Sargent portrait of Falmouth artist gathers charity support

  • 28 January 2010

Falmouth Art Gallery is now even closer to achieving its ambitious aim of bringing home an internationally significant masterpiece by John Singer Sargent.

The gallery has been awarded a grant of £62,000 from The Art Fund, the UK’s leading independent art charity, towards the purchase of Portrait of Charles Napier Hemy, 1905 by celebrated American painter John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).

The portrait depicts the Falmouth-born artist Charles Napier Hemy (1841–1917), who was a friend of the celebrated painter Sargent. Both artist and sitter are of great significance to Falmouth, the South West and internationally. Sargent, although American, spent extended time in Europe, executing some of his best loved works on English soil. Charles Napier Hemy was Falmouth's first Royal Academician and one of the founding members of the first Falmouth Art Gallery.

Painted in Falmouth, the work is of international importance and has until now remained the property of the Hemy family. It has never before been placed on the open market, nor has it ever been publicly exhibited since its original showing at the New Gallery, London.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of The Art Fund, said: "With its pared down composition and striking facial detail, this is an arresting work, offering an intimate portrayal of one of Cornwall’s best loved artists. Both Sargent and Hemy are highly important painters and this portrait is a wonderful document of their friendship. It belongs in Cornwall, where the two artists shared time together, and The Art Fund is delighted to have helped Falmouth on its way to securing it for everyone to enjoy."

Falmouth Art Gallery has also already received pledges of conditional support mounting to a six figure sum from The Heritage Lottery Fund, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and from local supporters. The gallery is still collecting donations towards to purchase of the painting, however small.

Since it was founded in 1903, The Art Fund has helped enrich public collections with a total of 12 works by John Singer Sargent.

Ends

RELATED STORIES