William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) was a wealthy banker, ultimately senior partner of his father’s firm, Alexander’s Discount. A noted collector and connoisseur of Japanese and Chinese art, he was a member of the Burlington Fine Arts Club and an early patron of J.M.W. Whistler. In 1873 he moved from Harringay House, Hornsey to Aubrey House, Kensington, where Whistler worked on decorative schemes for the reception rooms. Alexander also had a country house, Heathfield Park in Sussex. Most of his Dutch and Flemish pictures were bought in the 1880s and 1890s from Colnaghi.
He was among the lenders to the City of Manchester Art Gallery’s Exhibition of Chinese Applied Art, 1913, and to exhibitions in the Victoria and Albert Museum . His collection of Chinese ceramics was sold by his daughters at Sotheby’s over two days in May 1931, for a total of £15,697.15.0. A significant part of the collection was purchased by Sir Percival David. His daughters bequeathed his collection of paintings to the National Gallery, London and through the National Art-Collections Fund, to British museums and galleries.
Hobson, R.L., Rackham, B., and King, ‘Chinese Ceramics in Private Collections’, 1931, pp.1-30.
Nares, Gordon, ‘Aubrey House, Kensington, The home of the Misses Alexander’, ‘Country Life’, May 2 1957 p.872-5, and May 9 1957 p.922-5.
Sotheby & Co., 6-7 May 1931, ‘Catalogue of the very choice and well-known collection of Chinese pottery, stoneware and porcelain, the property of William Cleverly Alexander, sold by his daughters, the Misses Alexander’.
‘Who Was Who’, 1916-28, 1929, p.14.