Charity helps buy Hodgkin masterpiece for Bath

  • 27 August 2008

The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity, has helped Victoria Art Gallery in Bath acquire a painting by one of the UK's most important artists working in Britain today. Silence by Sir Howard Hodgkin is the first painting by the artist to enter the permanent collection at the Victoria Art Gallery - the very gallery where Hodgkin publically exhibited his work for the first time, as part of a group show whilst he was a student in Bath in 1952.

The Art Fund gave the gallery a grant of £62,500 towards the total £75,000 required to purchase Silence. The charity was the sole external funder that contributed to the purchase of the painting, with additional funding coming from the Friends of the Victoria Art Gallery and a local fundraising appeal.

Hodgkin has strong ties to Bath as he attended the Bath Academy of Art from 1950 – 1954, and he also went on to teach at the Academy for over ten years between 1955 and 1966. Today, Hodgkin’s studio is based in central London, where the Victoria Art Gallery was able to select the painting directly from a variety of works put forward by the artist.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “I am delighted that The Art Fund has helped to put such a fantastic example of Hodgkin’s work back on display in Bath - the very city where Hodgkin spent a great deal of his early life as both an art student and art teacher.”

Jon Benington, Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery, said: “The acquisition of Silence fills a very significant gap in the Gallery's collection, given the artist's intimate connections with Bath. Silence is not only a beautiful and lyrical painting in its own right; it also represents the culmination of a development that was nurtured in Bath fifty years earlier.”

Sir Howard Hodgkin is a major figure in British art, having served as a Trustee of the Tate and the National Gallery, London, and representing Britain at the 1984 Venice Biennale. He also won the Turner Prize in 1985, received a knighthood in 1992, and has had major retrospective exhibitions in London, New York and around the world.

Silence is typical of Hodgkin’s approach, painted on a found support which projects forwards rather than receding towards the wall at its centre, giving the work a strong physical presence. The work was completed four years ago and represents significant changes in his artistic development over the last decade, with the paint applied in thin layers with wide brushstrokes. This is in contrast to his earlier paintings which were typically characterised by dots, dashes and scribbles.


Notes to editors:

The Art Fund

- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For more information, and images of Jon Benington with the painting, contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit

Victoria Art Gallery

- Victoria Art Gallery is run by Bath & North East Somerset Council.
- For more information and/or photos of the painting contact Sue Lucy at Bath Heritage Services 01225 477232 or .

Art Fund Reference PR0051/08