Henry Tate's Gift

The Tate Britain (previously simply 'the Tate Gallery', now divided from the modern collections in the Tate Modern and smaller galleries in Cornwall and Liverpool) came into being when Henry Tate donated a total of 65 paintings to the nation, together with 80,000 pounds to build a gallery. They were predominantly contemporary Victorian paintings.

The Pre-Raphaelites were represented by Millais with his famous Ophelia (1855) with Elizabeth Siddall, later wife of Rossetti in the title role, The Vale of Rest (1859) which by winning a prize from the Liverpool Corporation precipitated a battle between rival schools of art, and The Knight Errant, which, as the editor of the Magazine of Art noted, contained the only life-sized nude female figure painted by the artist. Two further canvases by Millais in Tate's collection were Mercy: The Morning of the Massacre of St Batholemew, and The North-West Passage: "It might be done, and England ought to do it", an important picture which unfortunately arrived somewhat after the exploration referred to had been done.

Alma Tadema had The Siesta (1868) and The Silent Greeting (1892). J. W. Waterhouse, another painter of Classical subjects, was represented by a Lady of Shalott, the Orientalist Consulting the Oracle, and the Crucifixion of Saint Eulalia, featuring an extremely foreshortened figure and good studies of pigeons. Albert Moore had his representative work Blossoms.

William Etty's The Bather was one of the better versions of this favorite theme of that artist, and Fred Walker's Philip in Church apparently had a strong influence on the art of Pinwell, Houghton and Herkomer. William Powell Frith had The Emigrants and Paddy's Love Letter, and the watercolourist Alfred Hunt, W. Q. Orchardson and Briton Riviere were all represented. Pictures by the painter of coasts J. C. Hook included Home with the Tide, and the marine painter Henry Moore had The Launch of the Lifeboat.

Pictures of social deprivation by Frank Holl were in the collection, and also a picture by Luke Fildes, The Doctor, which caused a sensation at the Summer Exhibition of 1891. Other painters represented included Stacy Marks (Incident in the Life of Cliopin), B. W. Leader, Dendy Sadler's well-known picture Thursday, Henry Woods, Edwin Long (A Nubian Girl), A. C. Gow, Thomas Faed, Vicat Cole, Lady Butler, A. F. A. Goodwin, G. H. Boughton and Stanhope Forbes.

Top of page

Tate Britain // Background Information

Home