Fantastic painting donated to Theatre Collection

An incredible piece by acclaimed artist, Walter Sickert, is now on display at the world-famous Theatre Collection in Park Row. It will become one of the first works of art to be shown at the new University Library when it opens in 2023 -24.

The stunning oil painting is one of a series Sickert created depicting Peggy Ashcroft, who is considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest actresses.

Sickert himself worked as an actor during the late 1870’s and early 1880’s and his love of the theatre saw him go on to paint several theatrical stars during his lifetime. Here, he captures Ashcroft playing the mischievous Kate Hardcastle in Oliver Goldsmith’s comedy, She Stoops to Conquer – a play which ran during the 1932-33 season at the London Old Vic theatre.

In order to capture the leading lady’s likeness, Sickert would attend performances of the play with a photographer in tow, documenting Ashcroft’s poses and characteristics which he later recreated through his artwork. Jo Elsworth, Director of the Theatre Collection said:

We are delighted to receive this gift of such a significant artwork; it is particularly relevant to hold it alongside the archives Old Vic, where the performance depicted took place and where Dame Peggy Ashcroft spent her formative years.

The painting is from the collection of Lord and Lady Attenborough and was acquired by the University of Bristol’s Theatre Collection via the Arts Council England Acceptance in Lieu Scheme. This scheme places pre-eminent culture in museums, archives and galleries, opening them up to the public and allowing them to be enjoyed by art enthusiasts up and down the country.

The University of Bristol’s Theatre Collection is free to visit and can be found at 21 Park Row, Bristol. In 2009 it was awarded full Accredited Museum status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. For more information head to: www.bristol.ac.uk/theatre-collection/visit/

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