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Works from York Art Gallery: The Milner-White Collection
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Works From York Art Gallery: The Milner-White Collection

11 Mar - 15 Sep 2013

During the refurbishment of York Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield showcased works from the gallery’s Milner-White collection, including exceptional paintings by British artists Stanley Spencer, Walter Sickert, Gwen John and John Piper, amongst others.

This collection of paintings was gifted to York Art Gallery between 1948 -1963 by Eric Milner-White (1884-1963) who was made Dean of York in 1941.

He was an extremely perceptive collector and the paintings he purchased reveal his astute eye and expert knowledge, especially of late nineteenth and early twentieth century British art. He looked particularly for paintings that appealed to him and were complex and compelling, as he believed ‘beauty speaks an eternal voice’. A colleague wrote of his collecting that:

‘Having watched him on the hunt, I know that his buying was no “investment”, in the degrading sense to which we are too thoroughly used. He would visibly fall in love with a piece of work and let it steal his heart’.

He collected with an eye to making the works accessible to a wide audience through gifts to public galleries. Philanthropic by nature, he felt his contribution was to make York’s ‘collection of English paintings around the turn of the century fairly complete’. Ever generous, Milner-White eventually gifted 40 paintings to York Art Gallery together with over 190 studio ceramics. The works in this display include paintings by some of the most significant British artists of the past two hundred years including, Gwen John, Walter Sickert and Stanley Spencer.

The exhibition was made possible through the generosity of York Art Gallery, which is currently closed for a major development project and will reopen in 2015.