Fourteen new acquisitions have gone on show at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
, Glasgow, as part of the first major re-display within the Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Glasgow Style Gallery since the museum reopened in 2006. The six donations and eight purchases bring important and beautiful new metalwork, ceramics, glass and stained glass into Glasgow Museums collection. They include important pieces by Phoebe Anna Traquair, Christopher Dresser, David Gauld, Archibald Knox, Alexander Ritchie and Jessie Marion King.
These acquisitions would not have been possible without the generous support of private donors and grant funding bodies: The National Fund for Acquisitions administered through National Museums Scotland, the Art Fund and The Heritage Lottery Fund.
These new acquisitions enhance the breadth of Glasgows decorative art collection by adding objects from respected designers and makers working in the Glasgow Style or part of the wider Arts and Crafts movement. They reveal the skills, experimentation, influences and imagination of artists working across Britain between the 1880s and 1930s. The new pieces are complemented on display by eleven works acquired by the city of Glasgow since 1900, many not seen for a couple of decades. Together they highlight the richness of connections in Glasgows collections through people, locations, design themes and influences, materials and techniques.
Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life, said; Glasgow has arguably one of the finest civic collections in Europe, thanks to the generosity of individual donors and truly successful partnerships with organisations like the Art Fund and the National Fund for Acquisitions. Together we have been able to bring beautiful works by important artists, several of them born in our great city, to the millions of people who visit Kelvingrove every year. This new display provides plenty to marvel at and an opportunity to learn a little more about their influences and techniques.
Hazel Williamson, Manager of the National Fund for Acquisitions, administered by National Museums Scotland, said: We are delighted that funding from the National Fund for Acquisitions has helped to secure these significant examples of Scottish decorative art for the collections of Glasgow Museums and that visitors to Kelvingrove will now be able to see them in the context of these fascinating new displays.
Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: "We are delighted to see these two new works joining Kelvingrove's already strong design collections. The copper kettle by Christopher Dresser, a pioneer of the British Design Reform Movement, was presented by Ernst and Clara Reimann through the Art Fund. Behnham and Froud, the manufacturers for whom the kettle was designed, weren't previously represented in the collection so this is a very pleasing acquisition. Meanwhile Glasgow Boy David Gauld's 'Music' is a very fine example of his work at a turning point in his career, and a fantastic addition to a collection of stained glass which is undoubtedly the most important and extensive in Scotland."
The craftsmanship of each piece is regarded as exceptional, with many of the works produced as a result of artistic and technical collaboration. One excellent example of this is a large presentation quaich, designed and made at the Glasgow School of Art in 1904, which was designed by Dorothy Carlton Smyth, with metalwork by William Armstrong Davidson and enamel by De Courcy Lewthwaite Dewar. This quaich was acquired with grant funding from the National Fund for Acquisitions. Also on show is a stunning stained and leaded glass panel entitled Music, which was designed by Glasgow Boy David Gauld and made by the Glasgow stained glass workshop of Hugh McCulloch and Company around 1891. The acquisition of Music was made possible by matching grants from the National Fund for Acquisitions and the Art Fund.
Two new works were designed by nineteenth century design reformer Christopher Dresser. A silver and gilt milk jug made by Elkington and Company in 1885 and a copper kettle, dating from about 1880 too 1885, made by Benham and Froud of London, which was presented to Glasgow Museums by Ernst and Clara Reimann, through The Art Fund. These metalwork pieces provide a striking comparison when set beside a mantle clock and a pair of candlesticks designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the early twentieth century. It is clear both Glasgow-born designers were significantly influenced by Japanese art and design.
Also set to delight visitors to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is an extraordinary silver chalice with pāua shell cup purchased with the assistance of the National Fund for Acquisitions. Designed by Ramsay Traquair with enamels illustrating the story of Cupid and Psyche by his mother Phoebe Anna Traquair and metalwork by John Maitland Talbot, this collaborative work was made in Edinburgh in 1906.
Completing the eight new purchases are two painted glass finger bowls by Helen and Hannah Walton and two ceramic teapots painted by Jessie Marion King in Kirkcudbright, sometime between 1919 and 1939. Pieces gifted to Glasgow Museums by generous private donors include metalwork by Archibald Knox and Alexander Ritchie and a hand painted ceramic by Elisabeth Mary Watt.
In these new displays a group of five works are juxtaposed to look at the Celtic Revival of the early twentieth century. A pewter and glass fruit bowl designed by Archibald Knox for Liberty of London; three silver pieces by Alexander Ritchie and a large presentation Quaich from the Technical Art Studios of the Glasgow School of Art contrast the application of Celtic knotwork and motifs.
Similarly a group of ceramics contrast the experimental techniques of various Arts and Crafts potteries in Britain, including Glasgows first studio pottery based at Milngavie, the Allander Pottery of 1904-8, with the hand-painted pottery of some of the key Glasgow Girls who emerged from the Glasgow School of Art, such as the delicate and simply divine I saw you toss the ships on high teapot painted by Jessie Marion King.