An impressive collection of theatrical paintings amassed by the late author and playwrite Somerset Maugham is heading to Bath where it will form a key collection of the newly refurbished Holburne Museum reopening in May 2011.
© Holburne Museum
Maugham started to collect theatrical paintings in 1912 and eventually amassed a collection reckoned to be second only in size and importance to that of the Garrick Club.
Having left it on his death to the National Theatre it has rarely been seen in public. Some of the paintings had a short sojourn on display at the NT and for a time some of them were seen at the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, which has now closed.
Now the paintings, which include important works by Zoffany, Francis Hayman and Samuel de Wilde, are to be transferred to the Holburne Museum which will display them when it reopens in May 2011 and at the city's Theatre Royal.
“Bath could not provide a better home for the Maugham pictures,” said Alexander Sturgis, Director of the Holburne Museum. “We are an eighteenth-century city and a theatrical city and the renewed Holburne and refurbished Theatre Royal will provide the perfect surroundings.”
Mr Sturgis described the sharing of the works between the Holburne and the Theatre Royal as a “happy division that will keep the collection within a short walk of each other”.
The most important paintings in the collection include five works by Zoffany and Hayman’s painting of Garrick as Richard III. They will be shown at the Holburne - complementing and enhancing a collection of works by their British contemporaries including Gainsborough, Ramsay and Raeburn.