Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The £20m Local Art Collection You'll Never See

Cupid Delivering Pysche (1867) by Burne-Jones.
Not on display.
In a recent post by Councillor Harry Phibbs at the Hammersmith & Fulham Forum, Harry asks why our Council won't showcase the 54 works in the Cecil French Collection, donated to Fulham Borough Council in 1953 and containing important works of pre-Raphaelite art by artists including Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and Frederic Leighton (the only British artist ever to receive a peerage). 

So come on LBH&F - why can't the residents of our Borough see our very own (and very valuable) art collection?

According to the official LBH&F website, the collection was originally given to us in 1953 when the Fulham Public Libraries Committee accepted an offer by Cecil French of six works by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (who lived in North End Lane) for display in our public libraries.  This was followed by further works in 1954, to create a very significant collection of important pre-Raphaelite art.

But none of this art can be seen - it is all in storage. Obviously we don't have a major art gallery in the Borough, but surely there are plenty of public venues that would give their eye teeth for some of this work?

For example, the Bush Theatre on the Uxbridge Road will undergo a major refurbishment next year - why not see if some of these works can be showcased in the new, upgraded building?

Part of the problem of course is that these paintings are very expensive, and hard to insure, creating a potential liability for anyone displaying one.

But if LBH&F is not capable of displaying them, surely it would be better (as Harry suggests) to sell them, lease them or loan them to a gallery which does have display space.


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