Gifts & Bequests

Two Black Birds (detail), Tom Bendhem Bequest 2006
Two Black Birds (detail), Tom Bendhem Bequest 2006, watercolour on paper, not dated. Provenance Flowers East 1995, 19.5 x 25cm, © the artist, photo by:Nicholas Sinclair

In his contribution to British Contemporary Art 1910-1990, published to mark the Contemporary Art Society’s 80th year, Joseph Darracott refers to 1960 as a ‘golden year’. It was the 50th anniversary and an exhibition was held at Tate Gallery to show many of the works that had been gifted to public collections. Darracott reflects on the exhibition:

“The Marsh Bequest and the Clark gifts shone brightly among the chosen watercolours and drawings”.

Edward Marsh’s extremely generous bequest left much of his collection, acquired through his very close support of many artists, to public collections to be distributed through the Contemporary Art Society. And between 1947 and 1951 Sir Kenneth Clark gifted 68 works from his collection to public museums. Both men played an important role within the organisation and since this time one of the most important functions that the organisation serves is to be sure that works, gifted through the Society, will find their way to the right public collections. Historically gifts from members and patrons of the society have had considerable impact on the holdings of public collections.

We continue to work closely with generous individuals who wish to see works from their collection reach a far broader audience in museums across the country. In the last year we have brokered some very important and significant works. In the coming year the Contemporary Art Society will be working with Eric and Jean Cass as they decide, with us, what legacy their collection should have for museums across the UK.


For more information on gifts and bequests, contact Victoria Avery, Gifts & Bequests Manager, +44 (0)20 7017 8400 or email


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