EXHIBITION: ‘Creating a National Collection’ (28 May – 4 September 2021), Southampton City Art Gallery

Creating a National Collection: The Partnership between Southampton City Art Gallery and the National Gallery‘ explores, for the first time, Southampton’s 92-year partnership with the National Gallery and the role London played in the evolution of Southampton’s collection. It will see loans from the National Gallery alongside works acquired by Southampton as part of the partnership. 

When Cllr Robert Chipperfield (1817–1911) left funds and paintings to Southampton for an art gallery, he stipulated in his will that any purchase made using his Trust fund should be made in consultation with the Director of the National Gallery. The Gallery agreed after it was contacted by Southampton in 1929, with Director Augustus Daniel making a tentative start. His successor, Kenneth Clark, made real progress from 1934. Among the earliest purchase made in 1933 was Joaquin Sorolla’s Estuary of the Nalón, Asturias, and this will be on display in the exhibition.

The exhibition concludes with a selection of works in Southampton’s collection by artists who have taken part in National Gallery schemes involving contemporary artists, including the first Associate Artist, Paula Rego

This latest partnership came about through the current Art Fund Curatorial Traineeship programme, with Southampton City Art Gallery submitting a bid project to investigate the dynamic and ongoing relationship between the two institutions. Trainee Jemma Craig, and Senior Research Curator Susanna Avery-Quash, the co-curators of the exhibition and co-authors of the accompanying catalogue, have drawn on untapped archival sources and interviews with current and former members of staff at both galleries to shed new light on the origins and evolution of Southampton’s collection.

A publication telling the story of this part of Southampton City Art Gallery’s history accompanies the exhibition.

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