In this talk Wallace Collection curator Suzanne Higgott discusses the life and legacy of Lady Wallace, the shy, enigmatic French woman who bequeathed the Wallace Collection to the nation. Born in Paris in 1819 to unmarried parents in humble circumstances, she was named Julie. At twenty-one Julie had a son with Richard Wallace, whom she was not to marry until 1871, more than thirty years later. Following their marriage and move to England, Julie spent the last twenty-five years of her life at Hertford House, now home to the Wallace Collection. Projected to prominence through Sir Richard’s philanthropy, she spoke little English and was ill-suited to British high society. Recent research has shed new light on Lady Wallace’s remarkable life and fluctuating posthumous reputation.
Following Sir Richard Wallace’s death in 1890, Lady Wallace became the owner of the Wallace Estate, centred on Lisburn, Ireland.