Looks like Bath’s Holburne Museum had just acquired a new ‘pin-up’ boy to help them celebrate their centenary.
Seems they’ve successfully raised the £450,000 needed for the acquisition of an oil sketch by Sir Thomas Lawrence and for the delivery of an innovative new learning programme. It’s been achieved in record time with grants and a public appeal.
Lawrence’s preparatory oil sketch of Arthur Atherley for one of his most celebrated portraits has never before been displayed in a public museum. The work has now found a permanent home in the Holburne’s display of the British Golden Age, which previously lacked a painting by Lawrence.
I asked the Holbrune’s Director, Jennifer Scott, why it was so important that the museum secured this work.
Thomas Lawrence lived and worked in Bath during his teens, from 1780 to 1787. Five years after leaving Bath he exhibited a three-quarter length portrait of Arthur Atherley at the Royal Academy. This is Lawrence’s exquisite sketch from life for that portrait, now in the Los Angeles County Museum and one of the artist’s best-known works.
As you have just heard, the artist was just three years older than his 19-year-old sitter, who had recently left Eton College.
The portrait hangs beautifully in the Holburne’s Brownsword Picture Gallery, which is dedicated to the greatest British portraitists of the eighteenth century, particularly those who lived and worked in Bath, including Thomas Gainsborough and Joseph Wright of Derby.
The learning programme ‘A New Portrait for Bath’ will engage with schools, the elderly and the visually impaired, and the oil sketch will inform new interpretation around the techniques and processes of making a portrait.
The work was acquired with support from the Art Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, along with members of the public.
Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: ‘We are so pleased to support the acquisition of this important portrait, an excellent addition to the Museum’s fine collection of 18th-century art. Heartfelt thanks to everyone else who helped through the public appeal to make this happen – a sign of widespread support for the Holburne’s admirable collecting ambitions.’
Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: ‘Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support the Holburne to add this exciting addition to their collection. Lawrence is one of the West Country’s most renowned artists and the gallery is a fitting spot for people to be able to see this piece for the first time.’
Julia Brettell, National Programmes Manager at the Victoria and Albert Museum said, ‘The ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund was pleased to be able to support the acquisition of this wonderful portrait; an ambitious and highly appropriate addition to the Holburne’s collections.’
Bath MP Ben Howlett said of the news: ‘I am delighted that the Holburne’s celebrations marking 100 Years Here have got off to such an excellent start. I am particularly pleased to see the Lawrence sketch incorporated into ‘A New Portrait for Bath’ to help engagement with the next generation to ensure our arts are preserved and better understood.’
Arthur Atherley by Sir Thomas Lawrence will be on display in the Brownsword Picture Gallery, the Holburne Museum, from Thursday 28 January.
For your information:
The Holburne Museum houses an important art collection formed by Sir William Holburne in the early nineteenth century, which includes paintings, silver, sculpture, furniture and porcelain of national and international significance. Artists in the collection include Gainsborough, Guardi, Stubbs, Ramsay and Zoffany.
This year the Holburne celebrates 100 Years in its current location with a Major Exhibition Centenary Programme.
Three new exhibitions for 2016: Impressionism: Capturing Life (13 February – 5 June 2016), Stubbs and the Wild (25 June – 2 October 2016) and Silver: Light and Shade (22 October 2016 – 22 January 2017)
Artist commissions for Djordje Ozbolt and Linda Brothwell
Special collection displays and public events
The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB Open daily, free admission 10am to 5pm (11am to 5pm Sundays and Bank Holidays) Tel: 01225 388569 | email: email@example.com | www.holburne.org
In Partnership with Bath Spa University