Portraits by Denis Wirth Miller, never seen before in public, are on show at The Minories, Colchester, during May. They are part of an exhibition of new acquisitions by the Victor Batte Lay Foundation which features work by a wide range of regional artists, including Richard Bawden, Simon Carter, Henry Collins, James Dodds and Ian Hay, as well as several watercolours by John Bensusan-Butt.
The Victor Batte Lay Foundation, which owns The Minories, was established in memory of a Colchester art collector, and, based on his widow’s bequest, continues to develop a collection of East Anglian art.
John Bensusan Butt, whose family lived at The Minories and a member, by marriage, of the Pissarro family, was a prolific watercolourist. His descendants Simon and Peter Shovron recently made a generous gift to the Foundation of some twenty of his works, most of which will be on show. They depict The Minories and its environs, Essex and south coast scenes together with his travels in Europe.
The Foundation is also celebrating the gift from Susan Kerr of three portraits by Wivenhoe artist Denis Wirth Miller of a member of her family. Never seen in public before, these paintings show evidence of the strong friendship and mutual influence between Wirth Miller and Francis Bacon.
Many of the works in the show have been acquired by the Foundation from the artists or at auction. Although it already owned several works by Edward Bawden, it did not possess a work by his son, Richard, until its recent purchase of his linocut of “Bildeston Hall”. The Trustees were pleased to make their first acquisition of works by renowned local artists Henry Collins and Ian Hay and to add to what they already own by Anthony Atkinson, Peter Coker and Bernard Reynolds.
“One of our charitable purposes is to make our collection available to be enjoyed by the people of Colchester” says Robin Matthews, Chair of the Victor Batte Lay Foundation. “Our most recent acquisition is the painting by Simon Carter. The artist kindly accommodated our plea for one of his distinctive works. Simon is just the type of artist we need to see represented in the collection. We will continue to build the collection and to celebrate our rich East Anglian artistic heritage”.
The Minories is open from 10 to 5, Monday to Saturday. The exhibition ends May 25.