of Richard Fitzwilliam, the man who founded this museum. It was painted in the early 1760s by an artist called Joseph Wright, and he actually painted it when Fitzwilliam was here in Cambridge, as an undergraduate at Trinity Hall.

Even in an age of great collectors, Fitzwilliam was an outstanding figure. The first thing to remember about him is the breadth of his taste. This was a man who inherited a collection of Dutch pictures and went on in his lifetime to form one of the greatest collections of paintings from the Italian Renaissance.

He was passionate about music. He went to Paris to hone his keyboard skills, but while he was there, began to collect music manuscripts and early printed scores, so that by the time he died, his collection was rated second only to the Royal Collection in Windsor Castle.

He was an avid collector of prints, so that again, by the end of his life, he'd filled hundreds of folio volumes with over 40,000 of them. And finally, as a book collector, he acquired anything from medieval manuscripts and early printed books to contemporary travel literature and foreign-language editions.

All of this material, ten wagon-loads of it, as it was described in the "Cambridge Chronicle" when it arrived in 1816, came to Cambridge as his bequest.'

Co-production of this resource

The MicroPasts logo

The transcription of the audio file for this stop was enabled by the AHRC funded crowd-sourcing platform MicroPasts. The below generously gave their time to transcribe the file.

Roger Wilmot, Terence Gould and Adi Levin

Other audio guide stops you might like

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...