In the last decade of his life the Duke of Bridgewater (1736-1803), who had amassed enormous wealth from developing canals in the north-west of England, became a major collector of continental Old Master paintings, thereby founding what was to become the greatest private art collection in nineteenth-century London. His most spectacular purchase was the acquisition in 1798 of sixty-four Italian and French pictures, previously in the Orleans collection in Paris, many of them of outstanding quality. But more than twice this number in his collection were Dutch, including some thirty identified here as bought at the Gildemeester sale in Amsterdam in 1800. The present article traces the development of the Bridgewater collection, from early commissions by the Duke on his Grand Tour of 1753-5 to his late spending spree of the 1790s. It also considers the installation of his growing collection at his London home of Cleveland House, St James's.