SALTING, George (1835-1909)

SALTING, George (1835-1909)
art collector
was born at Sydney on 15 August 1835. His father, Severin Kanute Salting, was a Dane who had large interests in New South Wales, and in 1858 made a gift of £500 to the university of Sydney to found scholarships to be awarded to students proceeding from Sydney Grammar School. It is not recorded which school George Salting went to in Sydney—it may possibly have been Sydney College, of which Sydney Grammar School was a revival. About 1848 George Salting was sent to England and continued his education at Eton. He returned to Sydney, and entering at the newly founded university won prizes for compositions in Latin hexameters in 1855 and 1857, in Latin elegiacs in 1856, 1857 and 1858, and for Latin essays in 1854 and 1856. He graduated B.A. in 1857. The family went to England and the father dying, when Salting had barely entered middle age, left him a fortune which has been estimated at £30,000 a year. Largely influenced by the well-known connoisseur, Louis Huth, Salting began collecting Chinese porcelain, for which he developed a fine discriminating taste. As the years went by his collection gradually extended and included English furniture, bronzes, majolica, glass, hard stones, manuscripts, miniatures, pictures, carpets, and indeed almost everything one would expect to find in a good museum. He was a most careful buyer, as a rule dealing only with two or three men whom he felt he could trust, though he sometimes bought at auction. He often obtained expert advice and his own knowledge was always growing. As a consequence he made few mistakes and these were usually corrected by the pieces being exchanged for better specimens. He lived mostly in London and except for an occasional few days shooting, he made his collecting his occupation. He died on 12 December 1909. He never married, his personal wants were few, and he did not give largely to charities. In spite of his large expenditure on collecting, his fortune increased and his will was sworn at over £1,300,000. Of this £10,000 was left to London hospitals, £2000 to the Prince Alfred hospital at Sydney, and £30,000 to relatives and others. The residue of his estate went to the heirs of his brother who predeceased him. He bequeathed to the national gallery, London, such of his pictures, and to the British Museum such of his prints and drawings, as the trustees might select. The remainder of his art collection went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, with the proviso that it was to be kept together and not distributed over the various departments. It is a remarkable collection to have been got together by one man, the standard being extraordinarily high. The Chinese pottery and porcelain it is true belongs mostly to the later dynasties, but it must be remembered that much of the work of the great T'ang period was practically unprocurable when Salting was collecting. It was suggested at the time of his death that as his wealth had been drawn from Australia some of his collection might well be sent to the Australian galleries. Nothing came of this; probably the legal difficulties were insurmountable.
The Times, 14, 15, 17, 31 December 1909, 26 January 1910; The Salting Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum Guides; The Sydney Herald, 20 August 1835; The Sydney University Calendar, 1862, 1938; personal knowledge of the collection.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • George Salting — (15 August 1835 – 12 December 1909) was an Australian born British art collector. Early lifeSalting was born in Sydney, the son of Severin Kanute Salting, a Dane who had large interests in New South Wales, and in 1858 made a gift of £500 to the… …   Wikipedia

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