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Ernest Marsh (1863 - 1945)


Ernest Marsh (b. Kingston upon Thames, Surrey,  UK 1863 - d. 1945), son of Bedford Marsh (1832-1913), with a Quaker upbringing, attending a Friends' school, The Woodlands in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, was a pioneering collector of ceramics, particularly studio pottery in the 20th century.

Having created the Kingston upon Thames Museum and Art Gallery, he was a founding member of the Contemporary Art Society (alongside his distant cousin by marriage, Roger Fry) and on its Executive Committee from its inception in 1910 until 1944, just before his death. He was responsible for purchasing over 100 craft and fine artworks as a designated buyer for the CAS in 1922/23; 1936 and 1940, and the single administrator of its Pottery and Crafts Fund (1928-48) that he initiated, which were gifted to museums throughout the UK and abroad. He wrote in Apollo magazine on Reginald Wells in May 1925 and later, and during the War - the final article after Marsh's death, on: Bernard Leach (January), Michael Cardew (May), Charles and Nee Vyse (July), Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie and D. K. Norah Braden (December) (all 1943); William Staite Murray (April) and The Martin Brothers (October) (both 1944), and Lily Markus, Yugoslav Studio Potter, Modeller and Tapestry (1946).

Marsh had worked as the Financial Secretary the Federation of British Industries Office Manager, retiring in 1924 and was also Director of Fine Arts, New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition, Dunedin (1925-26), following in the footsteps of Sir Isidore Spielmann (1854-1925), as well as being involved in the Empire Art Loan Collections Society and the National Society of Painters. Sculptors, Engravers and Potters, both with Charles Robert Chisman (1877-1955). He lived a suburban life at his homes, Coombe Bury Cottage, Kingston Hill and Hatch Hill, Kingsley Green, Haslemere, Surrey but he had a metropolitan outlook in artistic taste.

Artworks donated and purchased by Ernest Marsh