Press Releases

Lear painting sold to National Museum Cardiff

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum of Wales has acquired one of the greatest works by the Victorian artist and writer, Edward Lear, Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling, with generous assistance from The Art Fund and many private donors.

Commissioned in 1873 by Lear's patron, Henry Bruce, 1st Lord Aberdare, the picture has been in south Wales ever since it was painted, and was originally presented as a gift to the Mountain Ash Urban District Council in 1924 by Lord Aberdare. It has been acquired by Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales from Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council, for £300,000.

Recently included in National Museum Cardiff's successful exhibition Victorian Dreamers, Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council has paid for the painting, which previously hung on the stairs at Aberdare Library, to be restored.  

"This purchase was made possible thanks to an exceptionally generous grant of £150,000 from The Art Fund, and by a number of donations from private individuals," says Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.

"We are very pleased to have been able to keep the painting in south Wales, where it has been since it was painted in the 1870s."

"I am very pleased that Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling will now have a permanent home at National Museum Cardiff as it's the perfect setting for such a work of art," says Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Cllr Graham Thomas.

"The decision was taken to sell the painting as Rhondda Cynon Taff is not a collector of paintings and so could not do justice to a painting of this worth and quality. Rhondda Cynon Taff will now commission a high quality replica to be displayed at Aberdare Library. The Council will ensure that residents of the Cynon Valley benefit substantially and in a visible manner from the proceeds of this sale."

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said:

"The Art Fund has lobbied hard to ensure that this dramatic painting by one of the best-loved writers and artists of the Victorian era was secured for a public collection. So we are delighted that, with the help of an Art Fund grant of £150,000, Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling will now be staying in Wales, where it belongs."

The Aberdare painting has been in south Wales ever since it left Edward Lear's studio. Its provenance gives it a particular relevance and importance, as we seek to collect works of significance as reflection of the history of Welsh patronage and patterns of collecting. 

Lord Aberdare's ‘Kanchenjunga'commission is a relatively early example of industrial wealth (derived largely from mineral rights) being used to acquire art, and can be seen as a precursor of the Museum's Davies collection of French nineteenth-century art, formed mainly between 1908 and 1923. Its logical home is here, adjacent to our Penry Williams paintings from Lord Aberdare's collection.

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales is committed to showing important works from its collection outside of Cardiff, and will be working to ensure that the painting is seen and enjoyed outside in other parts of Wales.

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales is currently redeveloping and refurbishing some of the art galleries at National Museum Cardiff. Some galleries will be shut to the public temporarily while building work is taking place. The Museum remains open to the public throughout the refurbishment, with a diverse public programme of exhibitions, displays and events during 2006 and throughout our centenary year in 2007. For more details on our centenary, go to the 07 pages on our website. For day to day enquiries regarding the galleries, please ring (029) 2039 7951. The refurbishment programme is supported with additional funding by the Welsh Assembly Government.

National Museum Cardiff is one of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales's seven national museums. The others are St Fagans: National History Museum; National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon; Big Pit:  National Coal Museum, Blaenafon; National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre; National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

Entry to all national museums is free thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.