James Mann (curator)

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Sir James Gow Mann[1] KCVO FBA FSA[2] (23 September 1897 – 5 December 1962) was an eminent figure in the art world in the mid twentieth century, specialising in the study of armour.[3]

He was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford,[4] and served in World War I from 1916 to 1919 with the Royal Artillery. He was Assistant Keeper of the Department of Fine Art at the Ashmolean, and then Reader in the History of Art at the University of London, before becoming Director of the Wallace Collection in 1936. He was Master of the Armouries at the Tower of London from 1939,[5] and Surveyor of the Queen’s Works of Art from 1952, holding both posts until his death.[6] Mann also worked as an advisor on Laurence Olivier's film of Henry V (1944), to ensure that the armour was historically accurate. He is said to have advised Olivier that the story of armoured men being hoisted onto horseback by crane was a fallacy, but Olivier overrode him and showed cranes in use in the film.[citation needed]

From 1949 to 1954 he served as President of the Society of Antiquaries of London.


  1. ^ "Sir James Gow Mann - National Portrait Gallery". www.npg.org.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  2. ^ London Gazette 1 January 1957
  3. ^ Amongst others he wrote "The Armoury of the Castle of Churburg", 1929; "Spanish Armour of the Xth–XVth Centuries", and "The etched Decoration of Armour", 1962 > British Library web site accessed 15:27 GMT Wednesday 15 February 2012
  4. ^ "Who was Who" 1897–2007 London, A & C Black, 2007 ISBN 978-0-19-954087-7
  5. ^ "Sir James Mann | Royal Armouries: A family of national museums of arms, armour and artillery". www.royalarmouries.org. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  6. ^ "Obituary: Sir James Mann" The Times (London, England), 7 December 1962; p. 15; Issue 55568