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Bolton, Arthur T.

    Full Name: Bolton, Arthur T.

    Other Names:

    • Arthur Thomas Bolton

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1864

    Date Died: 1945

    Place Born: Bayswater, City of Westminster, London, England, UK

    Place Died: London, Greater London, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre) and sculpture (visual works)

    Career(s): curators


    Architectural historian; curator of Sir John Sloan’s Museum; co-founder of the Wren Society. Bolton was the son of Thomas Bolton (1819-1895), a lawyer, and Emily Wildman (1831-1906). He attended Haileybury College before entering University College, London, in 1882. In 1884 he apprenticed to the architect Sir Robert W. Edis (1839-1927), continuing to study architecture at the Architectural Association between 1885 and 1888. He formed his own private practice in 1890 designing minor works and some county home estates and gardens. In 1888 he was elected an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), becoming fellow in 1909. In 1893 Bolton was awarded the Soane medallion for a railway terminal design. Bolton began writing architectural history during this time, earning the RIBA’s silver medal for an architectural history essay, “The Influence of Literature on Architecture” in 1895. He married Harriet Barnes Fall (1863-1944) in 1897. In 1901 Bolton became the first headmaster (principal) of the day school formed for the Architectural Association. Bolton was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1914. He succeeded Walter L. Spiers (1848-1917) as curator of Sir John Soane’s Museum in 1917. He fought hard for most of the 1920’s to preserve Soane’s masterwork, the Bank of England, from demolition, ultimately the interior renovation of Herbert Baker (1862-1946) prevailed. Bolton published extebsuvely on the museum, raising interest among scholars and architectural historians. In addition, a two-volume work on the Adam brothers, The Architecture of Robert and James Adam appeared in 1922. In 1923 he joined H. Duncan Hendry (b. 1890) as co-editor of the Wren Society publications, an initiative to publish documents and drawing of Christopher Wren’s life and work. Bolton published another book on Soane, The Works of Sir John Soane, in 1924. The architect Sir Lawrence Weaver (1876-1930) invited Bolton to design an Adam room for the 1924-1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. A biography of Soane, The Portrait of Sir John Soane, was published in 1927 and Soane’s lectures to the Royal Academy on Architecture, edited by Bolton, appeared in 1929. In 1930 Bolton discovered a fifth volume of Wren drawings in All Souls College Library, Oxford, and in 1935 the first model of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Beginning in the 1930s Bolton added the work of architect Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860) to his research interests, but he was never able to publish on him. Bolton suffered a heart attack on the platform of Queensway London underground station in London in 1945 and died. He was succeeded at the Soane Museum by John Newenham Summerson.Bolton was better known for his scholarship than his architecture. His architectural commissions included Sanitas Company, Limehous, 1900 and the offices for the Hamburg-Amerika Linie, London, 1906-8, a country home in Hurtwood, Sussex and in the Usk valley, 1912-1914.

    Selected Bibliography

    The Architecture of Robert & James Adam (1758-1794). London: Country Life, 1922; edited, Engravings of St. Paul’s Cathedral and Part II of the Building Accounts for the Years 1685-95. Oxford:Wren Society/Oxford University Press, 1937; and Phillipps, Evelyn March. The Gardens of Italy. London: Country Life, 1919; Hampton Court Palace, 1689-1702: Original Wren Drawings from the Sir John Soane’s Museum and All Souls Collections. Oxford: Wren Society/Oxford University Press, 1927.


    Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l’histoire de l’art: de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, p. 511; Lever, Jill. “A. T. Bolton, Architect.” Architectural History 27 (1984): 429-442; Gray, Alexander Stuart. Edwardian Architecture: a Biographical Directory. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1986, p. 119-120; Architects’ Journal 101 (January 1945): 73; [obituaries:] Royal Institute of British Architects Journal 52 (1945): 115-116; “A. T. Bolton: an Architectural Historian.” The Times (London) January 18, 1945, p. 7.


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Bolton, Arthur T.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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