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Leeds Art Gallery Collections





Public Art in Leeds

The displays at Leeds City Art Gallery have been selected by the staff to reflect the richness and variety of the collections. Established masterpieces are presented alongside lesser known works. It includes recent acquisitions and long term works from the collection. The collection is quite large - only a fraction is on display at any one time. When not on show these may be seen by appointment at the Gallery.

Collection of National importance
In 1997 the collection was designated by government as of national importance. The internationally acclaimed collection of works on paper features artists such as Turner, Cotman, Cozens and Girtin.

Watercolours, Drawings and Prints
There are historic collections of watercolours by popular artists such as JMW Turner and John Sell Cotman, prints by Rembrandt, shelter drawings by Henry Moore and work by contemporary artists such as Paula Rego and Rose Garrard.

Early Acquisitions
Especially notable early acquisitions include Tissot's 'The Bridesmaid', Waterhouse's 'Lady of Shalott' and Grimshaw's 'Nightfall Down the Thames'. The realist subject depicting the poor 'The Village Funeral' by Frank Holl. The Pre-Raphaelite picture - Holman Hunt's 'Shadow of Death'.

From the Victorian (early days) there is Lord Leighton's 'Return of Persephone'. Another early acquisition.
Contemporary events such as the Afghan wars, the Death of General Gordon, or the sailing of the Titanic were given a particular status through a painted representation.

The Sam Wilson Collection
In 1915 Sam Wilson bequeathed his personal art collection to the City Of Leeds. It is now recognised as an outstanding amalgamation of paintings, sculpture, pastels, furniture and ceramics focusing on 'English Impressionism'.

Britain & Europe 1900 - 1920
Represented in the works of Whistler, Sickert, Jack Smith, Rego, Steven Campbell, Terry Frost, David Bomberg, Stanley Spencer, Wyndham Lewis and Leeds based Jacob Kramer.

In 1937 an abstract painting by Francis Butterfield introduced Modernism to the Gallery, extending the collection further and beyond a collection of academic paintings, to one also reflecting new trends from Impressionism onwards. Today the collection includes works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer.

Contemporary Art
The mid 1950s saw brief popularity of a new British realist group labelled 'Kitchen Sink' artists who concentrated on humdrum, everyday subjects in the home and the street. They included : Derrick Greaves, Jack Smith, John Bratby and Edward Middleditch. Works by: Terry Frost, Alan Davie, Hubert Dalwood, Reg Butler, Kenneth Armitage. Later figurative painting attracted artists such as Steven Campbell and Paula Rego are all included in the now titled: 'Post-War Collection'. Recently the Gallery has embarked on a five-year project with the Contemporary Art Society to develop a new collection featuring installation and film.

From the works of Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Alexander Calder to more recent works by artists such as Anthony Gormley, Alison Wilding and Bill Woodrow, Leeds Art Gallery has a wide range of sculpture. With the help of the Henry Moore Foundation, Leeds Art Gallery has been able to accumulate a major collection of sculpture which is second only to that of the Tate. There is always sculpture from the permanent collection on display.

Contemporary Art Society (Special Collections Scheme)
Leeds City Art Gallery
Whatever you might think about contemporary art, it is a reflection of the times in which we live, and if we are to leave a trace of our experience of life and living in the current age for future generations, we need to represent this work in our permanent collection. It has been recognised that contemporary collecting is difficult for public galleries such as Leeds, since inevitably questions are raised about the use of public funds to buy art.

In recognition of this the Arts Council of England and the Contemporary Art Society initiated and funded the Special Collections Scheme for fifteen galleries throughout England to build up collections of contemporary work over a five year period.

This has presented the curators at Leeds with an opportunity to rethink the direction the collections might take so that they accurately reflect the world in which we live. Leeds has rich holdings of British twentieth century art, having acquired work by living artists over the last hundred years. This collection is now ranked second only to that of the Tate Gallery in London particularly in the field of sculpture. Paintings and sculpture dominate this collection, and yet increasingly, in this televisual age, artists are looking at the possibilities offered by new media such as video, DVD, and the digital manipulation of images. The traditional concentration on the visual has also been challenged by some artists who create artworks based on sound alone, or which can be experienced through the other senses, touch and smell.

Curators at Leeds have decided to explore this area for the new collection. DVD works by Mark Wallinger, Mark Dean and Annelies Strba have been purchased along with a sound work by Tacita Dean. Works have also been commissioned from Mariele Neudecker in collaboration with Opera North, Georgina Starr and Bill Fontana.

New acquisitions are currently on show in a dedicated space on the first floor of the Gallery, with a changing display of related aspects from the permanent collection - we hope that some of the juxtapositions might surprise you in the course of the next few months!


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Watercolours | The Sam Wilson Collection | Modernism






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