Bought with Love: The Secret History of British Art Collections

The Age of the Individual

Series 1 - Episode 3 The Age of the Individual



Helen Rosslyn finally steps away from nice chats with the owners of some of our finest stately homes to explore how 19th-century financiers and business moguls transformed how we see art. With a canny mix of philanthropy and self-interest they bought paintings by the yard then put them on display for the masses.

From the canal builder who snaffled goodies from French Revolutionary victims to found the National Gallery to the Manchester worthies who put together a show in 1857 containing 16,000 exhibits and the Impressionist-loving Welsh coal heiresses, there are characters galore in what’s been an eye-opening series.


Helen Rosslyn concludes her exploration of impressive country houses, focusing on how collecting art reached its maturity in the 19th century when unprecedented wealth from Britain's economy encouraged enlightened, philanthropic industrialists to spend their fortunes on it. She focuses on the influence of pharmaceutical magnate Thomas Holloway, the Rothschild banking dynasty, and welsh sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies. Last in the series.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Helen Rosslyn
Director Lucy Swingler
Executive Producer Franny Moyle
Producer Lucy Swingler
Documentary Arts