Sir William Stirling Maxwell

1818 - 1878

Painting of Sir William Stirling Maxwell (1818-1878)
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Painting of Sir William Stirling Maxwell (1818-1878)

Art connoisseur and collector. Born William Stirling at Kenmure Parish (Bishopbriggs), the only son of Archibald Stirling of Keir. Educated at Trinity College (Cambridge), Stirling Maxwell travelled to Italy and Spain, where he studied art. Through both his scholarly writing and collecting, he did much to bring attention to the quality and character of Spanish art. His many publications included a three-volume Annals of the Artists of Spain (1848), together with a study of Velazquez (1855).

Stirling Maxwell was elected Member of Parliament for Perthshire in 1852 and held the seat almost continuously until his death. He served as a trustee of the British Museum and the National Gallery and made a significant contribution to the universities of Scotland, serving as Rector of St Andrews (1862), Aberdeen (1870), Edinburgh (1872) and as Chancellor of Glasgow (1875).

In 1865, he inherited the baronetcy of Pollok from his uncle, together with a house and estate. At this point he added the name 'Maxwell', which had been associated with the title, to his own. He filled both Pollok and Keir Houses with his art collection and also bred cattle.

Stirling Maxwell died in Venice. He was succeeded by his son Sir John (1866 - 1956), and on John's death his grand-daughter gave the remarkable Stirling Maxwell art collection to the City of Glasgow, along with Pollok House and estate.

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