Talbot Hughes was an English painter (of genre, history, and landscape), a collector of historical costumes and miniature portraits, and a fine art and costume design writer. He collected over 750 historical costumes and accessories as studio props from 1450 through the 1870s.
He donated several items to the Victoria and Albert Museum, including an 1820s frock coat, in 1910. Hughes’s rest of the collection was put up for sale in 1913. He received an offer of £5,000 from a department store in America that wished to donate all of it to the Metropolitan Museum. Hughes instead chose to sell the collection to Harrods in London for £2,500. It was displayed for three weeks to promote the store’s collection of women’s contemporary fashions. During this time, Harrods donated its collection to the Victoria & Albert Museum due to negotiations by Cecil Harcourt Smith, then Director of the V&A. The collection is still on display at the V&A today. The Museum continued to receive Talbot Hughes’ donations until 1931.