During 2016 Leeds Art Gallery will embark on new collection research projects, delving deeper into the history and significance of the collection.
The Leeds Cotman Collection:
A new research programme supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation supports the study of British landscape painting, in celebration of the artist John Sell Cotman (1782 – 1842), one of the finest watercolour painters of the 19th century.
Leeds Art Gallery holds a nationally-significant collection of Cotman’s work, with almost 900 watercolours, drawings and prints in the collection, bequeathed to the city of Leeds by the artist’s biographer, Sydney Decimus Kitson. The project will form the core of an ambitious Cotman exhibition planned for the summer 2017.
It will also establish a dedicated online catalogue making the Leeds Cotman Collection freely accessible to all, providing a platform for both public and scholarly interest in the art of British watercolour painting and the work of John Sell Cotman for generations to come.
The Ernestine Henry Collection:
Since 1956 Leeds Museums and Galleries has housed a substantial and unique collection of ‘Sweepiana’, or, material relating to chimney sweeps. The collection was gifted to Leeds by Dr Sidney Henry who collected the material over many decades, having become familiar with the lives of chimney sweeps in his capacity as a London Medical Officer. Encompassing different objects from across Europe, The Henry Collection includes books, paintings, textiles, ceramics and ephemera, as well as a large collection of 18th and 19th century prints.
Whilst this collection has been widely displayed across the service, it has been relatively inaccessible. The current Henry Collection project includes digitising object records, undertaking thorough research, as well as repacking and relocating material. These steps will expand our understanding, whilst making this important and exciting collection more accessible to the public, as well as ensuring its preservation.