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Painting by R. B. Kitaj depicting a red room with geometric shapes in an abstract suggestion of an interior. A man wearing a blue jcaket and glasses sits at a table and a woman stands next to him. A small boy and girl stand in the background

The Wilson Collection

This major gift makes our collection of British Pop art one of the best in the world.

The Wilson Collection was formed by British architect Prof Sir Colin St John Wilson RA (1922 – 2007) and his wife, renowned American architect MJ Long, Lady Wilson, OBE (1939 – 2018),  who are best-known as the architects of the British Library and their 2006 extension to Pallant House Gallery. Together they formed one of the most significant collections of post-war British art, reflecting their close friendships with the leading artists of the period.

In 2006, the couple designed the Gallery contemporary wing to house part of their collection, which they generously donated to the Gallery (part permanent gift through the Art Fund and part extended loan). In 2021, a further group of 175 modern and contemporary British paintings, prints and sculptures from the collection were allocated to Pallant House Gallery from the estate of the architect MJ Long via the Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme, run by the Arts Council.

Together these acts of philanthropy mean that Pallant House Gallery now has one of the most significant international public collections of British Pop art. The majority of the artists represented in the Wilson collection were personal friends of the couple and can be seen as embodying an approach to artistic patronage that spanned connections between art, architecture, literature and philosophy.

Black and white photo showing a man sitting at a large desk holding a metal pipe. In front of him on the desk is a small scale model of a building.

Colin St John Wilson in his studio, Photograph Anne-Katrin Purkiss 2006

Black and white photo showing a woman with short hair sitting at a large desk resting her chin on her hand. In front of her on the desk is a small scale model of a building.

MJ Long in her studio, Photograph Anne-Katrin Purkiss 2006

Wilson (known to friends as ‘Sandy’) began the collection prior to his marriage to his second wife MJ Long in 1972, though from that point onwards she played an integral role, designing numerous studios for artists including R.B. Kitaj, Frank Auerbach, Sir Peter Blake, Paul Huxley and Gordon House.

The couple were memorably painted by the American artist Kitaj in a family portrait, The Architects (1981), which depicts the couple with their children Harry and Sal in the studio Long had designed for the artist. The red background and lamp were a reference to Vincent van Gogh’s The Night Café (1888) in the collection of Yale University where the couple had met.

Painting by R. B. Kitaj depicting a red room with geometric shapes in an abstract suggestion of an interior. A man wearing a blue jcaket and glasses sits at a table and a woman stands next to him. A small boy and girl stand in the background

R.B. Kitaj, The Architects (1981), Oil on canvas, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of MJ Long / Wilson and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2021) © Estate of R.B Kitaj

The interior of the family home in Cambridge (designed by Wilson) was depicted by Sir Howard Hodgkin in his vibrant painting Grantchester Road (1973-75) in which the mezzanine and fireplace are depicted amidst swirls of expressive colour.

Painting by Howard Hodgkin depicting geometric abstract, solid black outlines on inside edges. pink arc shapes top left & top right. red spots on yellow ground at centre; green dots on red around outside edge.

Howard Hodgkin, Grantchester Road, 1975, Oil on wood panel, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of MJ Long / Wilson and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2021) © Howard Hodgkin

Together with Richard Hamilton, Nigel Henderson and Eduardo Paolozzi, Wilson had been a member of the radical ‘Independent Group’, a precursor to the development of British  Pop art, which met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in the 1950s to discuss architecture, art, design and advertising.

Wilson collected early works by these artists including Hamilton’s early abstract painting Respective (1951), Man Walking (after Muybridge) (1953) and the Rotary Disc from his celebrated ‘fun house’ in the seminal exhibition ‘This is Tomorrow’ held at Whitechapel Gallery in 1956. He also acquired Paolozzi’s ink drawings Picador (c.1947), and Head (The Early Head) (1953), together with early screenprints and posters for his exhibitions, and the large aluminium sculpture Artificial Sun (1964)

An abstract aluminium sculpture with a large curcle connected with plinths and pipes.

Eduardo Paolozzi, Artificial Sun, 1964, Aluminium sculpture, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance
Tax by HM Government from the estate of MJ Long / Wilson
and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2021) © Trustees of the Paolozzi Foundation

These artists were to become key figures in the British Pop movement and the collection
also includes Hamilton’s etching, aquatint and collage Swingeing London (1967) depicting Mick Jagger and the art dealer Robert Fraser in the back of a police van outside Chichester Magistrates Court following a conviction for drugs possession.

Photograph of two men with their hands cuffed together, shielding their faces from the viewer. The photograph is encased in a metal frame made to look like the door of a car.

Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London ’67, 1968, Relief, screenprint on oil on photograph on hardboard, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through Art Fund, 2006) © Richard Hamilton 2020. All rights reserved, DACS

Other examples of British Pop include David Hockney’s Kaisarion with all his Beauty (1961); 65 prints by R.B. Kitaj, his major painting Junta (1962) and collage The Republic of the Southern Cross (1965), along with works by Sir Peter Blake, Allen Jones, Mark Lancaster, Colin Self, Joe Tilson and the Swedish-American artist Claes Oldenburg. Patrick Caulfield’s well-known Coloured Still Life (1967) is accompanied by his later painting Kellerbar (1997) along with twelve preparatory drawings and seven screenprints that provide a fascinating insight into the artist’s working methods.

A still life arrangement of a red jug surrounded by a red, grey and yellow goblet and teal coloured bowl against a blue background.

Patrick Caulfield, Coloured Still Life, 1967, Acrylic on board, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Loan, 2006) © Janet Nathan Caulfield

The Wilson Collection also traces a lineage of figurative art from Impressionist artists such as Édouard Manet through to Modern British artists including David Bomberg and Frank Auerbach. In 2021, the new acquisition included Manet’s etching of Olympia (1864), a group of five etchings by Walter Sickert, a significant group of drawings and paintings representing each key period of Bomberg’s work, as well as an early painting by Auerbach, Reclining Model in the Studio I (1963) a pivotal depiction of the model on a bed that looks back to the example of Sickert.

 

Black and white etching by Manet depicting a nude white woman lying on a bed with a flower tucked in her hair. She gazes boldly out at the viewer while a black woman holds a bundle of decorated fabric. A black cat stands at the end of the bed.

Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1867, Etching and aquatint on paper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of MJ Long / Wilson and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2021) © Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK

An alternative Slade tradition of figuration is represented by a group of paintings including Michael Andrews’ Study for a Head for a Group of Figures (1967), Colin Self’s At the Party (Hunt Ball) (1962), and Victor Willing’s Swing (1978) and Stepladder (1976).

Victor Willing, Stepladder, 1976, Oil on canvas, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance
Tax by HM Government from the estate of MJ Long / Wilson
and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2021) © Estate of the Artist

A watercolour by Prunella Clough, a sculpture by Anthony Caro, 12 drawings by Outsider artist Scottie Wilson, and a group of sculptures by Indian artist Dhruva Mistry RA, who Wilson commissioned to create work for the British Library are also included in the collection.

Painting by Howard Hodgkin depicting geometric abstract, solid black outlines on inside edges. pink arc shapes top left & top right. red spots on yellow ground at centre; green dots on red around outside edge.

Howard Hodgkin, Grantchester Road (1975)

Howard Hodgkin, Grantchester Road, 1975, Oil on wood panel, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of MJ Long / Wilson and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2021) © Howard Hodgkin

Painting by Michael Andrews depicting a large sweeping view of the Thames estuary, lot of browns, figures with a rowing boat centre left.

Michael Andrews, Thames Painting: The Estuary (1994-5)

Michael Andrews, Thames Painting: The Estuary (1994-5), Oil and mixed media on canvas, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through The Art Fund, 2006) © The Estate of Michael Andrews, courtesy of James Hyman Gallery, London

Painting by William Coldstream depicting a man in a grey suit seated in a black armchair. Behind him is a picture of different coloured squares hanging on teh wall, and a pile of books on the left

William Coldstream, Portrait of Colin St John Wilson (1982-3)

Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Family Loan, 2006) © The Estate of Sir William Coldstream

A painting by Patrick Caulfield depciting a dour faced man wearing a blue suit against a yellow background

Patrick Caulfield, Portrait of Juan Gris (1963)

Patrick Caulfield, Portrait of Juan Gris, 1963, Alkyd housepaint on hardboard, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through The Art Fund, 2006) © Janet Nathan Caulfield

Torso of a man wearing Y-fronts and holding an arm strengthening instrument.

Richard Hamilton, Adonis in Y-Fronts (1963)

Richard Hamilton, Adonis in Y-Fronts, 1963, Screenprint on paper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Loan 2006) © The Estate of the Artist

A soft sculpture of a cowboy dressed entirely in white, wearing a hat and sunglasses, slouched against a wall with his hands in his pocket.

Jann Haworth, Cowboy (1964)

Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through The Art Fund, 2006)

Victor Willing, Stepladder (1)

Victor Willing, Stepladder, 1976, Oil on canvas, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance
Tax by HM Government from the estate of MJ Long / Wilson
and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2021) © Estate of the Artist

An abstract aluminium sculpture with a large curcle connected with plinths and pipes.

Eduardo Paolozzi, Artificial Sun

Eduardo Paolozzi, Artificial Sun, 1964, Aluminium sculpture, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance
Tax by HM Government from the estate of MJ Long / Wilson
and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2021) © Trustees of the Paolozzi Foundation

A painting featuring female fans in top third with panels of Elvis pictures and paraphernalia below.

Peter Blake, Girls with their Hero, 1959 (oil on hardboard)

Peter Blake, Girls with their Hero, 1959-62, Cryla on hardboard, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through The Art Fund, 2006) © Peter Blake. All rights reserved, DACS 2020

Picture divided into four, each corner with a portrait of one of the Beatles. Circle at centre with the legend

Peter Blake, The Beatles (1962)

Peter Blake, The Beatles, 1962, Acrylic emulsion on hardboard, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through The Art Fund, 2006) © Peter Blake. All rights reserved, DACS 2020

A decorative German stein lager jug with the outline of a white wall and gabled roof behind it, against a teal coloured background.

Patrick Caulfield, Kellerbar (1997)

Patrick Caulfield, Kellerbar, 1997, Acrylic on canvas, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Loan, 2006) © Janet Nathan Caulfield

A still life arrangement of a red jug surrounded by a red, grey and yellow goblet and teal coloured bowl against a blue background.

Patrick Caulfield, Coloured Still Life (1967)

Patrick Caulfield, Coloured Still Life, 1967, Acrylic on board, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Loan, 2006) © Janet Nathan Caulfield

Black and white etching by Manet depicting a nude white woman lying on a bed with a flower tucked in her hair. She gazes boldly out at the viewer while a black woman holds a bundle of decorated fabric. A black cat stands at the end of the bed.

Edouard Manet, Olympia (1867)

Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1867, Etching and aquatint on paper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of MJ Long / Wilson and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2021) © Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK

A female nude sitting in a dingy bedroom with her legs crossed and resting her chin on her hand facing away from the viewer.

Walter Sickert, Jack Ashore (1912-13)

Walter Sickert, Jack Ashore, 1912-13, Oil on canvas, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through The Art Fund, 2006)

A soft fabric sculpture depicting a woman with light link hair and wearing a white robe. In front of her is adressing table complete with hairbrush and other items of make up. She is surrounded by a frame of lightbulbs.

Jann Haworth, Mae West Dressing Table (1965)

Jann Haworth, Mae West Dressing Table, 1965, Mixed media, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Family Loan, 2006) © Courtesy of the artist

Wooden artwork with a starburst shape at the top reading 1-5. Below are three rows of panels numbered 1-5 which can slide and move to reveal close ups of ears, mouths, fingers and eyes.

Joe Tilson, 1-5 The Senses (1963)

Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Loan, 2006) © Joe Tilson All Rights Reserved DACS

Self portrait by Lucian Freud showing his head and shoulders three-quarter turned to the right. To the right on the corner of a table is a pot of hyacinth flowers against a yellow background.

Lucian Freud, Self-Portrait with a Hyacinth Pot © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images

Lucian Freud, Self-Portrait with a Hyacinth Pot, 1947-8, Black, white and yellow crayon on paper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through The Art Fund, 2006) © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images

Self-portrait by David Bomberg in an abstracted style in red and brown tones

David Bomberg, Last Self-Portrait (1956)

David Bomberg, Last Self-Portrait (1956) Pallant House Gallery (The Wilson Gift through the Art Fund, 2004) © The Wilson Family

Painting by R. B. Kitaj depicting a red room with geometric shapes in an abstract suggestion of an interior. A man wearing a blue jcaket and glasses sits at a table and a woman stands next to him. A small boy and girl stand in the background

RB Kitaj, The Architects (1)

R.B. Kitaj, The Architects (1981), Oil on canvas, Pallant
House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of MJ Long / Wilson and allocated to Pallant House Gallery, 2021) © Estate of R.B Kitaj

Photograph of two men with their hands cuffed together, shielding their faces from the viewer. The photograph is encased in a metal frame made to look like the door of a car.

Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London

Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London ’67, 1968, Relief, screenprint on oil on photograph on hardboard, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through Art Fund, 2006) © Richard Hamilton 2020. All rights reserved, DACS