Acquisitions round-up: Spring 2016

With the help of National Art Pass members and Art Fund donors, here are the works of art we have helped museums and galleries to acquire through our grants programme over the past three months.


1. Rose Wylie, PV Windows and Floorboards, 2014

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

A painting depicting four female characters standing and sitting in a white gallery space. In 2014, Wylie won the John Moores Painting Prize for the work.

2. Axel Herman Haig, The Library, Tower House, Kensington, 1880

RIBA Library, Drawings and Archives Collections, London

The watercolour painting shows the interior of the library at Tower House, the London home designed by the Pre-Raphaelite architect William Burges for himself.

3. Vera Lutter, Battersea Power Station XVIII, 2014

Museum of London

The large-scale photograph shows the roofless interior and skeletal structure of Battersea Power Station in the process of being transformed into a development of apartments, offices and shops.

4. Sir Edward Burne-Jones, a collection of letters from Edward Burne-Jones to the Gaskells, 14 loose letters, an illustrated menu and a bundle of paintbrushes, 1892-8

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

The Edward Burne-Jones met Helen Mary (May) Gaskell in 1892 and the pair began a close but platonic friendship. They corresponded up to five times a day. Burne-Jones also wrote illustrated letters to Gaskell’s young daughter, Daphne.

5. William De Morgan, charger, c.1890

Nature in Art, Gloucester

The highly decorated large flat plate dates from the Fulham Pottery period (1888-98) of William De Morgan’s celebrated career in ceramics.

6. Marjolijn Dijkman, The Grand Release, 2013

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

The Grand Release is a site-specific mobile created in response to the building and displays of Norwich Castle Museum. Each object on the mobile is a reference to a display structure somewhere in the museum.

7. FE McWilliam, Study for Princess Macha III, 1957

FE McWilliam Gallery & Studio, Banbridge, Northern Ireland

The study is a maquette for McWilliam’s monumental sculpture of Princess Macha. Macha is a figure in Irish mythology who reputedly founded the first infirmary in the country in 300BC.

8. Frank Holl, Study for Deserted – The Foundling, 1874

Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate

Frank Holl’s moving depiction of a foundling being carried by a policeman has its origins in a true story. The artist was walking around the east London docks one day when he came across a similar scene and used it as inspiration for this oil sketch.

9. Unknown artist, medieval gold ring, 1200-50

Manx Museum, Douglas

The delicately decorated gold ring was unearthed in 2011 close to a former bishop’s dwelling in the north of the Isle of Man. Its design and location suggest it belonged to a high-ranking medieval church official.

10. Unknown artist, medieval silver seal matrix, 1315-30

Manx Museum, Douglas

This medieval silver seal matrix was unearthed near the gold ring (mentioned above). Both items have ecclesiastical associations, suggesting they may have belonged to the Bishop of Sodor, the most senior churchman of the island during the Middle Ages. The seal and ring may have been buried to hide them from raiders during the turbulent years of the 14th century.

11. William John Bankes, two wings for an altarpiece, 1804

Kingston Lacy House, Dorset

Labelled by his friend Byron as ‘the father of all mischief’, Bankes was a collector, connoisseur, Member of Parliament and an explorer. He created these two neo-Gothic paintings as part of a decorative scheme for his undergraduate lodgings at Trinity College, Cambridge.

12. Charles Rennie Mackintosh, set of eight architectural drawings for Auchinibert, Killearn, 1906

Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow

Sets of architectural drawings in Mackintosh’s own hand are extremely rare, with sets for only two other buildings known to have survived. These drawings are of Auchinibert, a large house in Stirlingshire which was designed by Mackintosh.

13. Nuns at the Medingen Convent, prayerbook from Medingen Convent, c.1485

Bodleian Library, Oxford

This precious prayerbook gives rare insight into the life of a nun at the convent of Medingen, northern Germany. At Medingen, individual nuns are thought to have been responsible for the production of their own manuscripts, including the choice of hymns and meditations as well as the decoration of the book.

14. Robert Anderson, silver sauceboat, c.1780

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

This elegant Georgian sauceboat is a rare example of hollowware made by the Inverness goldsmith Robert Anderson and stamped with his mark.

15. Unknown artist, Orders of Angels: The Virtues and Principalities, late 15th century

Stained Glass Museum, Ely

This pair of English stained-glass panels depict two orders of angels from the nine orders popularly represented in medieval art and literature.

16. Shirley Craven, Althea McNish and unknown designer, 1) Kaplan, 2) Painted Desert and 3) CP 6003, printed furnishing fabric, 1958-62

Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston

These three bolts of fabric illustrate the innovative work in British textile designs of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

17. Unknown artist, Portrait of ‘Little’ Sir John Byron, 1599

Newstead Abbey Historic House and Gardens, Nottingham

The portrait depicts Lord Byron’s ancestor, Little Sir John Byron (who was so called because of his diminutive stature). Sir John worked mainly on estate and family matters, and was knighted by Elizabeth I. This painting shows him with the long beard for which he became famous.

18. Wang Ping, blessings vase and moss-green large bowl, 2013

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

These two objects have been acquired following research in Jingdezhen, China, made possible by a Jonathan Ruffer grant. Wang Ping is one of a minority of potters to develop their practice independently, as opposed to studying at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute.

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