Robert Fullerton Udny of Udny


Udny Collection

Extensive collection of paintings, largely Italian masters, amassed by Robert Udny at Teddington, visited by George Romney in July 1796 on a visit that became the basis of Romney's 'Four Friends'.


The celebrated collection of pictures of Robert Udny," formed during a long series of years with-out regard to expense, out of the principal cabinets of Italy and elsewhere," came up for sale at Christie's on May 18th and 19th, 1804, the [2?7] lots realizing £6,548 [?]s. 6d. There were two Udnys, John, British Consul at Leghorn, who was an extensive buyer of pictures, and his brother Robert, who lived at Teddington, to whom he transferred and whose collection of pictures was sold in 1800 (see p. 55). When Robert Udny died, in or before 1802, his executors drew up a catalogue of his collection of pictures at Teddington, and expressed themselves as " willing to treat with any gentleman or company for the purchase of the collection entire." No offer being forthcoming, the pictures were sent to Mr. Christie and sold in May, 1804, as above. One of the most important was a Correggio, Danae, which measured 60 x 78, and realized 200 guineas (see also p. 86). The adventures of this picture read like a romance. It was painted by order of the Duke of Mantua as a present for the emperor Charles V., and was in his collection at Prague, on the capture of which by Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, it was sent (with other pictures) to Stockholm; the Queen Christina bought the whole of the collection, and at her death it was purchased by the Pope's nephew, Odescalchi ; on his death the collection was bought by the Regent of France, the Duke of Orleans, and placed in the Palais Royal ; about the year 1728, during a dangerous illness of the then Duke of Orleans, son to the Regent, a bigoted friar, his confessor, made it the condition of his absolution that he should order all the pictures with naked figures in the Gallery to be destroyed ; an order which was executed in the presence of Charles Coypel, painter to the Court ; but Coypel contrived to cut the Danae in two places without injuring the figures; four months after the picture, restored, was sold to the Venetian noble, Lobbia ; in 1776 the Danae was stolen from the family ; in 1780 Consul Udny at Leghorn purchased it, and sent it to England in 1793. Another important picture in this sale was a second Correggio, Ecce Homo, the Virgin fallen in a swoon, 152 guineas, to which there is a long and somewhat conflicting history attached, which may possibly be the picture now in the National Gallery. Other pictures in this sale were Fra Bartolommeo, Virgin and Child, St. John, and angels, and portrait of Corsini, life size, 50 x 38, [£?]128, and Madonna della Seggiola, a circle, 63 guineas; Domenichino, The Magdalen, to the knees, 5 30 guineas ; Garofalo, Christ and the Woman of Samaria, 102 guineas,; Primaticcio, Hercules teaching Achilles, from Dr. Mead's collection, 60 guineas ; and Andrea del Sarto, Virgin, Child, St. John, Elizabeth, and two angels, 100 guineas. This collection was composed almost entirely of works by Italian masters, the few Dutch and other pictures selling at very small sums. It may be further mentioned that Mr. Christie sold Robert Udny's furniture on the premises at Teddington on July 9th, 10th, and 11th.

W. Roberts, Memorials of Christie's: A Record of Art Sales 1766 to 1896 (1897) Vol. I pp. 70-72.

Further Information

Collection Location
Dispersal Date
19th May 1804
Dispersal Year
Auction House