Collector's generous bequest brings important 20th century works to 15 museums in the UK

  • 15 June 2010

We have placed 27 works of art from a major bequest in 15 museums across the UK. The works of art belonged to Ann Forsdyke (1913-2007), who worked at London's Whitechapel Art Gallery during one of the most vibrant periods in its history, at Apollo magazine, as assistant to Australian artist Sidney Nolan and at the British Museum.

Ann Forsdyke bequeathed her art collection to the Art Fund in 2007 when it was valued for insurance at £516,700. Reflecting the connections made by Ann during her life, the Forsdyke Bequest contains several works by major Australian artists as well as other international and British artists supported by the Whitechapel during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Many of the artworks were acquired directly from the artists.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: "This rich and colourful collection captures a flavour of Ann Forsdyke’s tastes and influences, as well as the zeitgeist of the London art world at a time when innovative institutions such as the Whitechapel were flourishing. We are delighted to have found homes for each of these beautiful works, allowing Ann Forsdyke’s dedication to the arts to live on."

The single most important work in the collection is Arthur Boyd’s oil painting Bride Drinking from a Creek 1960, which has been bequeathed to Tate. The work was valued for insurance at £250,000 in December 2007. Painted with vigorous brushstrokes, the work focuses on an Aboriginal woman in Western bridal attire as she bends over a creek, her arms outstretched and her oversized hands grasping towards the shrubbery around her.

A painting by another major Australian artist features in Forsdyke Bequest – Man by Tree, 1960 by Roy de Maistre (1894-1968), bequeathed to Leeds City Art Gallery. Other highlights include a bronze maquette by Henry Moore (1898 –1986), allocated to the Graves Museum in Sheffield, and two paintings by British painter Prunella Clough (1919 – 1999): Landscape and Gasworks II, allocated to Portsmouth City Museum, and Monotype III, placed at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.

At the Whitechapel in the late 1950s, Ann Forsdyke assisted then director Bryan Robertson, who was influential in bringing the avant-garde, post-war generation of Australian painters to a British audience. The collection that she built up with her husband Douglas, who was a keen amateur artist, reflects the contacts she made during this imoprtant period.

A Londoner through and through, Ann Forsdyke lived in Blackheath for the greater part of her life, following her marriage to Douglas.. They had no children, and Douglas died in 1975.