The Simon Sainsbury Bequest

Paul Gauguin 'Bowl of Fruit and Tankard before a Window', probably, 1890
Paul Gauguin Bowl of Fruit and Tankard before a Window, probably 1890

Issued July 2008

Tate Britain, Room 8
8 July – 5 October 2008
Open daily 10.00-18.00
Admission free. For public information please call 020 7887 8888

The Simon Sainsbury Bequest to the nation goes on public display for the first time from 8 July to 5 October 2008 at Tate Britain. All eighteen paintings from the Bequest are brought together before entering the permanent collection displays at the National Gallery and Tate. The works, five of which were donated to the National Gallery and thirteen to Tate, were given by philanthropist and collector Simon Sainsbury (1930-2006), in one of the most significant bequests of paintings ever made to the nation.

Comprising outstanding international and British art from the 18th to the 20th century the Bequest covers a variety of subjects from portraits and conversation pieces to still life and landscape. Tate received thirteen works by artists Francis Bacon, Balthus, Pierre Bonnard, Lucian Freud, Thomas Gainsborough, Victor Pasmore, John Wootton and Johan Zoffany. The National Gallery received five paintings by artists Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet and Henri Rousseau.

Nicholas Penny, Director, The National Gallery said:

The paintings which Simon Sainsbury has bequeathed to the National Gallery will make a huge difference to our Impressionist and Post Impressionist galleries. He will be remembered as one of our greatest benefactors. As a Trustee, he was outstanding in his devotion to the Gallery and during the construction of the Sainsbury Wing he was tireless in his supervision of the building work.

Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate, said:

Simon Sainsbury was one of the UK’s most private but generous philanthropists, giving his wealth, time and experience to numerous and varied causes especially in the cultural sector. This is one of the most important gifts in the history of Tate and these outstanding works will enhance many different areas of the Tate Collection.

Works donated to the National Gallery and on display are:

  • 'Snow Scene at Argenteuil' 1875 by Claude Monet (1840-1926)
    Monet was an incomparable painter of snow and this canvas is the largest and most atmospheric of some 18 snow scenes the artist painted in the town of Argenteuil during the winter of 1874-5, famous for its heavy snowfall.

  • 'Water-Lilies, Setting Sun' about 1907 by Claude Monet (1840-1926)
    This vibrant and colourful scene, full of dramatic light effects, depicts a corner of Monet’s water garden at Giverny. Joining twelve other works by Monet in the National Gallery’s collection, it greatly enhances its representation of his audacious late works.

  • 'Bowl of Fruit and Tankard before a Window' probably 1890 by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
    This painting is a statement of Gauguin’s desire to move beyond Impressionism to an art of greater visual complexity and structural vigour. Here he confronts still-life elements in the foreground with a distant view out over a Breton town.

  • 'Portrait of Joseph Brummer' 1909 by Henri Rousseau (1844 – 1910)
    Joseph Brummer was an early champion of Rousseau’s art, commissioning this monumental portrait soon after meeting the artist. It has long been admired as a masterpiece of European portraiture. The National Gallery’s only other work by Rousseau, 'Surprised!' 1891, remains a firm favourite with visitors.

  • 'After the Bath' about 1896 by Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917)
    Among the most colourful and visually complex of Degas’ late female nudes, this painting profoundly deepens the Gallery’s representation of works by the artist.

Works donated to Tate and on display are:

  • 'Study for a Portrait' 1952 by Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
    Tate holds some of Bacon’s most important paintings but there are no works by the artist of comparative style and subject in the Collection.

  • 'The Snack' 1940, 'Nude on a Chaise Longue' 1950 and 'The Golden Fruit' 1956 by Balthus (Count Balthasar Klossowski de Rola) (1908-2001)
    This is a substantial gift of three major paintings by the artist and will transform Tate’s Balthus holdings.

  • 'Nude in the Bath' 1925, and 'The Yellow Boat' c.1936-8 by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
    These works further strengthen his representation, making it one of the highlights of the Tate. Although Tate already holds Bonnard's 'The Bath' 1925, 'Nude in the Bath' 1925 is a radically different work, by virtue of the inclusion of a self-portrait and its extreme cropping and dynamic vertical format. It provides a greater depth of understanding to the development of this particularly significant theme in his work, while 'The Yellow Boat' is a fine example of his late style.

  • 'Girl with a Kitten' 1947, 'Boy Smoking' 1950-1 and 'The Painter’s Mother' 1972 by Lucian Freud (born 1922)
    This group of works complements and adds to Freud’s representation in a way that allows the psychological and stylistic shifts in his work during these key years to be traced more adequately. 'Boy Smoking', though little known or reproduced, is one of the finest examples of his incisive approach to portraiture in this period and 'The Painter’s Mother' is the first painting of the artist’s mother to enter the Collection.

  • 'Mr and Mrs Carter' c.1747-8 by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
    This painting is an important document of the artist’s early career and patronage. It is the earliest painting by Gainsborough to enter the Collection.

  • 'The Hanging Gardens of Hammersmith, No. 1' 1944-7 by Victor Pasmore (1908-1998)
    This work complements the more abstract and later 'The Hanging Gardens of Hammersmith, No. 2' 1949 already in the Collection and serves to illuminate the full complexity of his investigation of abstraction.

  • 'Life-size Horse with Huntsman Blowing a Horn' c.1732 by John Wootton (?1682-1784)
    Arguably one of the artist’s masterpieces, this work is more monumental than the artist's other hunting scenes in the Tate collection.

  • 'Colonel Blair and his Family and Indian Ayah in an Interior' 1789 by Johan Zoffany (1733-1810)
    This is the first conversation piece by the artist to enter the Collection.

An illustrated book, 'The Simon Sainsbury Bequest to Tate and the National Gallery', published by Tate Publishing in association with the National Gallery, accompanies the display (priced £12.99).

Edited by Tate curator Andrew Wilson, the book discusses the impact of the Bequest on the National Gallery and Tate collections and includes contributions by Lucy Askew, Tabitha Barber, Tim Batchelor, Matthew Gale, Christopher Gibbs, Neil MacGregor, Christopher Riopelle and Chris Stephens.

For further press information please contact:
Tate Press Office on 020 7887 8730 or e-mail pressoffice@tate.org.uk

National Gallery Press Office 020 7747 2865

Notes to editors

Simon Sainsbury (1930-2006) was the great-grandson of John James Sainsbury and his wife Mary Ann Staples, the original founders of Sainsbury’s. He joined the family business in 1956 after training as a chartered accountant.

Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read History, he was a talented sportsman and a gifted pianist with a passionate interest in the arts, in particular eighteenth- and nineteenth-century architecture, and Impressionist painting. In April 1985, Simon, John and Timothy Sainsbury made the generous offer to build an annexe to the National Gallery’s Wilkins building, bringing almost thirty years of uncertainty over the site to a close.

Over the next four years, Simon Sainsbury dedicated a great deal of his time and energy to the project management of this ambitious and fundamentally important development. The Sainsbury Wing opened to the public in 1991, the year Simon became a Trustee of the Gallery.

He remained on the Board until 1998, and is remembered for his dedication and loyalty throughout this crucial period in the Gallery’s history. He also chaired the Sainsbury’s arts sponsorship panel, and gave grants to The British Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the National Theatre, Pallant House, the Royal Opera House, Tate, the V&A, and the Wallace Collection, where he was Chairman of Trustees for 20 years until 1997.

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