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The Art Fund at the Wallace Collection 1919-75

6 November 2003 – 4 January 2004

Edmund Dulac: Sir Claude Phillips: La Legende de Joseph

2003 is the centenary of Britain’s leading art charity, the National Art Collections Fund (the Art Fund). The Art Fund assists museums in purchasing new works of art, and helps to stop art treasures leaving Britain. It was based at Hertford House (now the home of the Wallace Collection) from 1919 – 1975, and this special exhibition celebrates the close association between the Art Fund and the Wallace Collection, as well as some of the Fund’s great achievements during its time at Hertford House.

Through photographs and original documents it will trace the history of the Fund, from its humble beginnings in 1903, when a small group of art lovers met at Hertford House to discuss setting up an organisation to stop art treasures from leaving Britain, and help British Museums beat off increasing competition from foreign museums and collectors. Now, 100 years on, it is a national organisation playing a very important part in assisting numerous museums to acquire an enormous range of objects, from paintings and drawings by the greatest European masters to decorative arts, antiquities, Japanese prints and African sculptures. Among the many masterpieces with which it was associated between 1919 and 1975, were the Wilton Diptych, Titian’s Vendramin Family and Leonardo’s cartoon of The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John, all now – thanks in no small measure to the Fund - to be seen on the walls of the National Gallery.

The exhibition will include some fascinating insights into how some of these marvellous objects were acquired, as well as a small selection of eighteenth-century French objects (of particular relevance to the Wallace Collection) which were acquired by British museums with the Art Fund’s help in the period 1919-75. These will be generously lent by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Courtauld Institute Gallery in London, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. There will also be works of art – drawings, frames and miniatures – donated by the Art Fund to Hertford House to enhance the archives and display of the Wallace Collection (which by the terms of Lady Wallace’s will does not add to its main collections).

Admission to both the Exhibition and the Wallace Collection is free
Opening Times: Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm: Sunday 12 noon – 5pm

For further information please contact Zoë Schoon


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