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Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882), Civil servant

Sitter in 4 portraits
At fifteen he began work at the Public Record Office. He became assistant keeper and helped reform the organisation and preservation of the British national archives. Interested in industrial design, he designed and produced a number of items under the pseudonym Felix Summerly, including a prize-winning teapot made by Minton. In 1848, Cole proposed a Great Exhibition. It opened in 1851 and was a resounding triumph, featuring 'art applied to industry'. In 1852, the Board of Trade set up a Department of Practical Art with Cole as secretary; in this capacity he formed the nucleus of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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