Contemporary Art Society Report 1926

9 September 2014
Cover for the Contemporary Art Society Report 1926
Cover for the Contemporary Art Society Report 1926

For the Acquisition of Works of Modern Art for Loan or Gift to Public Galleries.

Bourton House, Shrivenham
Honorary Secretary:
9 Chelsea Embankment

Charles Aitken
Lord Balniel
T. G. Blackwell, O.B.E.
Muirhead Bone
Samuel Courtauld
A. M. Daniel
Campbell Dodgson, C.B.E.
Anthony Eden
St. John Hutchinson
Edward Marsh, C.B., C.M.G., C.V.O.
Ernest Marsh
Roderick Meiklejohn, C.B.
The Hon. Jasper Ridley
Sir Michael Sadler, C.B., K.C.S.I.
The Earl of Sandwich
Roger Fry
Montague Shearman
The Honorary Secretary
Assistant Secretary: Mr. H. S. EDE

In the conviction that much of the finer artistic talent of our time was imperfectly or not at all represented in the National and Municipal Galleries, the Contemporary Art Society was initiated in the year 1909. Its aim is to encourage, by the purchase and exhibition of chosen examples of their work, painters who in other countries would enjoy a certain official patronage.

During the last century little or no attempt was made to secure for the nation specimens of such vital contemporary painting as has since proved to stand the test of time, and to take a few instances, it is almost entirely due to private foresight and munificence that Alfred Stevens, the Pre-Raphaelites and the Impressionists are represented at all in the public collections This Society, on whose committee a wide range of opinions is represented, hopes to obviate a similar reproach against thepresent age, and by discriminating purchase to fill up what would seem to posterity an inexcusable gap in our museums and galleries, overloaded as they are with ephemeral work of the time preceding our own.

Side by side with the enrichment of the collections, the Society has the further aim, in the interests of the artists themselves, of supplying, so far as its means allow, the falling off in private buying which has resulted from the present financial stringency. These are difficult times for young painters and sculptors who have to live on the
proceeds of their work, and the need for some form of public patronage was never greater than now.

The method of purchase is as follows :-
A single member of the Committee is appointed as buyer for twelve months, and has the spending of the Society’s income, less 25 per cent., which is put into a Reserve Fund. The purchases are either retained by the Society and lent from time to time for exhibition, or presented outright to some public gallery. After a certain number of years it is in the power of the Committee to sell pictures which for any reason they no longer wish to keep, and buy others with the proceeds.

The present Report contains a list of the acquisitions of the Society during 1926, a balance-sheet showing its financial position, a statement of subscriptions and donations for 1926, and additional subscriptions in 1927 to the date of issue. Pictures have been lent in 1926 to The National Gallery, Millbank, the Whitechapel Gallery, Edinburgh, Stoke-on-Trent, Bury, Rochdale and Dresden.

A fund was started in 1919 in connection with the Society for the purpose of acquiring original modern prints and drawings, both British and Foreign, which should remain in the possession of the Society for a certain period, and should subsequently be presented to the British Museum. This fund is organised and administered by Mr. Campbell Dodgson, the Keeper of Prints and Drawings, British Museum, who kindly arranged, in November, 1926, an exhibition at 22 Montagu Square, W., for the benefit of the Fund, and thanks to his untiring energy, considerable results have been achieved. A separate Report of this Fund may be obtained from the Secretary.

The Committee has started a separate fund for the purchase of work by contemporary artists of foreign nationality. It is felt that the public galleries in England are very deficient in representative works of foreign schools, and they appeal for additional subscriptions, which can be earmarked for this purpose.

The Society deeply deplores the death of its Hon. Secretary, the Rt. Hon. F. Leverton Harris, whose enthusiastic support added so considerably to the activities of the Society. Mr. Harris held the office of Secretary for three years, and during that period was instrumental in acquiring many important pictures for the nation. Mr. Harris will be very much missed among all young artists of whom he was the most liberal and sympathetic patron.


It has been arranged that all members of the Contemporary Art Society may attend, free of charge, exhibitions at the following Galleries on presentation of their Card of Membersbip :
The Chenil Gallery
The French Gallery
The Goupil Gallery
The Independent Gallery
The Lefevre Galleries
The Leicester Galleries
The London Group Exhibitions
The Seven and Five Exhibitions
The National Gallery, Millbank
The Wallace Collection.

It is hoped that in the course of the next year further privilege may be obtained.

Cards of Membership have been sent to all members.

The minimum Annual Subscription is placed at the figure of one guinea in order that as large a number of members may be enlisted as possible. Subscriptions or Donations should be sent to the Hon. Secretary, Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill, 9 Chelsea Embankment, London, S.W.3.

To download the complete Contemporary Art Society Annual Report 1926 as a pdf click here


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