Unique painting goes to Penzance thanks to a £42,000 grant from The Art Fund

  • 20 May 2008

The Art Fund announces today the acquisition of the painting 'Höns bland höstackar' (Chickens among haystacks) (c.1888) by Helene Schjerfbeck for Penlee House Gallery and Museum. The painting was bought at auction at Christies in June 2007 for £72,000, with a £42,000 grant from The Art Fund.

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946), one of the most eminent figures of Finnish 19th century art was one of the very early foreign visitors to St Ives. She travelled to Cornwall twice in the late 1880s, at the invitation of the locally-based painter Adrian Stokes RA. During her visits, she produced some of her finest work including ‘Höns bland höstackar’, which is thought to have been completed in 1888. The views of the Cornish landscape helped her to rediscover the style of her earlier paintings and freedom of artistic expression.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “‘Höns bland höstackar’ is a living testimony of West Cornwall’s social history and the only example of Schjerfbeck’s work in the UK’s public collections. It certainly belongs to Penzance’s Penlee House and I am very pleased The Art Fund has been able to save this painting.’’

Alison Bevan, Director of Penlee House said: “Penlee House’s collection aims to represent the astonishingly rich art history of West Cornwall. This acquisition not only filled a gap in our own fine art collection, but also in public holdings nationally, and is an extremely significant addition to our holdings. We are extremely grateful to The Art Fund for its generosity and continuous support”.

The painting will be on display from 24 May to 21 September at Tate St Ives as part of the ‘Dawn of a Colony: St Ives 1811-1888’ exhibition after which it will return to Penlee House’s permanent collection. It is the 12th grant made to Penlee House in 20 years bringing the charity’s total grants to the museum to almost £190,000.


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Notes to editors:

1. The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art.
2. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections.
3. Recent achievements include: helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK.
4. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or press@artfund.org or please visit www.artfund.org