The Ford library is now catalogued

  • 2 September 2020

Cataloguing of the Ford library is now complete. This collection was formed by Sir Brinsley Ford (1908–1999), an art historian and collector, and was donated to the Paul Mellon Centre by his family in 2017. It consists of almost two hundred volumes relating to the Grand Tour and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century travels through Europe, including many contemporary accounts.

Some items from the collection show provenance markings of earlier travellers, including the four volumes of Thomas Nugent’s The Grand Tour: Containing an Exact Description of Most of the Cities, Towns, and Remarkable Places of Europe (1749), which bear the bookplate of Charles Hope-Weir (1710–1791). Hope-Weir set out on the Grand Tour himself in 1754, travelling to Italy via Belgium and France, and may have used Nugent’s work for inspiration. The Ford library also includes a copy of Richard Hurd’s Dialogues on the Uses of Foreign Travel (1764) previously owned by Isaac George Manley (1755–1837), who sailed as a boy with Captain Cook on HMS Endeavour.

A decorative bookplate showing a landscape set within an ornate frame.

Lewis Engelbach, Naples and the campagna felice (1815),

Frontispiece from an Italian book.

Francesco Ficoroni, Dissertatio de larvis scenicis et figuris comicis antiquorum romanorum (1754),

An old book spine.

Monsieur de Blainville, Travels through Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and other parts of Europe, but especially Italy (1743),

Details about an early book from the collection were posted in a previous news item.

The Ford library is now fully catalogued on the Paul Mellon Centre’s library and photographic archive catalogue. Please note that these items are classed as library special collections.

The Paul Mellon Centre also holds two additional collections by Brinsley Ford:

  • In the archive, 56 boxes of material compiled by Ford relating to British and Irish travellers in Italy in the eighteenth century.
  • In the library, a collection of approximately 250 exhibition catalogues on twentieth-century artists and on the subject of the Grand Tour.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic the Centre is currently closed to the public and will look to reopen, in a limited way, to the public from October. Further updates on this will be provided in due course.