Acquisitions round-up: spring 2018

  • 6 March 2018

From a powerful 18th century abolition painting to the most significant collection of Viking-age objects ever discovered in the British Isles, here are the objects we've helped museums and galleries acquire in the last quarter.

1. Unknown artist, Am Not I a Man and a Brother, c1800

International Slavery Museum, Liverpool

Probably painted in the very early 18th century, this image of a chained, kneeling African man makes a political statement in favour of the abolition of the slave trade. 

2. Michael Craig-Martin, Tricycle, 2016

The Foundling Museum, London

Michael Craig-Martin’s painting offers an imaginative point of departure in the Museum's Picture Gallery which is otherwise dominated by portraits of the Hospital’s governors and benefactors. In a room notable for its lack of reference to the foundling children, Tricycle embodies both the joy and sadness of childhood and reminds us of the thousands of young lives who passed through the Foundling Hospital.

3. Yinka Shonibare MBE, Trumpet Boy, 2010

The Foundling Museum, London

Trumpet Boy comprises a fibreglass mannequin of a child dressed in a Victorian-style suit playing a cornet. The head of the boy is represented by a celestial globe. This evocative figure raises questions of identity and colonialism, while also having particular resonance in the context of the Foundling Museum. 

4. Eric Ravilious, Beachy Head, 1939

Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne

Beachy Head shows the Sussex coastline in the year the Second World War began, and just before it became transformed by barbed wire and other defences.

5. Various artists, The Martin Parr Photobook Collection, 19th-20th century

Tate, London

Built up over 25 years, Parr's collection of over 12,000 photobooks is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest in the world. It covers an unprecedented range of subjects, geographies and types of photographic practice, including many of the most iconic volumes in the history of photography.

6. William Brooker, Studio Interior with Nude, 1953

Chippenham Museum

This domestic interior with a nude figure is a fine example of the work of William Brooker, an artist best remembered for his atmospheric figurative paintings as well as for his role as an influential teacher.

7. Christopher Wood, China Dogs in a St Ives Window, 1926

Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

Christopher Wood painted China Dogs in a St Ives Window during his stay in the Cornish fishing village in 1926. The painting represents a pivotal moment in the artist's career, bringing together the influence of the Post-Impressionist art he had observed in Paris with his interest in the Celtic folk culture of Cornwall. 

8. Gabriel Felling, Silver tankard, c1700

Bruton Museum

This handsome silver tankard was made around 1700 by the celebrated gold and silversmith Gabriel Felling. The tankard features Felling's mark, the initials GF in a plain rectangular shield.

9. Unknown artists, The Galloway Hoard, 850-950AD

National Museums Scotland

The Galloway Hoard is the richest and most significant collection of Viking-age objects ever discovered in the British Isles. It comprises more than 100 objects of gold, silver and jewelled treasure from the British Isles, the Byzantine Empire and possibly beyond. 

10. Laura Ford, Bedtime Boy 1, 2017

The Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport

Laura Ford's Bedtime Boy 1 is a life-size bronze figure in which a human form appears to have the head of an elephant. The work has the power to unsettle or enchant, depending on how it is viewed.

11. Stephen Willats, Sorting Out Other People's Lives, 1978

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Stephen Willats' Sorting Out Other People's Lives examines the experience of a woman living on an east London council estate in 1978. Willats made the work for his 1979 exhibition 'Concerning Our Present Way of Living', at the Whitechapel Gallery. 

12. Naum Gabo, Linear Construction in Space No 1, 1943-44

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

Naum Gabo is celebrated as a leading member of the Russian Constructivist movement and a close associate of the St Ives colony of artists. He made Linear Construction in Space No 1 during his years in Cornwall, and it is the first sculpture in which he used stringing with nylon filament. 

13. George Frederic Watts, Portrait of Margaret Elizabeth Hughes, 1858 and Portrait of Walter Nassau Senior, 1875

Watts Gallery, Compton

George Frederic Watts is a renowned artist of the Victoria age, and these two portraits offer new insights into his life and work. The portrait of Margaret Hughes is thinly painted in the Flemish tradition with the sitter appearing against a landscape background. The second portrait is of Walter Senior, grandson of Margaret Hughes.

14. James Kay, Glasgow Exhibition 1901, 1901

The Hunterian, Glasgow

James Kay's Glasgow Exhibition 1901 is a lively pastel scene showing elegantly dressed women gathered in the grounds of the international exhibition which took place in the city that year. 

15. Michael Simpson, Squint (19), 2015

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

'Squint' in the title of this work refers to the 'leper's squint' in medieval churches. This opening in a wall allowed people excluded from the service to see the priest elevating the bread and wine at the moment of consecration. The inclusion of this reference in the title, and its depiction as a hatch-like shape in the corner of the canvas, suggest themes of exclusion, an unreachable paradise, the iniquities of privilege, and the critical role of looking in relation to a painted canvas. 

16. Unknown maker, The East Cambridgeshire Torc, c1200BC

Ely Museum

This remarkable gold torc was found by a metal detectorist in a field in East Cambridgeshire in 2015. The piece is made of three components: two trumpet-shaped terminals and a long, spiral-twisted gold bar.


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