Art in Print
Collector leaves art hoard to public
One of the finest private art collections in British hands is to be made public in one of the biggest charitable bequests in English legal history.
Art amassed by Harry Hyams, a multimillionaire property developer best known for building Centre Point in central London, is understood to include works by JMW Turner, Edward Burne-Jones and George Stubbs.
Hyams, who died in December 2015, has left £387 million to his Capricorn Foundation charity to allow his stately home to be converted into a public gallery. Diana Rawstron, a trustee of the foundation, said that the art would be lent to public institutions in the short term while Ramsbury Manor in Wiltshire was adapted for public use.
He is known to own The Bridgewater Sea Piece, a two-metre wide Turner seascape that hangs in the National Gallery on long-term loan, and John Everett Millais’s portrait Cherry Ripe, which fetched £1.1 million when it was sold by Sotheby’s in 2004. Another pre-Raphaelite work in his collection is Burne-Jones’s Tristram and Iseult.
The manor came to public attention in 2006 when the thieves known as the Johnson Gang broke into it and stole art and antiques estimated to have been worth millions of pounds. A third of the items were recovered. The gang was caught and the members jailed in 2008.
The burglary was estimated to have cost Hyams £80 million. He was said to have been particularly aggrieved by the theft of a clock made during the reign of Charles II, which a friend said he valued “almost like a child”. The break-in was reported to be the largest domestic burglary in British history.
Via The Times
How the Moomins took over the world
Imagine a world where tolerance, equality, loyalty and democracy are the natural order; where no one is an outsider; where problems are solved peacefully, normally after a fun adventure. That’s what Tove Jansson dreamt up when she created Moominland, which has been home to the Moomintroll family and their gaggle of fantastical friends since the first Moomin book was published more than 70 years ago, turning Finland’s Jansson into one of the world’s best-selling children’s authors. An exhibition at the Southbank Centre in London is aiming to recreate that universe, immersing visitors in scenes inspired by Jansson’s nine Moomin books, from a raft on the Finnish archipelago where the books were set to a cave where the Moomins hid while trying to escape from a comet.
Paul Denton, the curator, hopes the show will have a cross-generational appeal. Older adults may remember Jansson’s creations from the 1950s’ cartoon strips in London’s Evening News daily paper; others might know them from various animated series; while to younger visitors the trolls might be something to cuddle: today, the Moomins inhabit a vast commercial universe, encapsulated in The Moomin Shop in Covent Garden. Jansson, who was also an artist, wrote her first book, The Moomins and the Great Flood, during the Second World War, when she was too depressed by the fighting to paint. The story, which she described as a fairytale, is about Moomintroll’s search for his father, who was washed away in a storm. Moomintroll – her “angry, signature character” – was based on an imaginary creation from her childhood, which was inspired by stories her uncle used to tell to stop her raiding the pantry at night.
Artist is given his first exhibition 34 years after being murdered
A talented young artist is finally being given his first exhibition more than 30 years after his murder.
The family of painter Keith Church have worked with his former college Goldsmiths to produce a show which highlights the potential of the artist who was stabbed to death aged 27 in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, on July 9, 1982.
TV journalist Kurt Barling, Mr Church’s cousin, said the show was a “double-edged” event for the family.
“For me, there has never been a day when I’ve not thought, ‘What if?’ ” he said. “Every art exhibition I’ve ever seen, whether it is at the Tate or the Guggenheim in Venice, I always have visions of my cousin’s art. Every time I go to an art gallery and have the sense that Keith would have done something like that, I wonder, ‘What if?’
Mr Church’s family have started a campaign to try to raise £4,000 to fund the preservation of his work.
The show, Urge to Paint — Keith Church 1955-1982, is in the Professor Stuart Hall Building at Goldsmiths from January 19 until February 9.
Via Evening Standard
Wilde portrait returns to UK for first time in a century
A prized portrait of Oscar Wilde that hung above the fireplace of the playwright’s Chelsea home is to return to Britain for the first time in nearly a century.
Robert Goodloe Harper Pennington, an American artist, presented the full length portrait to Wilde and his new wife Constance as a wedding present in 1884. Just over a decade later, Wilde had been forced to auction off the work to pay off debts after he was arrested for gross indecency following the collapse of a libel battle with the Marquess of Queensbury, the father of Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas, known as Bosie.
The fateful dispute took place at a time when Wilde was enjoying his greatest professional success: as he went to court, The Importance of Being Earnest was playing to sell-out audiences on the West End stage.
Sold to a US collector in the 1920s, the work will be exhibited for the first time as part of “Queer British Art 1861-1967”, due to open at Tate Britain in 2017.
It will be shown alongside the door of cell C. 3.3 from Reading Gaol, where Wilde was imprisoned for three years from 1895. He was sentenced to two years’ hard labour and held in solitary confinement, where he wrote his moving letter De Profundis (From the Depths) to Bosie.
Clare Barlow, Tate curator, said: “The six-foot oil painting depicts him as a slender 27-year-old on the cusp of success. His stance is confident, holding a pair of gloves in one hand while the other clasps a silver-topped cane. It presents a different, more sombre image to the one we are more familiar with.”