Donated by Colonel Whitwell this collection consists mainly of 19th and early 20th century British and French artworks including paintings, drawings, prints and objets d'art. There are also diverse pieces from Japan, China, Russia and Persia.
The Whitwell Collection 1923 – 1926
- Lorna Ferguson Room, Upstairs Passage, Prints Room
- Closes 2012
This exhibition celebrates the most generous donation in the history of the Tatham Art Gallery.
Between 1923 and 1926 over 400 artworks and objets d'art were presented to the Pietermaritzburg Art Gallery by Colonel Robert Harvey Whitwell. Whitwell retired from the Indian Army Medical Service after twenty years service in 1900. He was well-off and had a long-standing interest in art. Due to the hospitality he received on a fleeting visit to Pietermaritzburg in 1919 he decided to put together a collection of work to supplement those already in the City's fledgling Gallery.
Positive responses and caring correspondence from the Mayor and Town Clerk of Pietermaritzburg spurred Whitwell's generosity. The Gallery benefited by receiving a unique collection of works by British and French artists who represent more contemporary trends in European painting around the turn of the twentieth century. Many of the objets d'art reflect similar trends.
Colonel Whitwell was determined that his name be kept out of the press. As a result, his magnificent gift has never received the acknowledgment it deserves. We have decided to celebrate Colonel Whitwell by displaying his gift in its entirety, as far as possible in the way he would have wished to see it.
Colonel Whitwell was always insistent that his gift be opened in the rooms set aside and specially redecorated in the City Hall on a St George's Day, as it was on that day which he visited Pietermaritzburg in 1919, for various reasons this was never possible. We therefore open the show on St George's Day this year.
This exhibition coincides with the Gallery's 20th year in the Old Supreme Court building and the launch of the first volume of a book on the history of the Gallery collection.