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with Waddington Galleries, London, where purchased by the present owner at the 1960 exhibition.
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE AUDREY BURTON, O.B.E.
SOLD TO BENEFIT CHARITABLE CAUSES
This important group of paintings and sculpture are to be sold for the benefit of the Audrey and Stanley Burton Charitable Trust, created in 1960 to continue the family tradition of enlightened philanthropy for the good of education, science and the arts, the care of the sick and needy in Yorkshire and the relief of suffering in other parts of the world.
Stanley Burton was born in 1914, the eldest son of Sir Montague (1885-1952) whose Burton manufacturing and retailing business became one of Britain's best known and by the time of Montague's death in 1952 was the largest multiple tailor in the world. In the same year, Stanley Burton was elected a member of the University of Leeds Council and was thus well placed to know of the University's hopes, ambitions and needs. Not much escaped his attention and for nearly half a century he was one of its greatest friends and benefactors. Invariably an 'anonymous donor', he helped to finance expeditions and archaeological excavations and fund research across the disciplines, from Medical Physics to Dialect and Folk Life Studies. He did not neglect physical needs, supporting students in difficult circumstances and financing a pocket map for wheelchair users. He provided the means for academic publications on subjects as diverse as Mongolian herdsmanship and the History of Richmond and Swaledale, faciliated acquisitions for the University Library and the purchase of museum objects and scientific equipment, including a feng shui geomancy instrument for the department of Chinese Studies.
Perhaps the greatest of Stanley's many acts of generosity was his unfailing support and encouragement of the visual arts. The 1960s has been identified as a time when art was an integral part of social change. Younger artists' new ways of dealing with modernity helped to shift visual culture to centre stage and art was imbued with a sense of optimism. Leeds College of Art was a leading force in the reappraisal of art education in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s, pioneering new ways of teaching. The University was one of the first to employ working artists in its Fine Art department, integrating studio practise and art historical studies. Quentin Bell, son of Vanessa, who came to Leeds in 1959 as Head of Fine Art, set about reviving the University's Art Treasures Commmittee and invited Stanley Burton to join. Between 1965 and 1967 there was a remarkable number of acquisitions, many underwritten by Stanley's 'anonymous' donations. he would offer funds and suggest particular artists, leaving the University to make the final choice. Thus did the University acquire Roger Fry's portrait of Nina Hamnett, painted in 1917, in which she is portrayed wearing the plaid dress that Vanessa Bell had designed in 1915 for he Omega workshop founded by Fry in 1913. Stanley supported other purchases during the 1960s that helped build on the University's existing 20th century drawings collection, introducing new names such as Stanley Spencer and Jacob Epstein.
In 1970, Stanley helped to establish the University Art Gallery and up to the end of his life, continued to suggest possible acquisitions which he was willing to fund. Much of what he bought for the University, or suggested to them that they might like to buy, came from exhibitions or galleries that he and Audrey had visited, or purchased from, together. They were frequent customers at Waddington Galleries, Crane Kalman and Arthur Tooth in London, as well as at Sarah Gilchrist's Leeds gallery and many others at home and abroad. Engaged with all aspects of the creative and performing arts, both Stanley and Audrey were very committed to ballet. The Burton Trust, a regular financial suporter of the Leeds Internatinal Pianoforte Competition, provided scholarships for young and aspiring dancers ot work with some of the greatest teachers in twentieth century dance, and the opening Summer School benefited from the teaching of Dame Alicia Markova. Audrey, who had attemnded Plymouth School of Art, was an accomplished needlewoman, making her own designs for cushions and chair covers, some of them strikingly abstract in composition. She was a creative gardener and interior decorator, focussing much of her time and energy on Harrogate, where the family lived, and where she supported the Mercer Gallery with gifts during her lifetime as well as the donation of a work by Patrick Heron from her estate. Stanley and Audrey's lives were distinguished by their quiet acts of charity and generosity. Unassuming people both, it was never in their nature to seek personal recognition.
After Stanley's death in 1991, Audrey's interest in the University Art Gallery continued, and before her death in August 2008, she gave the art collection one of the greatest gifts of all - a dedicated space, with all its needs provided by specialist facilities. She wanted to see more of the collection on permanent display, that its richness might be appreciated and that its potential for education as well as enjoyment might be accessible to all. Transformed and enhanced, the gallery was re-launched as The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery in March 2008. Within ten months of re-opening, visitor numbers had doubled all previous annual records. During the planning for the first exhibition in the new Gallery, Audrey gave further items from her collection, including Patrick Heron's Images in in Red, painted in 1958. Following her death the Trustees have presented the gallery with a further group of pictures, including fine examples of works by Stanley liam Scott, Terry Frost, Ivon Hitchens and Victor Vasarely.
The sale of these works, amny of which have not been seen in public for over forty years, is a continuation of Mrs Burton's charitable giving through sales at auction. In the past these have included Sir Stanley Spencer's The Mount, Cookham Dene, sold by Christie's in June 2006 and Patrick Heron's Camellia Garden: March 1956, which Christie's sold in 2008 for a world auction record for work by the artist.
Christie's are also offering a collection of jade pieces from Mrs Burton's collection in the forthcoming Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Including Export Art at King Street on 12 May, and Milton Avery's Melon Vendor, from the same collection, will be offered in Christie's American Paintings sale in New York on 20 May.
We are grateful to Dr Hilary Diaper, Keeper, The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds and to Sir Nicholas Brooksbank for preparing this introduction.
London, Waddington Galleries, Ivon Hitchens The Warnford Water Series and Five Other Paintings, June 1960, no. 11, illustrated.