The National Trust, whose recent National Gallery exhibition confirmed its weakness in the field of twentieth-century painting, has accepted a gift of over eighty mainly twentieth-century works of art from the artist Derek Hill.
The works are to be hung at Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire, a property acquired by the Trust from Mrs Gilbert Russell in 1957 without its original contents.
According to David Sekers, Regional Director of the Trust: “This most generous gift is a very personal one as the collection comprises those paintings that Derek Hill has treasured above all others”.
Mr Hill was a regular guest of Mrs Russell in the 1930s and his close personal connection with the Abbey made him particularly anxious for his collection to be housed there. With this gift he maintains his role as benefactor, following the donation of a number of his nineteenth- and twentieth-century pictures and sculptures, along with his former home, Glebe House, County Donegal to the Irish State in 1981.
One quarter of the works donated to Mottisfont were executed by Hill himself from 1940 to 1993. He has had a distinguished artistic career, during which he has been art director of the British School at Rome and unofficial advisor to the Prince of Wales. His favourite preoccupations are Irish and ltalian landscape scenes and his work is represented at Mottisfont by scenes such as “Candeli from the Arno” and “Quarry at Churchill”.
His gift also includes works by other twentieth-century English artists such as John Bratby (“Tree Trunks and Leaves”), John Piper (“Rocky Landscape”), Edward Lear (“Cliff and Sea”) and Augustus and Gwen John (“Gwen John” and “View of House from Window”).
French nineteenth-century influence creeps in with Corot’s splendid “Le Monte Soracte”; a delicate Degas oil and pastel “Paysage” and a Seurat drawing of a “Seated Woman”. Italian twentieth-century art is represented by Renato Guttoso’s “Man working in orange orchard” and Giorgio Morandi’s “Flowers in a Vase”.
Mr Hill is also responsible for endowing the Hawthornden prize for art criticism, that has been awarded this year to Richard Kendall for the catalogue of the National Gallery exhibition: “Degas:beyond Impressionism”.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'First modern art collection for the National Trust'