Aeneas John Lindsay McDonnell, generally known as John McDonnell or AJL McDonnell, was the London representative for the Felton Bequest for some years after the War, from 1947 to his death in 1964.
The Felton Bequest was established in the early years of the 20th Century by Alfred Felton “to support culture and the community”, with half the funding supporting charities in the State of Victoria in Australia. The initial capital was the enormous sum of £378,000, which meant that its purchasing power in the 20th C art world has been prodigious. McDonnell worked closely with Sir Kenneth (later Lord) Clark to buy sensational works of art in the London market. These works, which included Old Masters and modern works, then passed to the National Gallery of Victoria.
As Lieutenant-Colonel AJL McDonnell, he was one of the ‘Monuments Men’ who worked to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. In the last year of the war, they tracked, located and subsequently returned more than five million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. Their contribution was dramatised in the film ‘The Monuments Men’, starring George Clooney.
I have been gathering material about McDonnell to write a study of him. His art market activities are complementary to my studies of that market in my first book. I shall very much welcome contact from those with an interest in him