See research details of the Baring family and their amassing of the Northbrook Collection.
Detail from the Northbrook Provenance interactive map indicating locations of artworks that were at one time part of the Northbrook Collection.
This timeline details the formation of the Baring family and their amassing of the Northbrook Collection along with its eventual sale. When possible, links have been made to cross-reference with collection data and the research bibliography.
John (Johann) Baring (1697–1748), an immigrant from Bremen, Germany, settles in Exeter as a merchant and cloth manufacturer.
John Baring becomes a naturalized British citizen.
John Baring marries Elizabeth Vowler (d. April 16, 1766) the daughter of a prominent merchant in Exeter.
John Baring purchases Larkbear, a house and estate near Exeter.
John Baring purchases Linbridge, a house and estate near Teignmouth.
John Baring dies, possibly from consumption, on October 30, aged 51. He leaves £40,000 to be divided as follows: £17,000 to his widow, £15,000 to his eldest son John, £2,000 to each of his other four children. His wife Elizabeth continues to run their merchant and manufacturing business.
John Baring (1730–1816), returns from a period on the continent and buys Mount Bedford, the estate abutting Larkbear. The same year, his two youngest brothers Francis Baring (1740–1810) and Charles Baring (1742–1829) are sent to London to apprentice for merchants “of first class.” Francis would serve as apprentice to Samuel Touchet, a leading merchant in Manchester and the West Indies.
The family decides to open a second branch of their family business in London with John Baring involved in both with a 50% stake. The three brothers sign the articles of partnership on Christmas Day, establishing John and Francis Baring and Co. in London and John and Charles Baring and Co. in Exeter.
First correspondence and dealings with Hope & Co. of Amsterdam, the leading merchant banking firm in Europe.
The three Baring brothers (John, Francis, and Charles) sign the articles of dissolution, officially ending the partnerships between Exeter and London.
By this time, Francis Baring was a director of the East India Company.
Charles Wall becomes a partner at John and Francis Baring, Co.
Francis Baring first runs for a seat in Parliament and looses.
Charles Wall marries Francis Baring’s daughter, Harriet.
Francis Baring’s sons are sent abroad to work for the East India Company
The Hope family flees to London as the French troops advance on Holland. Two of the firm’s employees, Alexander Baring (1774–1848; Sir Francis’s son) and partner, Peter Cesar Labouchere (Sir Francis’s son-in-law), hold out until the last minute, escaping as the French enter Amsterdam.
Alexander Baring is sent to America to assess a purchase offer of lands in Maine belonging to a syndicate headed by William Bingham, Senator from Pennsylvania.
In February, Alexander Baring buys about a million acres of land for £106,875 as a joint venture for Hopes and Barings.
Sir Francis buys at auction a reversionary interest in 623 acres and Lee, a manor house, near Lewisham.
Sir Francis had been collecting art as early as the 1790s. Records indicate that in 1798 he purchased a Rembrandt painting and two works by the Dutch still life painter Rachel Ruysch.
Alexander Baring marries Ann Bingham daughter of William Bingham.
John Baring retires from the business, which is then renamed Francis Baring and Co. (subsequently referred to as Barings) with Francis’s son Thomas and son-in-law Charles Wall as partners.
Stratton Park undergoes extensive remodeling, totaling £25,000, under the supervision of George Dance. Changes include a notable addition of a portico with Doric columns.
Sir Thomas stops working for the East India Company.
Barings’ first large scale international loan, the Portuguese Diamond Loan of 1802 was a 13 million guilder loan of which Barings financed 5 million, Hope & Co. the remainder.
In a joint venture, Hope & Co. and Barings financed the purchase of Louisiana by the United States from France for $15 million; $11.25 million of 6 percent U. S. bonds and the elimation of a debt of 18 million francs ($3.75 million).
Sir Francis Baring retires from bank operations.
Sir Francis remarked about his collecting to his son-in-law, Pierre Cesar Labouchere, by this time he was “done with all except the very superior” and it was only “Rembrandt, Rubens, or Van Dyck that tempt me, and the first must not be too dark, nor the second indecent”.
The bank moves from Devonshire Square to 8 Bishopsgate.
Sir Francis commissions Sir Thomas Lawrence to paint a portrait of the three partners of Barings Bank: Sir Francis Baring, his brother John Baring (1730–1816) and son-in-law Charles Wall (1756–1815). Sittings took place at Stratton Park and the canvas was finished in London. It was included in the Royal Academy’s annual exhibition in 1807.
The family business is renamed Baring Brothers & Co.
Sir Francis Baring dies, leaving £620,000; £400,000 in land and £27,000 in paintings, furniture, and jewels.
Thomas Baring (1772–1848) becomes Sir Thomas Baring, 2nd Baronet on September 12.
Alexander Baring takes over Hope & Co. at cost, £250,521. He had plans to shut down the operation but changed his mind to provide an option for his brother Sir Thomas’ sons.
Sir Thomas Baring sold 86 paintings from his father’s collection of Dutch and Flemish works to King George IV. Sixty-five remain in the Royal Collection today. With the proceeds, Sir Thomas acquired Italian and Spanish paintings.
Sometime in these two years, Alexander Baring purchased an estate from Henry Drummond for £136,620. The estate, called the Grange, was adjacent to Stratton Park.
Sir Thomas (1772–1848) makes the suggestion that his second son, Thomas, join Baring Brothers. Alexander starts his newphew off with a job at Hope & Co. with the intention of considering him for Barings should he prove himself capable at the family business.
Alexander Baring withdraws from leadership at the bank (in all but name) choosing instead to focus on establishing himself as a country gentleman, devoting time to travel and politics.
Anne Baring, daughter of Alexander Baring, marries Humphrey St. John Mildmay.
An account of Stratton Park: “I do not know a more comfortable gentleman’s house, and it has what few houses possess a valuable and beautiful collection of pictures, chiefly of Italian masters, and collections of prints drawings etchings and portraits, both of the Italian and Flemish schools, and exhibiting the progress of these arts from their earliest beginnings to the best times.”
By this date, Sir Thomas had acquired paintings from the Lebrun collection from a Bond Street dealer named Harris. Failing to sell in Paris, a number of pictures from the Lebrun collection were consigned to Mr. Harris in London, a more favorable market with clientele eager to buy Old Master paintings. Buchannan’s entry in Memoirs of Painting is the earliest published record of the purchase; the exact date of the transaction is unknown.
Alexander makes Humphrey Mildmay, husband to his eldest daughter Anne, a partner at Barings.
Thomas Baring was a partner in Hope & Co. by this year.
Francis Baring is sent on a fact finding mission to Mexico, which would result in a series of questionable investments in land and mining, scandalous accusations of bribing the Mexican Government.
Thomas, later First Earl of Northbrook (1826–1904) is born.
Alexander Baring retires from Baring Brothers.
Francis Thornhill Baring appointed a Lord of the Treasury.
Johann David Passavant visited Stratton on the 3rd day of June, sometime before 1833. He published a list of important paintings in Tour of a German Artist in England. With Notices of Private Galleries, and Remarks on the State of Art.
Thomas Baring, MP begins collecting art.
Thomas Baring joins the House of Commons as a conservative, like his uncle Alexander, in opposition to his father, Sir Thomas, and brother, Francis Thornhill. He became the member for Huntingdon.
Alexander Baring granted title of 1st Baron Ashburton of Devon (second creation) reviving the defunct title Lord Ashburton, originally bestowed upon John Dunning (Alexander’s uncle, married to Elizabeth Baring).
John Baring gives his brother Thomas Baring a drawing by Samuel Palmer.
Francis Thornhill Baring serves as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Melbourne.
Thomas George Baring, later First Earl Northbrook (1826–1904), goes to work as private secretary to Henry Labouchere, who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland.
Baron Verstolk van Soelen’s collection of Dutch paintings is acquired by Thomas Baring, MP, Jones Loyd (Lord Overstone), Humphrey Mildmay (a partner at Barings) and a Mr. Chaplin (through whom the sale was made).
Francis Thornhill moves from the Manor House at Lee to Stratton Park, two years before the death of Sir Thomas Baring.
Three Baring brothers die within a few weeks of one another. Sir Thomas died on April 3. Henry Baring died on April 13. Alexander died on May 13.
Sir Thomas Baring’s collection is sold at auction through Christie and Manson, London, June 2 and 3, in accordance with his will. The Italian, Spanish, and French pictures were bought at valuation by Thomas Baring, MP before the sale. He also acquired more of his father’s paintings at the auction.
Gustav Friedrich Waagen, a german art historian and director of the Royal Gallery of Pictures in Berlin, visits Thomas Baring, MP’s collection. His account of the collection of nearly 200 paintings is later documented in the 1854 publication, Treasures of Art in Great Britain. The book is an account of the most important collections at the time.
According to Waagen, since his first visit in 1851, a number of notable additions were made to Thomas Baring, MP’s collection. Forty-three new pictures are described.
In a letter to T. W. Ward, Joshua Bates writes of Thomas Baring, MP: “He will damage his health if he is not careful, but he is a most generous, talented and agreeable man and well calculated to lead anything.” He makes reference to Thomas Baring, MP’s numerable positions: Chairman of Lloyds and of the Savings Bank, deputy-chairman of the Royal West India Mail Steam Packet Co., trustee of Merton College.
Charles Baring-Wall dies and leaves his house and fortune to Thomas Baring, MP. The sum is somewhere between £350,000-£450,000. The property, Norman Court, consisted of some 7,000 acres in Hampshire.
Initial reports of a fire at Thomas Baring, MP’s London house, Grosvenor Square. Some of the “modern” paintings were damaged by the fire.
State of the partners of Baring Brothers 24 shares divied as follows: Francis Baring, 3; Joshua Bates, 6; Thomas Baring, 5; Charles Baring Young, 3; Russell Sturgis, 3; Henry Bingham Mildmay, 1; and Edward (Ned) Baring, 1.
In a letter from Charles Dickens to Miss Burdett Coutts, Dickens mentions a fire at Thomas Baring, MP’s country house, in which several pictures were damaged and were repaired by Mr. Bentley of 128 Sloane Street. Bentley is known to have been Thomas Baring, MP’s paintings restorer as early as 1853.
Waagen publishes a supplementary volume to his 1854 publication, Treasures of Art in Great Britain.
With war raging in the United States, the bank’s investments shifted from the US to Europe. It had a great effect on the cotton trade of the Liverpool branch of Barings, as indicated by a sharp decrease in commissions from £32,000 in 1861 to £14,000 in 1862
William Baring, 2nd Lord Ashburton dies without a male heir and the title transfers to his brother Francis Baring. Upon receiving the title, Francis retires as a partner in Baring Brothers.
Bates dies and Thomas Baring must rely heavily on Russell Sturgis to run Baring Brothers.
Francis Thornhill, First Baron Northbrook, (1796–1866) dies.
T. C. Baring tours the South after the Civil War
In the “Inventory and Valuation of Pictures other than Family Portraits at Stratton Park”, a list of paintings that had belonged to Sir Thomas Baring is given as follows: “4 gallery paintings taken from Boydell’s Shakespeare, 2 landscapes, a portrait, 2 gallery paintings from Shakespeare by Northcote & Opie, Portrait of Fox, 2 landscapes, Portrait of Dr. Woolf, 2 landscapes, 2 landscapes, Painting of a Horse, 19 paintings in Housekeeper’s room, 5 paintings in the bed room, 14 paintings in Butler’s room, 5 paintings in the Servants Hall”
Baring Brothers acquires Finlay Hodgson and Co.; capital increases from £760,000 to £1,390,000 and Finlay Hodgson’s senior partner Kirkman Hodgson joins the bank. Later in the year, Thomas Charles Baring joins the bank.
Capital at Baring Brothers totaled 2.4 million pounds: Thomas Baring MP’s share in the capital was £609,000; Sturgis, £320,000; Mildmay, £320,000; Kirkman Hodgson, £261,000; J. S. Hodgson, £251,000; Edward (Ned) Baring, £222,000; Thomas Charles Baring, £71,000.
Thomas George Baring, 2nd Baron Northbrook appointed Viceroy of India.
After a stint in Torquay in the spring, Thomas Baring, MP moved on to convalese in Bournemouth where he passed away on November 18. On the following day, according to Ziegler, Bertram Currie of Glyn’s wrote, “Poor old Thomas Baring went off at 4 p.m. yesterday...He was certainly a proof, if any were wanting that a merchant may be as good a gentleman as an acred lord or squire and he was wisely contented with an proud of his trade. I don’t think he has left his equal behind.”
Thomas Baring, MP (1799–1873) dies with no issue and wills his property (including his art collection) to his nephew Thomas George, later the First Earl of Northbrook (1826–1904). Much of his share of the capital in Barings went to another newphew, Thomas Charles Baring, who worked for the bank.
Total capital of Barings when Thomas Baring died was around £2.2 million
The first female employee joins Barings.
Thomas George Baring, becomes the First Earl of Northbrook.
Lord Ronald Gower publishes An Illustrated Descriptive and Historic Account of the Collection of the Earl of Northbrook. It include a number of reproductions of important paintings in the collection.
Barings handled the initial public offering of Arthur Guiness, Son & Co.
W. H. James Weale and Jean Paul Richter publish A Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures Belonging to the Early of Northbrook
With Barings in trouble, recently retired T. C. Baring offers to help with his personal funds. Lord Ashburton (Francis, 5th Baron) and Lord Northbrook (Thomas George), both with no direct connection to the bank, also contribute funds, £50,000 and £250,000 respectively.
All business interests from Baring Brothers and Company were transferred to a new company with a limited liability, called Baring Brothers and Co., Limited. Directors include T. C. Baring, Francis Baring, R. K. Hodgson, and John Baring.
Lord Northbrook drafts an inventory of his collection of Old Master and Modern paintings, which he designated as heirlooms and are of national interest.
Franz Hanfstaengl publishes "Catalogue of Reproductions from the Earl of Northbrook’s Collection of Paintings at London."
Thomas George, First Earl of Northbrook (1826-1904) dies.
On November 3, Joseph Duveen, Louis Duveen, and Charles Davis visit Stratton Park to evaluate Lord Northbrook's pictures. “There was nothing in the house, with the exception of two full-length Van Dycks," which they considered not by the master.
On December 12, Christie, Mason, & Woods, London sell a portion of the 2nd Earl of Northbrook’s collection.
Louis Duveen from Duveen Brothers and Langton Douglas visit the London home of Francis George Baring, 2nd Earl of Northbrook, at 42 Portman Square. Their report references a “Portrait of a Fisherman” by Frans Hals which hung over a mantlepiece in the dinning room. In March, the Earl sells a number of paintings through private sales to Duveen, including: CMOA’s Franz Hals, NGA’s Metsu and Van Dyck.
Francis George Baring, 2nd Earl of Northbrook (1850–1929) dies on April 12. On November 27 through 29, the contents of Stratton Park were sold at auction by Gudeon & Sons. The sale included fine furnishings, prints, drawings, and paintings. The highest selling object was a painting by Reverend Matthew Peters from Much Ado About Nothing: Act III, Scene I, (Hero, Ursula and Beatrice), 1790, now at the CMOA.
The Earl’s second wife, Florence Anita, Countess Northbrook, disperses more of the collection through private sales and auctions.
February 25, sale of the Countess' property items that were bought-in at the 1937 sale.
May 3, sale of property of the Countess at Christie, Manson & Woods, London. It included pictures by Old Mastersed .
Another sale of property of Florence Anita, Countess Northbrook at Christie, Manson & Woods, London; Pictures by old masters.
Final sale of property of the Countess Northbrook at Christie, Manson & Woods, Ancient and modern pictures; old pictures and drawings, London.
December 4, Lady Florence Anita, Countess Northbrook dies.