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Professor Robert Langton Douglas


Robert Langton Douglas (1864-1951), known professionally as R. Langton Douglas, was a well-known British art critic, lecturer, and author, and director of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Douglas was born in Davenham, Cheshire, England(1), and educated at New College, Oxford. He was for years a University Extension lecturer, and for a time was in holy orders in the Church of England. From 1895 to 1900 he resided in Italy. While a chaplain there, he wrote a monograph on Fra Angelico in consultation with various scholars, including Bernard Berenson. He relinquished his church appointment in 1900 to become professor of Modern History at the University of Adelaide, Australia, then returned to Italy in 1901 where he wrote A History of Siena.

He lectured on art at the Royal Institution and the Society of Arts, was made dean of the faculty of arts in 1901, and contributed to many magazines and reviews. At age 50, in 1914, Douglas enlisted in the British Army for World War I, and rose from private to staff captain and a position with the War Office in London. Douglas was awarded for his bravery in WWI. In 1916 Douglas was appointed director of the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, but resigned in 1923 after a disagreement with its trustees. He settled in New York City in 1940, writing text for the Duveen art galleries.

Known chiefly as an authority on Sienese art, his most important publications are an edition of Crowe and Cavalcaselle's History of Painting in Italy (1903, et. seq.), and:

Fra Angelico (second edition, 1902)
History of Siena (1902)
La Maioliche di Siena (1904)
Illustrated Catalogue of Pictures of Siena and Objects of Art (Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1904)

A descendant of Major James Douglas of Jamaica, himself the son of Sir Archibald Douglas 'who lived at Dornock', and was probably the son of the 1st Earl of Queensberry, Robert Langton Douglas was the son Reverend Robert Douglas, sometime vicar in Sheffield, and Annie Johnson.

Sons of Robert and Margaret Cannon
Memorial stone in Laterino Municipal Cemetery, Siena.
In this land, loved by him, he wanted eternal rest.
He married, firstly, Margaret Jane Cannon, daughter of Percival Henry Cannon, in 1891. He and Margaret Jane Cannon were divorced in 1901.

He married, secondly, Gwendolen Mary Henchman, daughter of Thomas Henchman, in 1902. He and Gwendolen Mary Henchman were divorced in 1927.

He married, thirdly, Jean Stewart, daughter of John Stewart, in 1928. She was his former research assistant, and married Edward Fowles, head of Duveen's Paris branch and later heir to Duveen's galleries.

Douglas, by his first wife, Margaret Jane Cannon, was the father of Marshal of the Royal Air Force William Douglas, 1st Baron Douglas of Kirtleside.

Douglas's daughter Dr. Claire, by Jean Stewart, and the half-sister of Marshal Douglas, was the second wife of writer J.D. Salinger.

By Grace Hutchison, he had Terence Hutchison , a world-famous economist.

He died in 1951, in Fiesole, Italy.


1.  Some sources have his place of birth as Lavenham, Suffolk.  However, I have been informed that his birth certificate states Davenham, Cheshire, as does his memorial in Siena, Itlay.



Sources for this article include:
• "Robert L. Douglas, British Art Expert," New York Times obituary, 16 August 1951, p. 24

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