Frank and Cheryl Cohen bring their modern British art collection to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire

By Mark Sheerin | 20 March 2012
Colour watercolour painting of a stripper on stage in a nightclub
Edward Burra, Striptease Harlem (c.1934)© all rights reserved. Courtesy of The Frank Cohen Collection’

Exhibition: Frank and Cherryl Cohen at Chatsworth, Chatsworth House, nr Chesterfield, until June 10 2012

There is perhaps only one way that a working class Jewish boy from a poor part of Manchester could wind up in the same circles as the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. It surely takes an important collection of art to level the playing field.

Frank and Cherryl Cohen have been buying paintings for 40 years. In the early 1970s they scraped together the £1,100 needed to buy a small work by LS Lowry. Now their collection of Modern British art is one of the most important in private hands.

Not only that, but the painters and sculptors they have bought have never mattered more. Modern British art is back in vogue. So the current show at Chatsworth should find a public hungry for reassuring figuration rather than challenging contemporary.

Along with Lowry, the exhibition at Chatsworth features work by Sickert, Auerbach, Paolozzi, Burra and Spencer. The Spencer was last seen in 1998; the Burra in 1985. Clearly the time is right for the Cohens to share their treasures with the world.

More than 40 works have been selected for the show, curator Robert Upstone working alongside their owners. And along with indigenous painting and sculpture, visitors will have the chance to see photographic artist portraits by Jorge Lewinski.

A second collection of British art, owned by the Duke of Devonshire, can meanwhile be seen in another part of this stately home. Visit both and you can see how aristocrats and entrepreneurs can often find common ground.
  • Admission £20 (£17/£13 with reductions for online booking. Open  11am-5.30pm daily.
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