Percy Aristocratic Collection
The works in this collection come from an album with numerous connections to the aristocratic Percy family. The album was inscribed (in ink) ‘GEP Geneva 1804’, and below, also in ink, ‘Emily Susan Drummond’. In pencil, below the first inscription, is an explanation: ‘Algernon Percy 1779 – min. plenipot-y to Swiss Cantons d. 1833’ (Algernon Percy was Minister Plenipotentiary to the Swiss Cantons from 1825 to 1832). Under Emily Susan Drummond’s name is a similar note, which reads ‘died 9 June 1878 aged 69’.
It seems, in other words, that the album was first owned by the British diplomat Algernon Percy, who was the son of the 1st Earl of Beverley. It was then owned by his niece, Emily Susan Drummond, whose mother Lady Emily Charlotte Drummond, neé Percy, was Algernon Percy’s sister.
Emily Susan Drummond was one of eight children, who are best known today for the hundreds of charming watercolours and pencil sketches of their daily lives, which they created while they were still young. These pictures give an unusually direct view of upper-class Victorian childhood, showing everything from the children at their lessons to them playing charades with such distinguished visitors as the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston. All manner of incidental details are shown too: the dress of the period, the servants the children had, the games they played and the dances they practiced. Many of the pictures are reproduced in the book Making Victorians: the Drummond Children's World 1827-1832, by Susan Lasdun (Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1983).
The drawings and watercolours in our album show how well connected Emily Susan Drummond was, with many works being by prominent members of the Percy family from her mother’s generation - including Emily’s uncle, Henry Percy, who was trusted with the first despatches to London announcing Wellington’s victory at Waterloo - or by well-known artists of the early eighteenth century. Together, they form a fascinating pictorial record of a particular historical period.