The Bridgewater Collection counts among the most important collections of Old Master paintings still in private hands anywhere in the world. Works from the collection have been on public view in Great Britain since the early 19th century and its crucial importance to the UK heritage has long been recognised.
The Bridgewater Loan has been on continuous public view in the National Galleries of Scotland since 1945. Today this loan constitutes one of the greatest loans of Old Master pictures from a private collection to a public museum anywhere in the world. It immeasurably enriches the appeal and status of the National Galleries of Scotland as a centre of cultural excellence. The loan consists of twenty-eight paintings, and one drawing, by artists such as Raphael, Titian, Poussin and Rembrandt.
The collection was originally formed by Francis Egerton, the 3rd and last Duke of Bridgewater, known famously as “the Canal Duke”. The core of the Collection was acquired following the dispersal of the renowned Orléans Collection after the French Revolution in 1792. The Canal Duke had no children and on his death his estate passed to descendants of his sister Louisa Egerton, who had married the father of the 1st Duke of Sutherland. The Collection, with substantial English lands owned by the Canal Duke thus passed to the 1st Duke of Sutherland’s youngest son Francis, who took the name Egerton and was created 1st Earl of Ellesmere in 1846.