Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MS Hyde 30

Philip Metcalfe papers concerning the Sir Joshua Reynolds estate


Correspondence and accounts of Philip Metcalfe as an executor of the estate of painter Joshua Reynolds, including Reynolds's subscription book for a monument to Samuel Johnson.


  • Creation: 1791-1906
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1791-1799

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


.5 linear feet (1 box and 1 volume)

Series I, the correspondence file, consists mostly of letters received by Metcalfe as executor, and three letters in his hand. Two letters are addressed to co-executor Edmund Burke. Other notable correspondents include Charles James Fox, Edmond Malone, Reynolds's niece Mary Palmer, and Benjamin West. Most of the letters relate to funeral arrangements and estate finances. Only the letter from Fox discusses Reynolds's paintings.

Series II, the estate accounts, include detailed notes by Metcalfe on the arrangements for Reynolds's funeral, as well as financial accounts with several estate creditors and beneficiaries. A list of Reynolds paintings sold at auction is of particular interest. One of the estate account books includes a subscription list, probably begun by Reynolds in 1785, to raise a monument to Samuel Johnson.

Series III, the Metcalfe family papers, are of primarily genealogical interest. These papers have no direct connection to the Sir Joshua Reynolds estate, but help establish the collection's provenance.

Biographical / Historical

Philip Metcalfe was a distiller and a Minister of Parliament for London. He served as an executor of the estate of painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), along with Edmund Burke and Edmond Malone.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Reynolds estate correspondence
  2. II. Reynolds estate accounts
  3. III. Metcalfe family papers

Physical Location

b, Hyde Case 9

Custodial History

These papers apparently passed from Metcalfe to his niece Frederica Sophia Metcalfe Mure (1763-1834). They were the property of Geoffrey Reginald Gilchrist Mure until auctioned at Sotheby's on 1963 Dec. 17. Three letters, from Burke (lot 478), Fox (lot 480), and Malone (lot 481), were acquired by Donald and Mary Hyde at that time. Lot 484, comprising the remainder of the present collection, passed into other hands, and in 1968 July was sold by Pickering & Chatto to Mary Hyde.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2003JM-58 (part), 2003JM-98. All material from 2003JM-58 unless otherwise noted. Bequest of Mary Hyde Eccles, Four Oaks Farm, Somerville, New Jersey; received: 2004.

Processing Information

Processed by: Rick Stattler

Metcalfe, Philip, 1735-1818. Philip Metcalfe papers concerning the Sir Joshua Reynolds estate, 1791-1906: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2440