George William Reid was curator of the Print Room in the British Museum. He was the son of the draughtsman and teacher of drawing George Reid, who later became an attendant at the Print Room.
Reid trained as an artist but in 1842 became an attendant in the department of prints and drawings in the British Museum. He was promoted to an assistant in 1865 and the following year to keeper after the death of William Hookham Carpenter. Under his curatorship the museum acquired a number of important additions to its collections including the Henderson bequest of watercolour drawings, the Crace collection of maps, the Hawkins collection of satirical prints, the Slade bequest of engravings and the Anderson collection of Japanese and Chinese drawings.
F. G. Stephens' four volumed Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires (1870-83) was prepared under Reid's direction, as were Dr W. H. Willshire's Descriptive Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards (1876) and his two volumed Descriptive Catalogue of Early Prints (1879-83). Reid himself wrote numerous catalogues including The Works of George Cruikshank (1871), The Salamanca Collection of Prints from Nielli (1869), Albert Dürer and Lucas Van Leyden (1869), Titian Portraits (1871) and Gems of Dutch Art (1872).
Reid was among those summoned to court at the time of the Whistler v. Ruskin trial in November 1878 in order to testify that JW's etchings were considered worth collecting at the British Museum (#11945, #12003).
Lee, Sidney (ed.), Dictionary of National Biography, 58 vols, London, 1896; Lugt, Frits, Les marques de collections de dessins et d'estampes: marques estampillèes et écrites de collections particulières et publiques; marques de marchands, de monteurs et d'imprimeurs; etc..., Amsterdam, 1921, no. 1210.