John Savile, first Baron Savile of Rufford, was appointed British minister at Rome in 1883. While in this role he initiated excavations at Civita Lavinia that uncovered objects now housed in the Savile Gallery, at the Nottingham Castle Museum, and the British Museum.
His 47 year career in the foreign service ended in 1888. Following his retirement, he obtained a Tory Peerage as Baron Savile of Rufford in Nottinghamshire, eventually succeeding to the Rufford Abbey estate. As a trustee of the National Gallery since 1883, he was able to create a picture collection that reflected his love and knowledge of fine art.