Published: April 17, 2007
The Fleming Collection, one of the largest privately owned collections of Scottish art, is celebrating its first five years as a public gallery by holding an exhibition of the finest works from its holdings, including a number of its most recent acquisitions.
The exhibition, “Firm Favorites,” will be on view April 24⁓eptember 1. Works by Scotland’s most renowned artists, including Allan Ramsay, Sir Henry Raeburn, Sir David Wilkie, Sir James Guthrie, Charles Renni Mackintosh, the Glasgow Boys, the Scottish Colorists and contemporary artists including Janice McNab and Charles Avery, will be on display.
The Fleming Collection was founded in 1968 when David Donald suggested to his fellow directors at Flemings, the London merchant bank founded by Dundee-born Robert Fleming in 1900, that they might buy pictures to brighten up the office walls. The only condition they imposed was that all the works must be by Scottish artists or depict scenes north the border.
By the time Flemings was bought by the American investment giant Chase Manhattan in April 2000, the collection, spread across offices around the world, had grown to 950 works, had its own full-time Keeper of Art and was loaning the pictures to exhibitions. There were fears that the takeover might lead to it being broken up, so the Fleming family bought it back from the company and set up a charity to run it.
The foundation’s aim from the outset has been to raise the profile of Scottish art, which is poorly represented in museums and galleries outside Scotland. Since it opened its door in 2002, The Fleming Collection has hosted numerous exhibitions from important Scottish institutions, including the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, The National Gallery of Scotland, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, and the recent exhibition from Dundee’s McManus Galleries and Museum, “Consider the Lilies,” 2007.
James Holloway, director of The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, says, “The Fleming Collection and its London gallery have become an embassy for Scottish art. Their varied exhibition program shows the best of Scottish art and gives a platform for academic research and specialist shows.”
“Firm Favorites” will take place during the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707 that created the United Kingdom. Although controversial in many respects, the Act proved beneficial for Scottish artists, generating an increase in status and wealth for the aristocracy and the professional classes and therefore an increase in patronage.
Later in the Eighteenth Century, the cultural flowering known as the Scottish Enlightenment, when Scotland produced an array of philosophers, economists, scientists, architects and men of letters, also enriched Scottish art, producing painters such as Ramsay and Raeburn. The latter also dominated the opening decades of the Nineteenth Century along with Alexander Nasmyth and Wilkie and works by all these artists will be included in the exhibition, including Wilkie’s “James Morison of Naughton and his Grand-daughter Isabella.”
Over the past few years The Fleming Collection has also added to its holding of works by the Glasgow Boys, the group of artists who congregated in Glasgow in the late Nineteenth Century, and paintings by Guthrie and David Gauld will be among those exhibited.
“Firm Favorites” will also include a number of pictures by the Scottish Colorists, including Leslie Hunter’s “Peonies in a Chinese Vase,” acquired by The Fleming Collection in 1968. Recent works by contemporary artist such as Carol Rhodes, Nathan Coley, Janice McNab and Charles Avery, who will represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale this year, will also be showcased.
The Fleming Collection is at 13 Berkeley Street. For information, 20 7409 5730 or www.flemingcollection.co.uk .
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