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National Museum Wales acquires Christopher Wood's The Rug Seller, Tréboul for Welsh public collection

CARDIFF.- A key work by Christopher Wood (1901-1930) – a major artist in the British modern movement of the 1920s - has entered the Welsh national collection, and is on view at National Museum Cardiff.

The Rug Seller, Tréboul, has been acquired by Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales from the Brecknock Art Trust for £190,000, with the support of £50,000 from the Art Fund - the national fundraising charity for works of art, the Cardiff-based Derek Williams Trust (£55,000) and an anonymous donor (£30,000).

The work, which reflects the artist’s engagement with the Celtic culture and people of Brittany, has been in a Welsh private collection of modern art since 1948. It represents the exotic figure of an African rug seller selling his wares under the Calvary of the fishing village of Tréboul.

The Rug Seller is a large painting from the peak of Wood’s career, made shortly before his tragic death at the age of twenty-nine. The otherworldly and naive character of the painting conveys Wood’s ‘primitive’ style.

The artist, Christopher Wood spent much of the early 1920s in Paris where he met many of the leading figures in Parisian avant-garde including Pablo Picasso before returning to Britain to develop his career as a painter. Having met the naïve painter Alfred Wallis who influenced the direction of his work, Wood produced some of the most important British paintings of the 1920s.

This particular work was created during the artist’s second visit to the Cornouaille region of Brittany in 1930. He had first visited the region the previous summer following a recommendation from his friend and fellow Seven & Five member, Welshman Cedric Morris.

Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art, Amgueddfa Cymru said: “The Rug Seller has connections with a wide range of work in the Museum’s collection. It is an outstanding addition to an already strong collection of work by modernist Seven & Five artists, in particular paintings by Cedric Morris, Winifred Nicholson and David Jones, who all shared Wood’s direct, almost childlike style.

“We are extremely grateful to the Art Fund, Derek Williams Trust and others who have provided generous support. At a time when there is little public money for acquisitions, museums and art galleries would find it extremely difficult to develop their collections for future generations, without the backing of charities and private donors.”

The painting has been sold by the Brecknock Art Trust, a charity which supports the creation and appreciation of art in the Brecknock area.

William Gibbs of the Brecknock Art Trust, said: “The Brecknock Art Trust are delighted that Christopher Wood's The Rug Seller is now available for many more people to enjoy as it hangs in the National Collection in Cardiff. Through the money raised by the sale of the Rug Seller the Brecknock Art Trust will be able to widen its support for artists and museums.”

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: “Thanks to the support of our members, we’re pleased to have played a part in adding this incredibly charming late work by Christopher Wood to the permanent collection of the National Museum Wales.”

The Rug Seller is on view at the recently opened National Museum of Art in Cardiff, where it will normally be shown in the Impressionist and Modern Galleries. It is also likely to be included in a number of the temporary exhibitions of modern British art that Amgueddfa Cymru develops with partner galleries across Wales. This active partnership programme has been supported by the Esmée Fairbairn charities since 2004, and will continue until at least 2013.

Admission to all Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum sites is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Amgueddfa Cymru operates seven national museums across Wales. These are National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

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