Famous Yellow Bellies
Art collector James Ward Usher
Famous Yellowbelly - James Ward Usher
James Ward Usher was an extremely talented jeweller, but is best remembered for his passion for collecting works of art. These are now housed in Lincoln's Usher Gallery.
James Ward Usher was born on 1st January, 1845 in Lincoln. He was the eldest son of a jeweller and watchmaker, also called James Usher.
It was clear from a very early age that James had a passion for collecting. Over a period of around 30 years, he built up a fantastic collection. This included a huge variety of objects - ceramics, watches, clocks, coins, silver and miniatures as well as paintings.
Usher himself was a talented artist and would spend many hours painting pictures of all his collections for use as an illustrated inventory.
During his lifetime much of this collection was displayed in the window of the family shop on High Street. Usher was a very shrewd businessman and took over the running of the shop from his father.The business went from strength to strength.
His reputation continued to grow
James Ward Usher's reputation continued to grow and his success was further fuelled when he gained the sole rights to use the Lincoln Imp in his work. Pins, spoons and numerous other articles with the Imp on were extremely popular.
Usher received many letters requesting items featuring the Lincoln Imp. Many of these arrived at his shop despite being addressed simply to 'The man who makes Lincoln Imp jewellery' and such like. Even the Prince of Wales was spotted wearing a pin with the Imp on which had been given to him by Usher himself.
Usher was a solitary man and never married. Just two days before his death, he made out a will in which he bequeathed the whole of his collection to the City of Lincoln on the understanding that it would form the basis for a museum and art gallery that would bear his name.
He also left almost £60,000 towards the cost of the building. Land was purchased and the architect Sir Reginald Blomfield was commissioned to design the building that was to house the Usher collection.
The Usher Art Gallery was officially opened on the 25th May, 1927 by the Prince of Wales. Over the years, the collection has been added to and the gallery continues to grow.
last updated: 06/08/2008 at 17:18