Chantrey Bequest

Chantrey Bequest

In the will of the sculptor Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey (1781-1841), a large sum of money (£105,000) was left to the Royal Academy for the purposes of building up a National Collection of British art - painting and sculpture - being that art created within the shores of Great Britain. It was not until 1877, after the death of Lady Chantrey, that the first works were bought with the Investment's interest, seven pictures and one sculpture, and hung in the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum).

In 1897, the 85 works purchased by that time were handed over 'to the nation' and lodged in the newly constructed Tate Gallery.  From that time the Bequest became a support fund for Tate Acquisitions, remaining the primary Fund until the 1920s. It was considered a great honour for an artist to have a painting chosen and purchased under the Chantrey Bequest terms. Reproductions of the Chantrey Bequest works may be found in the Strand Magazine (Christmas issue, December 1927).

Other Collections such as that of Sir Henry Tate (1819-1899) were equally prestigious, and it was as a result of the purchase by Tate of The Health of the Bride in 1889, that Stanhope FORBES was enabled to marry Elizabeth ARMSTRONG. The original sixty-five works presented by Sir Henry became the core, along with the Chantrey Bequest purchases and the vast Turner Bequest, of the Tate Gallery. Now the Tate Galleries on its four major sites is the repository of over 65,000 works of art.  Most of the Chantrey Bequest paintings can be viewed on-line at the Tate Gallery website.


Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p128)