IN A rambling old country-like house set in its ample garden in a Notting Hill Gate cul-de-sac, in west London, Louie Boutroy presided successively over the Rischgitz and Mansell Collections, which were mostly catalogued in her own head. For nearly 60 years these picture libraries have proved invaluable to writers, editors and documentary film-makers alike. Because it was regarded as of national importance, the Rischgitz Collection's hundreds of irreplaceable slides were rescued from fire when, during the Second World War, the house in Linden Gardens received a parcel of bombs which even set the trees alight.
The Rischgitz Collection had started as a hobby of Louie Boutroy's maternal uncle, Augustus Rischgitz, who collected photographs of people and events that particularly interested him. He was joined in his pursuit by his two nieces, of whom Louie was one, who gradually transformed this hobby into their profession, when it was known as the Rischgitz International Art Supply Agency.
When Boutroy later lost Alice, her sister, the library had become too unwieldy for her to manage singlehanded, so she sold the Rischgitz Collection to Picture Post, agreeing to accompany it as supervisor. But too accustomed to being her 'own boss', she subsequently resigned and seized the opportunity of starting up again, by buying the Mansell Collection, a picture library which she augmented considerably with books, illustrations and other photograph collections and ran with vigour and enthusiasm at the house in Linden Gardens until her late eighties. The library continues under her unofficial adopted son and devoted assistant, George Anderson.
Throughout her long life, Boutroy applied herself to her overwhelming interest with a delightful unconcern as to its financial rewards. She had an almost childlike enjoyment of the simpler things of life and an unfailing loyalty to her circle of friend. Her fading from life was gradual - she died a few days before her 90th birthday - watched over by George Anderson with selfless devotion.
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