An avid collector on a vast scale, Merton Russell-Cotes (1835-1921), settled in Bournemouth in 1876 as proprietor of the Royal Bath Hotel, with the express purpose of forming 'an art gallery eventually for the art treasures, of which I had a large collection, and especially my loan collection consisting of 250 pictures.' Containing the widely varied collections he amassed during his travels worldwide, it soon became 'the acknowledged show place of Bournemouth - a museum of art treasures - its corridors - hung with the choicest works of such artists as Turner, Corot, Tadema, Sidney Cooper, Long, Linnell, Landseer' and so forth. In 1894 he built, 'as a birthday gift for his wife', East Cliff Hall, in the grounds of the Hotel, and in 1907 they offered 'the house and certain fine art treasures to the town', henceforth to be known as the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum. He was knighted in 1909.
Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted (1853-1927), amassed a fortune as the founder, and later chairman, of the Shell Transport and Trading Company. He was elected Sheriff of London, 1894-95, and became Lord Mayor in 1902-03. As another picture collector on the grand scale, best known for a number of spectacular purchases many of which are at Upton House, Warwickshire, his collection at The Mote, near Maidstone, included a number of works by Cooper purchased between 1902 and 1905. At the disposal of the estate after his death, his sale in these Rooms also included Be it Ever so Humber, there's no Place like Home Cooper's Royal Academy exhibit of 1893, no.857.
The date of the picture reflects a particularly significant year in the artist's life. After a long wait of twenty-two years since his election as Associate of the Royal Academy, Cooper attained full membership as Academician in June 1867. Having earned a not inconsiderable fortune as a result of the enduring popularity of his cattle and sheep productions, enabling him to purchase property in London and Canterbury, 1867 was also the year that he founded The Sidney Cooper Gallery of Art, on the site of his birthplace, which he intended as a school for young aspiring artists in his native city.
We are grateful to Kenneth Westwood for preparing this entry.