National Portrait Gallery launches appeal to restore group portrait for WWI centenary

By Culture24 Reporter | 27 March 2013

The National Portrait Gallery has launched a £20,000 appeal to restore an important group portrait of Great War naval officers in time for the 2014 centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

a large group portrait of men in naval uniform in a wood panelled room
Naval Officers of World War I by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope (1921). Oil on canvas. Given by Sir Abraham ('Abe') Bailey, 1st Bt, 1921© National Portrait Gallery, London
Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope’s five-metre portrait, Naval Officers of World War I (1921), was one of three commissioned shortly after the war by financier Sir Abraham Bailey to commemorate the role of the army, navy and politicians in bringing the Great War to a close.  

The other two, Sir James Guthrie’s Statesmen of World War I and John Singer Sargent’s General Officers of World War I, are on display in Room 30 at the NPG, where they form the centrepiece of the gallery’s Great War displays.

But Stockdale Cope’s piece, which is set in the Admiralty Board Room in Whitehall, has not been seen since the 1960s because of its condition.

With the canvas in need of cleaning and conservation and the gilt frame requiring restoration, the gallery hopes to raise the £20,000 by using the National Funding Scheme’s new mobile giving platform DONATE,which allows people to make donations to charitable institutions using smartphones.

“The Naval Officers of World War I was commissioned after the Great War as a gift to the nation marking the role of Britain’s navy during the conflict,” explained Paul Moorhouse, the gallery's 20th Century Curator.

“Sadly, it has not been seen in decades. With the necessary funds for conservation, the return of this great work in 2014 would be very appropriate and hugely significant.”

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