The Art Fund bequeaths important painting to Tate

  • 4 September 2008

In a coup for the Tate Gallery, a painting entitled The Woolshop by Sir Stanley Spencer has been acquired as part of a bequest from Maurice Farquharson. The gallery was given the work by The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity, who had received it under the will of Farquharson. This important modern British painting will be displayed as part of the Tate Gallery's permanent collection.

Maurice Farquharson, who was 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. Farquharson came to The Art Fund during his life time to discuss the future placement of the works, and The Art Fund was then able to advise on possible suitable homes for the three paintings. He chose to donate his paintings to the nation which also included Still Life with Aspidistra to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s collection, and Flower Piece for Southampton City Art Gallery, both painted by Mark Gertler.

Farquharson was keen for the nation to benefit from his collection but equally keen to know that the works would be properly cared for after his death. He left them to The Art Fund for passing on to his chosen galleries, as the terms and conditions imposed on the galleries by The Art Fund gave him the comfort he needed that the works would be properly cared for in perpetuity.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “I’m delighted that The Art Fund has been able to present The Woolshop by Sir Stanley Spencer to the Tate Gallery, thanks to the generosity of the late Maurice Farquharson, a devoted supporter of The Art Fund. 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.”

Sir Stanley Spencer is often considered the leading painter of the two great wars. His works are primarily associated with religious imagery and is predominantly Surreal in style. Stanley was a pupil at the Slade School of Art at the age of 17 years old. He died in 1959, and during his lifetime he was awarded the CBE and knighted, and had been elected to the Royal Academy


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 visit

The Art Fund Reference PR057.08