William Young Ottley (Biographical details)

William Young Ottley (curator; publisher/printer; collector; British; Male; 1771 - 1836)

Also known as

Ottley, William Young


(1808, 1812) No.43, Frith Street, Soho, London (1818) Kensington At his death living 31 Devonshire Street W1


Artist, turned dealer and collector of Italian paintings, prints and drawings; Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, 1833-36. RA schools 1787; in Italy 1791-9, close friend of Flaxman. Author of several pioneering works on the history of art, among them:
1808-23 Italian School of Design (in three parts; prints after drawings in his collection)
1816 An Inquiry into the Origin and Early History of Engraving on Copper and Wood
1826-8 [no title: series of facsimiles of early engravings]
1826 A series of plates engraved after the paintings and sculptures of the most eminent masters of the early Florentine school
1831 Notices of Engravers and their Works (incomplete: only A - BALDUNG]
1863 (posthumous) An enquiry into the invention of printing

In addition to his drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the BM there is also an album in the Greek and Roman Antiquities Department.
Most of the drawings described by Brigstocke in 2010, which included drawings made by Ottley's assistants in Italy, John Sartain (1808-1897) and Humbert de Superville, were published in the 1826 work noted above, and were sold in the Appleby sale, Christie's South Kensington, 4 November 2010 (lots 102-106)

Henry Josi, successor to Ottley as Keeper of P&D, spent £273-8-6 at the first part posthumous sale of Ottley's print collection at Sotheby's, 17 May - 1 June 1837 (registered as 1837,0616.5 to 386). He did not buy anything in the later Ottley sales.


Sale catalogue of drawing collection at Philipe, 6 June 1814 + 15 following days (P+D 165.b.10)
Obituary Gentlemen's Magazine, August 1836, pp.210-11
J.A.Gere, 'WYO as a collector of drawings', BMQ XVIII 1953, pp.44-53
E.K.Waterhouse, 'Some notes on WYO's collection of Italian primitives', in 'Italian Studies presented to E.R.Vincent' London 1962, pp.272-80
DNB (by Nicholas Turner)
A Griffiths, 'The Department of Prints and Drawings during the First Century of the British Museum', Burlington Magazine, Vol. 136, No. 1097 (Aug., 1994), pp.539-41
Hugh Brigstocke, 'A Catalogue of Drawings after Early Florentine Paintings and Sculpture made by or for William Young Ottley in Italy', Walpole Society, LXXII, 2010