Margaret Cavendish Harley, Duchess of Portland (Biographical details)

Margaret Cavendish Harley, Duchess of Portland (collector; British; Female; 1715 - 1785)

Also known as

Harley, Margaret Cavendish; Portland


Daughter and heiress of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (q.v.); 1734, married William, 2nd Duke of Portland (d.1762). She was a great collector of natural and man-made objects (in the tradition of her friend, Hans Sloane), and showed her collection at Bulstrode Park in Buckinghamshire. Her father's collection having been sold, her collection was formed by herself. Gave painted portraits of her father (Edward Harley) and grandfather (Robert Harley) to BM in 1768. Purchased the "Portland Vase" from Sir William Hamilton in 1784. Her "Portland Museum" was auctioned in 1786, after her death, and the catalogue lists over 4000 lots. The vast bulk of the lots are of minerals and natural history; there are also some prints and drawings mostly of natural history interest, including large numbers of watercolours by Ehret.


Sale Skinner 24 April 1786 and 37 following days (copy in library of P&D)
Add.Ms.25399 for Musgrave's catalogue of the prints at Bulstrode