The Wilson Gift and Loan
This major gift through the Art Fund in 2006 makes our collection of British Pop art one of the best in the world.
Professor Sir Colin St John Wilson (1922-2007) likened his passion for collecting to ‘a lifelong addiction’.
An architect who designed the British Library as well as our contemporary wing, Wilson formed friendships with artists like Peter Blake, Prunella Clough, Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi.
When as a student Professor Sir Colin St John Wilson chose to become an architect instead of a painter, his love of art was not easily suppressed. He spent much of his money on paintings, and earlier acquisitions would often be traded in as the only way of acquiring new ones. Wilson, better known as ‘Sandy’ to his friends, formed a number of friendships with contemporary artists through the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Dover Street and his association with the Independent Group (1952-55) and events such as ‘This is Tomorrow’ in 1956 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery.
As a result of his personal friendships, his portrait was painted by Michael Andrews, William Coldstream, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, R.B. Kitaj, and sculpted by Celia Scott. Wilson’s collection is clearly structured around the group affiliations of the principle artists. The collection and the subsequent gift to the Gallery was developed in partnership with MJ Long, Wilson’s second wife as well as his partner on a number of their architectural projects. MJ Long had designed studios for many of the artists in their collection, including Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake, Paul Huxley and RB Kitaj, furthering their close association with many of the leading artists of the late 20th century.
The Wilson Collection (part permanent gift through theArt Fund and part extended loan) consists of over 1000 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures and contains a number of icons of British 20th century art, particularly of British Pop Art. These include Peter Blake’s The 1962 Beatles (1963-8) and Girls with their Hero (1959), Patrick Caulfield’s Portrait of Juan Gris (1963), Eduardo Paolozzi’s Bunk portfolio (1948-1972) and Richard Hamilton’s Swingeing London ’67 (1967-68), in which Mick Jagger and the art dealer Robert Fraser are depicted in the back of a police van after a drug’s conviction at Chichester Crown Court.
Howard Hodgkin, Grantchester Road (1975)
Howard Hodgkin, Grantchester Road, 1975, Oil on wood panel, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Loan, 2006) © Howard Hodgkin
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
William Coldstream, Portrait of Colin St John Wilson (1982-3)
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Family Loan, 2006) © The Estate of Sir William Coldstream
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
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