Painting coup for Southampton City Art Gallery

  • 9 January 2008

A painting donated to The Art Fund under the will of Maurice Farquharson has gone on display at Southampton City Art Gallery.

The painting, by Mark Gertler and entitled Flower Piece (1937), was given to the gallery last year by The Art Fund. Maurice Farquharson, secretary of the BBC (1957-1963) died aged 94 in 1993 and under his will left three important paintings to The Art Fund on the condition that his widow Nancy, who died last year, would be able to continue to enjoy them for her lifetime.

Before he died, Farquharson was in discussions with The Art Fund and chose to donate
Flower Piece to Southampton City Art Gallery’s collection, while selecting national art galleries for the other two paintings.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund said:
“I’m delighted that The Art Fund has been able to present Gertler's Flower Piece to Southampton City Art Gallery, thanks to the generosity of Maurice Farquharson. It will make a highly appropriate addition to the gallery and is a reminder of the enormous importance of bequests in enhancing our public art collections.”

Mark Gertler is considered one of the most talented and original British painters of the early 20th century. Although born into a poor Polish-Jewish family in London’s East End, Gertler displayed a precocious artistic talent, which gained him a place at the prestigious Slade School of Art, where he studied with Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer. Influenced by French Post-Impressionism, Gertler’s scenes of Jewish life, distinctive nudes and vivid still-lifes impressed critics and fellow painters alike. His talent and good looks brought him into the Bloomsbury circle where he became involved with the painter Dora Carrington.

This elaborate and richly coloured still-life, derived from objects in his studio, was painted just two years before his untimely death in 1939. With its impasto and stress on pattern, Flower Piece is highly representative of Gertler’s late work and is a fine addition to Southampton City Art Gallery’s holdings of his art which spans his career.

Visitors can see the painting in the new collection display entitled ‘Birth of the British Modern Movement: Early Twentieth Century Painting’, which runs from 11 January to 30 March 2008.