The Art Fund helps Chepstow Museum acquire watercolour by Romantic artist John Martin

  • 19 August 2009

Chepstow Museum has acquired an important 19th century watercolour of a view across the River Wye towards Chepstow, with the help of The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity.

View on the River Wye, Looking towards Chepstow Castle, Monmouthshire (1844), is by influential Romantic artist John Martin (1789–1854). The Art Fund, which is funded by its 80,000 members and donations, gave Chepstow Museum £11,000 towards the £35,000 artwork. The MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund gave £9,000.

The engaging work shows a sweeping view of Chepstow from across the River Wye. On the left hand side the buildings of Chepstow town are bathed in a hazy sunlight, typical of the lower river valley. Chepstow castle is on a rocky outcrop at the centre, and the brickworks, rarely included in paintings, can just been seen on the right.

John Martin, traditionally known for his oil paintings and the engravings made from his work, exhibited four watercolours depicting views of the River Wye at the Royal Academy between 1845 and 1850. Three of these watercolours are already in public collections in Canada, the US and the UK. Experts believe the fourth work is the one now acquired by Chepstow Museum.

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "This watercolour by a leading artist of the Romantic period captures the atmospheric nature of the Chepstow landscape. The work is part of the town’s artistic heritage and The Art Fund is delighted to have helped Chepstow Museum with this important acquisition."

Anne Rainsbury, curator of Chepstow Museum, said: "This is a major purchase for the Museum which it would have been impossible to contemplate without the tremendous support of the Art Fund, and not least the help and encouragement of its staff. Together with another generous grant from the Purchase Grant Fund administered by the V& A, these resources have really enabled us to make the most of the opportunity the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Collecting Cultures’ scheme has provided. With this splendid watercolour by John Martin, our aim – to acquire works of artistic quality relating to the Wye Tour – is certainly realised."

View on the River Wye is a major acquisition for Chepstow Museum as it works to expand its collection with the support of Collecting Cultures. The initiative runs until 2013 and supports acquisitions, curatorial skills, research and public activities.

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For more information contact Willow Williams at The Art Fund press office on press@artfund.org, 0207 225 4888

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 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.
4. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit www.artfund.org

The Art Fund is a Registered Charity No. 209174