In his letters from the Cosmopolitan Hospital in Venice in December 1911, Maurice Brazil Prendergast mentioned Lady Layard several times. While he was recuperating from his prostrate operation, she supplied him with a wealth of art books from her own library (this was noted in the essay “Personal Vision: Myth, Fantasy, and the Idyll” in the book Maurice Prendergast by Nancy Mowll Mathews, 1990). Lady Layard was the widow of Sir Austen Henry Layard, author and excavator of Nineveh. This is the same excavator who donated the Assyrian reliefs to the museum (beloved by college president Adam Falk), “Guardian Spirit, from the Palace at Nimrud of Ashur-nasir-pal” (1851.1) and “Winged Guardian Spirit, from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud, near Nineveh” (1851.2).
Here is the envelope to a letter written from Maurice Brazil Prendergast to Charles Prendergast from Venice on November, 26, 1911 (A.1.68).
Here is a page of the same letter where Maurice mentions going over Lady Layard’s house to take a look at her collection.
Here is a bust of Lady Layard at the British Museum with some extra information about her life. Stay tuned to find what other connections between objects in the museum we may discover!