Acquisitions round-up: Spring 2017

  • Published 2 March 2017

Find out which works of art we've helped museums and galleries to acquire in the last three months, thanks to National Art Pass members and Art Fund donors.

Alexander Cumming, Barograph clock, 1766 © Science Museum, London

Alexander Cumming, Barograph clock, 1766


© Science Museum, London

1. Alexander Cumming, Barograph clock, 1766

The Science Museum, London

The history of this remarkable clock makes it a timepiece of national importance. It was designed and owned by noted clockmaker Alexander Cumming and features a rare mechanism for recording air pressure. The Science Museum holds several other items that relate to Cumming, and, after five decades on long-term loan, this clock now joins them in the permanent collection as a handsome record of 18th-century scientific progress and experimentation.

2. Joris Hoefnagel, Nonsuch Palace from the South, 1568

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This exquisite watercolour represents the most faithful of only six surviving depictions of Nonsuch palace, commissioned by Henry VIII in 1538. Its lavish stucco reliefs and carved slate decoration made the palace one of the most important buildings of the English Renaissance. The painting was subject to a temporary export ban last year, and is now part of the National Collection of British Miniatures and Watercolours at the V&A.

3. Richard Wright, Untitled installation, 2016

Royal Museums Greenwich, London

Turner Prize-winning artist Richard Wright’s installation at the Queen’s House, Greenwich, is a contemporary replacement for the Baroque ceiling paintings which once graced the Great Hall of this historic building.

4. Gabriel Orozco, The Orozco Garden, 2016

South London Gallery

This garden at the South London Gallery is both a new public space and permanent outdoor work of art. The Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco conceived the work as a secret garden, a rambling and overgrown ‘urban ruin’ to be discovered and explored by the gallery’s visitors.

5. Toyen, The Message of the Forest, 1936

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

This dark, unsettling painting is one of the key works of the Czech Surrealist movement. It shows a nightmarish woodland scene in which a blue owl-like creature holds the severed head of a girl in its claws. It is the fourth and largest work in Toyen’s series of paintings on a similar theme, one which embodies typical Surrealist concerns such as irrationality, the unconscious and the power of nature over the human world.

6. Joseph Wright of Derby, Portrait of John Stafford / Portrait of Barbara Tatton, 1769

Macclesfield Silk Museum

Wright painted these portraits during his years in Liverpool, from 1768 to 1771. They depict two related residents of Macclesfield, John Stafford and Barbara Tatton. Stafford (d1779) was burgess and town clerk of Macclesfield and agent to the Earl of Derby. His family were prominent figures in the silk industry and this portrait shows him wearing a colourful jacket and waistcoat, complete with silk-covered Macclesfield buttons. Barbara Tatton (1706-76) was the sister of Stafford’s wife Lucy. She was born in Macclesfield, and Wright depicts her wearing the luxurious fur-trimmed silks.

7. Steve McQueen, Ashes, 2002-15

The Whitworth

This video installation highlights the violence and wasteful deaths of many young Caribbean men by telling the story of a boy called Ashes.

8. Kenneth Halliwell, Collage screen, 1966

Islington Museum

This collage screen was made by the actor and artist Kenneth Halliwell for the literary agent Peggy Ramsey. Ramsey was the agent of Halliwell’s partner, the playwright Joe Orton.

9. Charles Robert Ashbee, Firescreen, 1905

Court Barn Museum

Arts and Crafts designer Charles Robert Ashbee set up the Guild and School of Handicraft in London in 1888. His vision was to teach craft skills and make products that reflected his philosophy of honest, functional design. In 1902 the Guild moved to Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, where this firescreen was made to Ashbee’s design.

10. Conrad Atkinson, Wordsworth’s Suit and Socks, 2003 / Sellafield happens… no danger to the public… lessons have been learned, 2000 / Two ceramic landmines, 1996

Nottingham City Museums and Galleries

Conrad Atkinson's provocative and political work is often concerned with the landscape, culture and hardships of the local people. These three works have been chosen by Nottingham Museums and Galleries to reflect his diverse practice and to complement its existing collections.

11. Unknown maker, Medieval silver gilt ring, c476AD-1500

ANGUSalive Museums, Brechin

This silver gilt ring, discovered in the county of Angus, Scotland, was made using the lost-wax method and decorated with chiseled and engraved patterns. The bezel shows a pair of clasped hands indicating that the ring was probably given as a symbol of betrothal or friendship.

12. Unknown maker, Medieval gold ring / Medieval seal matrix, c476AD-1500

ANGUSalive Museums, Brechin

The gold ring, discovered in the county of Angus, Scotland, is plain on the outside and engraved on the inside with five letters interspersed with six symbols. The letters spell out YHINR, which may represent the initials of the donor and recipient. The symbols include a cross and flowers suggesting the ring was given as a romantic gift. The seal matrix features a hunting horn and lettering and may have belonged to a forester.

13. Unknown maker, James I silver chalice and paten, 1614-15

Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery

This sterling-silver communion plate is from the church of St Michael in the village of Llanfihangel Nant Brân, Powys. The chalice is on a domed foot and is engraved with the maker’s mark IR. A hallmark reveals that the object passed through the London Assay Office in Goldsmiths’ Hall in 1614.

14. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Trauernde am Strand (Women in mourning on the shore), 1914

Hunterian Art Gallery

This woodcut by the German Expressionist artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff shows a scene of anguished women. Schmidt-Rottluff, a founder member of Die Brücke, drew inspiration for his woodcuts from the work of Edvard Munch and in turn influenced the work of his fellow Brücke artists Kirchner, Heckel and Nolde.

15. Alastair Morton, A collection of nine drawings, 1938-62

Harris Museum & Art Gallery

Morton’s art was heavily informed by the British Modernist movement and the influence can be seen in these nine abstract drawings. These now join five garments made from fabrics designed by Morton in the collection of the Harris Museum.

16. David Hockney, Bradford Bounce, 1987

Cartwright Hall Art Gallery,

David Hockney produced this print in 1987 to support a local campaign called Bradford’s Bouncing Back. The Cartwright Hall Art Gallery plans to open a gallery dedicated to Hockney in July and this print will be displayed there alongside the collection of sketches, paintings and other prints by the artist owned by his native city.

17. David Hockney, The Skater, N.Y. Dec., 1982

Cartwright Hall Art Gallery,

David Hockney created this print using a collage of his photo Skater, New York, of 1982. He referred to these collages as ‘joiners’ because he took the photographs from different angles and then joined them together. The collage became the basis for the poster he created for the 1984 Winter Olympics.

18. Nicholas Volley, Jerome Street with Snow / Black Jug and Bust of Carl / Tea Time, 2005

Abbot Hall Art Gallery

Nicholas Volley trained at the Slade School of Art and produced paintings in the figurative tradition of his teacher, William Coldstream. These three paintings show his sensitive approach to still life, human figures and the East London streets around his studio. They now join Abbot Hall’s fine collection of 20th-century British figurative painting, alongside works by Frank Auerbach, Stanley Spencer and David Bomberg.

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