Below is a list of known patrons and collectors of Waterhouse's paintings during his lifetime, along with brief biographies.
Sir John Aird (1833-1911)
Collector, owner of Whispered Words and Offerings to the Gods.
Born in London, of Scottish descent. Engineer. Builder of the famous Aswan Dam across the Nile. Collector of modern British art. Lived in a mansion facing Hyde Park (14 Hyde Park Terrace) and at Wilton Park, Bucks. Conservative Member of Parliament for Paddington, North. Created a baronet in 1901.
"Unlike many picture collectors, Mr. Aird has never regarded his "hobby" in the light of an investment. It has been from the first a labour of love. To borrow a well-worn phrase, he has bought his pictures "to live with." They are not arranged in the formal lines of a gallery; they adorn every room of the house; its doors, its lobbies, and its staircases to the very top, are ornamented with them. They are, therefore, the daily companions and friends of their owner, and of his family and their friends. Many of them have owed their execution of his own suggestion; others have been specially painted by their artists for the places where they now hang; every one seems to bear the impress of care and forethought which have selected them on account of some definite and precise reason, not very far to find. It may be stated at once that nearly all Mr. Aird's pictures are of the modern English school.
On either side of the large folding doors hangs a work of Mr. J. W. Waterhouse's. One is 'Whispered Words', a Greek girl and her lover standing in colloquy together, the artist's earliest success, and its companion, 'Offerings to the Gods.'
Source: 'The Private Art Collections of London', The Art Journal, May 1891
Julia Ellsworth Ford (1859-1950)
Collector, owner of Waterhouse's painting Danae which was stolen from her New York residence. The present whereabouts of Danae is still unknown.
Julia Ellsworth Ford, neé Shaw, was a New York socialite, philanthropist, author of children's books and doyenne of a salon that included the Lebanese mystic Kahlil Gibran, Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, and American dancer Isadora Duncan. Her husband was Simeon Ford, financier and noted host of the old Grand Union Hotel, New York (co-owned with Julia's brother Samuel Shaw).
Mrs. Ford "though extremely wealthy, was more interested in meeting famous people, whom she collected as others did stamps or butterflies, than in disbursing her capital: "the woman who aspires" was the way he described her to Florence Farr." (from a 1905 letter by John Quinn quoted in Prodigal Father: The Life of John Butler Yeats, William Michael Murphy.)
"Mrs. Ford had a great interest in the Pre-Raphaelite painters and later artists such as JW Waterhouse and Arthur Hacker, both of whom she knew personally. She went to Germany to meet the German painter Franz von Stuck and to get photographic reproductions of his work. She created her own wallpaper for her upstairs study by arranging on the walls as a mosaic over two hundred photographic reproductions of pictures by these artists."
Source: The Yale University Library Gazette, 1926
Sir Frederick Fry
Patron, owned Juliet.
Alexander, 1st Lord Faringdon Henderson
Patron, owned several paintings.
"In 1889 Buscot was sold to Alexander Henderson, later 1st Lord of Faringdon (1850-1934), a financier of exceptional skill and ability. Henderson was the second son of a distinguished Greek and Hebrew scholar, George Henderson of Langholm, Dumfries, and brother of Brigadier-General Sir Brodie Haldane Henderson, RE. His first job in the City was with Deloittes, a leading firm of accountants. Soon afterwards he joined the stockbroking firm of Greenwood & Co., whose merger in 1932 with Cazenove Ackroyd was due to his efforts.
At an early age he became a leading figure in the City, financing a wide range of industrial and business enterprises, but specialising in the promotion of railways, both in the UK and in South America. He was chairman of the Great Central Railway from 1889 until the regrouping of 1922 (when it became part of the London & North Eastern) and a major shareholder in the Manchester Ship Canal. He also held interests in port developments and telephone and electrical systems all over the world. During the First World War he launched the British Trade Corporation, serving as its first chairman. He was created a baronet in 1902, baron in 1916, and a Companion of Honour in the following year. The 1st Lord Faringdon's political career was firmly allied to his business and commercial interests. He first entered the House of Commons as a Unionist MP in 1898, and became a strong supporter of Joseph Chamberlain's campaign for tariff reform, acquiring control of a newspaper, the Standard, to advocate these views. He later became a frequent speaker in the House of Lords on this and related subjects. At Buscot, he reverted to a more traditional policy of estate management than his predecessor, Robert Campbell, but rendered notable services to agriculture by his improvements to pedigree stock. He served as High Sheriff of Berkshire and as President of the Shire Horse Society."
Henderson was a patron of John William Waterhouse, and other 19th century artists. His home at Buscot Park is famous for the Briar Rose series of paintings by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Today, Buscot Park is the home of the 3rd Lord Faringdon, and is open to the public as a National Trust property. Sadly, most of the 1st Lord Faringdon's collection of 19th century paintings, including GF Watts' Choosing and Millais' Esther, were dispersed at auction in July 1934. Three works by Watts (Wife of Pygmalion), Ford Madox Brown (Entombment) and Lord Leighton (Daedalus and Icarus) were later bought back by his grandson, and are today displayed in the Pre-Raphaelite Room.
Source: Buscot Park & The Faringdon Collection, National Trust, 2004
Brother of Alexander Henderson.
Patron, owned several paintings.
Major Alec P Henderson
The second son of Alexander Henderson, Lord Faringdon.
Patron, owned several Waterhouse paintings including Listening to my Sweet Pipings, A Song of Springtime, The Annunciation and Narcissus.
Sir Brodie Haldane Henderson
Brother of Alexander Henderson
Patron, owned several paintings.
William Hesketh Lever (Lord Leverhulme)
Collector, owner of several Waterhouse paintings including The Love Philtre. The Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, Liverpool is one of his legacies, founded in 1922 by William Hesketh Lever, the first Lord Leverhulme, in memory of his wife. The gallery displays works collected by Leverhulme throughout his life. British 18th and 19th century painting, 18th century furniture and outstanding collections of Wedgwood and Chinese porcelain are among the treasures on show
Sir James Murray
Collector. Owned several paintings.
Sir Henry Tate
Collector. Owned several paintings which are now in the collection of Tate Britain, London.