The Sir Richard Wallace Exhibition: the life and legacy of a philanthropist, art collector and landlord
Celebrating the bicentenary of the birth of Sir Richard Wallace (1818-90), the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum’s major new exhibition (opening 21 May 2018) tells the story of the famed philanthropist, art collector and landlord, and his lasting legacy in Lisburn. Through photographs, prints, original artefacts, 3D-printed reproductions, dioramas, and objects from Castle House – which have never been publicly displayed – this exhibition documents the life of Sir Richard, his gifts to the town and Lisburn’s connection to the ‘greatest ever single’ bequest of art to a nation: the Wallace Collection.
Highlights of ‘The Sir Richard Wallace Exhibition’ include:
- The rich history of the Seymour-Conway family as Lisburn’s landlords
- Dioramas of the Hertford Estate in the 18th century, and Sir Richard’s first visit to the estate
- 3D-printed Wallace Fountains
- Artefacts gifted by Sir Richard Wallace
- Explore Wallace’s legacies in Lisburn, from Union Bridge to Wallace Park, the Market House and Assembly Room to the magnificent Court House (demolished 1971)
- Rare sculptures and objects from Castle House, Sir Richard’s Lisburn residence
Opening on 21 May 2018, the exhibition can be viewed Monday to Saturday, 9.30-5pm. Free entry. For more information see lisburnmuseum.com/Wallace
About Sir Richard Wallace
Sir Richard Wallace (1818-90) was born in England but raised in Paris, he was brought up under the care of the 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800-70), who was likely his father. The 4th Marquess was once described as the ‘greatest art collector in Europe’, and on his death Wallace inherited his collection, vast wealth and extensive estate in Ireland. He quickly found use for his new-found wealth. Besieged in Paris during the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71), Wallace looked after the needy in the city, and in recognition of his benevolence he was awarded the Légion d’honneur, and created a Baronet by Queen Victoria (1871). Before leaving Paris he presented the city with 50 cast-iron fountains, known as ‘Les Wallaces’, which provided free clean drinking water to the public. Wallace also presented five of the fountains to Lisburn, the town at the heart of his Irish Estate.
In 1873 he made his first visit to Lisburn. His reputation as a philanthropist brought a sense of optimism to the tenants on the estate, who had suffered years of frustration at the hands of the absentee 3rd and 4th Marquesses. Wallace did not disappoint, and as landlord he gifted grants of land to churches and schools, built a number of iconic buildings and gave generously to the town, including the grant of the People’s Park (re-named Wallace Park in his honour). Wallace even fulfilled the 4th Marquess’ promise to build a house in Lisburn. Completed in 1880, Castle House stands today opposite Castle Gardens, where a monument to Sir Richard was erected in 1892 by the people of Lisburn in ‘grateful recognition of his generous interest in the prosperity of the town’.
Sir Richard Wallace was famed philanthropist, art collector and landlord, and left a rich legacy in Lisburn, his former estate. Today his name is most closely associated with what is described as the ‘greatest ever single’ bequest of art to a nation. On her death Lady Wallace (1819-97) left Sir Richard’s vast art collection to the British public, styled ‘the Wallace Collection’, it is on permanent display to the public in Hertford House, London.