Regional museums bag £4m art collection

Donation includes works by Picasso, Moore and Paolozzi
Sharon Heal
The Contemporary Art Society (CAS) last week announced a donation of over 300 works of modern and contemporary art from collectors Eric and Jean Cass for allocation to public institutions.

The works are going to seven UK museums: the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; the Hepworth Wakefield; Leeds Art Gallery; the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff; the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; the Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton; and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

The donation includes works by artists including Picasso, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Eduardo Paolozzi. Other works not appropriate for gifting to museums will be sold to benefit the Contemporary Art Society’s acquisitions scheme or will be gifted to other public collections in the UK.

The gift is estimated to be worth over £4m and was previously housed in the interiors and gardens of the Cass’ Surrey home.

In a statement, Eric and Jean Cass said: “We had to find a home that would love the pieces as much as we did. The Contemporary Art Society provided the answer. It has been a big job, carried out with the same spirit that involved us in collecting in the first place.”

Paul Hobson, director of the CAS, said the gift was of incalculable cultural value and was an example of “selfless philanthropy”.

“Eric and Jean have built their collection with great passion, care and intelligence, always knowing that the works would in time enter public collections where the pleasure they have had privately would be shared with the widest audience nationally," he said.

"Philanthropists who wish to benefit museums outside of London are rare and regional museums struggle to compete with the prestige of London-based institutions who tend to get the pick of the crop. It is typical of this enlightened couple that they would aspire to benefit audiences no matter where they live.”

Janita Bagshaw, head of museums and Royal Pavilion, Brighton, said it had received works that draw a connection between British modernism and decorative art, including prints by Hepworth and Victor Pasmore.

“This is great news," she said. "To be selected for this gift demonstrates the regard in which the Royal Pavilion & Museum collections are held. We are extremely grateful to Eric and Jean Cass and the Contemporary Art Society for this award and look forward to being able to display the works in Brighton Museum when the programme allows next year.”

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