Georgian watercolour acquired for Buckinghamshire with Art Fund help

  • 24 June 2009

Buckinghamshire County Museum recently acquired their first watercolour by the famous Regency artist Thomas Rowlandson. The Beauties of Stowe: Bacchantes dancing and lounging by the Temple of Ancient Virtue, c1804-5 was purchased from a London Art dealer for £22,500, with generous assistance from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund (£10,000), The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity, (£5000), and the Patrons of Buckinghamshire County Museum (£4,500).


Buckinghamshire County Museum recently acquired their first watercolour by the famous Regency artist Thomas Rowlandson. The Beauties of Stowe: Bacchantes dancing and lounging by the Temple of Ancient Virtue, c1804-5 was purchased from a London Art dealer for £22,500, with generous assistance from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund (£10,000), The Art Fund, the UK’s leading independent art charity, (£5000), and the Patrons of Buckinghamshire County Museum (£4,500).

The name Thomas Rowlandson is synonymous with the popular vision of late Georgian Britain. Born in London around 1756, he trained at the Royal Academy Schools where he swiftly developed a talent for draughtsmanship and caricatures. In addition to his political and social caricatures he developed elaborate narratives, filled with amusing incidents and combining caricature with an elegant figure style. He travelled extensively around the country on sketching tours and this watercolour stems from a visit to Stowe, a popular tourist destination in Georgian times.

Rowlandson’s work revels in the comedy of everyday life, emphasising the ridiculous and the ribald and focusing on human appetite for eating, drinking and amorous relationships. The Beauties of Stowe is a marvellous example of his work that delights in linking the idea of ‘ancient virtue’ as practised by the Ancient Greeks with scantily clad bacchantes in classical dress, set in a landscape where even the temple on the grassy mound has a sensual quality.

The Temple of Ancient Virtue still stands as a significant Buckinghamshire landmark at Stowe. Designed by William Kent it was erected in 1734 for Lord Cobham as part of one of the greatest landscaping schemes of the 18th century. The Beauties of Stowe joins an important collection of material at the Museum related to Stowe including works by John Piper, Jean Claude Nattes and Jacques Rigaud. 

Mel Czapski, Keeper of Art at Buckinghamshire County Museum, said: "We are delighted to acquire our first work by Thomas Rowlandson. It greatly enhances our Stowe collections and we appreciate the generosity of those who made this acquisition possible."

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "This playful watercolour is a great example of Thomas Rowlandson’s mischievous sense of humour as well as a tribute to an important local landmark. The Art Fund is very pleased to play a part in adding to the Museum’s collection of work by artists connected to Stowe."

The watercolour will be on display in the Museum’s Treasures of Bucks Gallery from the 4th July. 

Entrance to the Museum is free and the Museum is open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm and on Sundays 2-5pm.

Ends


Notes to Editors:

Further information on Thomas Rowlandson is available on request.
A higher resolution image of the painting is available on request.


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 Titian’s Diana and Actaeon for the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London in February 2009 with a grant of £1 million; helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; 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 contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit www.artfund.org.

MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund
The MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund, established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 as part of its nationwide work. The annual grants budget, currently £900,000 is provided by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). The fund supports the acquisition of objects relating to the arts, literature and history by regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales. Each year it considers some 300 applications and in 2008-9 awarded grants to 93 organisations, enabling acquisitions of almost £3.5 million to go ahead. Visit the website at  www.vam.ac.uk/purchasegrantfund