The Monuments Men

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Hugh Murray Gladwin Baillie ( 1916-1982 )

A respected archivist, antiquary and scholar of English history, Hugh Murray Gladwin Baillie greatly expanded research on European court etiquette and the planning of Baroque state apartments. His research on the British orders of knighthood is still regarded today as the foremost in its subject.

Born in 1916, Baillie won a scholarship to Oxford at the young age of seventeen. Upon his graduation from Oxford, he began a promising career as a Diplomatic Services Officer but was soon diverted by enlistment in the British Army. His proficiency in French and German aptly suited him for service in the Intelligence Corps as an interrogator. At war’s end, he was transferred to service as a Monuments Officer for the North Rhine region of Germany. He was able to apply his vast historical knowledge to the rescue and recovery of not only displaced art but the very same buildings about which he was so well versed. It is said that he saved the life of his German opposite, Franz Graf Wolff-Metternich, who had taken ill with pneumonia while being stranded without security clearance. During the course of his service with the British Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, he was promoted to Deputy Chief of the section’s North Rhine-Westphalia Branch.

After returning home, Baillie joined the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts in 1955. As an Assistant Registrar and later as record-keeper of the Manorial and Tithe Documents, he established himself as an authority on English historical records. His 1961-1965 research on the eighteenth-century orders of knighthood was sponsored by the Heraldry Society, while his landmark paper Etiquette and state planning in Baroque Palaces (1967) was read before the Society of Antiquaries of London. His commanding knowledge of British orders and decorations also established him as a trusted source for the identification of painted portraits.

After thirty-three years of service at the Royal Commission including a promotion to Assistant Secretary in April 1965, Baillie retired in 1979. For his pioneering efforts in his fields of research, Baillie was appointed a Member of the British Empire and elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He died suddenly in London in 1982.