Celebrated art historian Christopher Lloyd treated members of the Durham and Cleveland branch of The Art Fund to a lively and entertaining lecture at The Bowes Museum
Christopher, who was Surveyor of the Queens Pictures from 1988-2005, took as his subject The British as Collectors of Impressionist and Post Impressionist Art. He is now a Trustee of The Art Fund and is particularly passionate about art in the regions, for which he takes a special responsibility.
He remarked that the nobly decorated Jubilee Room, in which the lecture took place, reminded him of Buckingham Palace
The setting was especially appropriate as the Museums founders, John and Joséphine Bowes, were major collectors, and The Art Fund has contributed to the Museums collections since 1937, including the famous Canalettos and has more recently assisted with the purchase of A View of Barnard Castle from the River by Philip Wilson Steer and The Autumn Bride by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer.
Accompanied by numerous dazzling illustrations, Christopher described the exciting innovations in painting in the 19th Century and how slow the British were to appreciate them. A widespread prejudice against such modern French and British paintings was disputed by a handful of critics including Stevenson, Dewhurst, Rutter and later Roger Fry. Members heard how it was down to some remarkable private collectors to save Britains reputation from cultural disgrace.
An early collector was an Army officer, Captain Henry Hill, but many other collectors had made fortunes from industry or commerce. Their purchases demonstrated their rising social status, but collecting contemporary art also accompanied their belief in progress.
Prominent collectors were Sir Henry Lane, Burrell and Samuel Courtauld, and also the remarkable Davies sisters, who lived in mid-Wales and left a major collection to Cardiff.
Members were very appreciative and had much to talk about over lunch in the recently revamped Café Bowes.
Lesley Taylor, Art Fund Representative for Durham and Cleveland, said: This was a wonderful opportunity for Durham and Cleveland Art Fund Members to enjoy the expertise of Christopher Lloyd in the beautiful setting of The Bowes Museum, where art has been saved over the years for everyone to enjoy, in many instances with the help of The Art Fund.