For immediate release
A historic painting of Brighton’s iconic West Pier has been saved for the city by Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.
The West Pier, Brighton 1913 by Spencer Gore is the newest acquisition by Brighton Museum and will be on display in the 20th Century Gallery until the end of November 2019 and then moved to a permanent home in Hove Museum.
This important work has been in private hands since it was sold by the artist’s family. When the painting went on sale Royal Pavilion & Museums raised funding to ensure the painting will be on show in Brighton & Hove.
The West Pier, Brighton 1913 gives a unique view of the pier before it fell into disrepair and is considered to be one of Spencer Gore’s masterpieces. It is one of the last pictures he painted before his death in March 1914 and was included in the celebrated Exhibition of the Work of English Post Impressionists, Cubists and Others held at the Public Art Galleries, Brighton (now Brighton Museum & Art Gallery) from 16 December 1913 to 14 January 1914.
The exhibition was the first occasion that post-Impressionist work had been seen outside London and played a significant part in the modernisation of English art. Brighton Museum & Art Gallery now has a strong group of Camden Town Group pictures in its collection including works by Robert Bevan, Walter Sickert, Harold Gilman, Charles Ginner, Spencer Gore, Walter Taylor, Douglas Fox and Lucien Pissarro.
These and other early modern British figurative artworks in our collection enable BMAG to explore the relationship between the London art scene and Brighton in the early 20th century. Gore played a crucial role in these connections and in the development of British art in the early 20th century.
In 1913 Gore and his family came to Brighton, staying in Brunswick Square on the seafront with Gore’s friend Walter Taylor. Gore painted The West Pier, Brighton and a similar view, Brighton Pier (Southampton City Art Gallery) during this sojourn with Taylor from the balcony of Taylor’s house. Both paintings show the view across the lawns and beach towards the West Pier. In The West Pier, Brighton, Gore employed short, visible brushstrokes to build up textural layers of paint, depicting the modern Brighton seafront scene with bright colours and blocky forms. This painting demonstrates the artistic possibilities of everyday scenes of modern life in the tradition of British realism.
Brighton & Hove City Council Deputy Mayor and the chair of Tourism, Development and Culture committee Alan Robins said: “As a local resident I am really pleased to see the picture come home to where it was painted and to see how peaceful the world looked just a short time before the outbreak of the First World War.”
Head of the Royal Pavilion and Museums Janita Bagshawe said: “We are absolutely delighted to have acquired Spencer Gore’s West Pier thanks to the generous support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Thompson Bequest, The Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation, Daniel Katz Ltd., Mr Stephen Pavey, Patrons of the Royal Pavilion & Museums, supporters of the West Pier Trust and other donors.
“This painting, so closely associated with Brighton and the post-impressionist English art scene, is an important part of our local, regional and national heritage. It is a painting which will have great personal meaning for local audiences through its subject matter and strong historic links to Brighton. We are thrilled that it has finally come home to Brighton and Hove.”
Curator of Fine Art at the Royal Pavilion and Museums Jenny Lund said: “Spencer Gore’s painting of the West Pier is a tremendous asset for the Royal Pavilion & Museums fine art collection with its already strong representation of the Camden Town Group. It is extremely exciting to acquire a work that is so significant to the city and early modern British art.”
Acquired with support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Thompson Bequest, The Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation, Daniel Katz Ltd., Mr Stephen Pavey, Patrons of the Royal Pavilion & Museums, supporters of the West Pier Trust and anonymous donors.
Notes to editors
About Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, part of Brighton & Hove City Council, is one of Britain’s oldest public museums. Located in the Royal Pavilion Estate at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, its collections showcase arts and crafts from across the world and history from Ancient Egypt to modern Brighton.
About Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund
- The Arts Council England /V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.
- It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work.
- The annual grants budget, currently £724,000, is provided by Arts Council England National Lottery Funding
- Each year, the Purchase Grant Fund considers some 150 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £3 million to go ahead.
- Visit the website: www.vam.ac.uk/purchasegrantfund
About The National Heritage Memorial Fund
The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) was set up in 1980 to save the most outstanding parts of our national heritage, in memory of those who have given their lives for the UK. It will receive £5 million of Government grant in aid in 2019/20 www.nhmf.org.uk
Follow us on Instagram: @NationalHeritageMemorialFund #MemorialFinerThanStone
About Art Fund
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 151,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff in 2019) and a range of digital platforms.
Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org