Hibiscus Rising by Yinka Shonibare
Hibiscus Rising by Yinka Shonibare

About us

Leeds Art Fund was founded in 1912 by a group of art enthusiasts and philanthropists who recognised the importance of supporting the arts in Leeds. Their vision was to create a fund that would enable the acquisition of artworks for public display to enrich the cultural life of the city, following the opening of a purpose built art gallery for the city of Leeds in 1888.

Ensuring treasures remain accessible

Helping to broaden Leeds’s cultural landscape

Partnering with local organisations and volunteers

Inspiring future generations

Founding and early years

In 1912 two key figures in the history of Leeds Art Fund arrived in the city. Sir Michael Sadler was appointed Vice Chancellor of Leeds University, bringing with him his impressive collection of modern paintings and the art critic Frank Rutter, was appointed Director of the Art Gallery. Rutter quickly found that the enlightened patronage of modern artists he saw in Sadler’s collection was not mirrored by the Leeds corporation. Thus, the Leeds Permanent Art Fund, later to become the Leeds Art Collections Fund, and then Leeds Art Fund was formed.

An early acquisition was the painting Wells Farm Railway Bridge, Acton, 1907 by Lucien Pissaro purchased by Leeds Art Fund in 1913 after the Council refused to pay for it.

Wells Farm Railway Bridge, Acton, 1907 by Lucien Pissaro
Wells Farm Railway Bridge, Acton, 1907 by Lucien Pissaro

Acquisitions

Over the years, Leeds Art Fund has made significant contributions to the collections of Leeds Art Gallery, Temple Newsam, Lotherton Hall, and the Henry Moore Institute. Many members have given works and through fundraising efforts and donations, the Fund has ensured that these treasures remain accessible to the public. The silver epergne, 1759, by Thomas Pitts was purchased with a contribution from Leeds Art Fund following a successful appeal.

Silver Chinoiserie Epergne

Expansion and development

As Leeds’s cultural landscape evolved, so Leeds Art Fund extended its support to cover a broader range of cultural initiatives, including sponsoring the exhibitions, Frank Brangwyn in 2006, Henry Moore in 2011, and Terry Frost in 2015, education programmes, conservation projects, and outreach activities. This expansion reflects the Fund’s commitment to promoting access to the best art, supporting artists and makers and enriching the community’s cultural experiences.

Partnerships and collaborations

Leeds Art Fund works closely with Leeds Museums and Galleries, Leeds City Council, donors, and volunteers to fulfil its mission. Through strategic partnerships and collaborations, the Fund maximises its impact and effectiveness.

The Library at Lotherton Hall

Continued legacy

Today, Leeds Art Fund remains a vital and influential organisation in the city’s cultural ecology. Its legacy of philanthropy and advocacy continues to shape the cultural landscape of the city, ensuring that art remains accessible, relevant, and celebrated by future generations.

I sold a large antique William Potts clock in 1985, and of course I bought a life Membership of the Leeds Art Fund! I have since followed our ever friendly and interested Membership group, enjoyed all the talks and outside visits, sociable and instructive, and now help in the Events Team with whatever is needed.

Sue Bourne

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