Radev Collection Part 2 at The Victoria Art Gallery

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Victoria Art Gallery is showing a second selection from the world renowned Radev Collection, featuring many of the greats of modern art in Britain and France.

The exhibition, which runs from June 7 – August 31, follows the highly popular first selection from the collection, which attracted over 21,000 visitors to the Gallery in autumn 2012.

Portrait of Soutine, Amedeo Modiglian, drawing, 1884-1920
Portrait of Soutine, Amedeo Modiglian, drawing, 1884-1920
Mattei Radev, Maggi Hambling, 2006
Mattei Radev, Maggi Hambling, 2006

Part 2 lifts the veil on 70 unseen works by Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Alexei Jawlensky, Chaïm Soutine, Maurice Utrillo, Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Paul Nash, John Piper, Alfred Wallis and many others.

The collection is named after Mattei Radev (1927-2009), who came to Britain in 1950 as a stowaway, escaping Communist Bulgaria. He became a prominent picture framer and friend of avid art collectors Eddy Sackville-West (5th Baron Sackville) and Eardley Knollys, who knew many of the artists featured.

The collection remained strictly private for 70 years, adorning private residences, until the current owner decided to send the paintings on tour to a small group of public galleries. According to writer Julian Machin, it is “… an important collection. It is a record of three people’s tastes in changing times”.

In 1960, Radev met the novelist E.M. Forster and, despite the 46 years difference, they fell in love and embarked on what Machin calls “a secret, somewhat tortured affair”.

The collection shines a light on a remarkable 20th-century story of love, friendship and gay relationships which has an eminent supporting cast including Jean Cocteau and members of the Bloomsbury Group.

Jon Benington, who works Bath & North East Somerset Council as gallery manager, said: “This promises to be yet another box of delights, and one which I am sure will provide visitors with a fascinating insight into the lives and relationships behind this collection.

“For a collection of this quality to remain intact for so long is almost unheard of, and a wonderful tribute to the strong friendships that endured between its founders. I hope the public will take advantage of this rare treat to view many unseen works by famous artists.”

Free tours of the exhibition will take place every Thursday from 12:30 – 1.10pm. Advance booking isn’t necessary.

The Victoria Art Gallery, near Pulteney Bridge in Bath, is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sundays 1.30pm to 5pm and closed on Monday. Admission to the show is £3.50 / free to under 21s. For more details and/or images contact Sue Lucy on 01225 477232; sue_lucy@bathnes.gov.uk

Gallery website www.victoriagal.org.uk and Radev site www.theradevcollection.org