George Salting

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George Salting
George Salting.jpg
George Salting
Born (1835-08-15)15 August 1835
Died 12 December 1909(1909-12-12) (aged 74)
London, England
Resting place
Brompton Cemetery
Occupation Art collector

George Salting (15 August 1835 – 12 December 1909) was an Australian-born British art collector of pictures and many other categories of art, whose works were left to the National Gallery, London, Victoria & Albert Museum and British Museum.

Early life[edit]

Salting was born in Sydney, the son of Severin Knud Salting (1806-1865)[1](in English 'Severin Kanute Salting'), 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.[2] George Salting's mother was Louisa Augusta, née Fiellerup.[3]

George Salting was educated locally and then moved with his family to England and went to Eton College.[3] In 1853 the family returned to New South Wales, and Salting entered the newly founded University of Sydney.[3] There he 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. Salting graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1857. In 1858 the Salting family again travelled to England; Louisa Salting died there on 24 July 1858 and Severin Salting settled in Kent until dying in 1865.[3] Severin Salting made a large fortune in sheep-farming and sugar-growing; George Salting was left a fortune which was estimated at £30,000 a year.[2]


The so-called Salting carpet, wool, silk and metal thread, about 1600.[4]

Largely influenced by the connoisseur, Louis Huth, Salting began collecting Chinese porcelain, developing a fine discriminating taste for it. His collection gradually extended and included English furniture, bronzes, majolica, glass, hard stones, manuscripts, miniatures, pictures, carpets, and other items which might be found in a good museum.[2]

Salting was a 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. Salting lived modestly mostly in London, occupying just two living rooms[5] and except for an occasional few days shooting, he made his collecting his occupation.[2]

Later life[edit]

Salting died in London and is buried in Brompton Cemetery.[2]

Salting never married 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 Royal 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.[2]


Salting left his entire collection of pictures, Oriental china, bronzes, and miniatures, valued at from $5,000,000 to $20,000,000 to British museums.[5] He bequeathed his pictures to the National Gallery, London, and his prints and drawings to the British Museum as the respective trustees might select. The remainder of his art collection went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, with a proviso that it was to be kept together and not distributed over the various departments. It is a notable collection to have been put together by one person, the standard being extraordinarily high. The Chinese pottery and porcelain belonged mostly to the later dynasties, but much of the work of the great T'ang period was practically unobtainable 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 impassable.[2]


Dieric Bouts, Virgin and Child

He gave three pictures to the National Gallery during his life, and bequeathed a further 192 in his will. Of those 31 have since been transferred to the Tate Gallery.[6] His collection of paintings included:


  1. ^ Taken from the grave of the father in Brompton Cemetery
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Serle, Percival (1949). "Salting, George". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d A. F. Pike, 'Salting, Severin Kanute (1805–1865)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 2, MUP, 1967, p. 415. Retrieved 6 December 2009
  4. ^ "/salting-carpets-and-topkapi-prayer-rugs". / Retrieved 2015. 
  5. ^ a b New York Times 17 December 1909
  6. ^ "George Salting". National Gallery, London. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 


Further reading[edit]