This summer it has been a pleasure to work with the staff of the Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum as I complete my Master’s Degree in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. The museum’s collections are like many others in England—well stored, but under-researched. It has been fun to sort out a box of 19th century prints, or help choose items for an exhibit, but most of my work has focused on one collection in particular.
Randolph Caldecott is usually associated with Manchester and London, both cities where he lived as an adult. Memories from Breton, northern Italy, and his boyhood home in Chester populate his work. Yet the collection at Worcester is here with good reason. The Randolph Caldecott Collection at the Museum was sold to the museum by the Anthony family in the late 1970s. The Anthonys are related to Caldecott through the marriage of his sister, Sophia, to John Lilley Anthony, a well-regarded Worcester businessman.
When the collection came to the museum, we received more than you usually would from a fan or a collector. Personal items that make Caldecott’s connection to his family and to Worcester more vibrant enhance the sketches and books that one would expect to find. All periods of his work are represented, from his sketches as a magazine contributor to his famous Shilling books. Additionally, some rare items are included, such as a low relief sculpture, oil paintings, and a copy of The Owls of Olynn Belfry, one of Caldecott’s harder to find works. Works by Caldecott’s family are included also.
The museum has not found an opportunity to plan an exhibit of the collection in the near future, but researchers of children’s or Victorian literature, travelogues or illustration will be happy to know there is one more resource for their research. Interested groups or researchers can contact the museum to arrange an appointment to view items.