John Callcott Horsley painted this portrait of Martin Colnaghi, a considerable benefactor to the National Gallery. He left the Gallery five paintings in his will, as well as funds which were used to buy 13 paintings, including works by Cézanne and Delacroix:http://bit.ly/1K7IGD2
COLNAGHI, MARTIN HENRY (1821–1908), picture dealer and collector (who was christened Martino Enrico Luigi Gantano), was eldest son of Martin Lewis Gaetano Colnaghi, printseller, of 23 Cockspur Street, Charing Cross, where he was born on 16 Nov. 1821; his mother's maiden name was Fanny Boyce Clarke. The original firm of Colnaghi was established by the grandfather, Paul Colnaghi [q. v.], about 1750, and was for many years carried on at 23 Cockspur Street by his sons, Dominic Paul Colnaghi [q. v.], Martin's uncle, and Martin's father. In 1826 the grandfather and uncle set up the new firm of Colnaghi, Son & Co. (afterwards known as P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.) in Pall Mall East (where it still exists). Martin's father remained in Cockspur Street, and traded at first as Colnaghi & Co., and from 1840 as Colnaghi & Puckle. In 1845 this business passed to Edward Puckle. In the interval, owing to an unfortunate speculation, Martin's father was gazetted bankrupt on 22 Aug. 1843; he died in Piccadilly in May 1851 (Gent. Mag.). The business misfortunes of the father thwarted young Martin's intention of entering the army, and his early manhood was a struggle. He was for two or three years the most active organiser of the system of railway advertising which was afterwards taken over by W. H. Smith, a small City stationer, who developed out of it the gigantic business of W. H. Smith & Son (The Times, 29 June 1908). About 1860 Colnaghi turned his attention to art, for which he had an hereditary taste. For some years he travelled as an expert and buyer for his uncle's firm of P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. (in which he was never a partner), then for Henry Graves, and then on his own account. He helped to form many important collections, notably that of Albert Levy (dispersed at Christie's in March 1876), and in later years the three existing collections (among others) of Mrs. Stephenson Clarke, Mr. Charles Crews, and Mr. William Asch. In 1877 he took Flatou's Gallery at No. 11 Haymarket, and called it the Guardi Gallery in honour of two fine pictures by that master which he had purchased. Hitherto his business had been conducted from his private residence in Pimlico. His important purchases in the auction room date from 1875, when he gave 4100 guineas at the Bredel sale for F. Mieris's 'Enamoured Cavalier,' and shortly afterwards 4500 guineas at the Lucy sale for a classical subject by Jan Both. Colnaghi remained in the Haymarket until 1888, when he took over the galleries of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-Colours (originally called the New Society of Painters in Water-Colours) at 53 Pall Mall, which he named the Marlborough Gallery At each place he held, at irregular intervals, exhibitions of ancient and modern pictures, including works by the Barbizon and other continental schools; in 1892 he held one of the embroideries of Madame Henriette Mankiewicz, and in 1895 he exhibited the colossal canvas (330 square feet) of 'The Triumph of Ariadne' by Hans Makart. This he had bought at Christie's (9 Feb. 1895) for the emperor of Austria, who conferred upon him the Austrian Goldene Verdienst Kreuz mit der Krone.
His remarkable knowledge of the old masters of every school was acquired not through study of books but by direct examination of pictures at home and abroad. His 'eye' for a picture rarely led him into an error. He was more particularly an authority on the Dutch and Flemish schools; he claimed to have had quite 100 works of Franz Hals through his hands at prices which varied from 5l. to 100l., long before the subsequent rise in values. Van Goyen was one of the many old masters he 'discovered,' and his last important public purchase at Christie's was on 9 Dec. 1905, when he gave 2100 guineas for an example by P. de Koninck. Chief among his private purchases was the Colonna or Ripaldi Raphael, which had been on loan at the South Kensington Museum for many years, after being offered to the nation, and refused, for 40,000l. It was then in a dirty and repainted condition. In his private diary, under date 15 June 1896, Martin Colnaghi recorded the purchase of this picture from the earl of Ashburnham for 17,000l., whilst a further 500l. was paid as commission to an intermediary (see also The Times, 27 July 1896). He disposed of it to Mr. C. Sedelmeyer of Paris, who sold it to Mr. John Pierpont Morgan, of New York, not, as generally stated, for 100,000l. but for 80,000l. (two million francs). Among other private purchases was the beautiful Hoppner group of the Frankland sisters, for which he paid Lady Frankland 8000l. He frequently lent pictures to the Old Masters at Burlington House from 1885 and to other exhibitions. He was a member of the Printsellers' Association from 1879, but published only a few engravings.
Martin Colnaghi outlived all his brothers and sisters. He died at the Marlborough Galleries, Pall Mall, on 27 June 1908, and was buried hi the family grave at Highgate. He bequeathed a number of pictures to the National Gallery (The Times, 15 July 1908, and Connoisseur, October 1908, pp. 126-7), and, subject to his widow's life interest, left the whole of the residue of his fortune, amounting to about 80,000l., to the trustees of the National Gallery for the purchase of pictures, annually or otherwise, at their discretion, such pictures to be grouped and known as the Martin Colnaghi Bequest (The Times, 5 Aug. 1908). In his will he is described as of Pall Mall and Arkley Cottage, Chipping Barnet, Hertfordshire.
He was married three times: (1) to Sarah Nash; (2) to Elizabeth Maxwell Howard, who died in 1888; (3) in 1889 to Amy, daughter of George Smith, the artist, but left no children.
His portrait was painted by R. L. Alldridge, by J. C. Horsley, R.A., by his father-in-law, George Smith, and by G. Marchetti. The first portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1870, and the second, which was exhibited at the same place in 1889, was presented by Colnaghi's widow to the National Gallery. A bust in marble was sculptured by Adams-Acton. Colnaghi's stock of pictures was sold at Robinson Fisher & Co.'s in six portions from 22 Oct. 1908 to 7 Jan. 1909, and realised upwards of 15,000l.
[The Times, 29 June 1908; Redford's Art Sales, ii. p. xxix, reproducing plate of a picture sale at Christie's from Graphic, 10 Sept. 1887, including figure of Colnaghi; Art Journal, 1896, p. 126, with portrait from photograph; information kindly supplied by Mrs. Martin Colnaghi; personal knowledge.]