The Friends have been supporting Bristol Art Gallery since 1947. In that time, we have helped with the acquisition of more than 350 works of art including paintings, watercolours, drawings, sculpture, rare pottery, glass, antique and modern silver, and contemporary jewellery. One of the gallery’s most popular paintings — Lady Honywood (b.1763) and her Daughter by Sir Joshua Reynolds came to Bristol courtesy of The Friends.
Major contributions to the improved presentation of the city’s collections were made in 2006, when The Friends grant of £40,000 funded the refurbishment of Gallery 7 now full of fine glass, silver and beautiful paintings of the Bristol School. More recently, a grant of £50,000 by The Friends enabled the refurbishment of Gallery 6 now rehung with paintings from the Victorian and Edwardian eras – the featured work here is Frank Dicksee’s La Belle Dame Sans Merci,
In the field of applied art, the range is from early Bristol porcelain to the Lazarus collection of almost 200 items of antique glass. The Friends are proud also to have enabled the acquisition of many fine items of porcelain and stoneware from the Far East. In 2013 The Friends helped acquire Red Gate, one of a series of City Gates sculptures by the Chinese artist Guan Donghai 关东海. See the Acquisitions & Conservations Gallery for more about this work and other recent acquisitions.
The Historic Houses have also benefited: in recent years the Friends have assisted with the restoration of the statue of Sir Charles Wetherell, now standing in an alcove in the Red Lodge garden; the makeover of the Georgian House garden; and restoration of a splendid carpet from the House.
The Friends also support Art in M Shed. The Galleries here contain 50 paintings, all related to Bristol, many of which were either fully or partly funded by The Friends. We also funded two commissions by internationally renowned artists with Bristol roots – Kate Malone’s Lady Gourd, ‘Fruits of my Life’ in the People gallery, and Richard Long’s very large, eye-catching ‘River Avon Muddy River Walk’ covering a lobby wall.
Bristol has a flourishing number of street artists, and they too have not been overlooked: for example, The Friends helped with the purchase of the dramatic ‘Concrete Form II’ painting by Ziml in 2010.
Collectively, the art which the Friends have helped Bristol Art Gallery acquire over the years would today cost millions of pounds to purchase. You can help us continue the good work by becoming a member of the Friends – just click on JOIN to do so. But the Friends are not just about raising money. We have a lot of fun, too – for details of our social events, outings and lectures, click on Activities in the banner above, or on View All Events in the menu on the right of this page..