Christmas 'Starr' lights up Ferens Art Gallery

  • 17 December 2009

Christmas has come early for the Ferens Art Gallery with a present for the city's permanent collection - a rare, early portrait by Hull-born artist Sidney Starr (1857- 1925).

The V&A Purchase Grant Fund provided £18,000 towards the acquisition and The Art Fund, the UK’s leading independent charity, gave £15,000. The remaining £7,000 came from the Ferens Endowment Fund which supports the purchase of both historic and contemporary art for the Gallery.

The work was painted in the 1880s in London soon after local-lad Starr had finished his training at London's reputed Slade School of Fine Art.

A contemporary of leading British painters Sickert and Steer, Starr developed a close relationship with the American painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). Whistler was to exert a huge influence on the course of late 19th century art and Starr’s full-length portrait of a young woman painted in harmonious tones, acts as an obvious homage to the master.

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "This subtle yet arresting study by Hull-born artist Sidney Starr is a real gem, offering an insight into Starr’s experimentation with light and form and the influence of Whistler. The Art Fund is pleased to have helped bring it back to the artist’s home town, for locals to enjoy."

Study will be displayed at the Gallery early in the New Year.