Your support in action – spring round-up 2024

Siân Davey, For the Love of the Land, 2019-2021

From a photo series to a flag from an Arctic expedition, here are some of the objects and works of art we've helped museums to acquire recently thanks to the support of Art Fund members and donors.

Check out our round-up of some recent standout acquisitions, including a bawdy contemporary painting and two vibrant miniatures pulled from a 15th-century prayer book. All of these acquisitions were made possible with the support of funding from Art Fund.

Eager to see more art we've funded? In Art Quarterly, our exclusive magazine for Art Fund members, we publish details of lots of works of art that we've helped museums to buy and share with the public, thanks to the vital support of our members and donors.

Inspired to visit any of the museums mentioned? Don't forget to take your National Art Pass to get great benefits at every venue.

A psychological exploration of a farming community

In this collection of 35 photographs titled For the Love of the Land (pictured above), Siân Davey investigates the farming community of Guernsey and its surrounding islands. Twenty-one photos were gifted to Guernsey Museum by the artist and a further 14 were acquired with Art Fund support.

Informed by Davey's former career as a psychotherapist, the photos are not formal documentary pictures, but instead offer psychological and artistic explorations of the people, places and animals she encountered during the project. The beauty of the Guernsey landscape, the age diversity of the people working in agriculture and the community's resilience are all reflected in the work. The project was presented as an exhibition at Guernsey Museum in 2022 and now joins the collection there.

Netherlandish miniatures reunited with prayer book

Alexander Bening, The Adoration of the Magi, After 1488
Bodleian Library

The Adoration of the Magi (pictured above) and The Elevation of the Host are two exquisite miniatures taken from the pages of the Hours of Louis Quarré, a lavishly illustrated 15th-century prayer book. The removal of the miniatures from the book is dated between 1816 and 1832, when collector Francis Douce bought the book, which he then bequeathed to the Bodleian Library collection. The framed miniatures have been in private hands since that time.

Research over the past 50 years has made it possible to propose that Alexander Bening (d1519) was the illuminator, working in collaboration with scribes and other artisans.

These two full-page miniatures are among six loose ones known to exist, and are now reunited with the nine that remain bound in the prayer book in the Bodleian Library collection thanks to Art Fund support.

A contemporary painting poking fun at accusations of promiscuity

Nicola Bealing, Joyful News to Bachelors and Maids, 2018
Steve Tanner 2018

Nicola Bealing’s bawdy canvas Joyful News to Bachelors and Maids is littered with lusty couples frolicking between luscious flowers and mischievous cupids. The painting is inspired by a ballad of the same title written in 1741 to poke fun at the newly opened Foundling Hospital, suggesting it would serve to encourage promiscuity.

Bealing, a prize-winning painter and printmaker, made the work after many visits to the hospital's archives. It now joins the collection at the Foundling Museum, which includes 18th-century paintings by William Hogarth and Thomas Gainsborough as well as contemporary works by Yinka Shonibare, Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry.

A rare sledge flag from a historic Arctic expedition

Unknown maker, Sledge flag of Captain Henry Kellett, 1851-52
© The National Museum of the Royal Navy

During his 1852 Arctic expedition as commander of HMS Resolute, Captain Henry Kellett flew this silk flag from his sledge. He was on a mission to find traces of Sir John Franklin's doomed expedition of 1845 to find a northwest passage. The embroidered motto ‘Auxilium Ab Alto’ translates as ‘Help From Above’, and the gold-threaded harp references Kellett’s Irish heritage. The background would originally have been a rich green colour.

During the expedition, Kellett came to the aid of Captain Robert McClure, whose ship had become locked in sea ice after discovering a northwest passage. After Kellett's ship faced a similar fate, he was ordered to abandon it. He returned to England in 1854 after being picked up by North Star.

Kellett’s sledge flag, which has been saved for the nation after an export bar was placed on it, enters the collection of the National Museum of the Royal Navy as a remarkable record of a period of fearless Arctic exploration.

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